We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Indian reforms and Indian farmer

On 14th September 2012, after a long period of policy paralysis and constant controversies of corruption scandals the Indian government finally opened the Indian economy further, by introducing much needed reforms in sectors such as FDI in retail, power exchange, and aviation, etc. A major step is thus taken to bring back the Indian economy on the right track. Taking bold decisions in Indian politics has been tough due to a huge coalition based politics. Considering the vehement opposition the reforms have raised from Government´s own allies and the opposition party Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), it is doubted whether there will be again a roll back of this decision, the way it happened around 1 year back.

The reform, FDI in retail is in prime focus. This reform is expected to bring much needed infrastructure in the unorganized Indian retail sector, by bringing in foreign players and their expertise. It is projected to help in building the logistic support, which would benefit Indian farmers and in turn the Indian consumers. A large portion of Indian farm products get rotted before reaching consumers, due to the lack of infrastructure support such as efficient transport mechanisms, and cold storage facilities, etc. The farmer loses his products and earnings, whereas the consumer pays a heavy price for the remaining farm products that is able to reach the market. The only winner in current situation is the middleman, who reaps in heavy profits by exploiting this infrastructural gap by employing their own logistic services.

India is facing a huge agrarian crisis for a long time now. It would be also interesting to see how FDI in retail would help improve the growing agrarian crisis that Indian farmers face. It is estimated that nearly 2,00,000 farmers have committed suicide in India over the last 10 years due to lack of support in farming practices and resulting losses. However, the mainstream media hardly reflects this. Nero´s Guests is a story about India’s agrarian crisis and the growing inequality seen through the work of the Rural Affairs Editor of Hindu newspaper, P Sainath.  More about it can be found here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4q6m5NgrCJs&feature=related

Why such stories are repeating in India, if India considers itself an agriculture based economy? Will these reforms bring answers by bringing investment and logistic support for Indian farmers is a very important aspect to be considered. Lets hope such reforms bring hope for millions of these farmers, and stories such as Nero´s guest are considered a dark past of Indian history. India´s political class has to study why such problems exists and how they can be solved by employing correct innovative means, than by using the same old ¨vote bank¨ politics based ideology to oppose any form of new ideas. Lets hope these reforms survive the political opposition and bring cheers to many of these helpless aspiring Indians, who are striving for that much needed support to better their lives.

Lets wish that the India´s political class understands the positive implications these reforms can bring, on the future of these much neglected Indians, its own farmers.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Istanbul and Indian cities

I had a chance to visit Istanbul, one of the greatest cities in the world on the occasion of VLDB conference. Conference was for 5 days, while I roamed around rest 6 days exploring nooks and corners of the city. I was enthralled by this global city and the life it offered.

Cities are a vision of its rulers. Constantinopole as it was called when Roman empire Constantine ruled it was always a center of attraction for different empires starting from Byzentine empire, Roman empire, Ottoman empire. Ottoman empire named it Istanbul, meaning the ¨city of Islam¨. Istanbul is a unique city to be located on two continents, Europe and Asia. It controls one of the busiest sea routes connecting ship movement through bospohorous from Marmara sea to the black sea. It generates 25% of Turkeyƛ GDP and is a home to around 13 million residents.

I was amazed by the historical monuments boasted by city in terms of grandiose mosques. These historical monuments stand side by side with the modern culture. I felt sad for many of the Indian cities which have ruined their hostorical heritage due to neglect. A majority of the population has Islam as religion, however the city is exceptionally modern with a feeling of being in any American cities from the perspective of youth culture. Transportation network which consists of metro, trams, buses, funicular, railways, taxis offers plenty of options.

The poverty which is a ubiquitous scene in any Indian city seemed almost non-existent in the first look. I explored both upscale elite and quite poor neighborhoods and  was amazed by the infrastructure. The city is clean, people are well mannered and helpful, and women are respected and free.

Turkey is a developing country. India is a developing country too. However, being in Istanbul offers a different vision of being in developing mode. Often Indian cities are compared to be aspiring for cities like Beijing. I thought why not aspire to be like Istanbul? Being a developed city is a distant dream for any Indian city. It needs guts and vision to be developed. All the talks seems extremely hypocritical. I think better aspiration is to be like Istanbul. A city which offers freedom, culture, modern and a great cosmopolitan outlook.

I think I learned a great deal from this city and will cherish the moments, I spent while gazing at the Bosphorous while seeping Turkish tea and thinking about various thoughts. From why sea containers sail to how light is reflected from distant sources on sea water, to visions of great emperors. Here is a small selected collection of snaps from the city.

Thank you Istanbul.