This Independence Day , Be the change you wish to see !!!

#SundayRandomThoughts #3minread

Hope everyone have filed their annual taxes and did it with thoughts ranging from sighs to rants. Unfortunately, we middle class salaried ppl , dont have much time to think of getting our hard earned taxes worth of minimal services, and to atleast get our small local issues resolved.

Lets resolve this Independence week to raise a local civic grievance whenever we can . It hardly takes 5 mins on a weekend and given the raising e-governance and increasing accountability of govt servants , its easier than ever to raise and solve our locality or city issues. (Atleast in Hyderabad, they respond to twitter or call complaint) .

To my credit, i did get my colony pending road laid, got rainwater stagnation issue in my lane cleared, followed up with authorities to remove some major bottlenecks of my office commute, got two dangerous manholes repaired and so on , in last some months with almost ZERO effort. Reference: https://twitter.com/i/moments/1027954111889661952

We are anyways paying for their salaries , lets also give them some fruitful work 🙂 . And while doing so , ensure to be polite And thank them once done. Afterall , those are just employees like us and fellow humans. 🙂

#JaiHind #BeTheChangeYouWishToSee 🇮🇳

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Top Telugu movies for non -Telugu viewers which are on Amazon Prime Now

Earlier i had created a blog post in 2011 informing some of the movies which would be interesting for non-Telugu audience . I would update that list soon but for now,

It can be accessed at https://vams.in/2011/01/23/welcome-to-tollywood/

Adding to that list, i am sharing some more which are actually now on Amazon Prime. These are recommended considering the expectations and sensibilities of Pan India Audience. Also, the movies which had some interesting story lines.

  • Bharath Ane Nenu (2018) , Starring Mahesh Babu, Kiara Advani, Prakash Raj.

To make good on a promise he made to his mother, a university graduate returns to India and becomes disillusioned by the government corruption he encounters . He becomes the Chief Minister and tries to bring the change.

  • Bhaagamathie (2018)  , Starring Anushka Shetty

Law enforcement officials imprison IAS officer Chanchala Reddy in a haunted house, where she becomes possessed. The Background music is spine chilling and scary to hell. The ending is interesting.

  • Raja the Great (2017) – Starring Ravi Teja, Mehreen

Raja, a person with visual impairment, is skilled and sets out on a mission to rescue a girl, Lucky, the pampered daughter of a sincere police officer.

If you are looking for fun timepass , this is it. The original Rowdy Rathore Raviteja entertains once again.

  • 1: Nenokkadine (2014) – Starring Mahesh Babu

A rock star, who suffers from a mental disorder due to his bitter past, is convinced that his parents were murdered by three men. Taking the support of a journalist, he sets out to find the evil men.

Personally, the best interval block i have seen in Telugu movies.

  • Ekkadiki Pothavu Chinnavada ( 2016) –  Starring Nikhil, Avika Gor

The name of the movie translates to “Where will you go my boy ” , but its a supernatural thriller with some hilarious comedy.  Arjun, a young man, falls in love with Nithya. However, things complicate when he discovers she is possessed by an evil spirit

prime

 

  • Gaganam(2011) – Starring Nagarjuna, Prakash raj

When terrorists hijack a plane from Chennai, NSG commando Ravi is entrusted with the rescue operations. Soon, the terrorists land the plane, which include a minister and a top actor, at Tirupati.

A good thriller with good climax.

  • Prathinidhi (2014) – Starring Nara Rohit

A mysterious figure, who calls himself as ‘The Common Man’, kidnaps the Chief Minister of the state and threatens to murder him unless his demands are met.

A gripping thriller with some thought provoking dialogues.

  • Ninnu Kori (2017) – Starring Nani

Pallavi invites Uma, her ex-boyfriend, to stay with her and her husband to convince him that she is happy in her marriage. Uma tries to create a rift between the couple, hoping to win Pallavi back.

This is a reversal of Hum dil de chuke Sanam. But entertaining for most of the part.

  • Raju Gari Gadhi2 (2017) – Starring Nagarjuna , Samantha.

Three friends decide to invest in a resort and run a business. When they learn that a series of paranormal activities takes

place, they seek help from a renowned mentalist.Extraordinary background music.

  • Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru (2018) – Starring Karthi, Rakul Preet Singh

Ofcourse this is not a Telugu film, but a Tamil one. One of the finest cop thriller i have seen. Theeran Thirumaran, an honest police officer, gets transferred multiple times. His life becomes difficult after he investigates the case of criminals who loot and ruthlessly murder people.

 

India’s impending water crisis -2020 – A cursory look at NITI Aayog study

India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history and millions of lives and livelihoods are under threat. Currently, 600 million Indians face  high to extreme  water stress and about  two lakh people die every  year  due  to  inadequate  access  to  safe  water.  The  crisis  is only  going  to  get  worse.  By 2030, the country’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people and an eventual ~6% loss in the country’s GDP.
 This was noted by none other than the NITI AAYOG of India.
What does NITI Aayog say on Water crisis in India ?
Below are more bits from their extensive report published recently. Every word is taken from that report.
  • 70% of our  water is contaminated;  India is currently  ranked  120 among 122 countries in the water quality index.
  • 40 % of the population will have no access to drinking water by 2030.
    21 cities, including New Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad will run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting 100 million people.
  • More worryingly, the low performers on the Water Index are home to ~50% of the country’s population, thereby highlighting the significant water risk faced by the country.
  • The low performers are, worryingly, comprised of the populous northern states of UP, Bihar, Rajasthan, Haryana, and others, and are home to over 600 million people.
  • Maharashtra has the highest number of large dams in the country (2,354), but only 18% of the state is irrigated, indicating a wide gap between irrigation potential created and irrigation potential actually utilized.
  • While  urban  water  access  is  high  on  average,  significant  gaps remain  across  the  country, and  waste water treatment remains stuck at the national average of ~33%.
  • Almost  none  of  the  states  have  built  the  infrastructure  required  to  recharge  groundwater  in  over exploited and critical units, thereby highlighting a key constraint in the recharging process.
  • 52% of India’s agricultural area remains dependent on rainfall; the future expansion of irrigation needs to  be  focused  on  last mile  efficiency.
  • Going forward, states need to increase investments in waste water treatment to both meet the growing demand  due  to  rapid  urbanization  and  enable  reuse  of  water.
  • On average,~40% of the urban households in the country pay for water, but this value varies widely across  states.In  eight  out  of  22  of  the  reporting  NonHimalayan  states,  more  than  50%  of  urban households  pay  for  the  water  supply.  However,  in  several  populous  states  such  as  UP  and  Bihar,  a negligible proportion of households pay for water. Similar variation takes place across North-Eastern and Himalayan states as well, ranging from 90% in Uttarakhand to 0% in Assam.

Water-Crisis

Some successful happenings :

Gujarat’s  rural  water  supply  programme,  led  by  the  state’s  Water  and  Sanitation  Management Organisation  (WASMO),  aims  to  supply  the  village  community  with  adequate,  regular  and  safe  water through   household- level   tap   water   connectivity,   including   households   of people from   backward communities.
Gujarat has achieved a 100% score in the ‘Rural drinking water’ of the Water Index, implying that it provides clean water to all of its ~35 million rural residents.

Madhya Pradesh’s ‘Bhagirath Krishak Abhiyan’ began in 2006 in the Dewas district through the efforts of a  local  IAS  officer  and  is  focused  on  the  restoration  of  farm
ponds  to  boost  irrigation  potential.  The programme  has  resulted  in  the  construction  of  thousands  of  farm  ponds  to  boost  irrigation  potential,
through the efforts of local farmers, government officers, and financial institutions such as NABARD.

Andhra Pradesh’s online water dashboard :For groundwater, this means that all units have been mapped and recharge infrastructure created where required, and levels are being monitored in real-time, with interventions such as a ban on extraction being implemented as per need .This  data  and  monitoring  system  has  helped  Andhra  Pradesh  achieve an 80% score on the ‘Source augmentation (Groundwater)’ of the Index,the  highest  in  the  country.  The  state  has  mapped 100% of its critical and over-exploited units and constructed recharge infrastructure across 96% of these, in addition to having created a regulatory framework for managing groundwater.

What Govts should do :

Governments  need  to allow  local  bodies  to  implement, maintain,  and  price  local  drinking  water  supply.  This  ensures  a  strong  incentive  structure
where the people most affected by the supply are the ones responsible for its maintenance and sustainability.

States need to create robust water data systems with real-time  monitoring  capabilities  to  ensure  that  the  data  can  be  used  to target  policy interventions and enable innovation in the broader water ecosystem.

Community efforts for the creation of water conservation   infrastructure   need   to   be   supported   through   the   provision  of   adequate financing; banks such as NABARD and RRBs are well placed to lend for these efforts given their past association with farmers.

Coming to Telugu states,
Andhra Pradesh:

Water index score has decreased a bit from 68.5 to 66.0
Things going well :
Groundwater restoration: All over-exploited wells in the state have been mapped and have recharging data.
Participatory irrigation : 70 % of irrigated area is maintained by WUA’s .
Data: The state has setup a state of the art , online public platform for water data , including GIS mapping and daily updates.

Things to improve :
Drinking water in rural areas : More than a third of rural habitats do not have full access to drinking water.
waste water treatment : the state treats only 26% of its urban waste water due to low installed capacity.
Urban water pricing : More than 50% of urban households are charged nothing for water , leading to overuse.

Telangana :

Water Index score has improved from 45.2 to 49.8
Things going well:
Surface and groundwater restoration :The state has restored 70% of the irrigation potential of identified bodies and 90% of critical wells have improved.
Urban water: 80% of urban households have access, with 75% of them charged for the supply.

Things to improve :
on-farm use :The state has not begun the process of power feeder segregation , is one of the few states to not charge for borewell electricity,and has negligible micro-irrigation coverage.
Rural drinking water : Only 55% of rural habitations have been fully covered, and there has been no improvement in water quality.

Link to NITI Aayog report :

#APReorgAct Fate of Andhra Pradesh

The fate of  Andhra Pradesh is literally in doldrums. It feels sad that every political party is indulging in their own theatrics rather than fighting for good of the state.

The problem with the promises made to the state during its bifurcation in 2014 was that not all were actually promised legally. There are 3 different kinds of promises that Central Govt made to AP State government.

  1. Incorporated in Ap Reorg act and said “Will Do”.
  2. Incorporated in AP Reorg act and said “ Might do”.
  3. Promises made orally in Parliament but not incorporated in the act and BJP given promises during Election campaign of 2014.

As one can understand by now, 2 and 3 cannot be fought legally and no body can be held accountable.

Coming to 1, the act is still vaguely written which can be interpreted in different ways.Revenue deficit is something which state govt and Central govt have to decide. AP govt used this liberty and made the number huge. No detailed technical logic is included in the act.

Institutes of National importance like NIT, AIIMS, IIM , Petroleum University – They are started just for namesake. No proper funds. Act only mentions Central govt will support. Whatever the support, it can be technically a support.

Funds to Capital city – Central govt is giving some which is not sufficient.

The confusion arises from

  1. Lack of proper detailing in AP Reorg act
  2. Lack of understanding that all promises were actually not made .
  3. Political game plan by both TDP and BJP to get stronghold in AP.

That is why, so many committees are required to actually assess what was promised and how much. A classic case of how public policy can be misused for political gains.

Pawan Kalyan has initiated a Joint Fact Finding Committee with esteemed people like Dr Jayaprakash Narayan and others to first assess the kind of promises made and what Central Govt owes to state.

The report is at https://twitter.com/Loksatta_Party/status/969959604162519046 and totals that around 74000 crores need to be disbursed by Centre to State Government.

Dr JP is now on second phase of more detailed analysis of the acts with more information available and would be coming up with a report in coming weeks.

 

Privacy of Facebook !!!

Yes, Facebook can be used to influence elections and electoral results.

If i own a facebook page, i can literally ensure a post of my page reaches someone who was born in Gujarat , is now of 22-25 years old, lived in Bangalore currently living in Hyderabad Jubliee hills area ,part of some Congress fb group and also liked Modi, who is looking for some personal loan and looking to buy an apartment, likes Game of Thrones and also likes Night King , likes travelling but only visits Piligrim places, likes Mukesh Ambani but not Adani , shops for more of physical fitness items and attends Marathons.

Imagine that this data can be used by someone living in a far off place, creates a page, posts something and pays for ads in dollars or dirhams and influence a customer behaviour in India. When politics comes into it, this can get real ugly.

Everything you do on internet is tracked by 80+ ad companies via their cookies or track algorithms and your ad settings are defined by companies like Facebook and Google. Facebook App even analyses your voice conversations. There is also a famous pic of Mark Zuckerberg with his laptop mic and webcam sealed.

Looks at these if you want to be amazed about yourself 🙂

Google :https://www.google.com/settings/ads

Facebook : Your interests tab of https://www.facebook.com/ads/preferences/

The recent issue with Cambridge Analytica was this data was shared/retrieved by them when facebook did not have good enough self regulations. This was used to create ad campaigns and influence people. Google is a bit better in this privacy self regulations.

If you want to look at what all data facebook and google have on you in detail, Guardian has a brilliant writing at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/28/all-the-data-facebook-google-has-on-you-privacy

What we can only do is not get influenced by such social media posts and use our brain for a second before making a crucial decision or leaning towards a political ideology.

Chapter 4 – Love in the time of Hampi

Chapter 1:  The Beginning

Chapter 2  : The Prequel

Chapter 3: The journey begins

Hampi and the group of moments at this place is an UNESCO World Heritage site. It is said to be holding a population of 5 lakhs during 15th century which made its second largest populated city recorded in the history at that time. Hampi is an anglicized name of the city which was earlier called as Pampa Kshetra , named after Pampa, the old name of river TungaBhadra, on whose banks this mighty city is built.

Hampi excavations revealed presence of mankind in this place from First century AD. Hampi was chosen as the city of Vijayanagara kingdom as it had torrential TungaBhadra river on the North and defensible hills on other three sides. The ruins of Hampi were discovered by Colonel Mackenzie in 1800 , an army officer in British East India Company and fought against Tipu Sultan . He then surveyed the entire Mysore region of then British India and later even became the first Surveyor General of India. He was an explorer and artifact collector. In fact, much of his collection has helped recreate Indian History and is stored in London’s British Library.

Coming to folklore , two local Chieftains, Hakka & Bukka,who are the founders of Vijayanagara Empire,  reported to their Guru an unusual sight they saw during a hunting expedition. A Hare chased by their Hound suddenly turns courageous and start chasing the Hound. Sri Vidyaranya, The Guru, tells them that the place is very special and asks them to establish their local Capital at this place. The seed of an Empire was sown with the guru’s blessings.
Vijayanagara Empire was founded by Hari Hara and his brother Bukka Raya in 13th century. Later on, kings from Sangama Dynasty ,Saluva Dynasty, Tuluva Dynasty and Aravidu Dynasty have ruled the empire with Hampi as its capital until the empire was razed by Sultanates of Bijapur and Golkonda. Hari Hara and Bukka Raya are said to be some officials in Kakatiya kingdom and then they joined Hoysalas and then created their own empire.

Krishna, the driver guide for the gang ended this long 5 min monologue in a highly proficient accent of English and all five students have been dumbstruck. They even didnt listen to their college lectures with so much attention . Everyone were silent for a minute and Asha wanted to break silence and said  ” Guys what are the plans for lunch ” and Krishna gave an option ” Madam, you can get lunch at Kamalapura town, which is like 10 mins  . I can take a detour and we can go to Hazara Rama temple later after lunch ” .
Everyone discussed for a bit and decided none of them are so hungry but can take a lunch break . Arjun waited until the conversation stopped and acted as if he suddenly remembered something and gave Asha another Diary milk chocolate from his backpack and gave mime expressions that she can have it while they get to the restaurant for lunch. Vardhaan and Sid had a good giggle on this sight.

The restaurant was more like a dhaba under the trees and they ordered the plate meals which is the only food item they served during lunch times.The food was not so great but since all were tired with the heat finished the meal and ended with a big glass of butter milk. All six started towards Hazari Rama temple complex and the nearby Royal Enclosure. Hazara Rama temple has strips of Ramayana etched over its walls . The temple ruins are well maintained and Krishna, their guide and auto driver informed that this was a private temple for royalty in those days and was most important temple for the kings. The nearby Royal enclosures were the buildings where the royalty used to stay.

The royal enclosure had some huge structural ruins which looked like the court of the king and a celebratory arena . There was a pool or well in between and one can see an elaborate water supply system to the other buildings.  Sid , Vardhaan and Arjun climbed the elevated arena or platform where the king used to watch the celebrations and were having a birds eye view of Hampi ruins. Asha and Aamukta initially decided to stay on ground but after the boys climbed and were having fun, they decided to climb and see what the deal is all about.

Aamukta asked Asha nonchalantly ” Why are you ignoring Arjun . If you dont like him, why cant you just say No to him ” . Asha smiled  ” Not sure Amy , i came to this trip hoping he comes and we can chat sometime and see what to do. Things seem like going good but very dead slow ” .  Arjun was looking at them even though he is just making some random noises from the top of the platform.  Aamukta signalled a thumbsup to Arjun while Asha was not looking and Arjun started screaming “wohooo”  but this noise was lost as other boys too started screaming “wohooo” .

They took some photos from the top of that platform and sun suddenly started coming out from the clouds. Meanwhile , Krishna, the charioteer for the group was describing to some foreigners about this place. Lot of foreigners hire bicycles and roam around the ruined city holding the maps in hand. As soon as our group came to the Auto , Krishna said goodbye to them and gave them his visiting card.  Sid saw this and asked ” Bhayya, i have not seen an Autowallah giving visiting card to someone. Do you have other businesses besides this”. Krishna ” I do own a couple of lodges here in Hampi. If you are asking about why i gave a visiting card, thats for one of the lodge i own. Those foreigners are getting some friends who will be in Hampi this week and their current Lodge is already full itseems. I asked them to go to my Lodge and show them this visiting card ” .
They started their Auto and started to their next destination , Underground Shiva temple. The temple is lower than ground level and there is water all year round in the temple premises. The group had to pull up their trousers and venture onto crossing the rock steps that are overlaid on water . Asha is not interested to venture into water and did a namaskar to God from temple outside.   Arjun who was ready to go into the temple didnt go seeing Asha is not interested.
Arjun started small talk with Asha ” Hey, so how is uncle doing now ? He had been operated last year right ! ”
Asha ” He is doing fine ” . Arjun ” So, what are your plans after Engineering”
Asha ” Didnt think a lot as of now . Probably will try for MS . My brother is doing MS in US and wants me to come to US as well “.Arjun “Then, marry an NRI , right ? ”
Asha got angry and gave an angry stare. Arjun wanted to divert the topic and said ” Just Kidding. I too want to go to US for MS. Will go for GRE coaching after this trip ” .
Then there was some awkward silence between the two and both started fiddling their mobile phones.  Asha looked a bit frustated that there is no signal in Hampi and exclaimed ” This Airtel doesnt have signal here” . Arjun ” Dont blame only Airtel , my Vodafone, Vardhaan’s Idea , none of them have signal here. I know there will not be mobile signal and brought my mom’s BSNL Sim . Let me try adding that SIM to my phone . I will switchon the hotspot for you “.
Asha was happy with this ” Achaa, let me know once you start preparing for GRE. We both can plan and move ahead” .Arjun smiled but he was literally dancing hearing this from Asha.

Chapter 3 – The journey begins

Chapter 1:  The Beginning

Chapter 2  : The Prequel

Looks like Indian Railways too was excited for this trip and the Kacheguda express train started exactly at 9 PM from the platform .  Arjun took out a chocolate and offered it to Asha and said ” You should eat sweet something before you start something good ” , imitating the popular cadbury silk ad . Asha knew Arjun’s liking for her but then asked why not give it to everyone . Arjun took out the chocolate packet which he planned to give in course of trip and had to give it to Sid, Aamukta, Vardhaan; very reluctantly . Everyone had a giggle and everyone knew the reason .

The train is racing towards Hospet, the destination  . Since its already late night by Indian train travellers time, all the lights started to go off in the bogie and these five also decided to get to sleep.

Its 8 AM and train is scheduled to arrive at Hospet on time at 8 20 AM.  Sid woke up and saw that rest of the group is already ready for the day. Sid got up and took the railway tea. Aamukta is in the call with her grandpa and took some details on paper. As soon as the train reached Hospet railway station, they all got down and started walking towards exit. They got hold of an Auto and asked for a lodge in Hampi Bazaar, the downtown Hampi.Hospet is around 12 Km from Hampi and it took them around 30 mins.   The auto driver started conversing fluently in Telugu and switched to English after coming to know that these folks are studying Engineering . The English was so fluent that Arjun asked the auto driver ” Anna, how do you know English so good “. Auto driver Krishna, with a rugged look and frail beard,  aged around 45- 50 years,and with a very rustic voice said ” Anna, we get tourists from all over Europe, US, Russia, Japan to Hampi and almost all Auto drivers are fluent in English, Spanish, German etc etc. I myself know 5 languages. ”

They reached the lodge in hampi bazaar and enquired for their 2 rooms which they reserved online earlier . They saw 5 people in opposite lodge with Asian features and waived to these guys . Vardhaan waved backed and asked them  ” Where are you guys from ” and they replied “Japan” . Arjun replied enthusiastically ” Naruto ” with a dab. The Japanese guys reciprocated it with a smile.

The room boy of the lodge informed that these people come to vacation every Summer and stay for some ten days. Hampi is part of Indian hippie circuit many Europeans and others come to. They start with Goa, then go to Gokarna and then come to Hampi.

Krishna , the auto driver, after dropping the group came to know that Sid’s grandfather worked in Hampi and he might know him,  asked if they needed Hampi tour or will it be arranged someone by ASI. Aamukta , earlier asked her grandfather not to arrange any one for Hampi sight seeing as she thought they would only take to places they are familiar with . These guys, wanted to get a good detailed tour of Hampi and explore places slowly in the three huge days planned.  Krishna informed that generally they would take around 700 rs per day and can cover all the important sites of Hampi. The group decided to take the Auto but with only touring the places they want and even joked ” Now Krishna is driving the chariot for us 5 people and we are going to war listening to his Bhagavat Gita”.

The group got ready and started their tour of Hampi at 11 AM. Its summer and Hampi generally doesnt go below 35 Degrees in these days. Luckily for them, there are some clouds and even though its hot, its tolerable. They passed by the magnificent Virupaksha temple while starting the days trip but the temple was closed for afternoon break. Krishna started his six seater auto and it roared again just like its taking off to take its passengers to Moon.

First, they started their itinerary visiting the Kadalekalu Ganesha and Sasivekalu Ganesha temple pavilions on the slops of the Hemakuta Hill on the main road. There are many temples and gateways in ruins on the Himakuta hills, which are facing the main Hampi Bazaar . The giant statue of Ganesha in Kadalekalu Ganesha temple is a monolithic and is of 15 metre height. The sanctum of the temple gives a vantage view of Hampi Bazaar. Next they visited the Vishnupada temple and Sri Krishna temple . Krishna started to explain to the group that all the temples are in ruins and not much of them have any statues too.  A small group of foreigners also came to the Ganesha temple and their guide was explaining the stories of Lord Ganesha and Mahabharata to them in English and these guys were having fun listening to them.

They started to their next destination, Hazara Rama temple and Royal Enclosure areas.  It takes around half hour and is around 3 km from the temple areas they are currently starting from. Krishna took them to the place via a ruin which looked like a street and said ” this is the place where they used to sell diamonds on streets during Krishnadevaraya time ‘. Aamukta remembered a tale his grandfather narrated one night on bedside and said ” Yes, diamonds are a very common commodity during Sri KrishnaDevaraya time itseems. Infact, my grandfather said that there is a theory that Sri Krishna Devaraya had the real kohinoor and it got lost in time or noone has found it . ” Krishna replied ” Yes Madam , my grand father used to tell me that there is some clue in a temple on that diamond, i think Vittala temple . It would be exciting if its true ” .

” If we get that diamond, we will definitely give you a share, auto sir ” said Arjun.

Vardhaan suddenly jumped into discussion and said ” What if the story is real and we can find it . Just think for a moment ” . Everyone became silent and after a minute, Sid announced ” I will call up grand pa today and find out more about it ” .

Chapter 2 – The Prequel

The first chapter can be read at : Chapter 1 – The Beginning

Date : Someday in 1309 AD
Time: Sunset
Place : Somewhere near Orugallu , present day Warangal ( Telangana, India)

Its a full moon day and it still looks like a day even though the night started. The place is somewhere , around 30 miles near Orugallu, the capital city of mighty Kakatiya Kindgom. Malik kafur, the commander of Allauddin Khilji is stationed in his tent and discussing with his generals on the planned attack on Kakatiyas . They had invaded the Kakatiyas six years ago but had to return with a defeat. But now , he has determined to attack with a hundred thousand force , and the vengeance and most importantly, the desire to grab the most beautiful diamond everyone are raving about.

Allauddin Khilji is the king of Khilji Dynasty ruling  the Northern part of Indian subcontinent (including present day Pakistan and Afghanisthan) . Malik Kafur was a slave who was captured by Allauddin Khilji’s army when they had invaded Cambay  (the present day Khambat of Gujarat) , a port city flourishing with international trade . He was rumoured to be of Ethiopian descent who came to that place along with the muslim contingent of Baba Ghor.

Allauddin Khilji was fascinated by Malik Kafur, fell in love with him , yet castrated him and made him his enunch slave. Malik Kafur eventually became a military general and titled “Naib” , ‘a representative of authority’. Allauddin khilji was fuming with vengeance, having lost once to Kakatiyas and asked his favorite “Naib” to get him the gift of the great diamond from the Kakatiyas . Malik Kafur did not want to disappoint his lover and master . He has sent a messenger to Kakatiya ruler , the King Prataparudra asking him to surrender along with great diamond , which every one are calling it “Kohinoor”.

Date : Same as above
Place : Orugallu Fort , present day Warangal ( Telangana, India)

Prataparudra , the son of Rani Rudramadevi has successfully thwarted Allauddin khilji once . But now, he know he cannot face the hundred thousand army and having heard about Malik kafur , he has doubts on Kakatiyas victory. With the message he got from Malik Kafur, he knows Allauddin Khilji is after the wealth of Kakatiyas more than the territory , especially the “Kohinoor” diamond. Prataparudra strolled into his private pooja chamber in the palace and saw the mighty and glorious diamond shining in the full moon. This diamond has been the prized possession of his mother and great warrior queen, Rani Rudrama Devi . It is passed to him during his coronation and thats when everyone came to know about the glorious diamond , which weighs more than his crown. It is the glory, the prestige and symbol of his dynasty’s greatness. He asserted to himself  ” Iam never going to give them this magnificent diamond” and called his guards to summon the treasury officers Hari hara and Bukkaraya.

Date : 2016 AD.
Place: London

The clock has struck  is 6 in the morning  five minutes ago and Philips, a 22 year old just passed college graduate , is unhappy for getting late to the castle of Tower of London. He has completed his training and recently joined the security services company which looks into security systems at the castle. Tower of London is also known as ‘ Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London” and buzzes with visitors every single day. It is where the crown jewels are exhibited and which houses The Queen Mother’s Crown. He finally reached his workplace a couple of minutes late, however nobody noticed him. He is checking the CCTV footages and glanced upon the Queen Mother’s crown . There it was, the magnificient and glorious Kohinoor diamond in the middle of front cross of the crown. Philips has an Indian friend who pulls his leg for looking after the India’s greatest and most popular display of wealth .

Philips was amazed when he read about the Kohinoor.Kohinoor came from Kollur mine in Guntur district of present day Andhra Pradesh, a southern state of India. There are no diamonds being dug now there , but this place is known to be the origin of some of the most famous diamonds of the world. Kohinoor, as it is called , then made its to way to North Muslim rulers passing from king to king.Shah Jahan, the mughal emperor had the stone placed in his peacock throne. Then it was passed on to Nadir Shah, the Shah of Persia when he looted the Mughal treasury some time in 1700’s. Later it came into hands of Maharaja Ranjit Singh,the founder of Sikh empire and decided to will this diamond to Puri Jagannath temple in Orissa.However, he lost the war with British and as per 1846 Treaty of Lahore, came into possession of British’s East India Company . It was presented to Queen Victoria and then her husband has polished it , made it even more beautiful . Queen Victoria had it in her brooch. After Queen Victoria’s death it was added to crown of Queen Alexandria, the wife of Queen Victoria’s son and King Edward VII . Then it was passed to Queen Mary’s crown and then to the Queen Mother’s Crown. It was known to bring bad luck to the men who possessed it and hence only female member of royal family had it. Philips thought for a moment about the history, the wars, the possessors associated with that colourless carbon piece.

A random thought crossed his mind ” How can such a majestic piece be ONLY ONE in this huge huge world ” !!!

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Chapter 3:  The Journey Begins

 

Oldest Democracy vs Largest Democracy ; An intro of US Politics for Indians !!!

This Tuesday will be the day when we come to know who would be the most powerful person of this planet for next four years.  Iam not going into the candidates but i hope she wins.
US presidential election is the one of the most complex, elaborate and systematic approach of election i know. The process usually takes around 1 year with some of the best twists happening in the due course that you can only see in a Emmy Award winning Drama series.
Right from people declaring their candidacy to be President Nominee from a party , the primaries and caucuses they go through for Party conventions, debates after being declared the candidates is probably the most scrutinized process for a job.
A good visual representation of the process is here.
Link from USA.Gov
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Technically, the US president is elected by an electoral college of 538 ‘electors’ with each state voters voting for some 438 people to vote for their to represent their candidate . Another 100 people who decide the President are the State Senators , who are a constant 2 for each state. Each state has certain number of delegates  of this 438 it can send to decide the next president. This is based on population,  If a state has high population, that state would have more electors. This is somewhat similar to deciding the Prime Minister of India where members of parliament vote and decide the Prime Minister(Supposedly) . However, the members of Parliament wield some power since India is a parliamentary style of Democracy whereas electors do not have any power or term .
In reality, the presidential voting in US happens this year on Dec 19th and votes are counted on Jan 17th 2017 while people vote for the candidates ‘electors’ who vote in Dec on Nov 8th.
The most interesting thing of the elections for an outsider is that almost all states have Winner take all approach of electors. ie. If one candidate gets majority votes, the entire electors of that state belong to that candidate.  If a candidate is more popular in most populated states of California, Florida, Texas  , then he/she has more chances of winning. Except Maine and Nebraska states, all other states have such elector model and these states have some local “Congressional elector model” . This winner take all approach sometimes cause a grave concern that a candidate is more popular nationally with more people voting for him but looses the crucial states. Al Gore, in 2000, had got more votes than George W Bush but lost due to loosing more states and thus having less electors. And there is nothing stopping from a elector , to vote for the candidate who he/she was selected to vote for during Presidential voting . This gerrymandering is not rampant but is not taken care legally, whereas in India an MP if elected on one party ticket cannot switch parties without loosing his MP status.
In US, Ballot access is restricted to people who fulfill a certain criteria of voters signatures or other criteria which differs from state to state . Ballot access is the privilege to be on ballot paper in election. In India, any person can contest elections if he has sufficient deposit money and he would loose deposit amount if he does not get atleast one sixth of valid votes polled. The voting percentage in US is not that great when compared to India and it is usually less than 60 %.
Winnability of a candidate is usually determined by the money raised and money spent on TV Ads. Transparent process in political donations is the most important thing India has to learn from US politics.  Organisations donate money to candidates so that they can lobby later, but its a bit transparent. Groups called PAC (Political Action Committee) can be formed by people on behalf of candidate and they can pour in as much money as they can into a candidate campaign. Whereas we do have legal limits of campaign expenditure in India which nobody honors and is not actually sufficient for a party.
One interesting thing about US presidential election is tax payers can pay 3 dollars of their taxes to Presidential election fund which is later given to presidential candidates for their election campaigns. However, if a candidate takes that money, there would be cap on his expenditure and cannot take money from others. In a way Govt will sponsor your campaign (the current limit is around 40$ million) if you can stand in an election and can fulfill a certain criteria. Usually the candidates ignore this money and raise on their own and this money is donated to cancer research.
The rules are not same when the prospective candidates go through primaries and caucuses of their parties and thats a whole lot of complex system altogether where electoral engineering plays more role than popular vote . The parties have this some established internal democracy rules and someone who is incapable cannot be on the ballot to be most powerful person of this planet. John oliver, noted TV host, in this video informs what is wrong with this primary and caucuses approach .
 US also has a bicameral legislature, ie. there are two legislature bodies like India.
The upper house in India is called Rajya Sabha where the representatives are elected by states and some are nominated by President . The upper house in US is called Senate and each state gets 2 representatives each who have 6 year terms and some of them do have elections  during the same Presidential election time on this Nov 8.
The lower house in India is called Lok Sabha where representatives are elected by their specific geographical electorate or constituency . The lower house in US is called House of Representatives and each of these are won from their Congressional district. Both these House of Representatives and Senate are called as US Congress , like Indian Parliament.
The TIME cover this week .timesign

All the best Dr JP

It has a bit disappointing start of the last week with a party (i.e Loksatta Party) i followed, volunteered ,spent money and cherished has decided to quit elections .I am privileged to say that iam one of the team working behind the scenes to ensure the party and Dr.JP voice to as many eyes and ears as possible in this digital social media era. ;the team managing DR JP , Loksatta party and other loksatta pages in facebook, twitter and youtube platforms. I have to think like Dr JP and be sure of Loksatta work a lot of times and respond to many hundreds of people who message to these platforms (ofcourse with Admin tag wherever necessary) .I can understand the pain he felt with such a decision. I know this day would be sooner or later with the way things have been going on. I have seen his humility, his anger, his optimism, his despair, his oratory , his knowledge, his wisdom from a man to man distance . I even joke to my wife that iam probably the only person who sat in Dr JP’s chair while he was in the same room ( While setting up his laptop for Google Hangouts 🙂 ) . Although, as a follower and student i have always been learning from him and never tried to give my own gyaan to him like many people do it when they meet him.

Did Loksatta and Dr JP fail ? Analysis and statistics might say an YES but the heart would say a loud NO. He has graciously accepted that his ideals or the change he wanted to bring, cannot be possible in this electoral way. There are tons of reasons why he has to take such sensational decision of stepping away from electoral politics, some mistakes being on his side and on the side of people hebelieved in and some on the side of the people who couldnt vote for his platform.

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In India, reforms happen only when we are neckdeep in sh*t.

Green revolution in 1960’s started only when our leaders realised that we cannot sustain an occupation of 50% population with the agri produce we have and processes we follow. There were some deadly famines just before our independence and building dams,canals were not sufficient to sustain the growing population.
Liberalization  in 1991 came only after India was almost bankrupt and couldnt raise more loans from international community. PV Narasimha Rao literally had to airlift tons of Gold from Indian treasury to NewYork in exchange for some loans. Policy reforms like RTI  , Aadhaar happened after decades of advocacy, and ofcourse to the indirect impact to then lawmakers.

There is a movie scene in Telugu movie “Leader” when the hero, the state CM proposes an anti corruption law but it doesnt get passed with lawmakers objecting it .An experienced and old leader suggests to exempt the lawmakers and the bill passes with thunderous applause.Hero would be in disappointment having exempted the biggest sharks of corruption but the old leader consoles him saying you are catching the fishes and without fishes there wont be sharks after sometime. Our elected public representatives are similar to this . This is as true in Indian politics that no elected representative would pass big ticket reforms which they would be a victim of (eg. Women Reservation, strong anti corruption body, police reforms etc) .

Even in such a scenario, DrJP and Loksatta movement had brought some great institutional reforms working non partisan across party lines and across think tank intellectuals.He has worked with ADR on bringing laws for candidates to disclose their financial and criminal details in elections . He has worked with Aruna Roy drafting a strong RTI law . He has worked with Vajpayee govt and got 91st constitutional amendment restricting ministry size to 15 percent of total members in a legislature and political funding reform requiring political parties to be transparent in their funding.He has worked with UPA1 for sometime in NAC and formulating “National Health Mission” to ensure healthcare to last mile of rural India. Loksatta and Dr JP has worked closely with Justice Verma and brought the Nirbhaya act. He has fought against illogical agriculture policies and was successful in removing export of grains and now fighting to sell agriculture produce across states.The Lokayukta bill which advocates strong Lokpal to probe corruption and which was the main agenda of Anna Hazaare movement was the brain child of Dr JP. Dr JP was working in background then to ensure that movement to be fruitful.The biggest achievement is probably Dr JP proposing special status to AP and development ideas to both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana during state bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. There are lots of policy work done by Loksatta movement and more details on Loksatta achievements are at :Loksatta Achievements

If i was Dr JP, i would put up a photo collage of all these at my door,take my monthly IAS pension from government, take vacations every month, give some talks and retire writing books.Yet this man, cannot stop working and bringing some REAL CHANGE. We all donate to some NGOs for girl child education or for some medical operation but Dr JP works to do something to ensure these cases wont need in first place trying to bring universal healthcare and education for all.We call up our MLA when our colony roads gets damaged but cannot spare a thought that we have a local representative in name of corporator or panchayat which is actually responsible for it but cannot execute it due to lack of power,privileges and funds. These small things if reformed properly,can ensure a better life for billions of Indians.Our governments are ready to provide crores of compensation to victims of Rail accidents, or crowd stampades but cannot spend lakhs to ensure better facilties to avoid the disaster. Somebody has to look through the symptoms and fix things before they are taken into operation theatre.
Our murky politics and biased media cannot ensure these things to be taken care via electoral win means. Every new political revolution was accompanied by things which Loksatta cannot associate with and is not part of its DNA. I would discuss below with some personalities entered into political arena to bring a change ie. Arvind Kejriwal,NTR,Chiranjeevi.
AAP has the biggest advantage in choosing the battle ground as Delhi.Delhi is a glorified municipality and Kejriwal has no worries on solving agriculture problems,get more investments into state , take care of law & order which are the top 3 issues a govt perception is based on. Adding to it, media bias against Modi , media publicty, freebies gave AAP the edge , which Loksatta cannot do it.You can definitely reduce traffic and some pollution with odd even rule with hundreds of authorities monitoring vehicles but it is not possible every single day.
NTR came like a storm into AP politics unimaginable at that time of 1980s.However, he had a great support from disgruntled Congress leaders , a strong anti incumbency factor and his knack of choosing people battles . Adding to it socalist measures of freebies.
Chiranjeevi , when he started PrajaRajyam and he projected as the change agent.He lost the plot in couple of months and ultimately merged the party into Congress.I dont need to elaborate on his grand failure.
Loksatta has ensured the commitment and conviction remains in the 10 years of party progress and 12 years of being a civil movement earlier .One cannot run a political party without money or media controversy. Loksatta is not built to attract these and cannot loose its DNA to get some visible progress and credit.You can always achieve lot of things when you dont care who gets the credit.Being apolitial yields more results than getting caught in quagmire and myriad political controversies in current day Indian political scenario.
However, I dont think Loksatta would be silent and this platform laid by Dr JP will continue their fight to solve problems. Our current day politics are worse but people actually got used to it . Many of us dont watch India playing cricket if we think we are loosing even if Kohli or Dhoni is batting , we dont watch movies with exceptional acting prowess but has less entertainment in it. Such is politics , we dont support an entity which doesnt provide entertainment ,vote for those who we think will win, rather than people who we want to win. At such times, we cannot afford a statesman and visionary like DR JP to continue his energy wasting in fighting political electoral games . He has to get back to his work , looking into symptoms, start the cure. Iam glad i will continue to be playing my part.

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