Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It's my trust vote and I'll shout if I want to

They came from everywhere; wheelchairs and stretchers – jail. And the anticipation of drama delivered! From the moment a crore of rupees was placed in the House by three BJP MPs – everything changed. Read on to see how the BJP's staged drama did not hold a trust vote down.
Any spellings, typos, etc, I’ll do tmr – I’m exhausted from typing and need a drink.

To be sure, the day did not start like this. My alma mater, I was a little surprised to read in the morning, lauded the first day of the debate – “the country was given snapshots of major political formations’ thinking on a complex and crucial issue. Hosting debates of such depth, apart from passing laws, is really what Parliament is about,” it felt. But the contrast between a real conversation about where this country is heading and name-calling just served to remind people like me that some people, unfortunately, just don’t care.

But Chidabaram, Gandhi and Lalu, all gave entertaining and fiery speeches.

“The BSP and SP, so far outside of the two coalitions, have not so much ditched partners as much as tried to find space in national politics,” the Express editorial had read. I wasn’t so sure I agreed with that, but what do I know?

But I’ll say this, despite what anyone says, it did turn out to be a vibrant debate in the end! Not deep, just dynamic.

The prime minister was to speak soon.

More than one crore rupees has been placed in the House – is it orchestrated drama? It is a “blot in the history of Indian democracy”, says Barkha Dutt, asking if “ a vote can be taken at all”. Its 4.16pm. The Speaker is obliged to refer this to a committee. But last night, as Barkha said, the PM had challenged MPs to prove they were offered money. This could be why this is happening.

But the Speaker’s hands are tied and cannot allow a vote now, can he?

Lok Sabha adjourned till 5pm.

Historic moment of shame, they said. Honestly, I didn’t feel shame as much as irritation. You were offered money? You refused. Then shut up and vote. Buying, bribing, bartering MPs is not new. That they are waving this money around means that they are not voting/abstaining under pressure.

Then came news of proof. S.C Mishra, BSP, came on TV so say that the PM should resign.

Speaker spoke. All three leaders have been asked to submit their complaints. BJP, again, made demands. Let people air their grievances in parliament, the PM should resign.

Back to the studio. Vinod Mehta echoed my thoughts, that people of this country will not be very shocked. They may be enjoying the stunt? I wonder. Shekhar Gupta said this is how cynicism builds up – all politics is run like this. Mehta said cynicism cannot increase in this country!

Mayawati on TV: Wants PM to resign, if this is how he has behaved to save his government. Standard statement.

Vote or walk-out? Shekhar Gupta says but a walk out is also a vote. Also that Mayawati had people join her “not because of some long lost love for Dr Ambedkar”.
A “cattle market out there” pointed out Vinod Mehta but made a good point – “it has been a cattle market since the day the trust vote was announced”.

Danger of homemade stings is, Shekhar Gupta pointed out, “Even when a good thing happens, it gets lost”. He said we need a deterrent, even if one person went to jail, it may go a long way. And if something like this happened? Should the PM resign? No, they said, but “someone should go to jail” says Shekhar Gupta with a side story. A BSP MLA was sent to jail. His widow has now been elected from a BSP ticket. And the man who murdered him, is now out from jail, to vote right now, on a BSP ticket!

Jaswant Singh was on the phone, he sounded so lazy, like he was sitting at home having a whisky and cigar, I couldn’t help smiling. But he said the BJP is fine with a vote in an “extraordinary situation”.

IBN had some leads on the bribing story, and had in its possession some tapes of bribes. So it decided to hand them over to the Speaker, because they had concerns over Parliamentary Privledge.

6.30pm, the Parliament was back on. The Speaker was again interrupted by disrupted elements. Mr Owasi was allowed to speak. He said the BJP had guided the Left in this drama, and he supports the government on matters of social welfare. He believed the Left front “for no reason whatsoever” withdrew support. He went on to ask why people are claiming Muslims are against the deal – why has no one pointed out what Hindus stand for, Dalits etc. It is for the PM to decide foreign policy, and said the Left front hates minorities. If Advani becomes PM, it is the Muslims who will suffer.

Mehbooba Mufti got up, and said after listening to the debate, that the BJP is only opposing the deal because it wants to take credit for it. Screaming to be heard, she said they only want to renegotiate the deal.., she was drowned out by cries from ‘istifa do, idtifa do’.

Omar Abdullah got up said he did not know if the one crore is true, but it is the reason smaller parties are being disrupted. He does not see a distinction between being a Muslim and being Indian, and he sees no reason to be afraid. The enemies of Indian Muslims are “the same enemies the poor people of India face” – poverty, hunger and so on. Not a member of the UPA, but he, being unhappy with the Left for becoming certifiers of who is secular and who is not. When he was with the NDA, he says the Left thought he was an outsider, but now they claim he is secular. He did not resign over Gujarat and his conscience has not forgiven him – he would not make that mistake again. To catcalls of the Amarnath Yatra, he said the fight was for land, but the Kashmiris has not turned away pilgrims. “Hum aapke jaise communal nahi hain!”
Very powerful and well spoken, I felt a chill, and I won’t lie – I welled up a bit!

The next speech was given by man – Virendra Kumar (JD)S -- who wanted clarification on certain things the PM had said on the Hyde Act. (I want to point out that all these speeches were made with the BJP shouting slogans in the background). He desperately ran through a page or two of the speech of the PM (as far as I could make out). He laid his objections on the table.

Next up was a speech to support the government, for the poor by Briswamuthiary, an independent MP. “We are indigenous people and have numerous programmes in our villages,” and in Assam, he wanted some tribes on the SC list, one area to be made another district (?), more funds for the Bodo people. His demands were very basic – schools, money – probably not the best time to discuss this, but he’d probably never had a full house with the nation watching before.

The Speaker insisted that the North Easterners speak – Mani Charimeiner from outer Manipur – said he would support the government as he has been promised that the Common Minimum Program would be re-examined. It is an under developed area, full of problems, but he said he has decided to “share the problems of the nations” and support the nuclear deal. He also wanted the desire and aspirations of the Naga people to be fulfilled.

Yerranaidu, TDP, very angry, bright yellow kurta. He opposed the motion not just on the basis of the deal but other failures. The PM’s office became a hotbed for political deals in the name of energy security, and the sovereignty of the country is being given to the Bush administration. “The Bush is going,” so he asked what is the hurry? China took ten years to finalize the 123 agreement, he said, and there is no unanimity among political parties, no majority, and since this issue is not of the Congress but the country, and he could not support the motion. He asked the PM few questions. One seemed silly, even the Speaker chuckled, the other (as my mother said) was not true.

Next a woman –Ranjeet Ranjan (LJSP), asked for respect of the House (which she actually got). She praised the PM for his honesty and said that she was prepared to come here to denounce the deal, but after seeing the events of the day, she is disgusted. She was clearly impressed by Rahul Gandhi and Omar Abdullah’s passion. She said, fiery and passionate, some people point a figure at others while they have ACs, money and criminals with them, and that the opposition has shamed the country. Single handedly she was blowing up the BJP and Akalis (as her husband is from Punjab, she seemed to know Punjabi very well), and said Sikhs always sacrifice without asking for something in return, and it is the duty of the Akalis to support the government. Then she supported it herself.

The next got only two mins when he started – in support of the government – Murmu of JMM. The need that the country has for electricity, and how the government is going forward to meet that need – the deal is for the good of the country. He was satisfied with the explanations of the deal, and did not understand why the Left deserted the government after four years. He said the opposition keeps talking about the government giving money – well, who was ready to take it??

I was glad to see other MPs disgusted by the BJPs behavior in the House today, not just us couch potatoes.

The PM stood up and the BJP flocked, asking for resignation, not allowing him to speak. “Whatever decision there is, we will carry on…” I could barely hear through the loud chanting for his resignation. He handed in his speech after barely even a minute, so that the trust motion could take place.

7:21pm – He asked the House to ‘ay’ and ‘nay’, but everyone sounded equally as loud, so he asked for a division. Some demands came out saying ask the Rajya Sabha members to leave, but the Speaker asked those asking not to be frivolous. Votes were being collected physically in the House.

Lobbies were cleared at 7:26pm. The secretary-general was asked to stand up and make the announcement with screaming and shouting in the background. The Speaker himself is quite talkative and I thought spoilt a few moments of quiet.

But then it started. Buttons were there to be pressed. For those who didn't use them, slips were going to be provided, and they had to sign, write their names and ID numbers, area, and date. Abstention slips would be provided. A screen on the wall had a computerized number.

Yes 253
No 232
Abst 002
Total 487

Confusion. Weren’t there more people who had to vote? Another 54 votes have to be counted yet; those are people using the slips instead. I don’t really understand why some people haven’t used the buttons, but all I know is that it could still swing another way. But the Congress is in a substantial lead, people starting congratulated the PM. Jayanti Natrajan explained that sometimes peoples buttons don’t work, or were not pressed properly, so right now the government still has to wait.

Barkha asked the question again – “Has the vote been overshadowed?” Swapan Dasgupta asked, the question is, “Will it be a tainted victory?” Will the deal seem compromised? Shekhar Gupta still thinks that if allegations are true, then one person needs to go to jail at least. Vinod Mehta was more concerned about smaller parties and their role now. And the question invariably turned to elections – should they have done it earlier, when should they do it now? More talk went on in all studios – Sagarika Ghosh making a really funny crack about how this might just be a good reason we need new technology (buttons not working)! The PM’s standing, the future of the Left… it was quite an interesting evening at the NDTV studios.

The government won the trust vote, and Vande Matram played, and we saw Parliament standing quietly for once. Sounds like 275 v/s 256, but no one seems sure. Ten absentations. Much wider than anyone expected, except, Prannoy Roy tells us Barkha was sure the Congress won have a clear win.

After the event, we find out about the best speech we never got to hear, that of the prime minister. I look forward to reading the text.

Singh is King.

The one with Rahul Gandhi

In the conversation that followed this post -- I had promised to give Rahul credit when credit was due. So, I decided to follow his speech in Parliament today and 'live blog' of sorts, report what he said and give my thoughts etc. Here goes you goes (btw props to Lalu for this highly entertaining speech that I am watching as I post this!)

**
… The day seemed to pick up with Rahul Gandhi. “I have decided to speak as an Indian” he said as the BJP erupted in flames. He then asked some BJP members to listen to him, and also to speak as Indians (and that they do, he does not doubt that). He made the assumption that all parties speak for the interest of the country. Why are we meeting he asked, because of the “serious problem of energy security”. To an interrupter, he said, “I will explain how energy security is directly related to poverty”.

Talking about his recent visit to Vidharba, and meeting a woman laborer with three sons; their income, their lives. (We had entered the ‘common man’ part of the speech). The sons want to collectors, engineers and in the private industry. Sasikala is confident her sons will achieve their dreams. That house had no electricity. He asked them how they study. They pointed to a lamp and said that was how. Energy security reflects itself everywhere – Sasikala, industry, all Indians.

The opposition was unable to shut the hell up, probably as not to give Rahul the respect I thought he deserved. Energy is necessary for growth – both for BJP schemes and Congress schemes. The point, that if we do not supply our energy supply into the future, growth will stop and we will not be able to fight poverty, he said. He had stated the problem, and now wanted to give the solution.

At the mention of another farmer Kalavati, the opposition interrupted. Rahul burst into a smile, while the Speak tried to keep the calm. Rahul graciously told him “aap se sikhe hain”. After repeated interruptions, Rahul got angry “I’m glad you find it funny, but Kalavati is a woman whose husband committed suicide because he was dependant on only one crop – the cotton crop.” Kalavati, who only depended on her husband, told Rahul that she- - (we had to wait a while for the story, because big, hairy men kept screaming at the Chair and Rahul) -- the Speaker got totally frustrated and said he would fix a time for the vote and allow no further discussion. Pranab Mukherji asked the House to allow Rahul to speak. Back to Kalavati, she said, instead of sowing one crop, she sows three, including milk from her buffalo and a pond for backup water. “So the answer to our problems is..” he said, as the BJP burst out into flames again. Renuka Chowdry very cutely (I thought) got up and sternly wagged her finger at the Opposition, lost in the din. Pranab Mukherjee actually had to physically go to where the Left was to calm them down. The Speaker got frustrated and adjourned the house.

Back to the TV channels, the news of numbers of MPs shifting around seemed crass in comparison. Barkha asked, “Why didn’t he speak as a party member? (in politics you are judged by how political you are)” – I could not disagree more. Jayanti Natranjan said the speech would resonate with the young people of the country – and she is right. I personally feel (having heard only the first half of his speech) that he has shown me a glimpse of the lead that he could be. But Chandan Mitra, editor Pioneer, looking more and more like a pet of the BJP, says of Rahul’s speech “Barkha, you and I have been seeing villages with kerosene lamps for years. And the Congress was in power all that time.” What the hell does that even mean? Does that solve the problem from any angle? Does it look forward? I can’t understand it at all.

My mother came for lunch (reminding me I have a dental appointment, but I’m missing it for the rest of the show) and said – “It is a measure of his success that he is being interrupted.”

Chandan Mitra, while not defending interruptions at all, said that if Rahul was seasoned he would have continued because the “decibel level was not that high”. About horse-trading, Mitra said, this marked the end of ideology. Newstrack India, a website, wrote an editorial saying that a “political party is a group of people who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government” -- very apt I thought.

Meanwhile, IBN was tracking Mayawati and her impromptu meetings as indicative of desperation outside, to keep her flock together. Dipdosh Majumdar said that the opposition might be interrupting to try and postpone the vote – which is why the Speaker at one time burst out to say that he might as well have the vote right now. Is this a strategy while more horse-trading goes on behind the scenes?

IBN then said the numbers for the government have changed to 272 as a MP from Nagaland had just decided to support the government. Has the government “fixed this vote?” Many allusions were made to the fact the Congress is an old hand at riding out no-confidence motions in the past, and can do it again. A smug Brinda Karat told NewsX that Manmohan Singh was finance minister when Narasimha Rao won his trust vote, so has the experience necessary to win this.

The markets started looking positive around 1.44pm, although I don’t think anyone could concentrate on anything but Parliament. Mohammed Salim meantime, very good naturedly laughed off Kumari Shailja statement that the Left has been living in an ivory town, now turning saffron. In retaliation to what Chidambaram said in the morning – Salim said that China is self reliant when it comes to energy, and India wants to depend on outside. He said to Shailaja – “You are working for ‘self’ and ‘Reliance’”!!! That was charming!

The thought was echoed again by Brida Karat to NDTV “Now we know why this government never takes action against black money because it comes in handy at times like this”.

Break over – and some MP I didn’t recognize was speaking. He was defending Mayawati, so I guessed he was from the BSP –Brijesh Pathak, as I found out. The Speaker chided him – seemed the grouse was about Amar Singh’s allegations about Mayawati. “Ab dekhiye sadan mein kya ho raha hai” says the man speaking out of turn. The irony! There was a curious defense of Mayawati going on, and how she will be trapped through the CBI despite evidence to the contrary. The man was screaming, claming that he was approached and that he was told that cases against Mayawati will be dismissed if the BSP votes with the government. Other members jumped in, apparently BSP men have been approached by the CBI. The Speaker told them to calm down as they were under the protection of the House, but they were too hysterical. Then Gurudas Dasgupta wanted to speaker to form a committee to look into the allegations “here and now” which made the Speaker laugh!

This went on for a while. The Left, BJP and BSP kept making the same point over and over again, probably nervous of what Rahul Gandhi was going to say, delaying it for as long as possible. The Speaker then graciously allowed them to finish, after which, asking Rahul to continue.

Rahul started again, “I spoke about two poor families..” and went to compare Kala’s pond to nuclear energy as the country’s insurance policy. The way our nuclear industry is today is neither going to act as insurance or a direct resource. The hands of the government are tied – we neither have the money or the technology. The PM, he said, has identified the problem. But, he added, Vajpayee, also saw the problem and moved to address it. A light moment when he encouraged the BJP to clap at this.

There is need to talk about energy security in the long term, and everyone needs to work together. Diversification means a balanced portfolio – solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear. “The magic of what PM is doing, is that out of within the problem, he has identified an opportunity that is significantly larger than the problem itself”. It is based on the fact that two countries will use the largest bulk of new energy that comes online – China and India – and can define how the world’s energy moves.

(Silence in the House followed the rest of the speech.)

“Like a big buyer… we have the ability to shape the global energy market... energy has destroyed nations and built nations. Our old opponents grew to their prominence because they controlled coal… the US controls hydrocarbons”.
Think like a big country, he said -- “Instead of worrying about how the world will impact us, we should start thinking about how we will impact the world”. Talking about the IT and Telecom industry – and the role that India has grown to assume in these industries globally – “we see the revolutionary impact that IT and computers have had on this country”.

The decision is not about 3% or 7% or usage of energy. “Whether India can become a global power in a type of energy that will become very important in the future”. We know the link between dependence on hydrocarbons and poverty today. One must not underestimate the link between industry and the poor. Many governments will run this country, but we should not be scared.

He repeated the point a few times, I thought it was to give the channels the best soundbyte possible. “We have to sit in this room and solve our problems together… Any voice can be heard in this room, any voice can disrupt another in this room... I’m proud of this”.

Act on courage. 70% of us are young, he said, he was above the average age, one that is brimming with confidence. We have to believe in our people and what they are capable of what they can do. These are guides for every single Indian.

He ended with a call for bipartisanship, and support for the motion.

***

What did the pundits make of him? Dipdosh Majumdar felt the first part of his speech did not work too well – stories about the poor women – but the latter half was good. He gave him a 5, because he did not begin in a way that “did not gel with the audience”. Perhaps he is right, after having seen Lalu, there are ways to control the house – yes – but substance, foreign policy and a point of view was clearly there, whether you agree with it or not. And posturing is important. He positioned himself as a decent, thinking man, in a rowdy, crass crowd.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Manjeet

You guys don't know Manjeet. He's the head waiter at Aura, The Claridges. He might even be Manager -- am not sure, known him for a while, not sure how the promotions have gone. Often, because he knows a good chunk of out "gol-chakar" circle (oh the irony)... we end up having a great conversations. Sometimes its about who hasn't paid the bill in a few weeks. Others, its about whats happening with the world. Now, Manjeet is the proud father of two -- savvy, because he sees a very rich crowd come in and out of his 'office' -- and everyone wants to be his best friend. "Manjeet, a few extra shots...", "Manjeet, get us in... oh TEN of us".. It's a process. But as his kids approach school going age, he's less interested in talking about social deviants, and more about what school they can go to.

In Delhi, as you all know, its tough. He's figured Sanskriti (a government officials school for the most part) is his first choice. Some others follow. I've told him to take a look at Shivniketan (or Mrs Gauba's School -- great legacy, Rajiv Gandhi went there, but now it's expanded beyond nursery). It's tough for Manjeet, he doesn't quite know it yet, because he hasn't done the drill, but schools don't come cheap. But he's from Himachal, he tells us proudly, and even on his 80,000 salary (a wife and two kids) he finds time to give an occasional 500 rupess and the odd blanket to the 80 year old mochi in his neighborhood.

I asked Manjeet if he knew what was happening with the government right now. A little amused, he asked me if I was pro-Congress. He had been listening to a friend and I talking at the bar all evening about big business, how much they were worth, and how some of the richest people in town (I don't mean rich.. I mean richEST) were the simplest. He figured we were pro-government. In this case, I was. I said, yes, Manjeet, I don't want his government to fall. Not over the nuclear deal.

Manjeet told me how the Congress was pathetic. Vajpayee, he said, was the best PM we've had. And, if you think about it, the partition of the country -- fault of the Congress. Terrorism -- their fault. Today? Look at inflation.. sugar.. rice... that's my concern. I tried to tell Manjeet that inflation happens with every party at the helm. Sure, there are policies, but gas, its a worldwide phenomenon. Not limited to the Congress. Right now, have you heard of the nuclear deal? Of the Left?

He shrugged. He'd never heard of the Left. This man who works on Aurangzeb Road. A road here, a gol-chakar there, and he'd be at Congress headquaters, at BJP headquaters, at CPM headquaters, hell, at Parliament if he wanted to! But he did have family in the army.

A jawan is paid, what, 10,000? 8,000? Some, when they come home, after saving and saving, come home with 60,000. Is that anything? What have they done? I'm from Himachal, he said. My people joint the army for honor. What did Indira Gandhi do? I don't know if this is a fact but, he said, she once said that the army would only be paid for 26 days in the month. So the General at the time told her, fine, but the other 4 days, if there is a problem, don't expect us to be there. "Uski phat gayee", he told me, giggling.

He hadn't even heard about the protest on India Gate, when ex-officers tried to ask the government for better pay. It was ten minutes from where he works, about fifteen from where he stays (somewhere behind Lodhi Colony).

It made me wonder. His faith might be misplaced, but where exactly should it be placed? This is not rhetorical. Give me an answer.

Left out

For some reason, as I listened to Prakash Karat’s speech on how the Congress was a “sinking ship” and how his other friends in the UPA should get out before it was too late, I kept thinking – “rats leaving the sinking ship”. Not that this ship would have sunk without his help. But, ours is to question why. He’s determined to oppose the deal – not just oppose it – but to bring the government down if he doesn’t get his way. On that end, I thought Jyoti Basu’s comment, that the Left has made its strong objection known and so there was no reason to bring down the government, made sense. Unless they really do buy into this subordinate ally crap; if we made the same deal with China, we would be what?

Anyway it’s the whole controversy regarding the Speaker that got me pissed. As usual, the family sat over dinner and fought over it. My dad said, why shouldn’t they ask Somnath to resign (although, he admitted, they should have spoken to him before they submitted his name to the president). My mother and I were adamant that once you accept the post, then you are not a party-member for the duration of parliament, and they should have respected that. Because now, if Somnath resigns to vote with his party, then all his actions as Speak are suspect of having a clear Left bias. They’ll ruin his legacy too. I hope he doesn’t given to the pressure, and if he has to, then I hope he resigns from the party as well.

My father then said, well what the Left should do now is kill him. Thus ended Kaul family dinner.

(Yes I know, theres where I have inherited the drama from. My mother is a minority!)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Live...Learn... Sewage is a plus..

Listen up

I'm a few drinks down.. being my 25th birthday and everything.. although, truth be told, birthdays are pretty over rated, I'm just a tad bit sozzled cause my friends were around. We don't need an excuse -- it could've been a Monday!
(For all of you who know my Monday night theory... shh)

ANYWAY.. I spent the day shooting in Bawana. Basically, there is this slum outside Delhi. Technically its not outside the city -- but for us Delhi folk, it kinda is -- and what happened is this: they needed to build a luxury apartment "space" (not sure what the end result will be) BUT for this residential complex is getting built on the side of the Yamuna. The space they are building it on used to be, to an extent, where these slums were. Some history: what happens is this -- people who can't afford buying houses start building "jhuggis" -- shacks -- and live there. No water, no electricity, no nothing. It's illegal. Slowly, over time, as they work as domestic help, city cleaners, tea shop owners, they start making money. Bamboo/wood roofs make way for brick walls. At the same time, the government never really allowed it. Years go by. And as was the case, the other shoe drops. (What was the first shoe, well, its confusing, especially if you are a resident of the area).

NOW, the government moves you. Collective "you". A lakh people plus. They say, this land is not for you to live on -- fair enough. The government has a way of giving this makeshift community, but a community all the same -- a place to live -- "go where we tell you", they say. Notices go unheaded. Then comes the bulldozers. Move, dammit, says the government. So they do, our rebels without a clue.

AND, they come to the new place. Considering where they lived before -- "illegal" technically -- this is good. You have ID, they are told, and we will give you land. Ok. So far, so good. After all, lets be fair -- law and life can deviate often (and I'm the product of a lawyer and a government official, so I say this with some authority). The land they are given (if they can pay for it) does not have sanitation facilities. Build a HOUSE, withOUT a bathroom. So, you.... hundreds of families you... wanna pee? RUN to the end of the residential complex, and when you get there, pay Rs 1 to pee, Rs 5 to bathe/wash clothes.

YOU KNOW WHAT? People can live with that. Sometimes. In those plots of land, they have build houses. Richer ones have built brick houses. Poorer ones, the daily wage laborers, live in makeshift tin houses. The others, who could not muster up official IDs -- well, many, I mean tens of thousands, have disappeared -- they did not qualify for a plot of land, you see. Some, who live here -- this 'resettlement' outside Delhi -- live on the footpaths of Delhi so that they can skip daily travel expenses, save money, go home twice a month, and give their families money for food, life, school, and bribes.

COMING TO BRIBES, local officals, for a lack of a better word -- SUCK. (In more ways than one). I don't think I need to elaborate.

...

It's not like this is new to me. I live in New Delhi, born to parents who have worked with much of this before. Before I met some of you in Montreal/DC/London, there was Dehradun. I guess I'm more aware of what we can do, what we can't. NGOs: Need to tell people to make their own versions of RWA (Resident Welfare Associations) rather than wait for local government authorities as their saviors. Ain't gonna happen. I met a lady the other day, who worked with a Road Research Institute in India. She went on about how long she has polled data on why its not safe for pedestrians. And, tell me, I asked her, when you come with up "what should be done"; does the government listen -- incorporate it? "Umm... no, I mean, we give them suggestions..."

...

3am. As good a time as any to call it a night. Mr Vijay Mallya, we made you much richer this fine evening. Everyone else, I apologize. I heard what I did, thought what I thought. Now, all I can do is to wake up a little bit older, a little bit wiser. And any incoherent, incomplete thoughts.. **** ***

Hug.