(April 30/May 1, 2016, No. 18/2016)
Weekend Lighter is posted every Saturday @mgwarrier.blogspot.in
Feel free to mail your views on this edition of WL to mgwarrier@gmail.com
Opening remarks: Fear of Death
All of us are afraid of death. This wisdom dawned on me during early 1990’s when I was persuading my colleagues to opt for a pension scheme introduced in Reserve Bank of India in lieu of THE then existing Contributory Provident Fund (CPF) Scheme. One day when I mentioned to a friend that ‘even if you die, because there is Family Pension, there is some financial security for your family, if you opt for pension’. We had to stop that day’s discussion then and there, as my friend was not willing to ‘discuss death’. Next day, I could proceed with the discussion and convince my friend about the advantages a pension scheme has, over CPF. That day, we started the discussion with my introductory sentence, ‘See, if I die after pension option being accepted by the Bank…’ My friend had no problem.
Ok…Let us discuss life.
Some 15 years back, I was attending a Foundation Course of Sri Sri Ravisankar’s Art of Living Programme. The person who was conducting the class asked each one of us a question: Do not give me your address as the answer. The question is, “Where will you live, once you die?”. Some, like my pension/CPF friend, were unprepared to even think of death. Others had different answers, mostly based on their faith. As W comes very late in the alphabet, my turn came last. My answer was: “In the memory of my dear and near ones, friends and enemies. If I leave some work done or undone, perhaps I may be living through those works too.”

Recent responses
Judiciary revamp
This refers to your focussed editorial "Fixing judicial delays" (Business Standard, April 26, 2016) which goes beyond fault-finding and finding scapegoats for the sorry state of affairs of the Indian judiciary, symbolically demonstrated by the tears that fell on the dais where Prime Minister Modi was present. For a moment even the Prime Minister must have been shocked which made him search for words and make a guarded official statement that ‘if constitutional barriers do not create any problems, then top ministers and senior Supreme Court judges can sit together to find a solution to the issue’. Knowing the ‘Modi’ way of looking at issues, one would have expected a promise to ensure quick action to fill up existing vacancies in the judiciary at all levels and an assurance to resolve other issues flagged by CJI in a time-bound manner.
30 million court cases pending in various courts in the country, there is urgency to fast-track justice. The wake-up call from CJI on April 24 is more than a warning and nation can ill-afford to ignore the message demanding prompt remedial action. The immediate measures could include:

i)                   Segregating cases which need to be decided within a year and taking them on a priority basis by the courts now in position.
ii)                 Leaving the remaining cases to new Special Courts to be put in place at all levels depending on the number of pending cases.
iii)               Ensuring vacancies of judges at all levels are filled quickly.
iv)               Making it compulsory for government and public sector organizations to expedite procedures where they are on either side of the matters before courts. This is necessary as there is laxity on their side as cost and delay seldom affects the individuals who handle cases in government and public sector. This position is slowly creeping into big corporates also, where individuals do not feel the burden of cash outflow for fighting court cases.
v)                 Making necessary legislative changes to reduce procedural delays.
vi)               Simultaneous efforts to encourage concerned parties to settle issues out of court. This method would bear fruit where party on one side of the dispute is government or quasi-government organizations.
vii)             Advocates can play a proactive role by sharing the responsibility for procedural delays by charging less for appearing for cases depending on the category of clients and their capacity to pay.
This refers to the report “EPFO Set for Brand Makeover to Widen Reach among Subscribers” (Economic Times, April 26, 2016). Indian Railways, India Post, State Bank of India, Life Insurance Corporation of India and Unit Trust of India (list illustrative) are India’s prestigious brands that survived despite concerted efforts by vested interests to bring them down. EPFO is lucky to have survived to an era when ‘Brand INDIA’ is moving towards world-wide acceptance.
The present move by EPFO to assert its rightful position among financial institutions managing huge funds belonging to millions of workers across establishments in different sectors of the economy will, besides empowering the organisation to infuse professionalism and autonomy in its own functioning, change the perception of the savers about the organisation from a ‘keeper of accounts’ to a ‘funds manager of repute’. This will build trust and per force make EPFO work in the interest of the PF subscribers.
Gold refining
This refers to the report “Why gold refinery consolidation is the need of the hour” (Business Standard, April 24, 2016). One is not sure, whether this well argued piece, highlighting certain linkages crucial for all the three gold monetisation/investment schemes of GOI/RBI introduced in 2015-16 in different ways will be seen by those responsible for policy formulation and implementation, as the report has been published on a Sunday!
We have seen that pessimism has been the hallmark of every move towards better management of domestic gold stock since the budget announcement on the subject. Vested interests planted stories about prospective failure of gold monetisation scheme and Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme. Arrangements conforming to international standards for refining gold (both scrap gold and gold stock with uncertain purity levels held with temples, religious bodies, banks and perhaps even with RBI- Let us not forget 1991, when tonnes of gold had to be physically transported abroad for pledging) will go a long way in improving availability of standard gold in the Indian market.
M G Warrier, Mumbai 
Think Gandhi*
Loved to read the excellent thought-provoking short piece on Mahatma Gandhi by C Gopinath (The Hindu Business Line, American Periscope, April 27, 2016). Still wondering how this came under a column captioned ‘American Periscope’, though.
If Gopinath’s sense of guilt while paying a bar bill with a ‘Gandhi note’ is real, Mahatma may not mind his photos being embossed on all credit/debit cards also! Reading about Gandhi not really looking straight at the beholder of gold coin, I am reminded of a personal experience.
During 1970’s when I visited my uncle (Mother’s brother) in Madras, he showed me an enlarged photograph of his father (my Muthassan-maternal grandfather). The studio in Mount road had done an excellent job by producing an almost ‘life-size’ clear black and white picture of my grandpa’s face. I was not prepared for the question from my uncle that ensued. He asked, ‘Do you remember Muthassan’s face?’ I said, though he had left when I was in Class 1 or 2, I remembered his face. Uncle said the enlarged photo did not resemble his real appearance and as if he was consoling himself, said: ‘Most of the people who will see this, when ‘framed and hanged’ would not have seen him alive!’
Mahatma Gandhi will be safe on coins and currency, whichever direction you look at him and his experiments with truth.
M G Warrier, Mumbai

*A nicely edited version was published in HBL on April 28, 2016


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