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Is voter education going to change things in India?

ADR and others have spent decades in “voter education”. Some believe that more voter education will help.

I believe this is both unnecessary and deals with the wrong problem.

While it may be the case that some voters do not make a thorough analysis of options, they almost always select the best candidate on offer. That is what explains the constantly shifting voting patterns across the country.

The real problem in India on the supply side. Candidates with poor ethics are selected by parties deliberately since all parties must necessarily be corrupt in order to succeed (as explained in BFN). The few candidates with good intentions who do enter generally do not have the time or money to campaign and reach out to voters. But there is virtually none who is both honest and competent – and willing to spend time and money to campaign.

The incentives built into the system force corrupt and even criminal candidates to be selected (they must spend crores of rupees – and only the corrupt have such money).

Voter education won’t work to even remotely address the problem. Voters are much smarter than we think. They don’t need to be told how to vote. They will always pick the best they can, given the information available to them.

Those who believe in voter education are likely to achieve genuine results by actually contesting elections. Give the voters a real choice.

But, from what I know about India for the past many decades, such persons will not contest (and even if they do, they will not campaign vigorously for 2 years, and they will not have the resources to campaign vigorously).

Unless 300 good people enter the parliament and change its incentives, the people of India must be prepared to live with what they have – a truly sub-optimal situation.

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Two of Indrajit Barua’s many articles

Following on from my post here. I’d like to thank Pankaj Das for managing to collect a few articles from the late Indrajit Barua’s home.

I’ve OCRd two of them. I’m publishing the scanned image for all three + text (for two of them). These are specialist technical articles, not the ones that demonstrate his liberal credentials. I do recall many of his articles criticising the public sector and the waste created by socialism.


Measures to protect Majuli, Indrajit Barua, Thursday, September 8, 2016

The world’s largest riverine island, Majuli, the seat of Assamese culture and a piece of real estate that occupies a very important position in our hearts and minds, which also happens to be the constituency of our present Chief Minister, and under serious threat of extinction due to soil erosion by the Brahmaputra, is hosting a Cabinet meeting of the Sarbananda Sonowal-led Government on September 8. 2016.

At care time, the Brahmaputra and the Dihing flowed close to each other in parallel courses. A flood that occurred around 1750 AD is said to have diverted a part of the flow of the Brahmaputra through the channel of the Dihing about 190 km upstream of its confluence. When the two rivers joined, the intervening land area became what is now called the Majuli island. In the later part of the 18th century, Mejuli was a duster of 15 large and numerous small islands.

In 1901 the island covered an area of 1255 sq km. By 1917. the island’s area had been reduced to 751 sq km; it gradually shrank to 564 sq km during 1966-19T2. to 454 sq km in 1996 and to 422 sq km in 2001; its present area would be around 400 sq km. From 1917 to 1972. the average annual rate of erosion was 1.77 sq km, 1.84 sq km per year from 1972 to 1996. and 6.42 sq km per year from 1996 to 2001. These figures clearly indicate a gradual increase in the rate of erosion progressively despite the very expensive efforts of the State and Central governments to control erosion.

The island is under the threat of extinction due to the extensive soil erosion of its banks, The reason for it is the large embankments built in the nearby towns upstream to pre vent erosion during the rainy season when the river overtops its banks. When the flood recedes, it carries away substantial chunks of Assam’s land mass. Because Majuli sits directly in the course of the flow of a turbulent Brahmaputra, the river vents its fury on the island, eroding whatever comes in its path whenever its waters develop “silt hunger”.

We therefore need to take a fresh look at our erosion control measures with the view to adopting technically viable schemes that will actually arrest erosion, because, clearly, the schemes undertaken by the State Water Resources Department and the Brahmaputra Board Wile have failed to protect Majuli from erosion despite hundreds of crores of public money having been expended in the name of erosion control.

Much of the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra and the entire island of Majuli consist of fine grained sand (technically, silt), which lacks cohesion (adhesive quality) and it is in such kind of soils that river bank erosion occurs easily. What is therefore needed is to change the soil properties to make the non-cohesive or sandy soils more resistant to erosion. This can be done by injection of a slurry of cement and water into the soil from the ground surface deep into the ground below the “low water lever” (LWL) wider pressure though a perforated steel pipe. The procedure is known as high pressure cement grouting and has been used elsewhere in the world to combat such problems.

A study at the Teheran University showed that non-cohesive soils grouted with cement slurry resisted erosion when exposed directly to a water jet with a velocity of three metres per second in a testing flume. There is no reason why such grouting should not work in Majuli or elsewhere in Assam wherever the riverbank consists of sandy soil lacking in cohesion.

After grouting, the steel pipe should be left undisturbed to act as a reinforcing bar to further strengthen the soil. Addition of ironite powder to cernent-water slurry may also be done. This will result in increased resistance to erosion. The grouting operation can be done in a number of rows around the periphery of the island to create an erosion resistant river bank 10-15 metres wide. No agricultural operation or any other activity involving disturbance of the treated soil should be permitted in this strip of land. Amarlata (Tinosporia cordfolia) can be planted in the erosion-prone riverbanks to increase their resistance to erosion. This plant thrives in water; its roots and leaves will prevent disturbance of the soil by water currents.

A river’s natural tendency is to scour its bed during high floods and to deposit silt during low water periods when the velocity reduces. It is when the velocity of the stream reduces and the water level ebbs that bank erosion occurs because the hydraulic gradient aids such erosion. At the same time, due to reduction of velocity, the water mass In energy and deposits solids carried by it on the riverbed further downstream. Such deposit of silt at selected locations can be encouraged by human intervention. This writer’s personal experience is that wherever an immovable obstruction is placed close to a riverbank, it causes silt deposit around the obstruction during the low water period. The site for water intake (on the Brahmaputra) of the Guwahati Refinery was chosen as it had never been silted till that time (1961-62). A barge was constructed and placed as near to the bank as practicable to act as a floating pumping station for the Refinery’s 130 million litres per day water treatment plant. It surprised everyone that right during the next low water season (winter), the river started silting up around the barge and such silting has continued ever since then, requiring dredging of the riverbed every year during the low water period to maintain the water supply to the refinery.

Therefore, to encourage silt deposit on the bed around the banks of the island suitable obstructions may have to be placed to impede the flow and to encourage silting during the periods of low water flow. Stone spurs placed in the bed of a turbulent river like the Brahrroputra may not work as such spurs tend to get moved around and dislodged during high flood periods as they are not firmly anchored into the riverbed. What needs to be done is to construct spurs or obstructions that will not get dislodged by the forte of water current during high flood conditions. This can be achieved by constructing rectangular or circular concrete wells (similar to bridge foundations) by sinking to the required depth into the riverbed to ensure their stability during high flood conditions, plugging the bottoms, providing sand fill inside, and finally sealing the tops with concrete well caps. However, as already noticed in Majuli, such river control exercises may have unpleasant side effects on the island’s environs and even further downstream. To gauge what may happen if such impediments to encourage silting around the island are constructed, the Central Water and Power Research Station at Pune may be requested to carry out a model study.

The model study may take some time, but the danger of erosion will continue unabated to further reduce the island in the meanwhile. Therefore, to control and arrest erosion and save the island from extinction, operations to inject cement-water-ironite powder slurry into the ground beyond the low water level and the planting of Arnarlata on the banks shoued be undertaken without any further loss of time.


Water-logging in Guwahati, Indrajit Barua

The citizens of Guwahati would not have had to suffer the miseries and woes caused by water  logging of their lands, homes and streets if the State Government had Implemented a proper storm water drainage scheme when the State’s capital was shifted from Shillong to Guwaliati in 1972. It is not that the Government was unaware of the problem of storm water drainage for Guwahati city in the past. As early as in 1969-70, even before Assam’s capital was shifted from Shillong to Guwahati, the Government of Assam had engaged the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Organization {later known as Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA)} to prepare a master plan for Guwahati. That master plan, inter alia, included the preparation of a comprehensive plan to provide solutions for the problems of water supply, sanitary sewerage and storm water drainage of Greater Guwahati, taking into account its future development, increase of population and other relevant parameters, The CMDA made a detailed physical survey of the city covering these aspects, and submitted a detailed master plan to the State Government in 1970. That master plan was approved by the Assam Legislative Assembly in 1971.

For the scheme of storm water drainage, the CMDA had furnished comprehensive details and data, including a topographical survey map of Greater Guwahati including the Deepor Beel, storm water (rainfall) run-off calculations, permanent benchmarks with supporting records for the purpose of establishing the correct bed levels and slopes of the storm water drainage system that was to be constructed in phases in the future and monograms (charts/graphs) for designing individual schemes.

Consequent to the shifting of the State’s capital from Shillong to Guwahati in 1972, the city witnessed mushroom growth of population and buildings without any control, and without the construction of the requisite, essential and supporting infrastructure. Thus, 43 years after the approval of the master plan for Greater Guwahati by the Assam Legislative assembly in 1971, the means to discharge the storm water into the natural outfalls remain more or less where they were back in 1971. This is the root cause of misery of the inhabitants of Guwahati city today.

The solution is to adopt the CMDA report of 1971 as the basic document for designing the storm water drainage scheme for Guwahati, with the following steps-in-aid thereof:

1) Update the storm water runoff calculation to account for increase due to urbanization. The storm water run-off – the quantity of water that reaches the drains after a storm – increases as the density of buildings, roads and other impermeable surfaces increases in a given area. The storm water run-off in 1971 would have been much less than what it is today. Therefore, in any urban habitat, in planning drainage systems, the planners have to take into account the increased run-off caused by increased urbanization. The mathematical models used for computing storm water run-offs have built in provisions for the needed adjustments in this respect.

2) Design and construct a storm water drainage network to cope with the run-off at any given time with margins for increased run-off over the years due to increased urbanization with the aid of established scientific and rational mathematical models of hydrology and hydraulics, taking into account the recommendations and the database provided by the CMDA.

3) Earmark or acquire land along the Bharalu (the only drainage channel for the Bharalu basin) for re-sectioning it to increase its holding capacity; also earmark or acquire land for accommodating reservoirs for storm water drainage in the future, so that nothing else can be constructed in such locations.

4) Design and construct a proper pumping station at Bharalumukh with a stand-by DG set to provide power to the pumps when the electricity grid is switched off. The duly ratings of the pumps, that are actually required from a consideration of appropriate hydrological factors need to be determined to ensure that the system performs property when pumping out of water from the Bharalu into the Brahmaputra when needed.

And this:



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स्वर्ण भारत पार्टी की ऑडियोलॉजी क्या है?

I have just figured out how to use Hindi dictation in google docs. I’m enormously impressed. Its accuracy is close to 99.5 per cent. Amazing!

So now I will start writing Hindi blog posts more regularly, and also work to convert most SBP material into Hindi.

Here goes the first one (I’ve dictated this in around 20 minutes flat, with very few corrections – actually there were a few typos, some of which got cleared in the second round of edits):

भारत की सारी पार्टियां समाजवादी हैं, यानी, उनके हिसाब से सरकार हर व्यक्ति पर पाबंदी लगा सकती है कि वह क्या काम करें, और जो उसकी कमाई और संपत्ति होती है – और उसकी जमीन और जायदाद – उस पर सरकार का पहला हक बनता है.

कुछ लोग कहते हैं कि भारत समाजवादी नहीं है, पूंजीवादी बन गया है. यह एक मजाक के अलावा और कुछ नहीं. अभी भी हमारे भारत के संविधान में शेडूल 9 (जो कि हमारे original संविधान में नहीं था) के अंतर्गत कोई भी व्यक्ति एक सीमा से ज्यादा जमीन नहीं रख सकता है. उस सीमा से ज्यादा होने के बाद वह सारी जमीन सरकार ज़ब्त कर लेती है.

जब किसी आदमी को अपनी जमीन का भी अधिकार नहीं तो इस देश को पूंजीवादी देश कैसे कह सकते हैं?

चलिए, मानते हैं (for the sake of argument) कि जमीन का एक सीमा से ऊपर किसी आदमी का कोई हक नहीं. तो कम से कम वह अपनी फैक्ट्री तो खोल सकता है?

पर यहां भी बहुत क़िस्म की रोक-टोक है. यह ठीक बात है कि एक जमाने में जो लाइसेंस राज था, उसको कुछ हद तक 1991 के रिफॉर्म्स ने हटा दिया है. पहले केवल सरकार ही हवाई एयरलाइंस चला सकती थी, अब प्राइवेट एयरलाइंस भी अपनी बिजनेस चला सकते हैं. इस प्रकार से कुछ क्षेत्र हैं, जैसे कि टेलीकॉम, जिनमें अब भारत में genuine competition है और आम आदमी का बहुत फायदा हुआ है. पर अभी तक किस खुशी में सरकार एयर इंडिया, इंडियन एयरलाइंस, अशोका होटल वगैरह, वगैरह चलाती है? उसके अलावा सबसे ज्यादा समाजवादी नीति तो सरकारी बैंकों की है.

सरकार का किस खुशी में बिजनेस चलाने का काम होता है? केवल समाजवाद यह कहता है कि सरकार बिजनेस करेगी.

उसके अलावा सरकार ने भारत के करोड़ो किसानों की हालत खराब करके रखी है क्योंकि सरकार उनके हर काम पर बाधा डालती है और कई जगह पर खुद ही बैठकर बिजनेस करती है. जो सरकार का मूल काम होता है – यानी कि सड़कें बनाए, बिजली व पानी व्यवस्था का प्राइवेट इन्वेस्टमेंट के through संपूर्ण सप्लाई करवाए  – वह तो सरकार करने को तैयार नहीं. पर कृषि उत्पाद का बिजनेस जरूर करती है.

इसे आप पूंजीवाद कहते हैं? यह तो पक्का समाजवाद है.

पर अब आप हमारी प्रशासकीय व्यवस्था को देखिए. इसको केवल समाजवादी कह सकते हैं और कुछ नहीं. इस व्यवस्था में कोई जवाबदेही का नाम ही नहीं है. उसके अलावा सरकारी कर्मचारियों का वेतन प्राइवेट सेक्टर से बहुत कम होता है. यह इसलिए होता है क्योंकि हर पार्टी समाजवादी है और चाहती है कि जहां तक संभव हो, हर सरकारी कर्मचारी एक बराबर या समान वेतन पाए. इस वेतन की बराबरी की वजह से हर जगह करप्शन और सरकारी बेवकूफियां जबरदस्त किस्म से फैली हुई है.

यह सबसे ज्यादा व्यतीत होता है सुरक्षा, न्याय और शिक्षा व्यवस्था में. इन क्षेत्रों में देश के लाखों लोगों को हर प्रकार के कष्ट झेलने पड़ते हैं.  यदि किसी गरीब का कुछ बिगड़ जाता है, जैसे कि उसके ऊपर अत्याचार हो, या चोरी या ढाका, पुलिस के सामने जाकर गिढगिढाना पड़ता है और पुलिस उससे पैसे लिए बिना उसका केस भी रजिस्टर नहीं करती. यदि किसी प्रकार से उसका केस रजिस्टर हो कर उसका इंवेस्टिगेशन होता है – वह भी कई सालों बाद – और वह केस कोर्ट में जाता है, तो वहां पर जबरदस्त किस्म के पैसे-खोर जमा रहते हैं. यह सभी जानते हैं कि भारत के कई जज भी घूस लेते हैं. और यह सब क्यों होता है – क्योंकि यह सारी व्यवस्था समाजवादी ढांचे पर बनी हुई है जिसमें जवाबदेही का कोई सवाल ही नहीं.

अब देखिए स्कूलों की हालत. सरकारी स्कूलों में टीचरों को अच्छा खासा पैसा मिलता है पर उसमें से कुछ ही टीचर स्कूल जाकर पढ़ाते हैं. इसलिए गरीब लोग भी अपने बच्चों को किसी ना किसी प्राइवेट स्कूल में डालने की कोशिश करते हैं, जिसमें कम से कम कुछ तो पढ़ाया जाता है.

यह सारी बातें हैं मैंने बहुत विस्तार में अपनी किताब ब्रेकिंग फ्री ऑफ़ नेहरू में समझाई हैं.

नेहरू का समाजवाद से बहुत प्रेम था. नेहरु ही नहीं, उस जमाने में शायद ही कोई कोई हो जो समाजवाद में विश्वास नहीं रखता हो.

पर कुछ तो लोग थे जो समाजवाद का विरोध करते थे – उनमें से सरदार पटेल और राजाजी. राजाजी ने तो 80 साल की उम्र के बाद भी 1959 मैं एक नई पार्टी बनाई, स्वतंत्र पार्टी, जिसका कहना था कि नेहरू ने जो समाजवादी व्यवस्था देश में लागु की है, वो देश के लिए घातक है.

उस ज़माने में कुछ अच्छे बिजनेसमैन होते थे, जैसे कि जे. आर. डी. टाटा, जिन्होंने राजाजी की पार्टी को पैसे दिए – और कुछ अच्छे लोगों ने भी मिल जुलकर इस पार्टी को support किया, जिससे कि स्वतंत्र पार्टी को 1967 की लोकसभा में 44 सीटें मिली. स्वतंत्र पार्टी में ideological clarity बहुत ही कम लोगों में थी, और उसके अलावा उस पार्टी में कई रईस और पुराने महाराजाओं का भी योगदान रहा, जिन्हें केवल पावर से ही मतलब था.

यह पार्टी 1974 मैं खत्म हो गई और उसके बाद केवल शरद जोशी की स्वतंत्र भारत पार्टी ने समाजवाद का विरोध करने की कोशिश की. पर वे भी इस कोशिश में असफल रहे और देश अब समाजवाद की बर्बादी को पूरी तरह महसूस कर रहा है. हमारे सारी की सारी व्यवस्था पूरी बैठ चुकी है.

दुःख होता है कि कई बेवकूफ लोग, जैसे कि मोदी, राहुल गांधी और अरविंद केजरीवाल, हमारे देश के लोगों का अभी भी अच्छा-खासा उल्लू बना रहे हैं. हो सकता है कि इनमें से कुछ लोगों की नियत अच्छी हो, हालांकि यह कहना मुश्किल है, परंतु इन बेवकूफों की नीतियां इतनी बर्बाद हैं कि देश की हालत खस्ता से और खस्ता होती जा रही है.

इसी वजह से – की भारत को किसी प्रकार से बचाया जाए और देश को आगे ले जाए जाए – स्वर्ण भारत पार्टी का गठन हुआ है.

यह पार्टी एक रजिस्टर्ड पार्टी है, और 26 जनवरी 2016 से भारत को एक लिबरल दिशा, एक पूंजीवादी दिशा, एक सही नीतियों की दिशा, दिखाने पर तत्पर है.

हमारा यह कहना है यदि हमारे manifesto की नीतियां लागू की जाएं और हमारी व्यवस्था का संपूर्ण परिवर्तन किया जाए (जिस प्रकार से हमारे manifesto में लिखा है), तो देश की कुल आमदनी कम से कम 10 गुणा केवल 10 या 15 वर्षों में हो सकती है. उसके अलावा सबसे ज्यादा जरूरी – यानी सुरक्षा और न्याय – यह सब बहुत जल्दी उपलब्ध हो सकते हैं .

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FCRA Act and the case for its repeal + the shambles that is the government of India

The government of India is beyond pathetic. Everything is messed up. I was searching for the details regarding the latest amendments to the FCRA Act but there is no hope of finding anything post-2010 on the internet.

The Indiacode website is in shambles. It contains a PDF (not even Word, and not even properly formatted) version of the 2010 Act but no rules, regulations or anything else.


The FCRA website of the GOI is even worse! It has a scanned copy of a hardcopy law. That too, of 2010, without any further amendment. There is no reference to anything else, including amendments which were passed in the recent budget.

I’ve now OCR’d the 2010 Act as a Word document (download here). When time permits I hope to somehow find the later amendments to figure out the latest position regarding the Act. The SHAME THAT IS INDIAN GOVERNMENT IS BEYOND BELIEF. CAN’T EVEN GET THE LATEST LAW. Everything takes 100 times more time than it would in an even remotely developed country.


Came across this (Time to repeal the FCRA by G. Sampat). He wants the FCRA scrapped and replaced with a self-regulatory agency. I am largely persuaded by his arguments:

Sampat’s key arguments below:

a political class that has no qualms taking money from foreign sources, that amended the FCRA to let itself off the hook for past violations, that opened the doors for all political parties to accept foreign funding, that paved the way for Indian businesses to access foreign capital, is now anxious to prevent CSOs from accessing foreign funds because some of them question its policies in a democratic battle to protect constitutional rights and entitlements.

Last April, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association undertook a legal analysis of the FCRA, 2010. He submitted a note to the Indian government which stated unambiguously that the FCRA provisions and rules “are not in conformity with international law, principles and standards”.

The UN Special Rapporteur’s argument was fairly straightforward. The right to freedom of association is incorporated under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is a party. Access to resources, particularly foreign funding, is part of the right to freedom of association. While this is not an absolute right and is subject to restrictions, those have to be precise, and defined in a way that “would enable a CSO to know in advance whether its activities could reasonably be construed to be in violation of the Act”.

restrictions in the name of “public interest” and “economic interest” as invoked under the FCRA rules fail the test of “legitimate restrictions”. The terms are too vague and give the state excessive discretionary powers to apply the provision in an arbitrary manner. Besides, given that the right to freedom of association is part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 20), a violation of this right also constitutes a human rights violation.

I’ll review this in the coming weeks, as time permits.




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