It’s crazy season now in India’s capital. But the normally darkly humorous unpredictability of Indian politics has now taken a dark turn with the tragic murder of a right to information activist Shehla Masood in front of her home in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh.
She was a twitter follower of mine (you can also follow me at @acharya_dude) and I admired her perseverance and thirst for social justice. I only hope that her dreams of an end to corruption and human rights violations will be fulfilled in the long term. In the short term, the authorities must launch an investigation into this murder and take action to apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators of this crime.
The murder of Shehla Masood comes in the context of a series of protests led by Anna Hazare aimed at forcing the Central government to create a Lok Pal (Ombudsman) that has the power to investigate and initiate prosecutions of corruption of government officials.
Tag Archives: India
Fascinating piece in the NYTimes about a new city in India, a new city of 1.5 million people and more or less no city government.
Gurgaon was widely regarded as an economic wasteland. In 1979, the state of Haryana created Gurgaon by dividing a longstanding political district on the outskirts of New Delhi. One half would revolve around the city of Faridabad, which had an active municipal government, direct rail access to the capital, fertile farmland and a strong industrial base. The other half, Gurgaon, had rocky soil, no local government, no railway link and almost no industrial base.
As an economic competition, it seemed an unfair fight. And it has been: Gurgaon has won, easily. Faridabad has struggled to catch India’s modernization wave, while Gurgaon’s disadvantages turned out to be advantages, none more important, initially, than the absence of a districtwide government, which meant less red tape capable of choking development.
Gurgaon has no publicly provided “functioning citywide sewer or drainage system; reliable electricity or water; public sidewalks, adequate parking, decent roads or any citywide system of public transportation.” Yet Gurgaon is a magnet for “India’s best-educated, English-speaking young professionals,” it has 26 shopping malls, seven golf courses, apartment towers, a sports stadium, five-star hotels and “a futuristic commercial hub called Cyber City [that] houses many of the world’s most respected corporations.” According to one survey, Gurgaon is India’s best city to work and live. So how does Gurgaon thrive? It thrives because in the absence of government the private sector has stepped in to provide transportation, utilities, security and more:
From computerized control rooms, Genpact [a major corporation, AT] employees manage 350 private drivers, who travel roughly 60,000 miles every day transporting 10,000 employees. Employees book daily online reservations and receive e-mail or text message “tickets” for their assigned car. In the parking lot, a large L.E.D. screen is posted with rolling lists of cars and their assigned passengers.
And the cars are only the beginning. Faced with regular power failures, Genpact has backup diesel generators capable of producing enough electricity to run the complex for five days (or enough electricity for about 2,000 Indian homes). It has a sewage treatment plant and a post office, which uses only private couriers, since the local postal service is understaffed and unreliable. It has a medical clinic, with a private ambulance, and more than 200 private security guards and five vehicles patrolling the region. It has A.T.M.’s, a cellphone kiosk, a cafeteria and a gym.
“It is a fully finished small city,” said Naveen Puri, a Genpact administrator.
…Meanwhile, with Gurgaon’s understaffed police force outmatched by such a rapidly growing population, some law-and-order responsibilities have been delegated to the private sector. Nearly 12,000 private security guards work in Gurgaon, and many are pressed into directing traffic on major streets.
Not everything works well, of course. Gurgaon is describe as a city of “private islands.” Private oases would be a better term. Within the private oases life is good but in between lies a desolate government desert. Not only are services such as roads and utilities poor, the private oases don’t internalize all the externalities so there are problems with common resources such as the water table. It would also be more efficient to have centralized sewage and electricity.
Useful Words From Indian English
Mar 9 2011, 4:50 PM ET
By James Fallows
By Sanjay Saigal
In his list of lessons learned traveling by Indian air carriers — who knew? — topmost for my fellow guest blogger Sriram Gollapalli is:1. Flights can be advanced (seemingly without too much notice)Here Sriram inexplicably lets pass an opportunity to circulate a wonderful word from Indian English — prepone.Prepone is the antonym of postpone. It makes perfect sense. If an event is re-timed to occur earlier than previously scheduled, it is preponed. A marriage is preponed, for instance, if the couple decide to elope to Las Vegas instead.Why is this word not in common currency worldwide?Locutions in Indian English can be mystifying to the untrained ear. North Indians of a certain age, for instance, might say something along the lines of, “James Cameron is the holisoli on his films.” Holisoli, as it happens, is a re-purposed “wholly and solely.” In other words, James Cameron is responsible for all aspects of his films.A couple of other locutions peculiar to Indian English that lack comfortable equivalents in American English are:
- Black money is undeclared wealth, likely obtained by illegal means. Given that cheating on taxes isn’t exactly rare, I’m not sure why the term doesn’t see more use in America.
- Funda, slang, from fundamental, refers to an essential truth, as in, “Did you see Charlie Sheen on television hurling fundas left, right and center?”
Sanjay Saigal is founder and CEO of Mudrika Education, Inc., with offices in Silicon Valley, CA and Delhi, India.