Thursday, May 31, 2007

CPI-M on retail

The Red brigade has come up with a masterplan to "regulate" retail. Defiant and obstinate in the face of overwhelming evidence from the brief economic history that India has bore, they actually have the chutzpah to suggest going back to the licence raj regime: a regime which set back development by decades and deliberately shortsupplied generations of consumers.
Another point to note is the smug and naive belief that the very thought of breathing life into a dysfunctional governement entity suffices; the abracadabra too trivial to bother about. Contrast this with the frantic sops being offered in private retail these days to acquire and retain even talent.
Where is the "new" PSU going to get the people to create an entity that can give the Tescos and the Walmarts a run for their money? The present flock, clearly, is too incapacitated to effect that. The answer is obvious, analogous as it is to the "post-liberalization" oil sector. Sops, blatant taxpayers' money-backed sops in the form of subsidies and favored access to distribution: in the face of the PSU's inability to manage half the efficieny in supply chain and distribution of the private-sector competitors; even at twice the cost and thrice the manpower.
Hoping (more foolishly, I feel, as each day passes) that with the dawn of the age of reason, mankind is in the path of slow and steady progress in thought and lifestyle, with a few hiccups here and there, I believe that in a few centuries, when we have finally disposed off these ignoramous, wasteful and self-defeating idealogies, such policies will be viewed in the same rueful light as the inquisitions. Doing irreversible damage to humanity and the cause of reason for the sake of petty politics, miseducated charity and obstinacy to change.

NEW DELHI, MAY 30: After its opposition to FDI in retail trade, the CPI(M) has now prepared the ground for regulating the entry of corporates in the sector by suggesting a system of licensing for organised retail. It has also called for the Government’s intervention to prevent “private monopolies” from developing by asking the Government marketing agencies to compete with large private retailers. It even suggested ways to create big public sector retail chains. Building on the argument that small retailers need policy support to fight organised retail in the light of their falling numbers and the use of monopoly buying power by organised retailers, the party’s framework for regulating organised retail includes a system of licencing in cases where retail outlets went over the “appropriate minimum floor area”. According to the National Policy on Regulation of Organised Sector in Retail Trade: A Proposal, which the CPI(M) has evidently aimed at private players and plans to circulate among political parties for a full-fledged discussion, corporate entities should not be allowed to operate retail outlets below a minimum floor area. Party General Secretary Prakash Karat said the proposals came against the backdrop of the growing retail trade network since the UPA came to power. “We are writing to all political parties. We feel we have made a case for stringent regulations in this and have argued for a licensing system for the entry of the organised sector in retail trade,” Karat said. The proposal says steps should be taken to prevent single large format retailers from entering the market and framing of guidelines to prevent predatory pricing. It suggests ways in which “decaying” government marketing agencies can be revived to compete with the private retailers. “Consolidation of several government marketing agencies in order to create a few public sector retail chains should be seriously considered, which can also invest in developing modern supply chain infrastructure,” the proposal says, while including suggestions for safeguarding farmers interests. Red retail • Authority to grant licences should be with the urban local bodies and there should be transparency in granting licences • A process of open bids to be considered • Separate licences for each format for organised retail based on floor area • Slabs for different retail formats, like discount stores, supermarkets, hypermarkets and shopping malls, also based on floor area • A cap on number of licences that can be given in an area, using the population criterion • Larger retail outlets to be kept out of existing commercial zones and where they are not, the retail outlets should share space at concessional rate with small retailers

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Questions I am facing currently

  1. Is there any way to get off the downward spiral of mediocirty that we all are in?
  2. Was Bogart the coolest/sexiest man to grace the screen?
  3. How do I rewrite the goddamn book?
  4. What do I read next?
  5. Which road do I take?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Compensation for what?

The news of the blasts at Mecca Masjid streamed in with the additional nugget that the state governement had announced a compensation of 5 Lakhs for the victims; barely minutes after the blast.
A few months ago, I heard about the Shramjivi blasts in a similar fashion.

Have we really become so insensitive to tragedy?
Is political damage control more expedient than the ground-zero one?

Contrast this with the aftermath - immediate and medium-term - in terrorist attacks in the US and UK.

The issue of compensation arises in two situations -

1.Terrorist strikes - As these are targeted towards every citizen of India, we have to bear the joint ownership of the damage. Hence, any compensation in this regard is meaningless; the only answer is action against the perpetrators.

2.Accidents/mishaps - Instead of letting the possible culprits fix the cost of life immediately and absolve themselves at the cost of taxpayers' money, the concerned departments/ministers should be brought to court. Compensation, and punitive measures, should be fixed likewise.

Let's stop this nonsense immediately.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Birth of a Nation

I can't believe what I am seeing!

Buffalo soliders with the monomania of defiling the purity of celestially virgin white damsels (Posed, of course, by white men with badly-applied polish on their Nordic faces), a congress of the newly-freed slaves being portrayed as a bunch of chimps mulling on relativity, a nation misgoverned because the man in charge is in the vice like grip of a mulatto mistress.

Birth of a nation is a good argument for political correctness. Such trash stereotyping can have devastating effects. As it did indeed. Leading to the revival of Klu Klux Klan and fifty years of unmitigated barbarity against the American Blacks with the infamous milestones of several lynchings, Scottoboro and Mississippi Burning trials, and the assassinations of several reformists from Luther King to Malcolm X to, possibly, Rob Kennedy.

As the story justifies the terror tactics of the Klan, I would like to see a new version of it - justifying the Islamic terrorrism.

A disgruntled Iraqi soldier as the Southern hero - Cameron.
Gus - the negro who tries to violate his sister - transforms to Lynndie England.
The new congress - the "Alliance against Evil".

You get my drift.

How funny. Hundred years on, despite its blatant and strident black/white portrayal of history - in fact, because of it - the movie justfies the need for stridency in the very liberalism and equality it shrieks to denounce.

PS - In the next few posts, I will talk about the lynch era a bit more.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The answers within

This is a nice post on the meaning of success - short and simple

Her point is " matter how far we go or how successful we get, there are so many aspects that remain unfulfilled, so many bones of contention, so many unhappy moments and so many desires that die without being realised."

In my comment, I have proposed Pareekh's Venn Diagram theory of life. To repeat, in this venn box there are lots of circles denoting personal space, relationships, career, art, etc. You can expand these circles to occupy the max space (as good time managers do) but ultimately if you want to expand a circle, you have to reduce some other. This is what balance is - how big a circle you want all these different aspects to be.

Ultimately, every decision is a sacrifice. It's up to you what you want to sacrifice.

Happiness is not defined by a hierarchy in the peer-pressure network, but comes from a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment from within. The strong know it, the weak take a lifetime to discover thiss.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The elements within

I am writing this as the idea is forming in my head (where else)...

Lately I have been passionately doing portraits... esp. on the street.
Mostly, when I approach subjects I know, the best portraits come out of moments I never planned. But, somehow, I do have a blurry premonition of the final output even as I start clicking. I was trying to think through this feeling. Moreover, I was planning some future portraits of friends/relatives and, still, I have some idea of what I want.

The idea is this - each of us are defined by a peak in the various elements that make our personality. I liken it to the five elements - water, fire, earth, air and ether(the unknown). A portrait that captures us in our basic element is the one that captures the essence.

I would like to work upon this idea more but my knowledge of history of the elements and their connatations in the human context are hazy at best. But the thought came to me when I was trying to figure out the best portrait for one of my sisters who is as elemental in her fire state as anything can be. The reason that I have not been able to do a good portrait of hers so far is that whenever I try to do so, she is too serene and calm to be her essence. So what finally comes out is not essentially "she". On the other hand (in case one thinks that anyone in the heat of passion would be a great portrait), a picture I remember of my grandmother captures the essence of the earth in her in her almost sad peace.

I will think on this a little more.

I also wonder what my essence is.

Here is a list of the elements I would associate with some people I know-

Sarovar - Earth
Kholu - Air
Prachi - Water
Meen - Fire
Tarun - Earth
Pareekh - Earth
Riju - Ether(?)