Archive for August, 2009

Guidelines to draft an RTI application

Interesting note here to those who are looking to draft an RTI application.

Internship opportunity with CIC

There is an opportunity for two young people to intern with Central Information Commissioner Mr. Shailesh Gandhi. These positions need very bright persons who are interested in an exciting experience of working in a Government office (but not as a sarkari babu!) to further the Right to Information. RTI is slowly changing the governance structure and our Democracy by empowering individual Citizens. Since it is a new law and the Information Commissions are also evolving, it presents a good possibility of contributing new and better ideas to get effective implementation. The work involves reading many communications from Citizens, drafting suitable responses and also interacting with Government officers and Citizens. It is a vibrant office to work in, since the average age of the staff is around 25 years and new and better ways of working are evolving continuously.

Stipend: Peanuts!- Rs. 10000 (+free tea and coffee)

Essential Requirements: Fluency in English and Hindi; ability to draft letters; willingness to work hard for six days a week

You can get some idea of the work by looking up ‘Workpractises at an Information Commission’ at www.satyamevajayate.info

If you are willing to commit over six months for a different experience to understand some of the issues ailing our democracy and wish to contribute to bring about a change, send an email with your CV to rtimonitoring@gmail.com.

Shibani Ghosh
Legal Consultant
Central Information Commission
Old JNU Campus, Opp. Ber Sarai MKt.
Delhi 110067

Young, Women and first-term MPs in Budget Session 2009

There has been significant public interest and media attention garnered around the election of young MPs in the 15th Lok Sabha. Further, with the public debate around the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill, the newly elected women members have also been in the media spotlight. The PRS Vital Stats document, highlights some aspects of the parliamentary performance of first-term, young and women MPs.

Provide Feedback on Direct Taxes Code

Ministry of Finance has recently published the Direct Taxes Code proposal, which aims to simplify direct taxes, increase the coverage, and bring uniformity to direct taxes. It has also published a Discussion Paper on the same, and is soliciting rating and feedback from public.

It is creditable that there is an open consultative process that is being adopted here. Make sure you give in your feedback!

Natural Laws, Human Flaws

Gaussian distribution is not a mathematical construct but a natural law. It is normal distribution that occurs in populations, events and seemingly random & mass instances of all sorts.

Another natural law that should be easy to agree upon is that what is good for Earth is good for all life forms dependent & residing upon it.

Also, common sense would dictate that Earth is limited as to how much life can it sustain.

Hence, Death is not merely desirable but essential. Else, earth would soon be devoured by life’s longing for itself, its innate goal to proliferate.

Predation, therefore, plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of our one & only home. So does calamities, wars, diseases & so called natural disasters.

Morality, on the other hand, is not Natural.

It is a man made construct. It seeks to eradicate pain, suffering & death. All forces causing so are termed Evil.

Yes, it does accept non-violent, painless natural death but essentially its basis is man’s fear of pain, suffering & death.

Morality as a common code of conduct for humans, as commandments to regulate behavior is required but it has unduly drawn focus away from health of Earth to health of Mankind.

Under the guise of morality based on common fear of masses, mankind, for ages, has eroded Earth & other life forms on it. It has devised systems, theories, religions, sciences, etc. based on concepts like justice, fairness, equality, virtuosity & such. The combined effect is a significant tilt towards the welfare of people & not the planet without which they cannot exist.

Mother earth, consequentially is getting sicker and has developed fever & shivers as a starter. Global warming & icy winters are merely a warning. If not treated, health of our home can only worsen.

One thought which is being pursued is search for an alternative home, like mars or moon.

But isn’t it conceivable that Mars is not our future but our past. That like Earth it was once a hospitable planet which hosted human beings and their activities increased the carbon dioxide in its environment and made it hotter & hotter till it became unlivable & decimated all life on it.

Perhaps a few escaped. To Planet Earth.

(That may explain the sudden onset of industrial revolution only in Caucasian Europe while Indigenous Indians lived at peaceful co-existence with nature elsewhere in Americas, Australia, Africa, & the polar continents).

Only to repeat the cycle … to make another Mars in the offing.

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With the context above, let’s examine one man made concept, the Democracy. More specifically, the system of governance, not devised but practiced by us, the Indian Nation.

Democracy is based on one person one vote – all equal. Monarchy allowed the fittest to emerge as the Natural Leader with one person holding all the votes. Both extremes are against the Gaussian law. By law the population would appear as a pyramid. With majority at the base. And decreasingly fewer on the upper rungs.

If democracy was imposed in a jungle, surely an insect or a rat would emerge as the leader. Insects & rodents would vote en masse to elect one of their kind. In the hope that they shall do them the maximum good little realizing that the ones elected from their kiln would abandon them rather quickly because they shall try & hasten their evolution to the next rung in the ladder. They would want to become bigger predators. Though disappointed, the voters would understand and may even empathize. After all the desire to evolve is innate, they even take pride that one of their ilks has made it to the next rung.

Tigers would hardly vote. They know they simply lack the numbers to make an impact on the outcome. They would become disengaged and rely simply on their own strengths to get by in the jungle. (I am in the process of writing a book extending this scenario to all beings of the forest and the resultant state of the jungle)

The Gaussian distribution is simply a reflection of the reality. In the above context, we know that species which breed more tend to be lower on the food chain. And vice versa.

Anthropologic studies have established similar patterns in humans everywhere. Those whose survival is assured do not bother much to reproduce and if they do they keep the quantity small so as to ensure similar quality of life for their offspring. In ghettos, on the other hand, a culture of hopelessness pervades. Life is lived on a day to day, one breeds simply because there is no responsibility towards the offspring.

Once again, what is described above are two extremes. For majority, the boundary arguments do not apply. The point, nonetheless, is that a system which is based on quantum alone is apt if the assumption that all are equal is warranted by rather limited variance in quality.

There is much more that I can say. I’d rather have a dialogue. Pl contribute.

Provide Feedback on Right to Sex Legislation

Amidst all the bills on right to education, food & employment, one right for which no legislation is required is right to reproduce.

As if it is a birthright: as in right to give birth.

A pre-requisite right which also is unspoken is right to get married.

It is taken for granted that everyone deserves to get married & breed.

Hardly an argument there but must the marriage be delivered on a platter?

‘Naukri & Chaukri’- ‘Livelihood & Spouse’ are the two fundamental goals that we must be competent to attain.

They ought not to be arranged by ‘Pitaji’s’ sifarish & ‘Mataji’s’ goodwill.

These are necessary rites to adulthood for which we get 20+ years to prepare.

How to woo & court, seduce & mate are as essential to learn as the fourier transforms.

Otherwise there is no growing up, simply growing old.

Just as we compete for jobs so we must compete for mates. We got to earn these life rewards not merely have our parents arrange them for us.

Competition breeds competences and society as a whole benefits by honing the quality of the next generation.

Not everyone will succeed as not everyone ought to succeed. This is a fundamental realization that we must accept.

Just as some students will fail in exams, some employees will be fired for incompetence, not every male will be successful in courtship and not every female

will be able to attract a spouse. As simple as that.

As it stands, it is far too simple, the bar is too low. If one is unable to secure a spouse in Haryana, one can always buy a bride from Assam.

It is simply trafficking under the guise of holy institution of marriage.

The supply as well as demand for such brides & grooms is non stop & plentiful

What’s worse is that both the bride & groom are products of marriages of convenience and in turn shall breed more candidates.

Talk about a self-perpetuating system. This is surely one.

In such a system where ugly, infirm, psycopaths, incompetent, the evolutionary laggards find it so easy to breed,

the next generation’ qualitative enhancement is severly impeded if not eroded.

The process of natural selection is simply bypassed. A blatant violation of a natural law in the name of “culture”.
Sexual urge is natural too and attempts to realise that urge is totally legitimate.

Must the desire for sexual fulfillment equate getting married.

Perhaps the Haryanvi would not need to marry the Assamese if an outlet for sexual urge was handy.

India has the world’s largest number of prostitutes but in the eye of law they are virtually non existent.

And in the eye of morality, they are repugnant.

We are okay with sex as an act of procreation but not as an act of recreation.

Why cant a person who might be aware enough of his or her inability to afford marriage &/or offspring, cant simply enjoy guilt free sex.

(S)He would be doing society a big favour.

By afford, I am not suggesting finances alone, it takes emotional maturity & life understanding to be effective parents.

So, inadvertently, we encourage child marriages. They might be legally of age but the couple may have only that as a qualification.

Both enter marriage with little or no maturity emotionally or sexually.

It is unlikely that they are going to discuss contraception before conssummation.

Other than condom, all other contraception has to practiced by female.

If she explores that subject prior to wedding she runs the risk of being viewed as promiscuous.

Inexperienced male on the wedding night is anxiety ridden to deflower and condom is an unwelcome pullback to prove his manhood.

I bet the first born in most such marriages is conceived within the first few months of the wedding night.

Second born is then rationalised to complete family.

The cycle continues.

It is well established that the cultures that are liberated in views on sex are now faced with the problem of a negative population growth.

Governance in such nations is attemtping incentives to breed.

Governace need in India is exactly the opposite.

It calls for social engineering, moral relaxation, effective lawmaking.

Indeed what is needed is a law for Right to Sex.

Effectively delineating that from right to marry or breed.

For that the law of nature must prevail.

Vote on Right to Education Bill 2008

Right to Education Bill 2008 was passed in parliament last week. PRS provides MPs with legislative briefs on bills being introduced in the parliament, and I am happy to attach the brief here. Take a look at the key issues surrounding the bill, and tell us which way would you have voted, or your comments?

In future, we will put out some bills that are yet to come to the parliament, and hopefully pass back some of your feedback back to the MPs!

So vote and comment now!

Vote here:

Please feel free to leave any qualitative comments below.

Report on working of CIC Office

An interesting report on working of CIC’s (Mr Shailesh Gandhi) office. Just other than outlining some of the process innovations around RTI, the report struck me as an account of variability in productivity in government offices – there is no reason to believe that such variability doesn’t exist in other departments/offices, and that the efficiency levels can not be increased by similar levels.