Wednesday, February 23, 2011

KCR's Definition of 'Gandhian Way'

  • Not allowing any employee to go to office
  • Not allowing any student to go to school/college
  • Not allowing any shop to be opened
  • Not allowing any bus to come on road
  • Forcing government to put thousands of police for security
and many more on the same lines....

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Effect of Corruption in Business (Real Social Service)

There are only two types of social services. Politics and Business. Everything else is some variant of begging, where one donates to another.

You are interested in doing business and provide employment to many people and provide better service to many consumers. The rules are vague in that business. You need approval from the concerned minister and the license fee would be around Rs.10 lakh.

You went and met the minister for the approval. He gives you two options.

  • First option is, pay him Rs.5 lakh as bribe and pay government Rs.1 lakh as fee.
  • Second option is, forget about the business.

You dont have an option of paying Rs.15 lakh (fee+bribe), because of the intricacies in the system. If the minister brings the rule of paying Rs.10 lakh, then he would lose his authority to approve/reject specific people/organizations. If he brings the rule of paying Rs.1 lakh, then he can decide who can do the business and who cannot.

You dont have any other option other than the two. Even if you pay bribe and start the business, you very well know that you won't save that Rs.4 lakh, and it would be used up immediately to bribe others.

After some time, somebody investigates the issue of licensing and comes to know that, this organization has been given the license for very less fee, and because of that, the government lost Rs.9 lakh per license.

The immediate demands from all the opposition parties and watchdog organizations are,

  • Cancel all the licenses and give the licenses freshly with the correct procedure.
  • Some useless demands on the minister, and setting up commission etc. (till now, those never made any difference to the common man.)
  • Impose wind fall tax on the organization for earning profits till now. (It is a different question that you did not save any money, and used up everything in bribes.)

Nobody talks about the bribes that you had to give out, eventhough you were never interested, and tried your best to get the license without bribes.

People criticize you for paying bribes and getting into business.

They also say that, previously they had a great respect for you, and now, it is no longer there.

Many people send many mails to all their acquaintances about what can happen, if we had those money. The mail says that, if we had that much money, we could have done x, y, z etc. It also says, with that money, few fields would be improved completely as if they were not allotted sufficient money in the last few decades.

When the new Minister declares that, all the licenses would be cancelled, all the opposition parties and watchdog organizations express their happiness for taking preventions against corruption and getting back the money, and nobody cares about the organization which spent lot of money for the cancelled license.

All the politicians easily escape. In the worst case, they make a scapegoat for few days.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Black Market

Black Market is in existence, only because of two reasons.
  • Shortage of supply (either artificial or natural)
  • Price is significantly lesser than what the consumer can pay for that
Only politicians and ignorant media thinks that the problem with the black market can be solved without touching any of the above two.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Should We Eliminate Corruption Completely?

A travels company has many buses. But, it has permits only for few buses, and does not have permits for many buses.

There are many schools which are operated without any registration. There are many other schools which are registered, but violates many rules.

There is a house which is not constructed as per the plan documents they had submitted.

There is a hotel which uses child labour.

There is a traffic constable, who takes bribe from all the traffic violators. He does not write receipts for anybody.

In all the above cases, the officers who come for regular checkup take bribe and leave.

Should we have a strong Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to punish all the corrupted people very severely?

I don't care about any of the above types of corruption. Because, in all these situations, the corruption is happening because of the other issues in the system. In few cases, the corruption must be there till the root cause is fixed. Otherwise, there may be bigger problems. I don't spend my time or resources to control the corruption in anyway other than solving the root cause. I don't care about the bills on anti-corruption, strengthening ACB, rallies for anti-corruption or many others which try to reduce the corruption in the above cases. Because, they won't improve the country.

The government is controlling the entire transport in the state. Because of their monopoly, the transport is very bad, and causing increase of private vehicles, pollution, consumption of petrol/diesel etc. Unless government increases the public transport significantly, the problems will not be solved. In the present situation, increase in the no.of buses is always good. But, government is not giving permits to everyone. If an officer allows a bus even by violating the rules, that would reduce the pollution, traffic and diesel/petrol. Following rules in this case would increase pollution, traffic and usage of diesel/petrol.

The government has many restrictions in registering a school. It is impractical for a small player to satisfy all the requirements to register a school. That's why, people are forced to do not register the school, or even if they register the school, they register without satisfying all the requirements. If we go with the rules, we will have to close more than 70% (or is it 90%?) of the schools in the state. Following rules in this case would just increase the illiteracy.

Even to construct a small house, the government has put so many restrictions. It is not possible for many to follow all the rules. If everyone has to follow the rules, then not that many people would construct the houses, the rents would increase drastically and there would be severe scarcity of the houses.

If the government provides free education and hostel facility to all the children who are poor, will any child work? If the government does not provide facilities for children to study, and if it does not allow children to work, what will they do? Following the rules in this case, would simply wastes the time of the children (They can neither earn knowledge nor money).

The duty of the traffic constable is to control the traffic. The fines that are imposed for the violators is to discourage the offenses. The fine should never be seen as an income to the government. Government should strive for zero traffic violators. If the traffic constable takes bribe from all the traffic violators, it is nothing but, he is imposing fine on all the traffic violators (Since, it is bribe, it would be less than the usual fine). If the government does not allow him to take bribe, but allow him only to collect the fine, then I am sure, they would not show that much interest in stopping every offender and collecting the fine. The total money that is collected as fine would be less than, what he would have collected as bribe. Because, many people would work more, if they can get some extra credit. If we follow rules in this case, then the fine would be imposed on less no.of offenders, and the traffic problem would not be solved completely.

There is one IAS officer who is considered as a very sincere officer in A.P. She does not do anything against the rules. She has reduced the corruption significantly in the first two cases. (By reducing the corruption significantly, the suffering/inconvenience of the people increased significantly.) If she contests in the election (even from Lok Satta Party), I will not vote for her. Because, her reduction in the corruption caused only reduction of the services to the common people. If she wins and is in the winning party, then definitely she would get a good post in the government. Instead of trying to solve the problems of the people, she would go by the rules, which are not good for the people. Finally, it will increase the problems of the people.

Related Posts:
Is it Legal or Illegal?
Impractical requirements

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Few Tips for Passengers who Travel by Train

After the Indian Army, I feel the Railway department is the one which does not disclose anything to the general public. It is very difficult to find out on what basis, the tickets are allotted and on what basis the waiting list tickets are confirmed. Many times, eventhough, I had booked the ticket very early, My ticket was not confirmed. Where as, others' ticket got confirmed eventhough they had booked just few days before. I could gather some information on this, but, still there is much more that is hidden.

In each train, the seats are allotted to different railway zones based on some hidden criteria. In each railway zone, the major cities get some quota based on some other hidden criteria. And, there are different waiting lists like, (General) Waiting List, Pooled Quota Waiting List, Remote Location Waiting List, Request Waiting List etc., which are not trivial to understand.

Break Journey

If you are traveling from A to B, and if you are not getting confirmed ticket, then break the journey at a major station between A to B, or at a station where the railway zone changes just before or after. Book two tickets, one from A to that station, and another from that station to B for the same train. That may have more chances to get confirmed ticket. When compared to long journeys, short journeys have more chances of confirming.

If you are traveling by Charminar express from Chennai to Secunderabad, and if you don't get confirmed ticket, then try from Chennai to Gudur and Gudur to Secunderabad. This has more chances of getting confirmed ticket, or less waiting list number than Chennai to Secunderabad. Chennai is in Southern Railway zone, and Gudur and Secunderabad are in South Central Railway zone. There are different quotas from Gudur to Secunderabad and Chennai to Secunderabad. The quota from Chennai to Secunderabad is used up very soon, where as the quota from Gudur to Secunderabad is relatively not used up so soon. So, there are more chances of clearing. You can apply the same logic for Tatkal as well.

Extend Journey

If you want to go from Chennai to Vijayawada by Howrah Express, it is very difficult to get a confirmed ticket unless you book atleast a month in advance. Even tatkal also would be filled up within half an hour to one hour. But, if you book the ticket from Tambaram to Vijayawada, then you will get the confirmed ticket easily. That train has different quotas for Chennai and Tambaram. Many people travel from Chennai and it is difficult to get confirmed ticket from Chennai. Whereas, from Tambaram, not that many people travel, so, you can get the confirmed ticket easily.

The extension of journey is useful, only if you can get a confirmed ticket at the time of booking. If you get waiting list, be very cautious. The waiting list from small stations would be cleared in different way, and the waiting list won't go down like how it goes if you have booked normally. In case of this type of booking, if I get waiting list ticket, I will not depend on that, since, it has very less chance of clearing, because of less quota.

This is mainly useful in case of Tatkal quota. For Tatkal quota, in the main line, the quota would be filled up by 8.15 - 8.30 AM on the opening day. Where as, if you extend the journey, you would get some more time.

Book two tickets, in case of RAC or Waiting List

At the time of booking, if the status is waiting list or RAC, and if you would like to travel comfortably, then book two tickets per person. At the time of chart preparation, if that becomes RAC, then two passengers would be allotted one berth. So, you would get a berth. Before chart preparation, you can check the status, and if it is confirmed, then you can cancel one. After the chart preparation, if both are confirmed, then it is a long procedure to cancel just one ticket.

Tatkal for the trains that start after midnight

If the train that you are traveling starts little after midnight, and if that station is not the starting station, then for the previous station for which starting time is before midnight, the tatkal quota would be opened one day before your starting station. You can book the ticket three days before (instead of the usual two days for Tatkal) from the previous station.

In case your starting station and the previous station have the same quota for the journey, then you must book from the previous station (unless, there are vacant berths even after one day). For example, Chennai express departs from Ongole for Chennai little after mid night, and from Guntur, it departs little before midnight. The tatkal quota is opened for Guntur one day before Ongole, and both have same quota to Chennai. On the first day, if the quota from Guntur is used up, then there will not be any berths available by the time tatkal is opened for Ongole. In this case, if you want to travel from Ongole, you have to book the ticket from Guntur three days before.

If you are booking the ticket at the railway counter

If you are booking ticket for which the starting station is in different railway zone, and if the ticket is in waiting list state, then think twice before booking it. I feel, it is just waste of money. It will not be confirmed so easily. If the starting station is in the same railway zone as the booking counter where the ticket was booked, then it would be given much higher preference than the ticket booked outside the railway zone. Once, I booked a ticket at a booking counter in different zone one month before and it was not confirmed. Another person booked in the same zone (for the same train and route), just 4 days before, and it was confirmed.

I don't know how it works online. When I booked wait listed ticket, I got all the possibilities like Waiting List, Pooled Queue Waiting List (PQWL), Remote Location Waiting List (RLWL). What I observed was, except General Waiting List, everything else would clear very slowly. So, if you get waiting List no.of 10 in RLWL or PQWL, don't be happy. At the time of chart preparation it may stop at 2 or 3, where as general waiting list 40 may be confirmed.

If you want to travel by somebody else's confirmed ticket

If the chart has not been prepared for that train

Then book another ticket for that train for yourself, even if the waiting list number is very big. With that ticket, you can board the reservation compartment. Make sure to mark the confirmed ticket with TTE (may be by somebody else, and not by yourself). With the waiting list ticket that you have, you can travel without any problem in the reservation compartment, and with the confirmed ticket, you can have berth.

If the chart has been prepared or even the waiting list tickets are not issued.

In this case, you need help of somebody else who is traveling in the same compartment. Take a general ticket, and make sure that, TTE is not aware that, you have a confirmed ticket. Mark the confirmed ticket by somebody else, and don't appear to TTE at all. In case, if you have to face TTE, face him at a different berth and ask him for a berth. He will say, there are no berths available (unless you are traveling on Diwali night). When he is not around, just go and sleep in the exact same berth that was allotted to that confirmed ticket. Don't try to change the berths unless those were also marked by the TTE and the actual ticket holders of that berth are around.

Technically, in these cases, TTE can twist in whatever way he wants. If you have only a general ticket, then TTE can impose fine of Rs.250 and the reservation charges for that route. However, if TTE is allotting a berth to you, he would collect only the reservation charges (and some bribe). If the TTE comes to know that, you have a confirmed ticket of somebody else, then, he will ask you for the maximum fine. The TTE just won't listen, if you ask him to allot the berth that was confirmed on the other ticket. Finally, you will be end up paying bribe which is more than the technically possible fine.

You are an educated person. Don't you know that it is computerized?

If you start arguments with any of the railway officials on anything on the tickets, their reply would be the above only. But, the fact is, till the time of chart preparation, the railway officials can change many things. They can give you a confirmed ticket, they can confirm your waiting list ticket, they can change the names of the ticket, and they can change the boarding station from a completely different place. All are possible. But, you cannot approach them directly. You need to go through the appropriate brokers for that.

TTE can do, if you are ready to pay enough

After the chart preparation, TTE can arrange the berth, if you are willing to pay enough. Almost all the long journey trains have atleast three TTEs for different compartments. If the TTE is allotted to the compartments which have the quota of tickets from the starting station to the last station, then he may not be able to help you that much. But, other TTEs would be able to help you, if you are willing to pay enough.

Delay in Train Timings are as Designed in Small Railway Stations

When the railway department publishes the timings of the trains, the most important requirement for them is, no train departs before the published departure time. It is also not possible for the trains to travel with the uniform speed everyday. When they publish the timings, they fix the timings at the important stations by the average in the last few months. Between the two important stations, the (published) timings are distributed in such a way that, it appears that, the train travels very fast for the first 75-80% of the journey, and goes very slowly for the rest of the 20-25% of the journey. By that way, the train never departs before the published departure time. If the train reaches an important station little early, they can let it wait till the published departure time. Whereas, they cannot do that for small stations. That's why there is discrepancy in the published times and actual times at small railway stations. This also gives the impression to the passengers that, initially, the train was late, but the train driver managed to reach the destination on time. Where as, everything was as designed. If you have to board a train at a small station, and if you are late, don't change the plan of your commute immediately. Check whether the train had already left from that station or not, and then only change your plan.

I think one can easily do a Ph.D. on the Railway reservation system.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Recent Politics in Andhra Pradesh

Almost all the news papers are writing differently on the situations that can happen, if there is a motion of confidence/no-confidence. After reading the news on this in many news papers, I felt pity on the reporters for their lack of knowledge on the constitution.

The present situation in A.P. is very interesting.

Jagan MLAs are asking Congress government to have vote of confidence.

Congress Party is saying, if anybody wants, they can call for vote of no-confidence.

TDP is saying, they will not put vote of no-confidence, just because somebody has asked.

Everybody is blaming on others. Many news papers/channels are not giving correct analysis.

Why will a party that is in power call for vote of confidence or vote of no-confidence? They will never, and there is no need to ask them. Congress does not need to prove their majority. If others want, they have to call for it.

To have a vote of confidence, the MLAs have to request the Governor saying that, the government does not have enough majority, and convince him. Traditionally, the MLAs give signed letters to the Governor. Generally, they do this, if they can get support of more than 130-140 MLAs.

To have a vote of no-confidence, atleast 40 MLAs have to give notice to the speaker, and then the speaker will call for vote of no-confidence. If less no.of MLAs give notice to the speaker, then it is at the speaker's discretion, and most probably, it would be ignored.

In the present circumstances, it is not possible to call for vote of confidence, since, getting 130 MLAs together is not possible.

The unofficial news is, Jagan has a support of around 25 MLAs. Jagan's close associates say, they have the support of 50 MLAs or so. If they have support of 50 MLAs, then they can call for vote of no-confidence. But, the issue is, once the MLAs give notice to the speaker, they would come under anti-defection law. If the speaker wants, he can disqualify them before the vote of no-confidence. If the speaker disqualifies those MLAs, then the government can easily defeat the vote of no-confidence. That's why Jagan MLAs cannot move forward for vote of no-confidence.

During the vote of no-confidence, if Jagan MLAs vote against Congress party, then they would fall under anti-defection law, but only after the voting. Their vote would still be valid. If the government falls, there is no use of that law. If the government wins, then Jagan's MLAs would lose their MLA seats.

Congress party is planning to use anti-defection law on the present MLAs who are with Jagan. But, it will not be so easy. Just a press statement or talking negatively may not warrant for anti-defection law. The member has to disobey the whip, or resign from the political party, or should do something tangible which proves that he/she voluntarily left the party, and did not leave because he/she was asked to leave. Even if those MLAs are disqualified, it is difficult to win in the court.

TDP has 92 MLAs and it can call for vote of no-confidence, and no other party can call, because, other parties do not have enough no.of MLAs.

Technically, only Chandrababu can issue for vote of no-confidence. Probably, he is not confident that, vote of no-confidence will win, because PRP and MIM are ready to support Congress. Both Congress and Jagan are experts in buying MLAs. If all those happen, there is no guarantee that, vote of no-confidence will win. Going by the previous track record, I am sure, Chandrababu is looking for the right time to take the next step.