Wednesday, October 27, 2010

India's Youth Dividend

India is the second most populated country after China with more than 1.2 billion people. India is the largest democracy in the world. India is one of the fastest growing economies globally. Not long before, the growing population of India was increasingly considered a problem. But the changing demographic scenario in India presents a different picture. The demographic dividend is turning out be 'India's Youth Dividend'. The majority of our population is under 35 years of age. The following figures speak for themselves:

(i) 459 million are between 13 and 35 (ii) 333 million are literate young Indians (iii) 62 % of the literate youth live in the villages (iv) 40 % of the literate youth are OBC,s, 27 % are general castes, 23 % are SC,s and 10 % are ST,s

By the year 2020, the average in India will be only 29 as against 37 in China and the US, 45 in developed Europe and 48 in China. India has 459 million young people who were born after1975. Of these 333 are literate which 73 % of the total youth population. It seems the future belongs to India. The Editor-in-Chief of The India Today magazine wrote 'What will be our tomorrow is what young people decide today.'

में नहीं सन्देश सबर्ग का या लाया;
इस भूतल को ही सबर्ग बनाने आया !

Monday, October 25, 2010


Last week in a land mark decision, the Central Information Commission of India (CIC) directed the Enforcement Directorate to make public its investigations on the amount of black money stashed in Swiss banks by Indians. I don't know what information will be given under the Right to Information Act by the Enforcement Directorate. But here is some information on black money given by B.V. Kumar, Former Director General of Revenue Intelligence in an articles he wrote in the Defence and Security Alert (DNA) in its July 2010 issue.

According to the Report of the Swiss Banking Association in 2006, the details of bank deposits in Switzerland by nationals of the following five countries are given below. It may be observed that Indian deposits are the highest.

(i) India - US$ 1456 (ii) Russia- US$ 470 (iii) UK - US$ 390 (iv) Ukraine - US$ 100
(v) China - US$ 96 ( in USS$ Billions)

B.V. Kumar further wrote that the black money in India, according to some reliable estimates has gone up to Rs. 10,00,000 million. If black money deposits was an Olympics games event, India would have won a Gold Medal hands down, writes the and says futher:

Is India poor, who says? Ask the Swiss banks. With personal account
deposit bank of $1,500 billion in foreign reserve which have been
misappropriated, an amount 13 times larger than the country's foreign
debt, one needs to rethink if India is a poor country?

हर शाख पे उल्लू बैठें हैं; अंजामें गुलिस्तान क्या होगा !

Monday, October 18, 2010


Punjab's political climate is somewhat hot because of Manpreet Singh Badal, Finance Minister of Punjab who had to resign some days before from the coveted position on account of disagreements with the Chief Minister and his political party the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on some matters of policy particularly the state finances and the state debt. I would refrain from commenting on the political aspects of these developments. But I would like to add that I am impressed by some other attributes of the personality of Manpreet Singh Badal. He appears to be a good politician and a man of ideas and knowledge. It is gratifying to note that.

Today, I saw two video clippings of his media inter-action. I was impressed. Manpreet was laud and clear in his interview by Shekhar Gupta at the NDTV in his famous show 'Walk the Talk' I came to know Manpreet likes Urdu poetry and often recites or quotes Dr. Mohd. Iqbal to make his point. He learnt Urdu to correspond with his father Gurdas Singh Badal, brother of Punjab's Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal who himself is an established politician in Punjab. It is just a co-incident, if I may mention, that we share these attributes. I also like Urdu poetry. I also follow Dr. Iqbal. I also learnt a little bit of Urdu, though I have forgotten most of it by now, just to interact with my father as he knew only Urdu. Manpreet also spoke on the Punjabi Zee-TV channel in 'Ek Khas Mulakat'. He was equally forthcoming and impressive. Making a point on the importance of planning and fore-thought, Manpreet quoted Iqbal:

हुस्ने तदबीर से ऊपर उठता है कोमों का नसीब; कभी बदलती नहीं तकदीर अरमानो से !

Expressing his concern on the developing political situation, Manpreet recited yet another couplet:

उने यह गम की हम से छुटकर दीवाने पे क्या गुजरी;
हमें यह फ़िक़र है की इस महफ़िल का क्या होगा !
Referring to his flair for poetry, Shekhar Gupta asked him to say something in Punjabi also. Manpreet promptly agreed and recited from the poetry of Munir Niazi, who belonged to Hoshiarpur before migrating to Pakistan in the wake of partition, obliquely touching upon his departure from power and said:

ਕੁਜ ਤਾਂ ਰਾਵਾਂ ਵੀ ਅਓਖੀਆਂ ਸਨ; ਕੁਜ ਗਲ ਬਿਚ ਗਮਾ ਦਾ ਟੋਯਨ ਵੀ ਸੀ,
ਕੁਜ ਸ਼ਹਰ ਦੇ ਲੋਕ ਵੀ ਜਾਲਮ ਸਨ; ਕੁਜ ਸਾਨੂ ਮਰਨ ਦਾ ਸ਼ੋਕ਼ ਵੀ ਸੀ !

Manpreet Badal gets poetic at his best occasionally. Speaking on his on-going misunderstandings with the party leadership, he said:

हम दुआ लिखते रहे; वह दगा पढ़ते रहे, इक नुक्ते ने हमें; महरिम से मुजरिम बना दिया !

It is gratifying to note that well educated and groomed people like Manpreet are in politics. It is a tribute to the Indian democracy. As regards his views and ideas, I quote Dr. Iqbal, Manpreet's favourite poet:

उडाए कुछ बर्क लाला ने कुछ नर्गिस ने कुछ गुल ने; चमन में हर तरफ बिखरी हुई है दास्ताँ मेरी !

Thursday, October 14, 2010


The two proud but humbling movements for India happened yesterday, the October 12 at New York and today the October 14, 2010 at New Delhi - India got elected to a non-permanent seat at the UNSC and India successfully conducted and concluded the Commonwealth Games respectively. Both the events are, as it is, important for the Indian nation. But we shall take it as a humbling experience as we have ' miles to go before we sleep '.

India became a non-permanent member of the UNSC after about two decades. But the success is not small. India got 187 votes out of the 192 total votes against the required votes of 128 to be elected, the highest among the other candidates. It is a proud movement for the wheel of Indian diplomacy of which I am also a small cog. India deserves to sit at the High Table of the UN. India's credentials for a permanent seat at the Security Council have been fully established. But it is not easy we are to be strong to get our due space in the comity of nations. It is satisfying that we are on track.

The Commonwealth Games got concluded successfully and peacefully. The Indian players brought Gold and Glory to with the second position in the tally of medals with 101.It is not a mean achievement in the background of problems in the run up to the games. The lessons learnt in the process shall duly noted. The guilty in bringing disrepute to the country shall be brought to book to ward off such repetitions. The stakes were too big. We could make it. It shall humble us further to get ready for the times to come. While watching the concluding ceremony of the Games, I got fully involved emotionally. The next Games will be hosted by Scotland in 2014 at Glasgow. The Flag and Baton of the Commonwealth Games was formally handed over to the Lord Provost of Glasgow Bob Winter with whom I interacted many times both officially and socially when I was the Consul General of India in Edinburgh. I could see First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond sitting with other dignitaries and happily waiving the Scottish Flag to welcome and cheer elegantly tartan- kilted young Scottish boys and girls danced on the bagpiper tunes. I wish the Glasgow Games all success. The Indian contingent at the XX Commonwealth Games at Glasgow will receive good support and cheer from the ever hospitable Indian community in Glasgow. Let me conclude with a quote from Robert Frost:

The Woods are lovely dark and deep;
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Indian Mass Media's Social Profile

I read yesterday in the Facebook a comment by Shri C.L. Chumber that there is no dalit news reader in the entire electronic media of India. It is a sad commentary on the state of things in a democratic country of over one billion people even after more than six decades of independence. Some of us, who oppose the affirmative actions of the Government for empowerment of the weaker sections of the society, have the habit of shouting from the top without even knowing or understanding the facts. Let me share with you some hard facts in this regard.

The Media Study Group, in association with Anil Chamaria, Freelance Journalist, Jitender Kumar, Independent Researcher and Yogendra Yadav, Senior Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
(CSDS) conducted a' Survey of the Social Profile of the Key Decision Makers', in June, 2006. Some of the key findings of the Survey were:

* India's national media lacks social diversity, it does reflect the countries social profile.

* The Hindu upper castes dominate the media. They are about 8 % of India's population but among the key decision makers of the national media their share is as high as 71 %.

* The media's caste profile is equally unrepresentative. The Hindus (dwijas comprising Brahmins, Kasyasthas, Rajputs, Vaishyas and Khatris) are about 16 % of India's population but they are about 86 % among the key media decision makers. Brahmins including Bhumihars and Tyagis alone constitute 49 % of the key media personnel.

* Dalits and Adivasis are conspicuous by their absence among the decision makers. Not even one, out of the 315 key decision makers of 37 national media organisations, belonged to the Schedule Caste or Schedule Tribe communities.

* Muslims are severely under represented in the national media: they are 3% among the key decision makers, compared to 13.4% in the country's population.

* Christians are proportionately represented in the media ( mainly in the English media ): their share is about 4% compared to their population share 0f 2.3%.

These findings of the survey speak laud and clear about the role of the mass media in addressing the issues of the lower strata of the society with disdain and unconcern. The Lala (family orientation) character of the media is required to undergo change with a view to have its social profile representative of the society at large. Dr. Mohd. Iqbal said:

यह कैसी जवां बंदी है साकी तेरी महफ़िल में; जहाँ तो बात करने को तरसत्ति है जवां मेरी !

Dr. Ambedkar started publishing a paper ' The Mook Nayak ' ( the leader of the dumb) in the thirties, realising the power of media. It is time that the elite and intelligentsia of the dalit communities rise to the occasion and start their own both print and electronic media organs.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


As It Comes - Without Comment


Perhaps our Preamble should read, " We the upper castes and classes of India, having secretly resolved to constitute India into a Corporate, Hindu, Satellite State..


From an Article ' The Trickledown Revolution ' in The Outlook issue of September 20, 2010 written by Arundhati Roy


Something must have gone terribly wrong in the social fabric of Sikh Society that the ugly caste system again started crushing the lower castes into vulgar , inhuman conditions, against which they reacted and revolted , not politically, but by creating their own space : their separate Gurwaras.


From the Editors note ' The Social Divide : A Personal Saga ' of The Beyond Borders - The SAARC Journal Edited Ajeet Cour

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The XIX Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi

The XIX Commonwealth Games 2010 will start today the October 3, 2010 at New Delhi and will conclude on October 14. The stake holders, particularly the Indian organisers, the Indian Government and the Indian nation at large are keeping their fingers crossed for the smooth conduct and success of the games, in the background of considerable difficulties and adverse public image. At times, it became so scary that the games were likely to be called off, as some of the skeptics wished. The honour and the prestige of the country was at stake. The venues were not ready, the desired services were not in place, the Organising Committee under Suresh Kalamadi were facing corruption charges.There were endless problems like security, floods, civic amenities, dengue, sale of tickets and so on. The blame game started and it further added to the confusion. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had to take intervene and to set the things right but it was too late. He should have done so much earlier as the stakes were too big. I even thought that Rahul Gandhi should have come forward with his youth brigade, like his father Rajiv Gandhi did in the Asian Games in 1982, and extended his hand in saving the prestige of India which was badly hit in the run up to the games. Today, it seems things, by and large, are under control and the games are due to be inaugurated with a gala supporting extravaganza in a few hours time. It only shows that we have the capacity to do things under pressure. The army could make and get operational the bridge which collapsed a few days before near the games venue just in six days which the contractors could not do so in more than six months. The Indian companies can make magnificent palaces, world class infrastructure abroad to the entire satisfaction of the clients. Why shall we fail at home.Why shall it be so. Perhaps, we lack in collective sense of performance and delivery. We suffer the corrupt, sitting at the helm of the affairs. We lack in national pride. We lack in partnerships among the Government, the civil society and the corporate sector. The Fennels and the Hoopers, the czars of the Commonwealth Games, joined the band wagon of skeptics and stared to shout from the top. It would have been better if they had taken their share of blame and responsibility in the process of missed targets and timely delivery of the logistics of the games by the concerned. India has to face this challenge and fight in removing the tag of a developing country. We Indians ourselves shall come out of the psyche and feel good and equal. Only then the others will consider and recognise us. I have no difference with the likes of Mani Shankar Aiyer who did not approve of the Commonwealth Games to be hosted by India, as I respect Mani Shanker Aiyer as one of the finest minds of India, but once the decision has been take it becomes our responsibility and duty to do our best to make it a success. The world would see us as India and not as individuals how so big one may be. It also does not mean that we shall not learn from the mistakes. Not only we need to learn but also to bring to book the guilty who could not deliver and are still clinging to their chairs.

The mega event will showcase India and its culture to the world. I understand the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and the Commonwealth Games Village are the modern temples for the sporting community and present state of the art facilities.. The Games are set to be declared open in the evening by President of India Pratibha Patil and Prince Charles (Prince Charles is a Charming person. I met him two times closely - once at the funeral of Prime Minster Rajiv Gandhi, dressed in a Scottish Kilt and second time in Glasgow at a cricket match between the Indian team and the Scottish team) who is representing the Queen Elizabeth to the Delhi Commonwealth Games at the gala ceremony. The Delhi Commonwealth Games is the biggest ever with about 7000 players from 71 Commonwealth countries and territories with about 600 strong Indian contingent.The Indian contingent will be lead by the Olympic gold medal winner in shooting at Beijing Abinavh Bindra.

The Commonwealth Games are held every four years and is one of the world's largest multi-sports event. The Commonwealth Games were first held in 1930 as the British Empire Games in Hamilton in Canada. It was renamed as the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954, the British Commonwealth Games in 1970 and from 1978, it is called as the Commonwealth Games. India has been participating in the Games since 1934. India bagged the first gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in 1958 in 400 metre race by the ' Flying Sikh ' Milkha Singh. By 2006, at the last Games held in Melbourne, India stood 4th in the tally of medals after Australia, Britain and Canada. It is hoped that India will improve its performance in Delhi and will bring firmly India on the world sports map.

The next Commonwealth Games will be hosted by Scotland in 2014 at Glasgow. The Flag and the Baton will be passed on to Scotland at the closing ceremony of the Delhi Games on October 14, as per the tradition. I remember fondly when the First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond personally thanked me ( I was the Consul General of India in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland) for India's support to the Scottish bid for the games a couple years before. I also visited the sports facilities in Sterling where the Scottish players were trained in the run up to the Pune Commonwealth Games held in 2007 and met the players who were enthusiastic to visit India not only for the Pune games but also the Delhi commonwealth Games.

The opening and closing ceremonies of the Delhi Commonwealth Games have been prepared meticulously and will present an exposition of the highest tradition and culture of India. It has been firmed by by the experts like Javed akhtar, Shayam Benegal and will be performed by the artists - about 1000 drummers, 1000 classical dancers, yoga demonstrators, etc under the Oscar winner music maestro A.R. Rehman of JAI HO fame. Now the stadiums will echo the slogan ' यारो ! इंडिया बुला लिया ' । The negative publicity and skepticism will be met by a resounding success, it appears. The Delhi Commonwealth Games will prove to be a land mark in India's journey to glory. WAH ! SHERA WAH ! Allamah Iqbal said:

कुछ बात है की हस्ती मिटती नहीं हमारी; सदिओं रहा है दुश्मन दौरे जहाँ हमारा;
सारे जहाँ से अछा हिन्दोस्तान हमारा; हम बुलबुलें हैं इस की यह गुल्स्तान हमारा !