Thursday, April 30, 2009

Of Kasab, civility and the criminal justice system

The headlines in our media are reverberating with the news of the most important and expensive terrorist caught in the history of Independent India - Ajmal Amir Qasab, the lone terrorist caught in the brutal attack on humanity. Nothing more is left to be said about the Barbarian attack and nothing would ever suffice to describe it. It shows the ugly side of being human. Something we as a human race have subjected, only the meek and feeble race amongst us. The same treatment was being meted out that night, in culling of the human emotions and human flesh alike.

It does not make a difference that the 10 "jihadis" had not ever met a Jew in their life, but had been indoctrinated so viciously about Jews that for them, it had become a duty towards the Almighty, to kill them in Chabad House. So much for a set of 72 virgins? What if they found that the virgins were all Fat, Old and Ugly I ask?

Currently, the news is about how the most guarded terrorist in the country is smiling in the trial courts or for that matter his "demands" about having a stroll out in the verandah to maintain his mental stability or he wanting toothpaste and "perfume"... PERFUME?? did he ask for? FUMES my conscience...

Did he ever think of what is happening to the liberty and the mental status of the family of the numerous people he butchered that night? So many families destroyed and so many more people having lost their mental stability forever in the loss of their loved ones, bread winners or upon whom they were complete dependents?

The question that comes to my mind is, Is this required? What do we prove and to whom? To ourselves that we are a civil society and would uphold the justice system even for our most staunchest enemy? Or to save the blushes we had to incur as in the case of Mohammed Afzal Guru, the terrorist who admitted that he had plotted the parliament attack, who later argued that he had not been "tried" in a trial court in India, so he should be pardoned off the death penalty awarded to him? Or are we trying to show the world that we are a civilised society and the whole process of criminal justice system has been followed in nailing down the terrorist to his damned death, judicially?

How long the case would go on we are not sure. On the other hand, how much time did the Iraqi court take to hang Saddam Hussein? Justice delayed is justice denied, isn't it? Isn't the justice system supposed to do what its stands for, that is delivering justice? Isn't this exercise a futile one at that? Isn't it making a martyr out of a chap, who just went about getting influenced by anyone who promised him a bread and then wielded a gun to spray bullets upon any soul crossing him, be it any innocent citizen or an innocent policeman?

The ethics of practicing the legal system seem to be making the lawyer Abbas Kazmi take up the case and fight tooth and nail to pin down the arguments against his client. Now, upholding the virtue of truthfulness isn't an ethic that needs to be followed in the legal system? Isn't it included in the duties of a lawyer? Why do lawyers want their clients to win, using every loophole in the system that they can think of rather than in helping the truth to be out? Qasab is a juvenile and should be tried in the Juvenile court was an argument. Thanks to a medical conclusion that said he is 21, he will be tried as an adult... what if he had been 17? Would he have been meted out with the maximum of 3 years imprisonment as in all cases with regards to juvenile criminals? So much for killing people mercilessly... ???

No one deserves hatred in this world and least of all a guy who is being used as a pawn in a larger game of politics and religion. But, going through the complete judicial process, which leads to a petition for Presidential Pardon in the later stages and the media highlighting how comfortable our enemy is, while being held for leaving us in discomfort, only adds to our frustration.

A speedy trial and a balanced reporting by the media is all that is a must in this case. Instead of making him a celebrity and reporting which side he has been scratching, the media needs to focus on the hardships that he is going through. How he is defeated in all his purpose and most importantly how he has been used by his Masters in Pakistan and has been hastily abandoned. Denying even an acknowledgement of him being ever inside Pakistan, how he is all alone now. This would help in discouraging future Qasabs. THAT IS, actually, the need of the hour. That is what justice supposedly is for, to discourage future occurrences of a crime. Alas, it seems we are still asking for too much from the sensational-news starved media.

I do not care how he smells or whether he has bad breath or if he has been relaxing his leg muscles after a stroll outside and I DONT WANT TO CARE! What I care is how the string-pullers in Pakistan would be discouraged, when the other "jihadis" look out at the example of Qasab and discover how useless an ideology is being sold to them.

We had an excellent chance to make an example out of Qasab, but sadly we have made a wrong example out of him. At least until now.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Election Day pleasure and absence of No-Vote option

It is early hours in office and the commute to office has been immoderately pleasant. Less of the traffic and less of the rush. The reason for this benevolence from the denizens of the Garden city upon me today? ohh it is the Election day. Hurray!!! Another holiday for most office-goers, a legitimate one which they might have to compensate by working on a weekend or may be not.

I was getting a glimpse of how Bangalore would have been a few years ago or may be a decade ago. I couldn't stop to think about how Mumbai would have been about 60 yrs ago. It would be less crowded for sure without the infrastructure amenities. But hey, any day I would trade the amenities for a peaceful ride to office - provided I get to do the same job. The ride was pleasant in the sense that it felt as a shorter trip too. A good 40 minutes less to the office.

Now only if the TATA's had built a Rs. 3 Lakh bus rather than the Rs. 1 Lakh "nano" i thought. More public transport, better connectivity and better behaviour from the bus staff... am I asking for too much? Naah, says the eternal optimist within me, "Its still possible to save our home from becoming a hell".

Coming to the Election day discussion, the eternal misnomer about the no-vote option available in the Indian Constitution. The Article 49-O which allows the voter to choose the none of the above option and enforce a re-election in the case of a majority of "no votes". This is false. There is no option available to the Indian voter to vote for an enforced re-election.

Although Rule 49-O, stated in the The Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, affirms that the person's right not to vote would be recognised in the total vote counting process, in no case would there be a re-poll. As of now, what rule 49-O will do is register the person's signature, or thumbprint. This would also require the voter to reveal their identity, which goes against the system of secret ballots. And even if 49-O votes are more than the winning candidates' votes, it would not negate the result.

There is no judgment as yet on the implications of 49-O toward the upcoming elections, and the barring of candidates from a re-poll. A PIL is pending in the Supreme court to decide about such an option where in, if the no. of "no votes" are more than the no. of votes the winning candidate draws, then the election is considered null and a re-election with new set of candidates has to be conducted. This rule is present in the British Constitution and not in the Indian Constitution.

Our EVM's do not have such an option, nor is there a blank vote option. The only place they had this option was in Maharashtra a few years ago, but it was for a completely different purpose.

So, all my Good Fellas, who went to the polling booth thinking of booting the candidates available, would have been for a rude shock and will have to wait for the next elections, if by then the Supreme court decides upon the PIL.

The good news is, if the Supreme Court decides upon the PIL positively and such an option is made available, then your chance might come sooner than later, since most Election pandits or psephologists, as they like to be known, have "predicted that there can be no prediction" about who will win the elections and a hung parliament is most likely.

In that case, get ready to vote on a date sooner than 2014 with or without the none of the above option. And, yes I would like to savour the lesser traffic and the shorter commute to office on that day too. Looking forward to it desperately.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Story of Boom, Growth & Speculation

Once there was a little island country. The land of this country was the tiny island itself. The total money in circulation was 2 dollars as there were only two pieces of 1 dollar notes circulating around.There were 3 citizens living on this island country.

A owned the land. B and C each owned 1 dollar.

B decided to purchase the land from A for 1 dollar. So, now A and C own 1 dollar each while B owned a piece of land that is worth 1 dollar.
The net asset of the country now = 3 dollars.

Now C thought that since there is only one piece of land in the country, and land is non producible asset, its value must definitely go up. So, he borrowed 1 dollar from A, and together with his own 1 dollar, he bought the land from B for 2 dollars.
A has a loan to C of 1 dollar, so his net asset is 1 dollar.
B sold his land and got 2 dollars, so his net asset is 2 dollars.
C owned the piece of land worth 2 dollars but with his 1 dollar debt to A, his net residual asset is 1 dollar.
Thus, the net asset of the country = 4 dollars.

A saw that the land he once owned has risen in value. He regretted having sold it.
Luckily, he has a 1 dollar loan to C. He then borrowed 2 dollars from B and acquired the land back from C for 3 dollars.
The payment is by 2 dollars cash (which he borrowed from B) and cancellation of the 1 dollar loan to C.
As a result, A now owned a piece of land that is worth 3 dollars. But since he owed B 2 dollars, his net asset is 1 dollar.
B loaned 2 dollars to A. So his net asset is 2 dollars.
C now has the 2 notes. His net asset is also 2 dollars.
The net asset of the country = 5 dollars. A bubble is building up.

B saw that the value of land kept rising. He also wanted to own the land.
So he bought the land from A for 4 dollars.
The payment is by borrowing 2 dollars from C, and cancellation of his 2 dollars loan to A.
As a result, A has got his debt cleared and he got the 2 notes. His net asset is 2 dollars.
B owned a piece of land that is worth 4 dollars, but since he has a debt of 2 dollars with C, his net Asset is 2 dollars.
C loaned 2 dollars to B, so his net asset is 2 dollars.
The net asset of the country = 6 dollars; even though, the country has only one piece of land and 2 Dollars in circulation.

Everybody has made money and everybody felt happy and prosperous.

One day an evil wind blew, and an evil thought came to C’s mind. “Hey, what if the land price stop going up, how could B repay my loan. There is only 2 dollars in circulation, and, I think after all the land that B owns is worth at most only 1 dollar, and no more.”

A also thought the same way. Nobody wanted to buy land anymore.

So, in the end, A owns the 2 dollar coins, his net asset is 2 dollars.
B owed C 2 dollars and the land he owned which he thought worth 4 dollars is now 1 dollar. So his net asset is only 1 dollar.
C has a loan of 2 dollars to B. But it is a bad debt. Although his net asset is still 2 dollars, his Heart is palpitating.
The net asset of the country = 3 dollars again.

So, who has stolen the 3 dollars from the country ? Of course, before the bubble burst B thought his land was worth 4 dollars. Actually, right before the collapse, the net asset of the country was 6 dollars on paper.

B’s net asset is still 2 dollars, his heart is palpitating. B had no choice but to declare bankruptcy. C as to relinquish his 2 dollars bad debt to B, but in return he acquired the land which is worth 1 dollar now.
A owns the 2 notes, his net asset is 2 dollars.
B is bankrupt, his net asset is 0 dollar ( he lost everything ).
C got no choice but end up with a land worth only 1 dollar.
The net asset of the country = 3 dollars.

End of the story

There is however a redistribution of wealth.
A is the winner, B is the loser, C is lucky that he is spared.

A few points worth noting -
When a bubble is building up, the debt of individuals to one another in a country is also building up.
This story of the island is a closed system whereby there is no other country and hence no foreign debt. The worth of the asset can only be calculated using the island’s own currency. Hence, there is no net loss.
An over-damped system is assumed when the bubble burst, meaning the land’s value did not go down to below 1 dollar.
When the bubble burst, the fellow with cash is the winner.

The fellows having the land or extending loan to others are the losers. The asset could shrink or in worst case, they go bankrupt.

If there is another citizen D either holding a dollar or another piece of land but refrains from taking part in the game, he will neither win nor lose. But he will see the value of his money or land go up and down like a see saw. When the bubble was in the growing phase, everybody made money.

If you are smart and know that you are living in a growing bubble, it is worthwhile to borrow money (like A ) and participate in the game. But you must know when you should change everything back to cash.

As in the case of land, the above phenomenon applies to stocks as well.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Elections? What about bogus voting...

Elections have already started in the profoundly famous and supposedly largest democracy of the world.
Democracy is celebrated as the leveller and a fair way of governance, but the question still remains is this form of governance actually fair and neutral to each of the inhabitants of a country.

Most of the 700 million expected voters will not vote. Naah, you might say usually the voting percentage is juz about 50%. But hang on... you know a phenomenon known as bogus voting? which is rampant in each and every constituency? No single constituency can deny it and policians honest and crooked definitely would go for it without paying heed to thier conscience if at all one exists for them....

It comes in many forms not only booth capturing or forcefull voting...
Voters are pressurized that if a certain candidate isnt voted to power, " then we will see what has to be done".
A list of probable voters who might be absentee's or perpetual abstainers is made beforehand by the sycophants of the crooks...
These votes are cast without any issues. Most of the times the rival candidates too might know about it, but wouldnt do anything except sulk that the "#$%%^" got the cookie before he could get it.
There is an unsaid rule that is followed, never report these stuff. And of all people about your rivals since the candidates themselves know that the skeletons within their own closets are all too very well known if not to their own closest of supporters then "may be" to their rivals...

This seems a gross generalisation, but unfortunately not many constituencies could boast of not having this mess with a clear conscience.

Hoping that the "best way known" of governance throws up some actually good people to power and the buck gets evenly divided to the billion plus populace.

Ok, OK retracting the last sentence.... Hoping that the "best way known" of governance throws up some actually good people to power and the buck gets "more" evenly divided to the billion plus populace....