Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What Should Be Done To Improve Governance In India ? Some Suggestions !

Some Aspects of Complex Governance of Modern India!

How do you consider a man having a big head, large eyes, small hands, bent legs, long tongue, closed ears and a big belly? Perhaps he has a big brain and he is very intelligent. He can see well with his large eyes. He can talk well and taste well with his long tongue. But he cannot do any thing properly as he has small hands. With his bent legs he cannot run or walk properly. He cannot hear what others say because his ears are closed. Of course he eats well. 

No doubt no one would like to have such an individual in their home. The man is ugly and imperfect from our viewpoint. 

In a similar way, a government having various ministries and departments which are disproportionate to their normal functions, would obviously be a monstrous organization which would not do its functions in a balanced manner. Obviously, the people of the country with such a monster governing it could not expect anything good from it. In such governments some ministries would be placed at higher prominence than really required marring the other ministries to practical negligence and insignificance. It is like giving importance to one's mouth only always because it is the one which speaks!

In a family too, the parents often neglect their wise children who are more mature and harmless and give undue importance to the kids who are noisy and quarrelsome making the family ruin later. This is because of the human weakness of fear. Humans fear noisy fellows!

In politics too, such a situation prevail. The more noisy and illogical a leader is, the more he or she is likely to garner support and benefits. The wise advises of the less noisy ones often go unconsidered. This happens everywhere. 

If a country needs to progress, it needs to develop in all fronts in an equitable basis. The practice of pleasing the talking big mouth always need to be moderated. All parts of the administration should get equal importance and all should get the care and support they actually need to function. So if the defense ministry getting pampered more at the cost of the home ministry would make the country fail in some aspects of its security. If telecom ministry is pampered more than the postal ministry, the country would again fail to achieve progress in some areas. 

Unfortunately, this kind of a situation arises from the improper selection, training and placement of the officers who are supposed to man these departments. Though many wise people have pointed out to the flaws in the system of recruitment and placement of officers of the governmental systems of India, nothing has changed much from the pre-independence era. The system continues without much change.

The government officers in India are selected by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) at the central, all India level , by the various Public Service Commissions (PSC) of the states and the Staff Selection Boards (SSB). The UPSC selects fresh candidates for various all India services by a highly competitive examination. The top ranking candidates are normally absorbed in the so called elite services of India called the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and the Indian Foreign Service (IFS). Members of these three services are conventionally given higher prominence in the Indian governmental system and the IAS now has established their indisputable place as compared to all other services. This is because the manner in which the IAS officers are selected and placed to head any type of organization in India without any consideration to their expertise or knowledge in that field. It has now become an established practice in India that an IAS officer could be the chief executive or head of any field regardless of it being a ministry, an public sector industry, a government university, a training institute, a government department, a government sponsored society or any autonomous institution. 

Though the IPS officers are trained for law and order and policing, they too could be placed in a similar fashion in any non policing department or organization. However, they get such opportunities to head 'offices of profit' less than their IAS brothers and sisters. 

There are other services which the Indian public are less acquainted with. But that does not mean that they are unimportant. They too could be placed to head any organization at the will of their political and senior bureaucratic patrons even while they know pretty nothing about the functions of such organizations. Such services are called the Indian Forest Service, the Indian Audit and Accounts Service, the Indian Railway Service, the Indian Postal Service, the Indian Engineering Service, the Indian Telecom Service, etc. etc. It is not necessary that the UPSC conduct all India examinations for all these services always. The UPSC also inducts other specialists like geologists, doctors, etc to be posted as specialist government service officers in various departments and ministries. However, such officers often do not get opportunities to head top posts even while some of them might be much more suitable with respect to their knowledge and competency. They are often made subordinate to those from the elite cadres.

The military officers are selected by an entirely different procedure. Though the military officers are better trained, disciplined and with required managerial and functional skills, the services of their experienced senior levels are not very much used in the governmental organizations just as their counterparts from the elite administrative services. 

Often experienced experts in various governmental departments like doctors, engineers, etc find some not so trained generalist having much lower length of service from the so-called elite services becoming their bosses who are less capable of understanding certain aspects of their jobs. Consequently, such bosses would be miserable failures in making effective decisions for the good of the country in the long run or getting any long term policy decisions which are justified and correct. Since political bosses are not experienced experts, the inexperienced bureaucrats immediately below the levels of the political bosses would make up a system which is not competent to handle complex issues of governance in a knowledge driven manner.

It is also important to consider the educational qualifications of the candidates who are selected to the elite services. The direct recruits need only a bachelor's degree in any discipline to appear in the all India civil service examinations. Graduates , post graduates or even PhD holders in medicine, engineering , arts, science, etc are all treated at par. While writing their examinations, they are at liberty to chose options of subjects at their choice regardless of the formal educational qualifications. This makes the civil service examination a kind of screening test and not some thing to evaluate the specific field of knowledge of the candidate for a specific job. These candidates are selected for various cadres based on their choices based on the ranks they obtained in the civil service examination. Such choices essentially do not give much credence to the aptitude of a candidate for the job. For example, a person could become a senior police officer of the country, even if he or she does not possess some of the essential physical and mental attributes that are needed for such a job. Even the selected candidates have any common educational backgrounds in common! 

The freshers may get a few months' training for induction in to the elite cadre of officers of the government. But once the cadre is allotted they remain in that cadre till retirement. They cannot escape the brand once they are branded. 

In addition to the fresh candidates selected this manner, an equivalent numbers are promoted from the staff cadres. In short, the government officials of the class one government services of India do not have any commonality among them except their branding. This often creates interpersonal rivalries and envies. Superiority and inferiority complexes are generated among these people. While they are trained to treat themselves as superior to the common citizens, within their own class, they are either inferior or superior. The god-dog syndrome is highest among the government officers of India.

Unfortunately, the same class of people would not allow the system to be drastically changed. Democracy or no democracy, the government officials have a common mindset all over the world from time immemorial. It is too difficult to change it. Politicians, the so called people's representatives, are also scared of the officials because without the latter the former have no existence or no power!

I know that I am nobody to comment over the present system or to give any suggestions for improvements. Yet, I think there is a common logic that the present system of selection of government officers needs to be changed. The system of arbitrary postings of the all India service officers in any ministry or any department without the requisite understanding of the functions should stop. The background educational qualifications and experience also should be given equal importance while a person is posted to head an organization or department. 

It would be a good idea to have many all India services to serve various functional ministries and the persons for such services should be selected based on the specific knowledge that is needed for such ministries or departments. 

Some three and a half decades ago, the late Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi mooted such an idea. But she failed miserably, even though she was much more powerful politically than her later day political successors. This was because of the clever manner in which some of those elite class administrative service officers played against the idea.

The public sector is a big governmental function. Yet the government does not have any all India industrial management service. Even in such services, the functions of various disciplines vary widely and there is a need to look in to this aspect too. The practice of politicians occupying executive posts also needs reconsideration.

It is indeed a complex situation. A situation where power and service considerations go hand in hand with favoritism and performance requirements. A situation where priorities are difficult to be ascertained. Is it the country or is it the individual that is important? 

It is easy to declare the country as important in public, but it is too difficult to practice that in private.

Independent republic of India has survived more than a century now. It has become old. The old generation of people of India themselves are those born after independence. They are no more likely to be with the ideals of their parents. The youngsters of India are no more taught about civic responsibilities in the schools. No more they are taught about the importance of being honest and compassionate. The modern public schools of India set up by societies formed by clever elites with skills and tactics of garnering power and money have turned out to become factories that produce export oriented, stereotyped, human robots with much knowledge and least wisdom to work for multinational corporations (MNC) rather than improving their own nation! And the elitist administrators of modern India have helped out much to accomplish this.

There are millions of middle class people who think that they have benefited from such a progress that India has made. From their viewpoint they could be right. 

But in reality, the rich in India are getting richer and the poor are becoming poorer. The numbers of the latter are increasing. The affluence of the rich are not proportionately getting transmitted to the less affluent in a natural manner. And some ill conceived administrators think that they have done a big thing by subsidizing a few starchy food to the poor to maintain their lives to do all those menial jobs, the works which could be branded as essential services in the event they ever think of stopping their work!

Every officer belonging to the various governmental organizations is part of the executive branch of the government and they are all professional leaders who are responsible for assisting and guiding their elected political heads of the government in accordance with the constitutional framework of the country. The elected leaders in a democratic system as defined in its present constitution need not be any one who has the majority support of the people. The elected leaders are also not required to be with any well defined educational or other such competency qualifications to become the heads of the various governmental functions. But that is not the case with the professional leaders of the government. They have to have some competency qualifications.

It is very obvious that the Constitution of India  requires the professional leaders of the governmental systems (the officers of the government or the public servants) to be with proven competency. Had these officers with the right mix of the 4C's I wrote some time ago (Competency, Character, Courage and Compassion) there is absolutely nothing that could have prevented India from achieving the best administered and governed country in the world by now. But India is not such a country now. Transparency International and others in the world consider India as one of the poorly administered and badly governed country marred in corruption of all kinds.

I am not telling that all officers of the government are without the 4C's. I am also not telling that the Indian system of governance is bad every where. What I want to stress is about the importance that should be given in screening and selection of the professional leaders of the government so that they are all with the right kind of the 4C's. If some have the 4C's while others do not, then we get a system similar to a bullock cart that is pulled by one able bodied oxen and one one lame and lazy one. The cart is likely to move in a circle rather than moving forward. An administration manned by a mix of able officers and incompetent ones would most likely make it in a vicious circle!

Incompetent officers would allow their non-professional political leaders to assume and take over their functions. They would be too willing to oblige their non-professional political masters. That would cause the country to move towards collapse. It would be similar to the situation where the professional pilot of an aircraft allowing his employer and owner of the plane with no pilot licence to pilot the plane! A competent professional pilot would not allow his owner employer for such an experiment even when his employer commands him for compliance in abusive language! That is because the professional has enough courage and competence to face such situations. 

Regrettably such situations are happening in India for quite some time. That is causing the government machinery to under perform. Fortunately, the government machinery is not like an aircraft. Its failure to catastrophe may not happen in a few minutes. It would take some years!

The constitutional architects of India, while ensuring selection of people with higher Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and cleverness as a measure of their competencies did not place equal importance for the other three C's, character, courage and compassion.

The effect is a gradual slip and degradation of professionalism in the elite class officers of Indian government. Soon some of those kinds would find their positions in the selection boards to make things slip from bad to worse!

India is now a country of favoritism. True professionals are no more preferred to occupy the top professional posts of governance. 

Incompetent professionals due to their incompetence are afraid of competent juniors. Only competent ones can be mentors of competent subordinates. Hence, incompetent professionals who head top hierarchies would knowingly or unknowingly cause incompetency to perpetuate in the governmental organizations.

As time passes, the whole system would saturate with incompetent people.

And that would be the time when the system collapse totally.

A new republic with a new constitution would likely emerge! Else there could be emergence of many republics!

I am not telling this. That is what history teaches us. 

If that is not to happen, what is required to be done is not so difficult to understand.

Hope you could get what I meant.

How To Ensure Good and Efficient Administration in India When Its Postal Service is in Shambles?

Efficient and reliable exchange of documents and an equally efficient and reliable document preservation and retrieval are the backbone of any good administration. If the governments cannot do these properly, there is no doubt that such a government can never do any proper administration.

Developed nations of the west with their high literacy and centuries old evolution of governance have learnt the importance of these and have perhaps adopted some best systems in the world for their postal services that have been carrying out the authentic and official exchange of documents for all walks of life and for all. Similarly, many of them have proper laws for public record keeping and they do follow it properly.

Some time ago I wrote about the importance of good record keeping for ensuring good administration. Equally important is the postal service of any nation which ensures the most reliable and authentic exchange of documents for various purposes. 

India being under the British rule for over a century had got all these good systems and practices as a legacy from its erstwhile rulers. During the initial about three decades, the democratic governments gave due importance to the postal system. Record keeping used to be practiced, though there were no laws and rules for the protection of public records.

However, things changed drastically later. When the intentions of the rulers changed, India witnessed drastic changes in these fundamental things which are essential for good administration. Whether intentionally or not, the Postal Services of India started to deteriorate and became unreliable. The government encouraged private courier services while making the postal services inefficient by neglecting its administration and facilities by using indirect methods. The government stopped services such as the railway mail service (RMS) and many such systems. It also began to curtail the man power and adopted such techniques by which the postal service became too inefficient for any one to rely. 

I remember a case of the early 1980's. I had sent a registered letter with acknowledgement card attached from my residence in a city in central India not having any good public transport system to my village in central Kerala, some 2300 km away. I got the acknowledgement card duly signed by the addressee in less than a week's time. In 2014, with all the modern developments as claimed by India, such a feat is not possible for the postal department or the private couriers.

Now consider the consequences of such a situation. 

The no organization can reliably sent their documents reliably to any party ensuring time of delivery or proof of delivery. Such a situation affect the reliability of commercial and legal transactions. Imagine the plight of a contracting company to deliver the documents in time to the client! Imagine the situation when the authorities have to issue a legal notice to be delivered to the recipient without fail!

The problem of address proof has arisen to such alarming complications due to the ineffective postal system in India. No more the Indian postal system and its government staff are any authority to authenticate any address proof in practice even while the authorities might have included the postal services as one of the agencies for doing it. The Unique Identity exercise of India, named Aadhaar and the issue of the voter ID card by the Election Commission of India all failed miserably due to the inefficiency of the Indian Postal Service as it exists now. 

When more than half of the Indian people are underprivileged and scarcely literate rural folks, electronic communication systems cannot replace any authentic document exchange systems. Indian authorities have high ambitions to spend for all the modern gadgets. But they fail to recognize the ground realities, either intentionally or otherwise.

Administration and governance cannot be efficient without any well defined and statutorily valid communication and document exchange systems. Even online trade cannot prosper without these.

The Indian authorities have knowingly or unknowingly done so many administrative experiments in the past that have caused much complications and also paved ways for higher incidences of corruption.

It is high time that the future democratic leaders give attention to such things if they want their country to prosper and shine as a nation that  is a pride of its present and future generations of citizens.

Else the affluent and privileged can neglect these aspects totally and keep establishing their roots in foreign lands to establish a degraded Indian diaspora in the foreign lands in the future!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Some Nature Photographs Taken on Spice M-515 Coolpad Android Phone !

Some time ago I wrote about the features of Spice M-515 Coolpad Double SIM Android Mobile Phone.

Let me today share some nature pictures taken by this mobile phone.

Suicidal Corporate Drivers Who Over Speed To Destruction !

Today morning I was reading the views expressed by the lady CEO of Axis Bank as published by a leading Indian business newspaper. She had opined that Indian Businessmen and entrepreneurs are intrinsically risk taking. So long as they are risk taking, there is not much problem for the banks to disburse their monies as business loans with potentials for good earnings.

On the other hand there are news in the media regarding the resignation of the lady CEO of an Indian Public Sector bank -the United Bank of India. This bank is burdened with a heavy non-performing asset or NPA. NPA is nothing but the unrecoverable loans of the bank. The bank officials perhaps had distributed heavy amounts as loans to many 'risk taking' entrepreneurs who had taken the risk of pleasing the bank officials with 'necessary' documents and the bank officials had in turn taken 'the risk' of clearing those loan applications expecting big success of the risk taking businessmen. But in this case, the risks actually became real and the money has become non-recoverable!

People are of essentially of two kinds. The majority are non risk taking and less adventurous. They will not risk their lives by venturing in to dangerous adventures. But then there are another group, a minority who are risk taking and adventurous in nature. They are the brave men and women of our world. They are the ones who move ahead for achieving their goals. Their goals could be anything. Exploration, travel, sport, business, politics or anything of that sort. In these, business and political risk taking are a bit different from the others as these two are determined by what is known as greed. The greed for money and power! 

The minority of people who are greedy for money and power too are essentially risk taking in their nature. However, their risk taking nature is not only detrimental to them, but also catastrophic to several others whose lives are directly or indirectly dependent on them. 

The risk taking politicians could drive the entire nation and its people to miseries for generations. Businessmen manipulate money, men and materials (the so-called 3 M's of management) for making more money while trapping more men and materials. In their high enthusiasm and high ambition many of them set high and achievable targets for them to accomplish. They dislike the word, impossible. For them there is nothing impossible. If there is a will, there is a way. That is what they prefer to believe!

Short and long term success of some others are their examples that they wish to emulate. Per se, it is not something bad. But what actually happens to such people is the manner in which impatience becomes too visible in their actions and decisions. They fail to recognize the fact that impatience is a mind poison.

Thus their business enthusiasm and ambition become poisoned by impatience. Impatience for achievement of high targets. Impatience for doing things or achieving results in the shortest time. 

What happens when you drive a vehicle at 100 km/hr speed when the road conditions do not permit you to drive more than half that speed? Even when your vehicle is capable, you are bound to make accidents and destroy your vehicle and yourself! But if you happen to be a good driver who knows well about your vehicle, the road and the rules, you would not venture into such an adventure of over speeding.

In a similar way, there are over speeding businessmen and chief executives who try hard to push their business organizations to impossible tasks and performances. It they are knowledgeable about the intricacies of the business and their business organization (the company or the firm that they manage or own) they may not take such a risk that might eventually cause great harm.

Unfortunately, in the world of high competition that we have today, there are chances that the businessmen and their chief executives are mere manipulators who are not competent in many other aspects of their own business processes. They may be good in one or two aspects but not in all. Since they are successful in their own areas, they tend to consider other areas of work also to be like their own and force others to fall in line without realizing the consequences.

Let me explain this by a simple hypothetical example. Imagine that there is a real estate developer.He is not a technical man but he knows the technique of getting the land purchased and also getting the approvals from the statutory authorities by hook or crook. He has experienced that the approval process which takes usually a few months time got reduced to a week because he could 'manage' the authorities. He had seen that the architect who asked for three months time to develop the drawings finally agreed to give all the drawings in a month's time when he put sufficient pressures including some inducements. But in this process he failed to understand that the drawings the architect now supplied were some quick copies with some quick manipulations and not something specifically made for him by applying proper mind. The result was that this builder was going to spend much more money, efforts and time to complete the work later, though he apparently made a quick success to get the drawings much earlier.

In a similar manner this builder could force the civil contractors to speed up the work to such levels which are neither practical nor technically justifiable. If he forces them, they are likely to adopt short cut methods in construction to speed up the work. They may even start building the higher floors without giving enough time for curing of the lower floors or reinforced cement concrete (RCC) construction. This could cause heavy structural weakness  to the building which might even cause total failures some time later. If that happens, this builder might even land in jail. But if he a risk taking sort of a man, these eventualities may not deter him. He would proceed in a haste and make some quick bucks. If nothing serious happens, that becomes his benchmark of success. 

The organizations of today's world are more and more getting created or managed by people of this sort- the so-called successful leaders who maintain their success projected by hook or crook till proved otherwise by some untoward happenings. Since organizations are more and more getting responsible for the economic activities of people, their failure is bound to affect people adversely.

Organizations are essentially to ensure long term sustainability of collective work and activity of people and hence they are supposed to last for a few generations. If organizations are created only to disintegrate in a few years, that is not a desirable thing and if it happens too frequently, it is a sign of ill health of the society or the nation where it belonged.

If organizations are disintegrating, it is often the top directors or top executives of the organization who are responsible for such breakups. And often, it is the suicidal risk takers at the top decision making levels who are responsible. They are like the captains of the large ships who pilot the ship to destruction and escape using the only one life boat in the ship leaving the rest in the ship and the ship to destruction. The maritime laws consider this as a punishable offense. Unfortunately, the captains of large organizations who do such acts to destroy their organizations are not often taken to task.

It is a serious issue and the right thinking should think about it for some solutions.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Stray Dog Menace in India-A Curse Inflicted Upon Indians By Meddling Bureaucracy, Insensitive Politicians and Pseudopetans!

A few weeks ago, a colleague of mine who is the habit of walking a few kilometers in the evening to keep his diabetes under control had a narrow escape when he was pounced upon by a group of viciously looking stray dogs. My friend fortunately was in the habit of walking with a baton in hand and that helped him to scare those modern day wild animals from tearing him apart. Moreover, he also got the timely help from a few security guards who manned the gates of the well guarded, walled township where he stayed.

But he told me that he got one of the biggest scare of his life that day. What would have happened had he been bitten by some of those owner-less beasts? More than becoming a customer to the anti rabies vaccine makers, his wounds would have become a chronic health hazard to this diabetic man. 

Me and my wife, too have become cautious, that we have reduced our evening and morning walks. I am scared of my office too now because of the increasing numbers of dogs that are multiplying in the well guarded complex, unchecked. During the normal working hours these beasts are no where to be seen, but in the early morning hours and late evening hours when the offices are thinly populated with people, these beasts would boldly roam around the corridors as if it belonged to them. I hear incidences of my colleagues getting some sudden dog scares when some of them got viciously cornered by these beasts when they chanced to be in the office to do some over time duty.

I have been hearing about stray dog attacks on children and adults for quite some time. There have been news about children and even adults getting fatally attacked by these beasts. There have been news about some administrative actions being taken up at the highest levels of authority in India in some states. In the place where I live, there were only a few stray dogs visible an year ago. Now they are visible in scores every where. And they are becoming ferocious and malicious waiting to attack any one at any opportunistic moment. Fortunately, no rabies yet. But that could happen at any time.

Stray dog population in the Indian cities and towns are increasing rapidly mainly due to three reasons. Firstly, the Indian city and town administrations are poorly and inefficiently managed with regard to waste disposal. Either the people concerned with this have no idea about these things or they are least concerned. This provides ample opportunities for the stray animals to find enough food for survival and multiplication. Secondly, the dogs in the cities and towns of India have no natural predators. Thirdly, there are no effective pet keeping rules. People are so casual and uncaring about such matters. I have seen some people religiously feeding stray animals with waste food without taking any other responsibilities from their side. 

Curiously, the civic authorities of India are maintaining a silence that is causing immense anger in the minds of many of the citizens who have faced the stray animal menace. I discussed this with a person who is supposed to take actions for control of such perceptible threats to the health and safety of the public. He told me that the stray dog menace cannot be managed in India so long as there exists the present day Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act) together with the meddling bureaucrats, insensitive politicians and the pseudopetans in India. According to him nothing can be done even if the media and the affected people make hue and cries here and there and now and then.

I took some time to check the facts about this. To my utter dismay, I found that what my acquaintance from the administration had revealed is true.

Now, before I go in to that further, let me explain the meanings of the words I mentioned above. 

Meddling bureaucrats are those fellows who cleverly introduce some clauses in the bills they draft for the politicians to pass in the parliament or the assemblies that eventually become the laws of the land. They introduce such clauses which prima-facie appear as good but do much damage later than good. 

For example let us see the first definition of the PCA Act of India .This act defines an animal as ' any living being other than a human being'.  So, this act could be used to frame a criminal charge against any body who killed or tried to kill even a mosquito which was a nuisance in his house! This situation could have been avoided if the bureaucrats who drafted the bill were a bit more careful and honest to their work. But then, bureaucrats and their assisting staff work under pressure and they are often required to draft the bills in haste under some arbitrary time schedule fixed by some higher authorities with least consideration to realities. By experience, the bill drafting staff know the competency levels of their seniors that they could afford to take such liberties in drafting the bill clauses in this fashion. Sometimes it is overlooking due to incompetency. Other times it is willful meddling!

Then comes the insensitive politicians who make the laws. In India, the bills are presented and passed by the ruling party. It is simply a formality. If you watch the parliament proceedings where the bills are getting passed to become laws, you would probably think much more fortunate than the poor parliamentarians as many of the latter have absolutely no role in making any changes in the bills drafted by the lower rung staff of the ministry. I even doubt whether a majority of them even understand what they actually pass or oppose! So, most likely our PCA act also became a law in India because of the ill fate of the country because the law does not address any complications that would arise out of such a law.

Lastly there are the pseudopetans. PETA is the acronym for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. So anybody who is an activist for the animal rights is a Petan. Pseudo means falsehood. Pseudopetan means any body who blindly makes a hue and cry for animals and try to run some agency or NGO supposedly taking their mission as if to protect animals from exploitation or cruelty without any consideration to the human society. A true petan becomes pseudopetan when he or she becomes an activist without human wisdom. And the present day world has more such pseudo activists for every cause.

So PETA and PCA together with the meddling bureaucrats and insensitive politicians have all contributed to the insolvable problem of stray dog menace in India. In India as the human population on a daily basis is increasing faster than the total population of many other nations, for all practical purposes, human life has become cheaper than that of animals. Affluent Indians interested in getting publicity may prefer to take up the animal cause than the cause of the people.

In short, impractical laws like the PCA, drafted, passed and amended many times with least consideration to its ultimate effects on the society at large create much hurdles in the lives of the Indian people if they think of living in their country as 'law abiding' citizens. But then, no one really abide by the laws in India. Laws are not for abiding and that is a well known thing for the law drafters, en-actors, enforcers and the interpreters. Normally nothing happens when you break an impractical law, but you risk to be booked if some one has some scores to be settled with you for any reason.

When laws like PCA are in vogue, the local administrations of the cities and towns would be handicapped to manage issues like these. It is not that they cannot do it. They can do it. But they get more excuses and shelter in the PCA act not to do any thing to control the stray dog menace in their jurisdictional areas. 

Added to the complications of public administration and management is the indecisiveness that is inherent with any democratic system of governance. There cannot be any immediate solutions in the near future or in the times of the immediate few generations!

So, use your own ingenious methods if stray dogs are a perceivable threat to your peaceful living in India.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Kingdom of Heaven on Earth and its Comparison with the Earthly Governments as Clarified by the Urantia Book!

Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven are concepts frequently referred in the Bible. But there seems to be much debate among the theologians about the meanings of these concepts. Perhaps this is because of the limited narrations of the teachings of Jesus that got recorded in the Bible.

The Wikipedia article on Kingdom of God says: In the gospels Jesus speaks frequently of God's kingdom, but never defines the concept. 

You can find many articles written by learned religious scholars on the topic expressing their scholastic views. Search the internet using the key word 'kingdom of God' to find such articles.

I have read many of these. But my frank opinion is that they have missed out some thing. Then I wanted to see what my book of life guidance, the Urantia Book, tells about this. To my great surprise and relief, I found it in my book. It is given in Paper-178 of the Urantia Book

For brevity let me reproduce below some of the salient statements from this paper. The authors of the book tell us that these are the essentials of the teachings of Jesus Christ on the subject topic when he was incarnated on earth as a human being some 2000 years ago:

The kingdoms of this world, being material, may often find it necessary to employ physical force in the execution of their laws and for the maintenance of order. In the kingdom of heaven true believers will not resort to the employment of physical force. The kingdom of heaven, being a spiritual brotherhood of the spirit-born sons of God, may be promulgated only by the power of the spirit. This distinction of procedure refers to the relations of the kingdom of believers to the kingdoms of secular government and does not nullify the right of social groups of believers to maintain order in their ranks and administer discipline upon unruly and unworthy members.

There is nothing incompatible between sonship in the spiritual kingdom and citizenship in the secular or civil government. It is the believer’s duty to render to Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and to God the things which are God’s. There cannot be any disagreement between these two requirements, the one being material and the other spiritual, unless it should develop that a Caesar presumes to usurp the prerogatives of God and demand that spiritual homage and supreme worship be rendered to him. In such a case you shall worship only God while you seek to enlighten such misguided earthly rulers and in this way lead them also to the recognition of the Father in heaven. You shall not render spiritual worship to earthly rulers; neither should you employ the physical forces of earthly governments, whose rulers may sometime become believers, in the work of furthering the mission of the spiritual kingdom.

Sonship in the kingdom, from the standpoint of advancing civilization, should assist you in becoming the ideal citizens of the kingdoms of this world since brotherhood and service are the cornerstones of the gospel of the kingdom. The love call of the spiritual kingdom should prove to be the effective destroyer of the hate urge of the unbelieving and war-minded citizens of the earthly kingdoms. But these material-minded sons in darkness will never know of your spiritual light of truth unless you draw very near them with that unselfish social service which is the natural outgrowth of the bearing of the fruits of the spirit in the life experience of each individual believer.

As mortal and material men, you are indeed citizens of the earthly kingdoms, and you should be good citizens, all the better for having become reborn spirit sons of the heavenly kingdom. As faith-enlightened and spirit-liberated sons of the kingdom of heaven, you face a double responsibility of duty to man and duty to God while you voluntarily assume a third and sacred obligation: service to the brotherhood of God-knowing believers.

You may not worship your temporal rulers, and you should not employ temporal power in the furtherance of the spiritual kingdom; but you should manifest the righteous ministry of loving service to believers and unbelievers alike. In the gospel of the kingdom there resides the mighty Spirit of Truth, and presently I will pour out this same spirit upon all flesh. The fruits of the spirit, your sincere and loving service, are the mighty social lever to uplift the races of darkness, and this Spirit of Truth will become your power-multiplying fulcrum.

Display wisdom and exhibit sagacity in your dealings with unbelieving civil rulers. By discretion show yourselves to be expert in ironing out minor disagreements and in adjusting trifling misunderstandings. In every possible way — in everything short of your spiritual allegiance to the rulers of the universe — seek to live peaceably with all men. Be you always as wise as serpents but as harmless as doves.

So long as the rulers of earthly governments seek to exercise the authority of religious dictators, you who believe this gospel can expect only trouble, persecution, and even death. But the very light which you bear to the world, and even the very manner in which you will suffer and die for this gospel of the kingdom, will, in themselves, eventually enlighten the whole world and result in the gradual divorcement of politics and religion. The persistent preaching of this gospel of the kingdom will some day bring to all nations a new and unbelievable liberation, intellectual freedom, and religious liberty.

You must not seek to promulgate truth nor to establish righteousness by the power of civil governments or by the enaction of secular laws. You may always labor to persuade men’s minds, but you must never dare to compel them. You must not forget the great law of human fairness which I have taught you in positive form: Whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do even so to them.

When a kingdom believer is called upon to serve the civil government, let him render such service as a temporal citizen of such a government, albeit such a believer should display in his civil service all of the ordinary traits of citizenship as these have been enhanced by the spiritual enlightenment of the ennobling association of the mind of mortal man with the indwelling spirit of the eternal God. If the unbeliever can qualify as a superior civil servant, you should seriously question whether the roots of truth in your heart have not died from the lack of the living waters of combined spiritual communion and social service. The consciousness of sonship with God should quicken the entire life service of every man, woman, and child who has become the possessor of such a mighty stimulus to all the inherent powers of a human personality.

You are not to be passive mystics or colorless ascetics; you should not become dreamers and drifters, supinely trusting in a fictitious Providence to provide even the necessities of life. You are indeed to be gentle in your dealings with erring mortals, patient in your communication with ignorant men, and forbearing under provocation; but you are also to be valiant in defense of righteousness, mighty in the promulgation of truth, and aggressive in the preaching of this gospel of the kingdom, even to the ends of the earth.

Throughout the vicissitudes of life, remember always to love one another. Do not strive [exert too much to put forth your viewpoints] with men, even with unbelievers. Show mercy even to those who despitefully abuse you. Show yourselves to be loyal citizens, upright artisans, praiseworthy neighbors, devoted kinsmen, understanding parents, and sincere believers in the brotherhood of the Father’s kingdom. And my spirit shall be upon you, now and even to the end of the world.

[Consider reading the full paper-178. Use the online reading link provided in the Urantia-India website]

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sharing Some Photographs of My Life That Remind Me of the Changes that I have been Witnessing!

Today is a Sunday and it has been unusually cold in this part of the country from the morning. A cold and wet day devoid of the usual routines of office going and the like. As there was nothing to do, I thought of reading the Urantia Book. I began reading the foreword once again, the para that I had read many times earlier: 

"It is exceedingly difficult to present enlarged concepts and advanced truth, in our endeavor to expand cosmic consciousness and enhance spiritual perception, when we are restricted to the use of a circumscribed language of the realm. But our mandate admonishes us to make every effort to convey our meanings by using the word symbols of the English tongue. We have been instructed to introduce new terms only when the concept to be portrayed finds no terminology in English which can be employed to convey such a new concept partially or even with more or less distortion of meaning.............Your world, Urantia, is one of many similar inhabited planets which comprise the local universe of Nebadon. This universe, together with similar creations, makes up the superuniverse of Orvonton, from whose capital, Uversa, our commission hails. Orvonton is one of the seven evolutionary superuniverses of time and space which circle the never-beginning, never-ending creation of divine perfection — the central universe of Havona. At the heart of this eternal and central universe is the stationary Isle of Paradise, the geographic center of infinity and the dwelling place of the eternal God."

Yes, it is exceedingly difficult to present enlarged concepts and advanced truth to my fellow men and women. Experience has made me realize that very clear now. I thought this world is very advanced and the people are capable of understanding higher knowledge and thoughts. But unfortunately it is not so. The divine revelators of the Urantia Book knew it well. My world is still in its cultural infancy, though there could be a few individuals here and there who are receptive to advanced truths!

I closed the book. I took the photo album and began glancing through the photographs. From a child of the nineteen fifties, I had progressed to become an old man reaching the sixties. Many of those who shared the space with me in those photographs no more exist in this world. Those who exist have changed their physical appearances. As the time passed, new faces are appearing and old faces are fading out.

Change is continuously taking place. And change is the only thing that has not changed.

Look at these pictures of me, my family and my activities. Changes are too visible and understandable:

Me and My Wife now (2014)

Me, the child of 1958

Me (extreme left) with my parents (extreme right) at mother's parental home(Seen in the photo is Late Mr J John, founder headmaster of MTUP School Nellikkala (Aikuzha School) and his son and its later HM Mr John John. Photo of 1969.

My wife Lizy with her maternal grandmother Mrs Rahelamma Chacko, w/o Late Rev. Chacko (Kumbukkattu Achen, Valakom, Kottarakkara) Photo of 1981

Me and my wife Lizy (Saramma John)  with her siblings, Moncy (Daniel John
and Princy at her home. Photo of 1982

My daughter, Shaleen. Photo of 1985

My daughter Shaleen with her great grandma, Mrs Annamma Mathai (d/o Kumplampoika Kulanjikombil Mathai, one of the founders of CMS High School Kumplampoika)

My wife Lizy, daughter Shaleen and son Dejo with my father, Mr T.M.Mathew, Retd Teacher, Mar Thoma High School Pathanamthitta , my mother Mrs.Chinnamma Mathew, Retd Teacher, Govt High School Elanthoor and my youngest brother Mr Joji C Mathew at our Elanthoor Home. Photo 1992

My grandmother Late Mrs Annamma Mathai Kulanjikombil (1898-1996) photo of 1988

My wife Lizy with her sister Dr Princy John and brother Er Daniel John  at Valakom home. 1994

Me and my son, Dejo Rajan Mathew Photo of 1998

My children sharing some happy moments 2001

Me lighting a ceremonial lamp.Photo 2008

Me addressing a professional gathering 2008

Sharing the dais with other dignitaries, 2008
News coverage of professional activities 2008

Wedding of my daughter Shaleen with Prem 14th April 2008

Shaleen and Prem lighting the wedding reception lamp 14th April 2008

Baptism Day of my grandchild Mannah Rachel at Parumala Church 2009

My wife with her brother and parents at Parumala Church 2009
My brother in law Moncy (Er Daniel John) and youngest brother Joji C Mathew at Parumala Church 2009

So life keeps going with continuous changes.

And those changes are inevitable experiences.

But what are those invisible changes that are taking place?

Any changes in the mind ?

Any changes in priorities of  life?

Do you ever thought of any link between my reading the book earlier today and sharing these photos later?

Try to find it out yourself if you have the time!

Read my blogs based on the knowledge I have gained by being a student of the Urantia Book.

You may also search for those using the key word search for other  blogs tool at the right hand column top.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Railway Co-passenger Who Removed the Melancholy from the Mind of the Young Indian Engineer !(Story)

Mr Vinod Bhaskar is not a very successful Indian if success is to be measured in the yardsticks of the present day wisdom of the so-called Indian elitists. At the same time, he is also not a ruined failure by any means. In the eyes of millions of his so-called poor country cousins, he is definitely a very successful young man.

He works in a good Indian banking company as an officer and earns nearly Rs.45,000 in a month. He had never imagined that he would be doing a job in a bank doing and dealing with the money of others like him. He was interested in science subjects in the school and his mathematics was calculus, algebra, trigonometry and the like and he never considered simple arithmetic as any important part of his mathematics. His parents had to shell out considerable money, about five lakh rupees for him to complete his four year engineering degree course in mechanical engineering from a new era private engineering college established by erstwhile landlords of his state in the 1990's. 

He had learnt about theory of machines, machine design, thermodynamics, heat engines, strength of materials and many such things which he earnestly studied scoring high marks in his semester examinations. He was serious in his studies unlike many of his classmates and college mates who got in to the engineering college for spending the moneys of their neo rich parents in style and show. He was hopeful to get in to some job where he could put his engineering knowledge to advanced creativity.

But things did not go the way he thought. When he passed out in flying colors in the first decade of the 21st century, he realized with regret he was not any uniquely trained young man who would be welcomed by the Indian industry. There were millions of young men and women like him who are with engineering degrees and a good majority of them had acquired their degrees in flying colors! 

Indian industry and the Indian government did not know how to use these young engineers who come out with many fundamental knowledge and waiting eagerly to put their knowledge to actual professional use. Manufacturing and production of goods have become a non profitable activity in India while selling of items made in China was much more profitable. Companies who had factories working in the Indian soil have closed their units and began outsourcing products that the Chinese made much cheaper. The Indian government and the Indian industry could not find out the magic of the dragon even while they kept thinking over it for years!

So for Vinod there was no engineering job offer. And his parents were not of the kind of the parents of any of his contemporaries either. Those fortunate Indians have either unaccounted moneys in millions that could be easily diverted for sending their wards to the American and Australian universities for higher education and securing lucrative jobs in MNCs. Vinod was also not the son of any fortunate landlord who owned acres of land near to any Indian cities which could have fetched them millions of rupees from the builders and colonizers or their land mafia agents. Again his parents did not belong to any community or castes listed in the Indian constitution for any preferential government jobs.

But it is totally unfair to say that Vinod was going to be unemployed in modern India. He fortunately had a visionary prime minister ruling the country for nearly a decade and his visions had changed India. Youngsters like him passing out in the millions as young electrical, civil, mechanical engineers are finding fantastic opportunities to get transformed as modern software engineers. They were to cut and paste code lines using the computers and the internet for making additional codes for the same and earn money distributed from the USA. It was a fantastic magical business where money transactions occurred in billions without any visible changes any where. It is the modern business. Too abstract to understand even by the most learned wise men!

Vinod too got such a job in Bengaluru. He was getting Rs 15000 per month in 2008 when he joined the company. He did not like the job. It was not about the heat engines or about the strength of materials. Or for that matter nothing to do with the mechanical engineering that he thought about.  He was making some code modifications for computer games that would eventually to be sold to hook up young boys and girls to computers. Some of those codes could perhaps be promoting gambling in some part of the world. He was not sure. Neither was he sure about the code cut-pastes and re-writing his seniors asked him to do. He and millions like him were however toiling hard to make the digital ocean of the world wide web frothy and chaotic and to dig out the nectar of money from that big chaos. His common sense was not able to give his any satisfactory answers to the question that he was asking to himself. Is this digital technology works taking the youngsters like him away from the real world? Does it bring about progress and solve the human problems? Or is it going to be the modern era opium that would sedate the youngsters and keep them in perpetual illusion? 

Vinod Bhaskar could not come to any conclusion. What he realized with pain was that only these software companies are going to support him and millions of young Indians like him with some monthly income to survive. He did not understand how the money kept flowing to the coffers of these software companies of India from the foreign lands. Neither he understood the economics behind it. But he knew only one thing. It was too boring and tiring a job. He and his colleagues were being used as some kind of slaves. They are called software engineers or techies. But he knew, he had no such background to be called a software engineer. He was never ever trained in the field of computers. He was trained as a mechanical engineer! Yet they paid him some money regularly for his computer work that he performed without understanding anything about it.

So, he wanted to get out of it to the real world. But soon he realized that it was not going to be that easy. He now is branded as a software fellow and no one was willing to consider him as a mechanical engineer any more. More over, all the placement companies thrived only because of the software companies.

But in another two years time Vinod was fortunate to get out from his software company. He was picked up by a private bank as a front line officer. They hard bargained for his monthly salary and finally agreed to make a monthly payment which was ten percent more than what he was getting in his previous software company. The new job in the private banking company was also not any thing concerned with his engineering. But at least it gave an opportunity to change, a change that he soon realized as more painful than the earlier one. 

Bhaskar has now totally settled to his fate. He soon realized that he was a fortunate engineer of India. At least he had some job which fetched him some regular income to survive. He is called an officer of a new wave bank. This bank selected people like him to be posted as the front line officers who manned their branches to deal with the individual customers with their small savings and small transactions. For handling these small people small time officers like him are deployed with small time salaries. The small moneys of the individual Indians in millions accumulated as billions of rupees for the bank. And the bank made big deals with big corporate entities using these accumulated billions. And to settle those big deals they needed highly clever managers with high IQs and such big managers they recruited from the elite management institutes and paid them several times more than what they paid their front line officers. The new wave banks of India have been allowed to do play in the financial markets of India in the liberalized economy of India in this manner. 

Bhaskar fumed when he came to know about such class differences in his banking company. He too was an intelligent engineer, but his bank's top brass gave little credence to that. For them he was not having a degree from an elite institute and hence not eligible to become any of their big managers to draw big salaries!

But there was nothing that he could do. His father had told him about the class inequalities that India perpetuated after independence. Now the clever leaders of India are making other forms of inequalities. He was also learning some thing more from his few years of work experience. Cheating of some form was essential for doing any business successfully in his country. Honesty has no place and value. At least that was what he was experiencing.

He was slowly losing his self esteem and confidence. He was becoming melancholic. He wanted to meet some guruji or spiritual saint to discuss his problems. Fortunately there are several of those successful gurujis in his land. But of late, after reading and hearing the news about  the adventures of real life many of these swamijis are supposedly having he was in a dilemma. The conventional image that he had about a guru in his mind was not inspiring any more.

It was in 2013 while on a train journey that he finally met a person whom he has now placed as his guru. The guru who brought him out of his melancholy and his fuming anger to one and all for reasons that he was not in a position to explain. 

Bhaskar's new found guru did not wear any such mystic attires. In fact he was decently dressed and looked like any other white collared working class Indian. He was older by a few years. There was nothing extra ordinary about his co-passenger, except that he had some thing that made Bhaskar to get attracted to him after he began talking to him. 

Talking with him during the few hours of journey in the train was felt as if highly refreshing for Bhaskar. But his co-passenger did not talk about religion or spirituality or any thing of that kind. But he showed a keenness to listen to Bhaskar earnestly and also shared a few of his experiences of life with a kind of honesty that was too touching for Bhaskar. What was appealing was his genuine affection to another human being without the all pervasive selfishness that Bhaskar has been used to. 

Then the time came for both of them to alight the train and catch different trains. They were to part ways in another couple of hours. They had another few hours of togetherness in the station.

Bhaskar felt the urge to smoke and have a drink that he used to do in such occasions. He usually went to a restaurant located in one of the lanes adjacent to this railway station where he could eat, drink and smoke comfortably. But this day, he had his stranger co-passenger who by this time had become much more than a friend to him. And he felt awkward to disclose to his new friend about his usual way of time pass. But anyway, he told him about that.

To his surprise, his friend agreed to accompany him to the joint. Later, he became all the more comfortable when his friend agreed to share a drink and a smoke with him along with the snacks. At least this new guru of his was not one who gave any sermon about these so-called vices!

In the hotel, while continuing their talks about life and life experiences of various kinds, his new guru politely convinced him not to order for more drinks and smoke and taught him about the need for restraints in life. He was not against Bhaskar to enjoy simple pleasures of life once in a while but gently reminded him to think about the folly of drinking and smoking and many such so called pleasures. And Bhaskar was getting his point. Drinking and smoking did not actually gave him any pleasure and yet he was doing it. There was no reason why he did it. His ordinarily looking guru while sharing a drink and a smoke with him for the first time made a lasting resolve in his mind that day. He would use his self determination power of his mind and perhaps would not spend money for this wasteful expenditure that only caused only some discomfort and not any pleasure any way. He realized for the first time that his guru was right after all, and that too while in actual practice. 

He learnt many things. There was perhaps nothing that he could do in a situation that he is. There is nothing he could achieve by being sad about his condition. He is not alone in this world who is facing situations like this. There are millions and billions who are worse than him. Perhaps getting a job of a mechanical engineer also would not have solved his problem. He could find things that are not to his liking even then.

He cannot change the environment. He cannot change others. He cannot change the policy makers. He cannot change his company's policies or the thoughts of its top management. 

What perhaps he could do is to train himself to be cheerful and think good. He could be of some small help to others. He could think positive and make others think positive at least in some instances. On the whole he could remain as a blessing to him and others instead of being a curse to him and others.

His banking job is perhaps the best opportunity. As a front line officer he was blessed with an opportunity to meet people. He could be a blessing and a help to scores of people every day. Perhaps a better opportunity than many of those big officers making big moneys.

It was time to say good-bye to his short time friend. But Bhaskar was a changed man now. He had already taken some firm decisions in his mind.

He was going to be a blessing to others in the days to come.

He was going to be like his modern swamiji who transformed him through some normal but touching human actions and not through those mantras, tantras or magical attires.

It was also very soothing for him to know that there exist so many of such loving gurus all around him. Perhaps they are not showing off. But they would definitely exhibit their godly natures when you need it most.

For Vinod Bhaskar, this land has become an interesting place to experience life! The secrets of happiness of living was unfolding in the minds of Bhaskar. 

The melancholy that was slowly accumulating in the mind of Vinod Bhaskar to become what doctors call as depression has been effectively removed. Vinod was feeling light and cheerful now than before. Had the situation continued he could have even decided to end his life succumbing to such thoughts that pervaded his mind many times earlier. 

While on his onward journey alone, Vinod was a cheerful personality. He thought of his co-passenger, the ordinary looking man who had become a blessing to his life. He thanked him silently in his mind and was now determined to become a blessing to others so long as he lives in this world. Just as his co-passenger was to him a couple of hours earlier.