Thursday, February 11, 2010

Let's stop vandalism and destruction of public property

The city of Mumbai is under siege by a political party under the pretext of the release a movie. The protest against a particular actor and his forthcoming movie has also led to destruction of a few cinema halls. A year back, a number of poor north Indian taxi drivers were attacked and their taxies were damaged. We see our buses and trains burning as a symbol of public protest. Destruction of public properties become the visual symbol of any such protests.

Vandalism is also taking another form. Every year self styled moral policing by some fascist forces against valentine's day also leads to destruction of shops and restaurants. Young girls were attacked in a town a year back for visiting pubs. A well known painter's paintings were vandalised and due to threats by political miscreants, he is forced to stay out of the country.

While a democracy allows every citizen the right to protest, does it give a free pass for vandalism and allow a free for all destruction of public properties. More often than not, such destruction is instigated by political parties. This happens since there does not appear to be any punitive measures. With the press catching perpetrators of such crime quite clearly on their camera, can such evidences not be used for strict criminal action ?

Since the state governments as also central government have completely failed to take action, can the honourable supreme court step in and end this menace.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mentor a Start up

The financial meltdown of 2008 has left a lasting impact on the job market. While many people lost jobs, it also has brought in a fundamental change in the employment markets. A large number of young students can no longer assume that a job follows completion of their graduation. In the last decade we have also witnessed growth without any significant increase in job growths. This phenomenon brings in a new challenge, youngsters would have to go on their own. This entrepreneurial journey is challenging and perhaps be made some what easier by mentoring.
I would therefore urge that we start a mass movement of mentoring new entrepreneurs. All large companies should make it a part of their corporate social responsibility. All experienced professionals should make this as a part of their professional mission to help at least one start up either individually or preferably in a group of complementing skill sets. They can also become angel investors in these start ups. The usage of professional expertise of the mentors to train the start ups, bridging in through financial support as also network/social support which may open up market opportunities, would build in confidence of the entrepreneurs and would provide a framework for success. Just imagine the ripple effect of such a movement. This can not only create a large number of self employed, it will also have an efficient and effective start ups providing a base for a more competitive economy.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

India - We require more new cities.

Over the last few months there have been constant rumblings by the MNS and Shiv Sena about the status of outsiders in Mumbai. The point of attack are the North Indians. A few years back it was the South Indians. Often the frustration has been on account of over crowding of Mumbai and the presuure on the infrastructure. Even a balanced politician like Sheila Dixit had expressed concern over the crowding and pressure on the infrastructure of Delhi. While the MNS and Shiv Sena make political capital out of this, Sheila Dixit quickly retracted due to the expected political fallout, though her observations were right on mark.

Naturally a country which has been growing at a rapid pace, with a demographically favourable younger population and reduction of dependence on agriculture for employment, would have large impact on urbanization. We have been witnessing this over the last three decades. Wherein in the sixties a number of large industrial townships came up with the PSU model of expansion, the process has relatively slowed down with growing privatisation of industry.

It is important that we create new cities by planned expansion of existing large towns. We also need to create new towns where the pressure of land acquisition would be less. The central India offers vast tract of land with relatively low density of population and offers substantial opportunity. Every large state should come up with at least three to five alternates for their current over crowded and over stretched cities.

The government should also tighten its policy implementation. During the mid 90s when a number of private sector banks and also IDFC were licensed, the registered offices were distributed in a number of mid size cities. However, the intent was quietly killed and every one conveniently placed the corporate office in Mumbai. Do we need such a geographical concentration in a net worked world ?