Sunday, December 26, 2010

Crime-Hi flying thieves

Times have changed, and how? I am from the old school and not very comfortable with this fast paced computer age. Till yesterday, I thought ‘thievery’ was a high risk and no investment business. All a thief required was nimble fingers and lot of courage, or so I thought. How wrong I was, is proved by yesterday’s news that four men from well to do families from North India would fly to Mumbai every week, stole or rob homes and flew back to their homes. Remember, they did this every week. I have never felt so strongly that I have been standing at one place and time has flown by.

Anyway, let us take business angle of this high flying occupation into consideration. Four persons flying in and out of this city would cost them at least Rupees one Lakh per visit what with hotel accommodation, transportation and such other expenses. That again means that they invested Rupees one Lakh every time they traveled into the city to steal and with no guarantee of success. That is investment and a high risk one, if you ask me. It is reasonable to expect that other legitimate ventures with little risk make profit of ten to twenty five per cent to survive, depending upon their nature of business. Now these four men’s business is that of high risk and also high investment, by all standards. So the profit should at least be a hundred percent, if not more to justify that risk and investment. For that, they probably have to scan the place they are going to do their ‘business’ in and make sure that the place has enough booty to justify the effort. Earlier, a thief used to enter any home or shop at random and took whatever was available to him, be it Rs. five, five hundred or five thousand, every thing was profit to him and the next day was another day.

Not so now. The house or the place they enter must be worth two Lakhs in terms of goods or cash available to steal. As such this business too has become sophisticated what with proper planning, proper scanning, proper investment, proper vehicles, proper clothes, proper equipments and may be proper education? What next? In times to come it may gain proper respectability, who knows.

Times have changed indeed.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Indian politics-Scamathon

Rupees one lakh seventy six thousand crore. To read, this is just a number in news paper prints. But just imagine the magnitude of this amount. Ours is a country of scams- Adarsh society scam, Common Wealth Games scam, Lalu’s fodder scam, Mayawati’s Taj corridor scam, Telgi scam, IPL Modi scam, Vedurappa scam, Harshad Mehta scam, 2G Spectrum scam, Justice Sen scam and now the latest in line, LIC and nationalized banks’ scam. You name it, we have it. In this marathon race of scams A.Raja of 2G scam wins the race hands down. Most of these scamsters are moving scot-free and even enjoying their ill gotten wealth.

Most of our politicians come into politics with the sole aim of making money. How they make it is of no consequence. There may be few, in fact very few exceptions like our PM Manmohan Singh. But he too is guilty of a blind eye. A coalition government is a compromise government. In order to retain coalition PM too has to remain silent on certain issues. So these rare few honest persons too are not entirely above water. Alas, gone are the days of Sri Rajendra Prasad and Sri Lal Bahadur Shastri.

But it is all very well for us lesser mortals to blame politicians, bureaucrats etc. The temptations of making quick bucks through scams and kickbacks are too huge to ignore. No more a few thousand or a few lakhs. It is now a few crores, not to mention a few hundred or a few thousand crores. We who criticize them are probably jealous of them that they are in a position to make money and we are left behind. If we were in one of their positions, would we ignore an opportunity to make a few crores? Our projects are too big, ambitions too high, development too fast. The result is, it is very easy to siphon money and our system is too lazy to punish the guilty. Few people would be able to resist such an opportunity. Frankly, I for one would not. I would be tempted. But the grapes are sore.

Imagine this picture. An ordinary person earning a decent amount of Rupees one lakh a month with smallest possible family, will not be able to save more then twenty five-thirty thousand a month, that is, three lakhs a year. It will take his life time to save fifty lakhs, if that. But if you are in the right position, you can make a few crores, a few hundred crores in a year or even in a month, too huge a temptation to ignore. It would take Swami Vivekanand type of mindset and determination to remain aloof. Sadly, Swami Vivekanand types are not born anymore and if born, are not accepted and appreciated. Even our God men, Gurus and preachers are basking in money, staying in air conditioned Ashrams and moving in air conditioned cars. Sure, I am jealous and so are you.

Seriously, in all this, you and I are made to compensate for these scams by way of increased taxes, direct and indirect. The need of the hour is not to find honest politicians. You won’t find any, in this day and time. The need is to find a system of checks and balances. The need is to find expert economists and such other persons who can suggest full proof and transparent system of government spending, like we use valve to stop liking water. The need is punish the guilty without any delay and that punishment should be exemplary. And last but most important – the perpetrator or even a suspect, should be crippled financially immediately. All his properties, bank accounts, lockers etc. should be sealed and frozen till the judgment and that judgment should be prompt and severe.

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Header image credit: adapted from David Niblack

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