[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: demise of Aerospace Industry?



---------------------------------------------------------------------
[Topics under debate]: GOOD GOVERNANCE
___Help make this manifesto better, or accept it, and propagate it!___
---------------------------------------------------------------------
I know we're not supposed to spam-post articles on IPP, but this article
is
relevant to a number of threads on this group regarding industrial
development-
including telecom, and the relevance of nri's, among other things.

-Charu

vamsi@siliconcorp.com wrote:

> ...... about those who refuse to give up their
> power even for the sake of the country!!  It is probably impossible to
do away
> with a rogue institution like AAI.  India, after all, is big on
institutional
> power - shall I say it: Jai Hind?  GoI is our best friend and our best
hope!?
> Hmm.....I think I am loosing it.

                  Who is an Indian?

                 By P. V. Indiresan

A QUESTION passionately asked everywhere in the country and
by everybody not so long ago was: who is an Indian? As it
generally happens in politics, emotions have evaporated
considerably and Indianness is no longer a prime issue.  So,
we can now discuss the issue objectively, free from the
biases surrounding personalities. A similar query was raised
in the Mahabharata by a Yaksha who asked Yudhishtira: ``Who
is a Brahmana?'' Yudhishtira's answer is, a person becomes a
Brahmana not by birth, not even by scholarship but by
conduct appropriate to Brahmanic values. Similarly, one may
say a person becomes an Indian not by birth, not even by
citizenship but by conduct, the kind of conduct that accords
with Indianness.

Prof. Robert Reich, a Harvard academic who used to be Labour
Secretary under the [US] President, Mr. Bill Clinton, tackled a
similar question in a uniquely intellectual style. He raised
the question ``Who is Us?'' concerning American business. He
then came with the unexpected answer that whether a firm was
owned by Americans or by outsiders was immaterial. Whether a
firm ``Us'' or not depended only on what it contributed to
American growth and prosperity. Any firm (even if it was
foreign-owned) should be deemed part of ``Us'' if promoted
the development of American technology and invested in
enhancing the skills of American labour.

As he explained, knowledge and skills are immovable assets
that will remain within the country even if the firm pulls
out its capital. These days, the movement of capital is so
easy and so frequent that even a firm owned fully by local
citizens may pull out its capital any time.  On the other
hand, even a fully foreign-owned company can never take away
the technology and skills it has developed
locally. Following Prof.  Reich's line of thought,
Indianness does not depend on either birth or citizenship
but hinges on contributions made to the development of
indigenous skills and indigenous technology. Then, it would
be interesting to enquire of each of our political parties
and each of our political leaders what contributions they
have made to these two critical factors of national
development.

In what way have our parties contributed to the enhancement
of human skills? On a per capita basis, the Government
spends 20 per cent more on education than Sri Lanka.
However, in Sri Lanka, only 10 per cent of the population is
illiterate; in India, the figure is five times
bigger. Actually, India has an many illiterates as in the
rest of the world put together! That is no accident, 98-99
per cent of state expenditure on education goes for the
salaries of teachers, most of whom do not teach. Even if
they want to, they are too ill-equipped to do
so. Politicians send their children to private schools at
great expense, schools which recruit the best teachers
irrespective of caste or creed. Yet, the same politicians in
the name of ``social justice'' condemn most of the
population to education of the worst sort.

It has been reported that Mr. Laloo Prasad Yadav was asked
why he sent his children to English-medium private schools
and not to the Hindi-medium schools run by the Bihar
Government. Mr. Yadav is said to have retorted: ``Do you
take me to be an idiot?'' No! He certainly is not an idiot,
but he evidently thinks his people are! So, he thinks that
they deserve no better than an apology for a school where he
would never let his children study. Then, applying
Prof. Reich's hypothesis, will Mr. Yadav qualify as an
Indian? For that matter, on these grounds, will any
politician qualify?

Let us take the other end of education. There is in
Bangalore a teaching hospital that, unusually for a
government hospital, boasts of an excellent
reputation. Recently, the Minister in charge held an
on-the-spot enquiry. His concern was not about the quality
of service or the expertise of the specialists. He went to
the hospital only to humiliate the Director (who recently
won a prestigious national award) for not employing people
of his caste and State.  Applying Prof. Reich's criterion,
is that Minister enhancing the skills of Indian people? Does
he qualify to be an Indian? There is enough factual evidence
that intellectual quality is dependent not on caste but on
the educational environment of the child. Irrespective of
caste, children from good schools substantially outperform
those studying in poorly-equipped ones.  The Minister could
have used his political clout to see that only competent
persons were selected to teach and, further, discipline was
enforced so that they would teach regularly and
diligently. Every MP gets a discretionary grant of Rs.  2
crores a year. He or she could use that amount to improve
the education of poor children.  MPs do no such
thing. Apparently, no MP sees any need to do so.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote in Hind Swaraj: ``That which you
consider to be the Mother of Parliaments is like a sterile
woman and a prostitute.  Both these are harsh terms but
exactly fit the case''. To the credit of the British
administration in India, it did not take offence, and let
those words pass. On the other hand, many people took
umbrage when it was pointed out that Mr. V. P. Singh, former
Prime Minister, got treated frequently in London at a cost
of over Rs. 1 lakh a day. It was he who insisted that
training for the highest skills in medicine be not given to
the most competent but by reserved for persons of certain
castes. Yet, he himself refuses to be treated by doctors
from those castes.``To thine own self be true'', wrote
Shakespeare.

Thus, we have a situation where people holding the highest
positions systematically destroy the quality of education
from the lowest to highest levels in the confidence that
they and their families will not suffer the
consequences. Are such politicians, including Mr. Singh,
Indians or are they maharajas accountable to no one?

According to Prof. Reich, technology is the second critical
factor. Thirteen years ago, India acquired the Bofors guns
at an enormous cost. The contract included the technology to
manufacture ammunition and spares. No steps have yet been
taken to use that knowhow. So, we continue to import the
ammunition and spares at an enormous cost. We are spending
in Kargil Rs. 50,000 for every salvo fired. Further, many
guns purchased at an enormous expense remain out of action
for want of spares. We also have indigenous technology to
pinpoint enemy artillery by observing through radars the
trajectory of the shells they fire. That too has not been
extended to the case of Bofors guns.  So, we are constrained
to use human spotters to direct our artillery. The Army has
been starved of technology all these years because
politicians of all hues have acquired a vested interest in
technology imports. That goes to such an extent they
deliberately scuttle indigenous technology development.

For instance, last year orders were placed on MNCs for 1.69
million lines of telecom switches at Rs. 5,600 per line. Had
indigenously-designed and manufactured C-DoT switches been
given that order, the country would have saved around
Rs. 300 crores in foreign exchange. This year the order on
MNCs was repeated for 1.3 million more lines. The Chairman
of the Parliamentary Committee for Communications is
Mr. Somnath Chatterjee, communist leader. You expected that,
at least for helping Indian labour, he would stop such
travesty. No! He has endorsed the removal of Mr.  Jagmohan,
who made some honest attempts to promote Indian
technology. Apparently, according to the norms of
Prof. Reich, Mr. Chatterjee is not only not an Indian, he is
not even a communist!

The whole question about Indianness started with Mrs.  Sonia
Gandhi. By the standards of the current debate, is she an
Indian? Consider her admonishment to her followers: ``Those
who trust me come along; those who think otherwise are free
to part ways''. Even Sri Krishna did not go that far in the
Bhagavad Gita. So, she must be more than God. Then, it is
not appropriate to judge her by the standards of ordinary
mortals. As for Congressmen, when they wait with palpitating
hearts, stand shivering in their shoes for her darshan, they
would be thinking not of their country but of their
deity. So, they are not nationalists but monarchists, and
there is no point enquiring whether they are Indians.








--------------------------------------------------------------------------
This is the National Debate on System Reform.       debate@indiapolicy.org
Rules, Procedures, Archives:            http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/
-------------------------------------------------------------------------