My Views

Women Auto rickshaw Drivers

Posted in New Delhi, Society, Women by dullar on February 25, 2009

There is nothing new in women driving vehicles, but it is not very usual that some women take it as a profession. If we go out on Delhi roads and see a woman driving a taxi, cab or auto, it will be an only exception.
Auto rickshaws, the green and yellow three wheelers, we see around in every nook and corner of Delhi are essential and integral part of the city transport system. According to Delhi Transport Department data there are around 76,000 autos running in the city and nearly all of them are driven by men. The rules and regulations for running of autos in city have been according to Delhi Motor Vehicle Rules 1993. But how strictly there rules are followed on the Delhi roads is in the knowledge of everybody. Almost all of us have one or more bitter experiences with the auto-walas. Most of them do not go by the electronic meter, they very often deny going, they misbehave with women and elderly, they dupe foreigners and non delhities, and they fight over the charges of luggage. With fact that Delhi roads are considered very unsafe for women, these auto-walas are very much part and parcel of that environment.
Under given conditions and circumstances the concept of women auto drivers is like a fresh breath of air. It will be an instant solution for many existing problems. The possible benefits are:
   1. Woman, biggest beneficiary-there economic, social and political empowerment.
   2. It will make Delhi roads safer for women and other susceptible groups like -housewives, college girl students, working women, and school children.
   3. Economical empowerment of women drivers will lead to development of their families and it will have a positive chain effect. It can be a new tool to dent urban poverty.
   4. Women are soft spoken, friendly. Tourist, both international and national will prefer women driven autos. It will help to make Delhi more tourism friendly. When Delhi is set to organize 2010 Commonwealth Games such women auto drivers will represent a very pleasant color in its hospitality.
   5. Senior citizens will feel safer with women drivers. They are generally misbehaved by the auto-walas.
   6. In a small initially, but definite and effective way it will help curbing road rage incidents involving auto-walas..
   7. Woman auto drivers will be friendlier to general public, not rude like the present male drivers.
   8. Make social environment more women friendly. Positive impact on psyche of people, women will be received and treated more fairly in the society.
Even after having such a strong logic for women to take auto driving as a profession not much ground has been covered. Sunita Choudhary was first woman auto driver who think differently in 2003 and stepped into this largely male bastion. At the most about 20 women drivers are already on the Delhi roads driving auto/taxi. Looking at the total number of autos, the reality is way below the potential. The possible reasons for this might be one or more of these:
   1. Auto driving has been a man’s profession in Delhi or otherwise, so entering such a profession might be very difficult initially.
   2. Getting auto drivers license might take some time for women who are trained from scratch. A LMV driving license takes normally 2 and a half month to be issued from date of application. After that, a license for commercial vehicle takes 1 year to be issued.
   3. Normally price for an auto is around Rs 4.5 lakhs if purchased from a dealer. Adding its interest will increase the price beyond Rs 5.5 lakhs.
   4. Safety of woman driver herself is a big concern, especially in nights in some isolated streets/areas. So such woman driver recruits have to be first trained in self defense techniques. Certain personal safety equipments have also to be provided.
   5. Psyche of women itself is a problem. Not many might agree for the profession.
   6. Family approval is another reason.
So there is a need of some institutionalized mechanism where some organization take responsibility of sorting out such problem as defined above. A Delhi based NGO have tried to make headway into the similar direction. It is bringing together educated women from lower income groups to train them in driving and self defense. Sunita Choudhary is also planning to start a new campaign “women on wheels” and has already started to train over 200 women for taxi driving. It has to be taken into account that the initial cost of driving a four-wheeler taxi is more than starting with an auto. The driving tests for the cab/4-wheeler taxi are more rigorous. But seeing the potential, these attempts, though commendable fall short of the desirable limits. There is a need for a more organized and concerted effort in this direction. A possible approach to achieve the above said aim can be thought in this manner:
   Step 1: Existing Reality- A survey of total number of women auto drivers presently on the Delhi roads. To know there experiences, problems and motivations.
   Step 2: Recruitment of educated women willing to drive autos. (LMV license and commercial auto license requires drivers to be minimum 8th standard passed). Create awareness and motivate women to take auto driving as profession. Such women can be directly contacted in their localities or through some organization helping women in employment creation. Wives of those men who are presently driving autos can also be one option.
   Step 3: Purchasing auto – Autos can be purchased directly from the company showrooms. Cost of an auto when purchased from a dealer is around Rs4.5 lakhs (with extra cost if purchased in installments. It can be funded by the manufacturer (Bajaj auto etc), or some other corporate as part of their Corporate Social Initiative. Such funding can also be on the basis of profitability, when the cost will be repaid in installments with due interest.
   Step 4: Training – Such training will include auto driving training, training in traffic rules, training in basic communications skills (including spoken English), training in self defense, training regarding first aid in case of minor accidents. Maruti Driving Schools, Hero Honda Driving and Traffic Training Park and some other driving schools can be contacted. Basis for such collaboration can be profit, CSR initiatives, and advertisement. Delhi Police, Delhi Traffic Police can be contacted for orientation cum training in self defense and traffic rules.
   Step 5: Publicity campaigns – Media, political parties, NGOs, company sponsored publicity about the motives and goals of entire exercise is an underlying requirement at each step mentioned above.
Success of this initiative will bring about a strong message to society in Delhi particular and country in general. It will not only be a humble attempt to make Delhi roads an equal opportunity work space but go on to be a significant step in sending a strong message for the cause of women emancipation and their economic empowerment. It will be a boost to their confidence to have entered a profession which has largely been a men bastion. No doubt travelling in an auto on Delhi roads will be a entirely refreshing and comfortable experience.

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Pakistan-not serious,not now, was never

Posted in Pakistan by dullar on February 8, 2009

What is Pakistan, its civilian leadership, and its military bosses trying to convey to the world? The very own judiciary who turned against Mian Musharraf last year and for the sake of justice and their rights has proved to be a sham by letting the monster absolved of his past misdeeds. It is not hard for anybdy to guess that Pakistani leadership has yet again proven itself ineffective and redundant as far as fighting against the ills of its own countries is concerned. Leave alone the figithing with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, it cant be trusted as a credible nation who punishes the wrong-doers and upholder of justice. It might be pressure tactics that Pakistani leadership is trying to evolve and trying to signal the world community, especially US, that they wont take the order from washington in the same spirit that they are sent. They are trying to look serious to outside world, but at the same time their seriousness itself is smelling of rot and mistrust. Pakistan is doing nothing but dragging its feet.

Engineering Terrorism

Posted in Aside, Insight, Personal Musings by dullar on April 1, 2008

The recent revelations about the nature, psyche, and  educational qualifications of jehadis and terrorists are startling to me and many of my college friends. Should i feel unfortunate, ashamed, disgraced or horrified for myself that i can be a potent enemy of humanity. I may have that dormant seed which can be watered by some fundamentalist to turn into that tree of terrorism which will bear bombs, to be used by some against rest. Or should i feel happy that in case the possibilities of a full blown global economic recession come alive and strip me of my employability there is someone who can find talent in me, who can give me a job to make my life and destroy others’.

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India’s Standing (Kneeling) on Tibet

Posted in Foreign Policy, India and World, Insight, Relations with neighbours by dullar on April 1, 2008

In continuation to the earlier post i m trying to summarise India’s standing or say no standing on Tibet. India’s relations with China are guided by the “five priciples of of peaceful existence” better known as Panchsheel. Nevermind that China broke this pact in 1092 when it attaced India. The relations between the two countries has been unfriendly since then, only to find a reconciliation in 1988 when Rajiv Gandhi went China. resently border talks are going on to find an amicable solution to the boundary dispute in Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh. India has already(in 2003) recognised Tibet as integral art of China, taking a long to realise that it can do little on this front and has no choice. But Tibet has proved to be a thorn in its foot yet again. Now what is India’s stand, what is the credibility of that stand, what are the future or present repercussins of it?

Indiais again treading a soft line true to its nature of soft power in the international arena. India does not allow political dissent to be raised from Indian soil towards China. It supports the religious and spiritual activities of the tibetan monks in India. But again it has allowed Dalai Lama to make Dharamshala its “capital in exile”, whether that is political or religious is for anybody to guess. India wants the political issues of Tibet to be solved by dialogue between Dalai Lama and China and is against any form of violence used from either side to put their points across.

India has isloated itself from the international community who has openly criticised the Chinese authorities for using excessive force against the monks in Tibet. Some of them has also threatened to withdraw from the Olymipics. Tibet is a kind of lost opportunity for India when it could have pressurised China through diplomatic means and by aigning with international community. Tibet could have been a sore nerve on China’s body politic in international arena from Indian perspective. It would have given a boost the confidence of Indian when it will sit in front of Chinese authorities for the border talks related to Aksai chin and more so for Arunachal Pradesh.

Where do they stand?

China, most populous nation inthe world, fastest growing nation in the world with above 10% growth rate, (one of)the most authoritative regimes in the world, has once again successful in giving jitters to the world, but (of course) for wrong reasons. With daily updates poured on the news websites related to the excesses of the chinese authorities on the eace loving mnks of Tibet there is something on which the interested readers is missing. What exactly is the bone of contention between the china and Tibet, what is its current status and what, afterall, everybody is trying to achieve or say think what they want to achieve.

Tibet(Dalai Lama)’s stand-

1)Want full blown autonomy on the lines of Taiwan and  Hong Kong under the rule of two authorities one nation. Beijing is not ready for this.

2)Extension of the TAR(Tibetan autonomous Region) to the adjoining provinces which contain sizeable population of monks(upto 60% of the total tibetan monks living in China). Again beijing is against this.

3) Operational autonomy in running the administrative, economic, religious affairs of Tibet.

Apart from refusing to give some breathing space to Tibetans Beijing has lived perfectly upto its image of authoritative, autocratic and communist regime of crushing the demands in some manner or the other.  There are other more subtle ways in which Beijing has undermined the standing of Tibetans in Tibet and world over.

1) Influx of huge numbers of Huns in the TAR who are imposing themselves economically, politically and demographuically.

2)Intrusion in the management of religious affairs of monks.

3) Quietly suppressing the political dissent in the region.

4) Potraying a friendly picture in front of world by promoting tourism and economy of the region whose benefits are reaped largely by the Huns.

5)Connected Lhasa to east by rail in order to facilitate quick and timely transportation of armed forces when required.

6) Pursuing a long termed policy and strategy of unifying and unforming the demographic make up of Tibet, This has seriously undermined the religious nature of the TAR.

7)Having captured the institution of the Panchen Lama, the second-ranking figure in Tibetan Buddhism, Beijing is preparing the ground to install its own puppet Dalai Lama after the present aging incumbent passes away.

And if somebody asks me where does India stand in all this, i would counter ask, does India has a standing at all, a standing which matters? For more curious readers i will try to deal this in a different post.

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Humiliated?

Posted in Foreign Policy, India and World, Relations with neighbours by dullar on March 30, 2008

The whole issue of Tibet and its fallout on India has yet again proved that India is a soft state. What else following instances indicate?

1) Indian envoy summoned and reprimanded in the dead of the night in Beijing for the so called breach  of security in the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi.

2) Indian embassy was not invited for the foreign journalist’s tour to Tibet. It was an attempt of isolating India. Its likeBeijing saying that it doesnt matter for us if you visit Lhasa or not, we know your sympathetic position vis-a-vis Dalai Lama and the ongoing protest. We dont even care if you think that you have any opinion or not.

3) Chinese authorities hinting to New Delhi that the Olympic torch can by-pass this country if the foolproof security cover was not provided for the same. Again the credibility of the security is something which will be decided by Chinese authority and not by the Home ministry in India.

It feels like that India has not come out of the trauma and fear of the events that unfolded the tragedy of 1962 and like we have vowed to be always like never feel guilty of being cowed down by the communist neighbour even if its all such intentions has been proved beyond doubt to everybody from India to US and Russia to Europe. It feels like we are trying to become Asian economic elephant but we are still in some sense political chicken.

Secularism? Shourie vs Sachar

Posted in Politicians Speak, Polity, Religion, Religion and Politics by dullar on January 23, 2008

Two are among foremost of the intellectuals of the present day, one is jurnalist turned politician, other former CJ,
but two has expressed diammetrically opposite views about what hinduism is all about. I think Shourie has covered a
long path in his transformation into a politician and has kind of shed the neutral, unbiased principles that
represeted the journalism of his age. He is still blunt, he is reactionary, he is still extreme, although tilted
towards the political ideology of a political party and its mentors. Sachar on other hand has kind of upheld the
constitutional principles of secularism and given some reasons that these principles are not mere rhetoric in modern
day polity of country but the fundamental basis of youthful and fast paced all round development of world's
oldest civilization and a 21th century nation.

I would not like to reproduce the entire articles but will definately like to compare the concluding paragraphs of
the same.

Shourie concludes…

…."Every set of scriptures has in it enough to justify extreme, even violent reaction. The tectonic
shift in the Hindu mind, that has been going on for 200 years, is being underestimated"….(more)

Rajendra Sachar laments Shourie in what he concludes as..

…."I am firm in my conviction that any attempt to dilute the composite culture and inclusive democracy of
our country can only bring harm. As Maulana Azad's soul-stirring speech (1940) put it, "I am a Muslim and
proud of the fact. I am indispensable to this noble edifice. Without me this splendid structure of India is
incomplete. Everything bears the stamp of our joint endeavour. Our languages were different, but we grew to use a
common language. Our manners and customs were different, but they produced a new synthesis… no fantasy or
artificial scheming to separate and divide can break this unity"…. (more)

Military funding in Pakistan

Posted in India and World, Pakistan, Terrorism by dullar on January 18, 2008

In order to understand how military operates in Pakistan, one of its important aspect is the funding of military oerations. Its been evident that seeing the proportions and dimensions of its activities, be it internal security, ensuring security across north-west border along Afghanistan, fightning insurgency in Baluchistan, and aiding the millitancy in Jammu & Kashmir the military in Pakistan cant be funded wholly by the internal resources, thanx but no thanx to its economy’s condition. So money flights in Pakistan for its military activities across the border in form of aids. US, China, Middle East Islamist countries, especially Saudi Arabia are the foremost in aiding Pakistan, of course for their own objectives. According to an estimate Pakistan got a sum of around 58 billion USD from 1950 to 1999. It has been further aided heavily by US after 9/11 in the name of fighting the taliban and Alqaeda  in Afghanistan. Its been to everybody’s guess that how efficiently Pakistan and it military spending all this aid. But the results have their own story to tell. Military has been highly incompetitive as far as above stated objectives are concerned. Containment of cross border terrorism, internal security condition, popularity and credibility of army among civilians has been at its all time low.

Dealing the mater, this article cites some of the enlightening reasons for the Pakistan Army’s dire conditions, which have brought much miseries to people at large there-

“…….Extensive research shows that when governments luck into unearned cash (which economists call ‘rents’) from oil or other resources, the healthy links that bind them to their citizens are often severed. Freed from relying much on taxes, governments spend the money arbitrarily. Citizens, left untaxed, feel less motivation to monitor things carefully. The result is corruption, misrule and a host of other ills.

Rents paid for natural resources are bad enough. But ‘strategic rents’ — earned by a country for its role in the foreign policies of other states — are even more damaging. Military aid by definition entrenches the militaries that get it, making them less responsive to civilian control. Pakistan’s military has grown enormously powerful over the years, resistant to democratic checks and highly entrenched in every aspect of the country’s commercial, civil and political life… …” (more)

Possible solutions for above mentioned problems cant be arrived at so easliy, but there can be few broad starting points- Credible elctions next month under neutral, foreign authorities’ monitoring; seperation of army affairs from civilian affairs,as General Kayani has hinted,(see previous post); pro-active involvement of people and media in scrutinising the daily affairs of government and the military activities; China and India playing an increased role in ensuring peaceful neighbour.

Neighbour’s Nightmare

Posted in India and World, Insight, Pakistan, Relations with neighbours, Terrorism by dullar on January 17, 2008

Disturbing news from the India’s western neighbour are coming more frequently than ever. With Musharraf’s
loosing grip over the affairs of the country, people given up there trust in the polity and the military, civil
liberties curtailed to their new low, the situation in Pakistan is really grim. The military is seen as unable to the
danger that is bubbling under its western and northern borders. The terrorist activities backed by the Al Qaeda, and
the taliban groups are bleeding the army like never before. Its been yesterday that a fort has been seized by the the
terrorist groups from control of army in the north-west of the country. Army was too demotivated or lacked the power
to tackle the dullheadedness of the armed terrorists. Again few groups of millitia that had been trained by the ISI
have turned their guns to the mentors. Now when Musharraf was under pressure from US to curb the cross border
terrorism that Pakistan’s intelligence agencies were fomenting in Jammu and Kashmir and Afghanistan before 9/11,
the activities of training millitants have tobe slowed and lowered down by ISI. Now the monsters reared by them are
up inthe arms against their own establishment when these blood-thirsty monsters did not find a outlet for their long
reared killing habits.

Internal political and military reforms are the need of hour in Pakistan. But seeing the attitude of Musharraf, who
is not ready to give away his powers, whose unpopularity is all time high in Pakistan, and demoralised military the
hopes are grim. Although the elections are due on 18th Feb but there are few takers as far as their transparency is
concerned. General Kayani is trying to bring back some
discipline
to armed forces in his own subtle ways. Armiy personnels are strongly advised to remain away from the
political and civil affairs of the country. But country is far from the day when armed forces will mind only their
own affairs.

Pakistan being a country which hold nuclear weapons, there has been growing concerns across the world about the
security of the same. With growing influence of terrorist activities in the country and army loosing grip over
internal and border security, al qaeda pose the most potent threat to not only Pakistan’s security but also of
whole world. Although Musharraf dont want to
be dictated by Washington
as far as the secutiry of its nukes is concerned, but world community definately have
some credible responsibilities inthis matter. Pakistan’s nukes cant be taken as its own internal matter. This is
one of the main agenda of various candidates in US Presidential election campaign. World has a very close interest in
the security and peace in Pakistan. One of ways of ensuring that is to create strong international pressure on the
establisments in Pakistan to ensure credible and transparent election process. India seems to be silent in the matter
but it would not suit its long term interests.

Left In Limbo

Posted in Foreign Policy, India and World, Polity, Relations with neighbours by dullar on January 16, 2008

Left is running for a cover and searching a new ideological stand to oppose the Indo-Us Nuclear deal after the latest development in the Indo-Chinese relationship with PM winding up a successful chinese state tour. What India gains from the tour are – 1) Increased warmth in Indo-Chinese relationship in a multi dimensional manner, 2) Assurances from China that it will look Indo-Us nuclear deal from a new, friendly, and optimistic perspective, and not merely as a step in the direction of Chinese containment on the part of Washington, 3) Increased credibility of Manmohan Singh government as upholding the basic principles of India’s independent foreign policy, 4) Boosting of confidence of Government to present the deal to the left coalition in a more emphatic way, when left will listen to it more seriously, 5) Increased chances of bargainning India specific norms in talks with IAEA and guidlines of NSG, 6) With border talks now on being conducted with a new vigour and on practical and friendly terms, India’s policy of maintaining a peaceful periphery will get a new zeal. 7) Calming the political and strategic atmosphere in Asia and China visualising India in a new perspective.

Although Manmohan Singh realises the compulsions of a coalition government and parliamentary democracy, the easing of China’s stand on the nuclear deal will give some breathing spcae to the government and its efforts to bring left on board will definately get a confidence. Left again has a chance to ease their opposition to the deal and help government to bring India at a respectable and deserved place on the nuclear energy map of the world. With China sharing the concerns of climate change, sustainable clean energy, and a shared vision of economic and political well being of two great rising powers of Asia, the leftist politics of oppostion and blackmailing should yield to common good of the country by pulling back all its reservations about the nuclear deal 

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