(December 17/18, 2016, No.53/2016)
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
Political funding
T K Arun’s article “Fix Political Funding First” (Economic Times, December 14) raises several equally relevant issues which have a bearing on cleansing up the system. Aggregated, they justify PM’s November 8 announcement withdrawing ‘legal tender status’ of high value currency as a first step in the right direction. Here’s why.
Political funding outside banking channels has been by shifting huge quantities of currency from one individual to another or a group of individuals. Cash in effect has been a tool in running a parallel economy. Successive governments have been shy to harm the parallel economy run by those who retained unaccounted cash and wealth in various forms as that served as a captive source of funds for political parties.
Simultaneously with mainstreaming cash flows, government need to address the following issues:
i)                Tracking agricultural income and making necessary adjustments in subsidies enjoyed by big farmers including exemption from income tax.
ii)             Politicians alternating jobs between their professional occupations (lawyers, businessmen, doctors, consultants, CAs etc) and holding public office (legislators, ministers).
iii)           Mapping wealth in the form of land, buildings, gold and jewelry and other assets held beyond a threshold limit held by individuals and institutions including religious bodies.
iv)           Keeping track of political parties which are not in the business of fighting elections with an eye on their resources mobilization.


Recent responses

Ethics in politics

In India professionals like advocates, Chartered Accountants and Management Experts (list illustrative) generally accept politics as a 'second/alternative' career. Whenever free from the preoccupations of politics, as a legislator or minister, they come back to their 'original' profession.
On the face of it, this is perfectly in order. It can also be argued that In the Indian conditions, very few can opt politics as a full time profession, as it is not remunerative at all levels.
But the present practice raises some issues of principles and basically, ethics. Those who become public servants (include ministers) get access to information and get acquainted with influential people in India and abroad. Despite all "oaths of secrecy" and other built-in safeguards, these advantages being misused is a distinct possibility, when they get back to their original positions, post-retirement, in many cases with a fabulous government pension.
In the circumstances, there should at least be a cooling period post-job, preferably equal to the tenure they were "public servants", before they get back to their profession, including court appearance as advocates.
M G Warrier, Mumbai

Economics and politics of demonetization

S Gurumurthy’s article “Not a tragedy, but the remedy” (The Hindu, December 13) which follows former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s piece “Making of a mammoth tragedy” (December 9) and NIT Aayog member Bibek Debroy’s “Asking the right questions”(December 11) is a challenging analysis of the background in which GOI would have come to the painful option to handle high value currency the way in which it did through a surprise announcement withdrawing ‘legal tender status of Rs500 and Rs1000’ on November 8.
Opportunity to govern, like life, comes sans rewind and fast-forward buttons and Prime Minister Modi knows it better than anyone else. MMS opted to keep the ‘pause’ button pressed for long 10 years is a matter for research by future scholars. Manmohan Singh’s indictment of the system in his 6 minutes RS speech was more forthright than the lament about ‘mammoth tragedy’, which he concluded with a terse observation that “It is important to deftly balance these risks with the potential benefits of such decisions. Waging a war on black money may sound enticing. But it cannot entail even a single loss of life of an honest Indian.” Does not throw any light on the way forward.
 Conceding Dr Singh’s right to be concerned, let us also remember, all martyrs were honest citizens. The arguments put forth only explains the rationale behind his reluctance to take decisions during the ten year period when Manmohan Singh was Prime Minister. One wishes, the former PM gets one more opportunity to rationalize his thoughts and come back with his views on what is best for the nation in the context of feedback to his RS speech and the article under reference. Maybe at some stage, his past experience as RBI Governor, FM and PM may help him in giving a balanced view, once winter sets in.
M G Warrier, Mumbai


Serenity Prayer
The serenity prayer has appeared in many versions. Niebuhr's versions of the prayer were always printed as a single prose sentence; printings that set out the prayer as three lines of verse modify the author's original version. The most well-known form is:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your  will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Most generally accepted version:
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, and
The Wisdom to know the difference.
Source: Google search


Books create a parallel universe that exists alongside your real world for a few days. And it’s not just about exploring different places and times. You get to do things that in the real world you may never be able to. One day you could be investigating a murder in the English countryside with Hercule Poirot, and on another day you could be arguing a case in front of jury in the fictional town of Clanton, Mississippi. Sipping a cup of afternoon tea with Bilbo Baggins in the Shire, or scared to your wits sitting alone in a room inside the Bran Castle.


Blog Post No: W2477/16122016


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