WEEKEND LIGHTER: HIJACKING COMMON SENSE!
WEEKEND LIGHTER: HIJACKING COMMON SENSE!
(June 25/26, 2016, No. 26/2016)
Weekend Lighter is posted every Saturday @mgwarrier.blogspot.in
Feel free to mail your views on this edition of WL to firstname.lastname@example.org
Perceptions on issues can differ. They depend on the constituency to which the person belongs. In public interest, all of us need to try to protect institutions, even while trying to bring back on track the individuals who stray away and try to score their points. Some of them may still continue to bark at the wrong tree. That is part of the game. We are going through interesting times. Rexit (the brand name given to Dr Rajan’s expression of intention to go back to academia once the present tenure gets over on September 4, 2016, while simultaneously telling us he will be available to the nation when needed) has done wonders. It has woken up India.
The quick announcement of some reform measures, GOI’s expression of willingness to activise existing laws to handle tax evasion, change in procedure for selecting RBI Governor and open debate on the role of different authorities and institutions are all positive outcome from Dr Rajan’s message to his colleagues on June 18 which was made public by RBI. Dr Rajan has not resigned as alleged by Times Now on June 20 (The channel alleged that Dr Rajan ‘leaked out’ his resignation to RBI staff, before informing GOI!). He has said, he will not be available for reappointment on expiry of the current tenure.
The end-result, hopefully, will be SWEXIT (Exit from prominence of Swamys of all denominations). Wait and watch!
Today (June 25, 2016)
“India is less exposed to the external sector and not a significant commodity exporter, so it may not be hurt significantly if there is a slowdown in global growth”
Dr Raghuram Rajan on BREXIT
When POUND weeps, $ need not smile!
M G Warrier
Hijacking common sense
This refers to ET editorial “In Defence of CEA Arvind Subramanian” (June 24). Media is hijacking common man’s common sense, by blowing up disproportionately, issues which are of no consequence or that are non-existent. The thirst for ‘breaking news’ and headlines is becoming unquenchable. If only electronic and print media had ‘blacked out’ just one disgruntled politician several hours of telecast time and reams of newsprint would have been saved and several thousands of man-hours would have been used for resolving some of the many issues staring India.
Swamy has not tasted blood with Raghuram Rajan as alleged in your edit. Dr Raghuram Rajan has not ‘resigned’ as RBI Governor and ‘leaked out’ the news to staff before informing GOI as alleged by Times Now. True, Dr Rajan had, in an internal communication to RBI staff, indicated his intention to go back to academia, once his present assignment comes to a close on September 4, 2016. How is that expression of intention about one’s future plans converted into Swamy’s victory?
This is not to say that Swamy has not polluted the entire environment of governance by his loose talk. It for BJP to rein him, if the party is not comfortable with his behaviour. In such situations, when politicians go astray, public servants should not hesitate to come out and speak out in public.
M G WARRIER, Mumbai
Ref: S Gurumurthy’s article in The New Indian Express on Rexit
S Gurumurthy’s ability to mix facts, figures and fiction cannot be matched. After the event, anyone can pick up isolated episodes and argue. Dr Rajan in his June 20, 2016 speech on inflation has beautifully explained this. Two things. Gurumurthy’s assertion that RBI Governor is appointed for five years under law and Dr Rajan’s appointment for 3 years was because PC gave him only 60 per cent on a scale of 100 is just jugglery of words. 5 years is the outer limit. It is also not true that Dr Manmohan Singh and S Venkitaramanan were the only two who were appointed for less than 5 years. Dr Rajan is 23rd Governor in 82 years and average stay of one governor is less than 4 years! Ghosh was governor for less than a month! Let us not quarrel with Gurumurthy. He is an honourable man. We need him! About Dr Rajan’s performance as Governor, RBI during his current tenure, we will say something after he leaves Mint Road (on or after September 4, 2016!). I will not join the farewell and obit specialists before the event!
M G Warrier
Reining in Swamys
This refers to the report “Jaitley to the rescue after Swamy targets Subramanian” (The Hindu, June 23). Dr Subramanian Swamy is trying to settle scores with a political system which didn’t reward him up to his expectations. He is a learned man with the backing of thousands of like-minded people who are disgruntled with the establishment and present government for different reasons. He is celebrating the ‘issue-based’ support he is able to command from different constituencies. The earlier the BJP takes cognizance of this, the better for Modi government and the nation.
Options before BJP are dwindling. Nomination of Dr Swamy to RS has complicated an already messed up situation. Still it may be possible to wriggle out of the impending chaos, if BJP acts now. One option at this late hour could be, telling the party’s members who hold positions in government and party to raise their differences of views with government and ministers first in party forums and instruct them to follow party line in their public utterances. Those who hold important positions in government should be discouraged from using social media for blurting out contrarian views. This is distinctly different from participating in debates or seminars and expressing ‘personal’ views.
All are not Dr Rajans who can defend their own positions. When the attack has been directed to CEA Dr Arvind Subramanian, the fragility of bureaucrats vis a vis politicians has come to the fore.
A page from history*
“Even if we could suppose that it were practicable without the aid of a single native to conduct the whole affairs of the country both in the higher and in all the subordinate offices, by means of Europeans, it ought not to be done, because it would be both politically and morally wrong. The great number of public offices in which the natives are employed is one of the strongest causes of their attachment to our Government. In proportion as we exclude them from these, we lose our hold on them, and were the exclusion entire, we should have their hatred in place of their attachment, their feelings would be communicated to the whole population, and to the native troops, and would excite a spirit of discontent too powerful for us to subdue or resist. But were it possible that they could submit silently and without opposition, the case would be worse, they would sink in character, they would lose the hope of public office and distinction all laudable ambition, and would degenerate into an indolent and abject race, incapable of any higher pursuit than the mere gratification of their appetites. It would certainly be more desirable that we should be expelled from the country altogether, than that the result of our system of government should be such a debasement of a whole people.”
*Source: East India Papers (Vol iii, London 1826, quoted in Economic History of India, Romesh Dutt, CIE)
I found the above thoughts relevant in the context of the treatment meted out to the staff of India’s central bank since its establishment on 1 April 1935 till date. At the time of establishment, the ruling British government did have vested interest in ensuring that the top management of RBI ‘obeyed’ the government. The constitution of the Bank’s central board and appointment of RBI Governor and his deputies took care of this objective. “Natives prohibited” approach in decision-making can be traced to this need. The irony is, even today, it is ensured that only two of the five top positions in RBI, including governor and four deputy governors, are held by those who joined the bank at lower levels. This top management is dependent on the team of executive directors (now their number is in two digits!) who are career central bankers with over 20 years of professional central banking experience with exposure to several work areas including trainings abroad.
““Necessity is the mother of invention”
This is true not only for scientific and technological research, but for any development in the social and even spiritual area also. In India, perhaps till a couple of decades back, care homes for the aged were a government initiative targeting mainly those below poverty line (there is no hope in sight for getting rid of the need for this line!). And if someone who had enough assets to meet his daily needs thought of going and living in a care home, people would refuse to accept it as a normal behaviour. Our social security network through the institution of family and neighbourhood interdependence was strong enough to take care of the aged and the invalid as long as they survived.
Times are changing. And fast. These days, you will find sons and daughters working abroad, during their short visits booking villas or flats in the affectionately called ‘Retirement Villas’ as an investment proposition. You will also find old people in groups discussing about someone who has recently shifted to a Retirement Village.
Not that the values we upheld about the ‘family’ has gone down the drain, or that the present generation of youth love their parents less or vice versa. The modern lifestyle, need for everyone to go out for work and the smaller size of families have all contributed to this scenario in different measures.
Presently, arrangements for living for the well-to-do aged are available in facilities provided by big builders, some Non-Governmental Organizations or by spiritual/religious institutions. Those who are not so well-to-do depend on the mercy of government. Those who are forced to make a choice to move out of their family do it without getting much opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of
their decision. In many cases, they are not able to do the necessary study or scouting before deciding on the choice of the facility. Reason being the issue is not openly discussed in families or among friends for fear of being alleged that something is wrong within the family.”
*Excerpted from last chapter in my 2014 book “Banking, Reforms & Corruption: Development Issues in 21st Century India” (Earlier published in Be Positive, April 2009)