Reality Check India

Outsourcers and real estate

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 17, 2009

“The IT companies are asking for more land at considerable rates,” the CM told Left Front leaders at the meeting. (TOI)

How much space for a large outsourcing outfit ? We have talked about the SEZ national loot for a while now and how the SEZ policy far from creating a Jebel Ali or Shenzen is nothing but a local real estate and taxation scam.  How did this slip through the cracks ? Why was this not an election issue ? The answer is obvious, the same way rampant inflation slipped through the cracks. Elections are fought on identity in India. This allows such public-private partnerships to flourish until someone lights a fire under the bottom. Like what is happening in the Vedic Village in Kolkata.

Low down :

1. MoU signed by WB government promising 90 acres each to Wipro and Infosys. A dream of the Chief Minister Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharya.

2. Govt enters into a strange deal with a private developer. The private developer (Vedic Village) would acquire the land about 1700 acres and hand it over to the government. This sounds too good to be true because it is.

3. The deal is that the private developer would hand over 50% of his land FREE to the government in exchange for infrastructure development.The government does not heed warnings.

4. A clash after a football match results in the torching of Vedic Village. Allegations fly  that the promoters of Vedic Village are involved in land grab. Not only from farmers but also notified land. Names of several rowdies and musclemen crop up.

5. To be sure there are sane voices in Bengal too. A hotel paid Rs 33 Cr for an acre. Govt sees more sense in auction.

6. The latest news is that Buddha has had his way and has offered 50 acres each just outside the controversial area to the IT majors.

7. Earlier the government offered 10 acres to Infosys and Wipro instead of 90 acres. Here is where things get interesting. Lets spend some time on it.

They are not interested in it as they need much more land. Besides, the land price at Rajarhat New Town and the Hidco area was prohibitive for them. We will try to provide in Rajarhat as much land as possible, keeping in mind their demand,” the chief minister reportedly told a Left Front meeting.

Source : Telegraph

Read the news report again. 10 acres are not sufficient and even if it were, the price is too high. So this is what it is all about. The IT outsources penchant for massive real estate assets as a way of investing their mountains of cash surplus. Since they do not have any R&D expense this is the safest plough back. Ask yourself : Is 10 acres (4.5 Lakh Square Feet) not enough for an office that houses white collar workers ? How big are the Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, Chase world headquarters ?

The CEOs have been asked this question several times and the stock answer is : You must remember that we have other choices.

“Companies like Infosys have multiple choices in cities to expand. Most governments are willing to subsidise in this competitive environment because of the job creation potential of the IT industry. Some studies show that 40 per cent of new jobs created in urban areas were created directly or indirectly by the IT industry. We have to look at the best combination of access to talent, support from the government and price when we look at a new location to expand,” Gopalakrishnan said in an email to The Telegraph in reply to a questionnaire.

Source : Telegraph

Yes, but we already know the importance of outsourcing to India’s economy. This does not explain the land requirement. I am sure some studies will still show that 40% of new jobs are directly or indirectly due to the IT industry, if you operated out of a 10 acre campus. In addition, the outsourcing industries’  lobby Nasscom has to slam the government for paying heed to criminal land grab for the purposes of IT.

Even in the time of recession where several thousands are losing their jobs with no severence or medical benefits, IT majors are still investing in luxurious campuses.

The building of the new facility shares architectural resemblance with that of India’s parliament and Rome’s Colosseum.

..

“The centre is a proof of the progress we have made so far. GEC is the largest monolith classical building of post independent India,” added Murthy.

Source : ET

Let us make it easy for the IT outsourcing majors to deal with their cash surpluses. Let us tax their profits like we tax the hotel sector. Let us use the tax proceeds to build parks that all can enjoy outside the compound walls of IT campuses.

Forum for judicial accountability – full text

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 16, 2009

Check it out here

This is probably a first for the Indian alternative media. I do not think the letter is available on any of the MSM sites. Hats off to Churumuri for posting this.

From the Churumuri blog:

At the same time, the timing raises disturbing questions. Why are the charges surfacing now against a Madras HC judge who is reputed to have disposed 72,795 cases? Is somebody out to get him?

The people who signed the letter say they want to preserve the majesty of the final court.

If Justice Dinakaran is unsuitable for the Supreme Court, is he suited to continue as the CJ of Karnataka High Court, or even as a Judge?

The Supreme Court is different because there is no further appeal.

The nation is watching the way the collegium deals with the case of CJ PD Dinakaran.

Other links :

CJI summons J Dinakaran to Delhi

Karnataka CJ under scanner for huge assets

Real political news from India

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 16, 2009

Dividing people into rigid birth-based groups and attaching them to benefits in exchange for their votes. Playing games with equality as well as true social justice. This is the India of the 21st century.

Minority report – not even tabled in Parliament but CIC orders release to public

The report is said to favour a move towards job reservations based on educational and social status, instead of religion and caste. It says, inter alia, that “the ultimate goal should be the evolution of a uniform pattern of criteria for identifying the backward, which should be based only on the educational and economic status of people and not on their caste or religion, and its application equally to all sections of citizens, irrespective of their caste or religion”.

Source : DNA

Read between the lines. The commissioners are only saying that there should be a ‘uniform pattern’.  In the absence of  rationality even minorities should benefit from the irrationality. Both of their original selection for special status and subsequent immunity from scrutiny. Hard to disagree with this.

The Indian state must constantly explore new ways to exploit the fissures and consolidate them.

Moily writes to PM seeking caste census

Moily’s decision to take up the demand at the highest level reflects pressure of OBC chieftains to record the exact backward population. It figured in Supreme Court during hearings on OBC quota in higher education and a parliamentary panel in the 14th Lok Sabha wondered how the social justice ministry was allocating funds for welfare schemes for OBCs without being aware of their numbers.

Source : TOI

Look at the details. The clamor is not for a caste census but for an OBC count. Two very very different things. Remember, OBC is nothing but a grouping of various castes. Caste is the ultimate staging unit and not the group which is only a delivery mechanism.

  • There is no question that a group called OBC exists.
  • The only question is whether a given caste should be a member of the above list.

So is the census bad.

No.The cost of a caste census must be balanced by benefits to social justice. Caste census without strict scrutiny of benefits  is a recipe for disaster. Guarantee for permanent suspicion and social tension.

  • The census must enumerate castes
  • The census must cover all Indians (non OBC castes should also be recorded)
  • If Christians and Muslims seek similar caste benefits (eg Dalit muslim, OBC christian) they must record their caste

Presumably the result of the census will be an accurate count of various castes. Make no mistake that a sudden awareness of their numbers will permanently harden political formations. Big ticket items (like the China border issue and others you can read on Nationalinterest.in blogs) will be relegated to obscurity. Politically irrelevant cocktail groups will discuss such things for a while until they get tired and finally stop.

The entire social justice discourse will be turned into a push for proportional representation. The only power worth having will be a seat on the casino table where the players will be allowed to parlay their hand into great personal and political assets.

Of course we all know the blindingly obvious answer to all this. Why not just see how each caste on the social justice platform is faring with respect to each other ?  This would be the most natural feedback and the best way to take blogs like Reality Check India off the air permanently. A true socialist state would monitor this minutely as its primary activity. A fake socialist state would hide this data and build edifices on top of this loose soil.

CBSE Class X boards scrapped. The Why.

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 8, 2009

Its official now, there are going to be no board exams for Std X students from 2011. The TV channels are showing clips of Delhi students rejoicing, some of them holding iPhones in their hands. It is almost surreal, the media makes it appear that all of India studies in Springdales School at Nainital.

Fact is this : The Std X board are really an annoyance and source of unnecessary tension to wealthy kids and their parents who are already studying in top notch schools.  These top notch schools themselves do not like the boards because there is no weight for horse riding. These students are virtually guaranteed seats in Class XI and see no reason why they should be exposed to the grind of ‘anonymous evaluation like their drivers kids’. In these elite places, there is complete consensus on abolishing the boards.

Back to the policies effect on the normal schools.

The policy itself reeks of thoughtlessness. It virtually guarantees isolation of CBSE students from the state board junior colleges and schools.  This blog has covered it in detail here , Barbarindian here, and Atanu Dey’s take on it here.

Three things that stand out :

  • Board exams are scrapped but they are not scrapped. You can still take them if you want to or transferring to another system.
  • Marks are scrapped but they are not scrapped.  You will be given marks along with your grades !
  • ICSE has been left out of this

Let us get back to the main political issue. The fake socialist state seeks more and more control of your personal destiny. It relentlessly seeks to make ever so little encroachments into your ability to decide your own future. This decision of the HRD has far reaching consequence and has the explosive potential to completely cement the existing political setup in place.

Consider this :

Sibal said that class X exam will be made optional in CBSE for the batch of 2010-11, the states may follow the pattern based on the experience of the central board.

Source : HT

You can bet the states will fall in line. It is really tempting, everyone is looking for ways to compact the free agent voters and to consolidate the committed voters. All this at the expense of a social justice platform meant for the backward.

  • Until now, the really smart kids could expect some amount of insulation from the ‘great regime that decides what you become’.
  • The grading system which says everyone above 90% is the same is an unbelievable leveler. For example, in 2004 there were 2000 100% marks and 1400 medical seats. You can imagine what effect a 90% cutoff for A grade would have.
  • Due to limited availability of seats, everyone will seek tie breakers. This is where the politician will bring issues like caste, religion, recommendations, political give and take, economic give and take.
  • The students who gain from this leveling AND who are in rigid favorable political birth groups will develop a natural affinity to the political forces which gifted them this leveler. It is human nature.

Irrespective of differing views on other issues, most Indians viewed the anonymous board exams as one of the few areas they could be truly free.  Sibal  just laid this to rest.

To the media: Could you ask your screamers to please stop calling him Cybill ?

Related post : The exam difficulty control knob

RTI Awards – 2009, what it means

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 6, 2009

I am no fan of the RTI Act (Right to Information act).  I do think it has its uses. It gives one some options to track the status of personal petitions that are pending with bureaucracy. That is the long and short of it.

I just saw Prannoy Roy pitch the National RTI Awards 2009 on TV. They even have a website http://www.rtiawards.org Among the jury are Aamir Khan, Mallika Sarahbhai, Narayana Murthy, and other luminaries. Of course, the website has the oblilgatoire banner of expressionless poor people and farmers.

RTI is not going to ‘transform democracy‘. Why ?

For big ticket issues, i.e. in which the petitioner does not have a personal and immediate interest.

RTI is nothing but NTK in disguise (Need to Know).

Actually it is more, RTI is nothing but NTK and WWTK (Who wants to know)

Actually it is even more, RTI is nothing but NTK, WWTK, and DADT (Dont ask dont tell)

Information released on a ‘need to know/ who wants to know/ dont ask dont tell’ basis is one of the the classical signs of a fake socialist state which has something to hide.

  • For personal petitions pending with the bureaucracy (eg, what happened to my passport application, what is the status of my land record) the RTI needs to be  substituted with disposal timeframes.
  • For civil issues, (eg, who is the contractor for this culvert, what is the status of the irrigation canal project) there needs to be full mandatory disclosure. You should not be required to put your well being at risk for knowing the status of tax payer projects. Too muck risk for negligible returns.
  • For the root issues (eg, what is the performance of social justice, what are the amounts and sources of inward religious charity remittances, how has the stone-breaker fared over the past 50 years, how much tax has the government lost due to the STPI and now SEZ tax schemes). For these root questions there needs to be more than automatic disclosure. The country needs deep scrutiny because these issues have a direct bearing on constitutional rights (primarily the  right to equality and right to social-justice justice but also right to tax discrimination)

The good thing is there is a rising number of youth who do not believe everything the media dishes out. There is a rising number of youth who know there is a radically better alternative to the status quo. Read the status quo as permanent third world status for the entire country and plummeting living standards for the common man.

I know what you are thinking. Something is better than nothing right ? Its hot and I crave a cold beer – but the choices are cold water or nothing.  Why would anyone knock the cold water ?

The fact is the RTI and MD (Mandatory Disclosure) are not the same thing. It is not a choice like “cold beer vs cold water”. It is more like “cold beer vs a truck tyre”, completely unrelated.

But then as GK Chesterton so beautifully put it  “a thumbscrew can also be called a manicure“.