Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rahul : The Fortunate Son of India 

Rahul Gandhi's ascension to the party leadership reminds me of some interesting stories that are there in the controversial biography of George W Bush named "Fortunate son" by J.H Hatefield. The book had exposed some of the hitherto unknown details about the real person behind Bush. How he received preferential treatment throughout his life was a major theme of the book. His schooling in world class institutes, business forays, and things so on. But in the end, no such treatment, care or education could change a very fundamental thing. The simple fact that he was highly incompetent and utterly inefficient.

Not surprisingly during his initial campaigning period, when quizzed about some basic political questions like naming then Prime Minster of India and President of Pakistan, he had miserably failed on all the counts. But the shocking failure did not have any adverse effect on his campaign. Instead, he won the election not just once, but twice.

Actually he didn't have to be competent. A puppet like him was all that needed  to "lead" word's super power in the neo-liberal era. There was a highly sophisticated  system in place to protect the interests of the real rulers sitting behind the curtain. Highly "capable" people like Dick Cheney and political adviser Karl Rove knew what to do and how to manipulate things.(As someone said of Karl Rove, he was indeed the "brain behind the brainless" ) . In the eight long years, a thoroughly executed script exclusively favoring the elite class of America was implemented by the team scrupulously. It made the poor Americans poorer by an order of magnitude while the rich got richer equally well. And  the "collateral damage" inflicted upon the world was  unparalleled  in the recent history.

Fast forward, history is repeating. Indian corporate forces need a similar puppet to replicate the same here too. And none other than Rahul makes the perfect choice for the task. Raised in a family and milieu that has always been highly protective of the family conglomerates of India, he is ideal for the task. Like Bush, the "fortunate son" of India had gone to some of the best universities in the world but lacks the basic understanding about his(?) own people and culture. Other than the occasional "prepared statements" and barely articulated "speeches", he never utter anything of his own. Often, his involvement in selecting the candidates have had disastrous consequences on his party's election results. His performance in parliament during these years as an MP was marked by an absolute silence during all the major debates(sad that even the very best training would fail in this count! ). Carefully engineered dramas like "spending the night with tribal families" and "sharing the lunch with poor" made him look ridiculous at best.

Luckily, with a fragmented opposition and utterly inefficient opponents, who are vigorously competing with the ruling front for their own share of the cake, things look prosperous for him. Rahul, along with his equally incompetent mom is very likely to "rule" India in the coming years. And Reliance, Wallmart, Vedanta et al  will decide what should be happening in India. With his extra luxurious and friendly policies for them, his dad had helped Dhirubahi Ambani to "create" Reliance from rag. From there, the governments under his mom's patronship have made Reliance what it is today. Now it is the pampered son's turn to take it further and help them fly even higher.  And the "brains behind the brainless" led by  Chidambaram would make sure that all this is beautifully implemented inside the camouflage of democracy. They will share whatever is left in the the lands, forests and rivers of India among themselves. The difference among various parties and leaders would become even more blurred. The only real difference would be between the poor and rich. The only two parties with any difference in India would be the  "haves" and the "have nots".  Have nots can enjoy all the incentives like price hikes, farmers' suicide, displacement from their houses and lands and much more. Everything like Terrorism, Maoism and Pakistan would be used in the right time and manner to manipulate the public opinion and keep the rabble in line. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Gender mixing, Co-education and Pilgrimages

Though not able to have a visual sensation of the God literally, we all experience God  in our own ways. But for many, if not most, nothing takes them closer to God than pilgrimages. Last week I was blessed to visit two of the holiest places on earth, Mecca and Medina for performing my Umrah(lesser pilgrimage in Islam).

Whenever I visit these places, it takes me to new heights in terms of sheer spirituality and enjoyment  Every time there is something new to discover and experience. Each visit adds even more dimensions to my views on God and his mercy.

Places trodden by the greatest prophet and his great soul mates and companions,
Where biggest revolution in the history of mankind was unfolded,
Battle fields where the "most peaceful wars" occurred,
Mosques where even non-Muslims where invited to perform their rituals,

The actual rituals of Umrah is even more fabulous. Re-enactment of some of the greatest moments from  history of humankind was an amazing journey with time machine to the past. Circling of the Holy Kaaba which has been practiced by people since ancient period reminded me of my lineage. Then it took me to the time where desperate Hajar performed the frantic search for water in the barren desert and all the tribulations she went through in her extraordinary life. And finally cutting the hair which symbolically shows your willingness to sacrifice anything for your beloved God.

But, what impresses me the most with Umra and Hajj is the splendid display of the concept of universality in Islam. It gives you an experience where you realize your true identity.The identity as just one creation among all the beautiful creations of God. This is THE underlying principle of Islam called Tawhid  and is marked by a clear vertical relationship between Creator and creations. A relationship based on his infinite mercy and compassion. It also means, the relationship among the creatures are that of horizontal and not vertical by any means. That is a relationship not built on hierarchy.                                                                                                                                                                       
 There is nothing more fascinating than experiencing the congregation of people with one motto, one motivation and one attire regardless of their race, color, sex or anything else that matters otherwise. Where everyone move in harmony with one voice and heart. A truly synchronous and rhythmic act of worship. Creations dancing to the tune of Creator.

Sadly, not everything about Mecca and Medina is a shining story; at least not any more.

Capitalism and commercialization is taking its toll. Most of the historic places and monuments are being destroyed in the name of "development" and "expansion". Frantic attempt is going on to cash in on every inch of the site. Shopping malls, star hotels, luxury suites and everything else that caters to the super rich are on the rise. One wonders what is the relevance of seven star hotels and super luxury suites in these sacred places? Places that are the declaration of human equity, justice and simplicity. Even worse, all these activities are destroying some of the glorious evidences that depict the life of Prophet, his family and his companions and the intimacy they had among them.

Back at home the debate about co education is still going on. With various muslim organizations demanding the abolition of co-education in schools. Some even support their arguments with mysterious statistics on perceived improvement in academics due to the segregation and separation!

But I keep wondering,

If men and women are performing Hajj, which is one of the pillars of Islam, together then how does it become a problem for them to study together ?
If they are doing every ritual in the holiest places on earth together, then why is it not so in our mosques or other places ?
If every single body is treated absolutely equal on these great occasions at these great places, then what is making some of them superior than others  in some other places ?

Thank God ! Thank you for reminding us about these thoughts by means of  Umrah and Hajj.

Monday, December 31, 2012

A society of Rapists 

“In India, as many as 57 per cent of male adolescents and 53 per cent of female adolescents believe a husband is justified in beating up his wife under certain circumstances”                                                                                                                  -- A UNICEF 2012 report

Going through the reactions and responses to the Delhi gang rape incident actually tells us why such crimes are happening in the first place. Rather than asking questions about the evil mindset of the perpetrators and social reasons for such incidents, many were asking why the girl was present there at the “wrong” time with the “wrong” person. For them, the fact that the girl crossed the limit of what was defined for a girl was far graver issue than anything else and hence the girl was kind of “asking for it”. That IS the most important point here. We have everything quantified and fixed for the less privileged ones in our society. Specific time and space is defined for each according to their class and sex. Obviously, the social associations or relations we have is built on factors of dominance and submission where one party is meekly submitted to the dominance of the “more powerful”. Our social institutions including family and marriage follow this in varying degree and form. While we boast of our “values” and “relations” and disparage others for not having these precious traits, at the core, most of our relations are bereft of emotional bonding and built on these twin factors of dominance and submission.

We are trained and tuned to fall in to the line and not to cross the limits defined for each class and sex. Crossing the limits can attracts punishment from the privileged ones. It starts right at home and goes accepted well by the family and society. Only in some rare and exceptional cases, when it takes some unusual dimensions, is discussed or raised as an issue. Otherwise, it is systematically practiced uninterrupted. As Arundhati Roy has pointed out rightly, the rape itself is not an issue at all when its committed systematically in many parts of India like Kashmir and Manipur and the perpetrators like Indian Army are doing it keeping themselves within the defined space and time. Even in Delhi out of the 635 rape cases registered last year, only a single case met with punishment ! That shows our attitude towards such crimes and despite the hubris, we accept measures like rape to keep the limits and boundaries. Thanks to the dynamics of globalization and Information Technology, the women and other less privileged classes get a lot of opportunity to “cross” the limits and challenge the status-co. Perhaps, that explains the increase in such hate crimes against them. Rape being the ultimate and most rabid attempt to debase the victims and humiliate them in the worst possible manner, it is perpetrated by the worst elements of the society. But definitely that alone is not the symptom of this disease. We see outbursts of a lot of fanatic ideologies in the name of religion and other ideas which essentially strive to keep these limits firm and intact !

Even when these issues are debated, our discussion is carefully woven to not change the status-co. Hence we see lot of myopic and reactionary solutions and opinions. People even come up with weird suggestion to follow countries like Saudi Arabia in implementing stricter penal codes for rapists and other sexual offenses. Nothing can be further from the truth and shallower in analysis. In Saudi, you are not seeing many such incidents because the women is virtually under house arrest there. They lack the basic freedom to drive a car or even to move around freely. They are not even allowed to dress the attire they choose or the color they like. Is that the model we should be trying to emulate ? Most of the people even propose death sentence for the rapists. Have these people ever made a simple analysis of all the countries who have been practicing death sentences ? I bet not ! Otherwise, they wouldn't have come to such an erroneous conclusion. There are less than 60 countries in the world currently practicing it while over 100 nations have abolished it. Significantly, these 60 countries have not seen any decline in those crimes which attract capital punishment. On the contrary, they have far higher crime rates than those who have abolished it. This is NOT to say that harsher treatment of these criminals are not required. But propagating that as a panacea for fighting such crimes and ignoring the social causes are incredibly stupid and counterproductive.

What is needed as a nation and society is a introspection on our patriarchal and class ridden mindset and learn to accept basic human right concepts like equity, social justice and individual freedom. We need authors, parties and social movements propagating these concepts rather than craving for perpetuation of uncivilized and inhuman practices like death penalty. Alienating and marginalizing majority of the people under various names like casts, class and sex have cost our nation horrendously in terms of lost productivity and potential. It is not a coincidence that in all the highly developed countries we see people are treated on merit rather than their affiliation to a particular strata or sex. Japan as a country and as an imperial force had conducted some of the worst mass rapes in the history of mankind during the time of world wars. But they have managed to come out of that psychologically and socially and have built up a society and country based on equity and social justice to a great degree in a rather short period of time. Surely, we too can achieve the same if we are serious about it. We need to start it at our home. If we want our country to be a safe place for our women and everyone else, we need to learn to respect them first and treat them as equal citizens at home first.

Modi's victory and future of Indian politics:

So people of Gujarat will continue to enjoy the luxury suite of "development train" for another 5 years at least, or rather, even more barring any miracle. First, a glimpse of what they have been enjoying during the past decade would give us a picture of what is going to come during the coming years in Gujarat and across India,

-- While all India reduction in poverty between '93 and 2005 is 8.5%, in Gujarat it is a mere 2.8%

-- Narmada dam project, 49 years since it was started and despite having spent Rs. 29,000 crores on it, have completed only 29% of the work

-- In 1999, 4743 of Gujarat's villages were without drinking water, within two years that figure had gone up to 11,390 villages(right now, it is even worse)

-- State debt in 2001 was 14,000 Cr. Now it stands at 105,000 Cr.

-- During Modi's era, over 75000 small and medium businesses have shut down rendering one million more people jobless in the same period(easily overriding any perceivable "job surge" brought by the FDI and “big business” influx)

-- Gujarat is not even in the top 10 states of India in the Human Development Index ranking

-- In all the statistics on health parameters, Gujarat continues to be at the lowest strata in India and in many cases things have worsened during Modi's period. Just to site an example, according to National Family Health survey, during Modi's second term, Anaemia and Malnutrition have increased by a whopping 60%

-- Human right records show a pathetic figure with National Human Right's Commission (NHRC) receiving 3rd most number of cases for alleged human right violations from Gujarat. Thus easily surpassing even Bihar, which is notoriously known for lawlessness and human right violations.

So, How come an administration with such an abysmal record on virtually every element of administration and governance from public health to human rights and poverty reduction to drinking water supply have managed to win successfully for the third term ?

That is the post-globalization "development politics" and the fate of poor Indians for decades to come...
A "development" terribly skewed and biased towards the elite urban class which have helped Modi to secure what others in BJP could not do with conventional blend of Hindutwa and crass politics. It is the politics where there is no real or perceivable difference between any players in the game. Hence you see three Parivar stalwarts of strikingly similar track record and ideological background namely Modi, Vagela and Keshubhai Patel leading all the competing political outfits of the state. Thus you get an opposition packed with discarded or vestigial junks from the ruling camp "fighting" them. Gujarat is just the beginning. We can expect similar games in many more states in the coming months and years. A politics similar in style and modus-operandi to that of US where democrats and republicans swapping the seats without any effect on the majority of the public in any way. The interests of the mega corporations and elite remains protected by the system well. An administration that will give them tax exemption, easy access to agricultural land, keeping away with even the most basic labor laws and whatever else they want.

Sad that all the efforts of great people like Sreekumar, Sanjeev Bhat, Mallika Sarabhai are being wasted in such a pathetic manner. Or rather they are systematically defeated by the ruling elite.....

Saturday, February 6, 2010

In the name of Terrorists

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety”
- Ben Franklin

There are some striking parallels between law and Information Technology. First, both are esoteric in nature and form and as a result most people don't understand anything about it. Even those who use it are mostly frightened away by the intricacies of both. Second is the profound impact they have upon life of people. Like it or not, these two things affect our life in modern times thoroughly, probably more than most other elements. So people who master these, use it to spy, control and manipulate the society. Our cyber law, India Information Technology act and the amendment, is an essential manifestation of this.

The law is perceivably (and intentionally) vague, unrealistic and ambiguous with plenty of options given to misuse it. But under the hood its a carefully engineered draft with vast power to spy on people, wrapped up in some moral and anti-terrorist foils. A few glimpses from the boring and scary details of the law,

Bringing in censorship to the internet.

With the complete power and authority to block any web site at any point of time in the interest of "national security", the law heralds a new era of internet censorship. Recent statement of supreme court chief justice on the need for introducing censorship in internet adds further strength to the notion of strong e-censorhip. So it could start with blocking sites in the interests of 'national security' and 'pornographic contents' and slowly extend to any thing undesirable to the authorities like political opponents or human right organizations.

Browsing or downloading any pornographic materials (even if it is unintentional or accidental) can send you behind bars or end up paying huge fines.

It is important to note that the law does not exclude people who have viewed this accidental. It was reported recently that 95% of all mails in the world are spams. And we all know from our experience that a good chunk of this mails comes embedded with pornographic contents. So if you ever happen to have clicked on any such spam mail(funny that many such mails have fake sender and subject names making you click it) , you are vulnerable. Strangely, it treats publishers and downloaders of such materials on equal foot. And what is even more scary is anybody of a Sub Inspector's rank can come to you and arrest you for this without any warrant. It needs not be associated with any cognizable offence at all !! I don't know anything about laws but have always wondered why there is absolutely no problem with watching pornography as part of 'artwork' in films or sculptures and same is a problem when viewed in internet ?

Cyber terrorism and 'contaminant'

Introducing any 'contaminant' in a computer or network is covered in the cyber terrorism section. The term 'Contaminant' has lengthy description with plenty of boilerplates given to include any malware or similar things. But enough to say that it includes common items like virus and worms , which are there in most of the computers connected to any kind of network and propagated further without any user intervention. Now the law says that if introduction of any such 'contaminant' can cause any injury, death or even damage to property then the punishment can extent even upto life sentence. Your best bet is to hope that none of the viruses or worms sneaking in your hard disks do not get propagated and cause any damage to anyone !

Think before you forward the Emails and SMSes

The bill also provides punishment of up to three years for sending any material offensive to anyone or causing any inconvenience by any means like mail or SMS.
Again, if some malware infects your computer and sends some messages or materials to someone automatically, you may end up in prison. Throughout in the bill, there is no mechanism explained to distinguish between intentional and unintentional/accidental acts. The law assumes that like conventional modes and channels of communication , every single action of a computer is controlled by the users completely. Which is just not true.

Safeguards ? Sounds great, may be later !

There is absolutely no safeguards to implement independent oversight or monitoring. The bill says safeguards would be stipulated at a later date. So they admit the genuine requirement of an oversight authority but does not provide it !

Actually this has got nothing to do with terrorism . Its all about surveillance and spying on people to controll them. Pioneered by British Raj and maintained by successive Indian governments. The precursor of the present cyber law is Indian Telegraphic act of 1885. Drafted by British to spy on the people and control them to protect the colonial interests. Like all other evil legacies of colonial past, our governments continue to use this law to spy on people and tap the phone calls or other communications of the people including political opponents, activists, NGOs and anyone else which made sense for the rulers. All these with the blank cheque of 'national interests'. It is funny that various parties and governments were busy in reverting the colonial past by renaming the beautiful names of places like Bombay and Calcutta while continue to practice a law like this which was drafted at a time when Indians were not given any constitutional right of freedom of speech or personal liberty. All the governments and parties from right to left were unanimous in this. The spying regime hit a road block in 1996 when Supreme Court intervened in the scenario and delivered its judgement in a landmark case brought by People union of civil liberties. The verdict said that "unless a public emergency has occurred or the interest of public safety demands, the authorities have no jurisdiction to exercise this power" Also the Supreme Court clearly defined and restricted the terms 'emergency' and 'public safety' strictly thus effectively ending the unfettered and unbridled spying regime. Bereft of the spying power, the authorities started to look for alternatives and cyber law was formed. And terrorists attacks in Bombay made it further easier to add these amendments. Actually its going the same way as Telegraphic act. The Government has not been able to provide any safeguard for the Telegraphic act since independence. So Don't expect anything different with this too. Effectively we are slowly going to our colonial past albeit with a difference. Difference being that itts our own authorities who are practising this. And this is not going to end with cyber law. Recently Intelligence Bureau(IB) asked Indian Government to ban Voice Over IP(VOIP) based telephone calls. They sited the problem in identifying the origin and location of each calls and chances of terrorists using the technology. So in the name of terrorism, they are going to ban a technology which gives call facility to everyone at a cost of fraction of conventional telephones.

What is next ? complete censorship like what is practised in China or Saudi Arabia? I am writing this from Saudi which is probably one of the least democratic and most stringent regime in the world. But even here , there is nothing comparable to this bill. A good chunk of the useful part of internet is blocked here. Many of the social web sites, torrent downloads and even google translation is blocked( Why they block even google translation is beyond my logic and sense!) Often, internet browsing is painful experience with many of the useful information unavailable. But it shows how unrealistic, inefficient and horrible the entire system can be. (Funny that porn browsers find it trivial to fetch the materials they want through rather easier channels)
What is shocking is there was no discussion about this in the parliament or even in the public. A law with such a huge impact on our life is still largely unknown to most and ignored by the media. There has virtually been no discussion about it in the media. Its a classic Orwellian case, with 'Big brother' getting 'strengthened' by the ignorance of public. If the terrorists had any intention of destroying the life of Indians, they are slowly inching towards achieving it with the help of corrupted and power hungry rulers.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Small is beautiful

Apart from the regular torrent of issues and unrest in our country, we are now experience a new wave of protests and strikes. Either for the formation of some new states or against doing the same. The immediate reason being the statement from centre government regarding the proposal of new state in the Telengana region of Andhra Pradesh. The protests in other parts of Andhra can be attributed to the sentiments and passions running among the people of linguistic states like Andhra.

After Independence, we opted to have states formed based upon the linguistic lines. States, which are more than anything else ,the administrative entity for the welfare of people inside its borders, were formed based upon the language people speak. Due to this linguistic roots, it resulted in states which are huge in size, have strong consolidation of power and capital and even stronger potential for corruption. For reasons I have never been able to understand, we still call it Federalism. Clever politicians always used the feelings of the people to manipulate the public opinion so that their corruption regime goes on without any hindrance. Due to the huge size, management and administration suffered seriously and they were not able to reach out to everyone inside it or get a complete coverage for its citizens. This disastrous combination of gigantic and powerful state governments and even more powerful government Delhi was catastrophic and resulted in highly uneven and skewed distribution of resources. While regions and people at the centre parts of the rule got most of the meat, people at the periphery and remote areas were often neglected and left to have a poor life. Its not a strange coincidence that areas of the country where we see a lot of unrest like Maoism and Nexalism are the regions which are or were mostly part of such big states. Even in Andhra, this Telangana region is a hotbed of Nexalism which thrives on the poverty and poor living condition of the people in the region. All these outfits have grown out of the rampant feudalism left over by the absence of state power and administration.
Perhaps being the home minister and an astute managerial guru, Chidambaram has realised this fact. He might be expecting to defuse the movements by giving them their own states which are smaller in size and will be more attentive to the issues affecting them.

So why not go further and have a radically more distributed architecture for India with a centre dealing only defence, foreign affairs and currency while numerous small states with lots of power vested upon them ? The states should be ideally of Goa's size. This will be a country with a meaningful implementation of the principle of 'unity in diversity' which we all love to boast of. This distributed architecture and greater degree of devolution has some inherent benefits.
First and foremost is the ability to make the state more accessible to everyone of the society. Unlike the present day states with huge size and unable to reach to the periphery, the "administrative coverage" can be reached everywhere. Second, being small in size means people know each other better and their leaders too. So the leaders are judged and their performance is scrutinized in the elections even more closely. It becomes more like a Panjayath election where you talk about the actual development and down to earth issues affecting them rather than making some vague and unrealistic jargons and slogans. Third, when states or countries are formed out of passionate feelings like religion and language it inherently becomes more vulnerable for tension and clashes of different such entities. Cauvery water dispute is a classic example for this scenario where two states are involved in bitter fight against each other over some seemingly non issue. They cannot come up with a viable solution for the problem not because of gravity of the issue. But rather due to the nature of the problem. The people of two states consider it as a clash of two communities separated by their languages. Last, but not least, this will give the centre government more leeway to focus more on its core duties which are currency, defence and foreign affairs. Free of all the trivial tasks like the construction of roads and bridges in the remote parts of the country, centre government would be able to give a sharper focus on these core tasks.
This is not a silver bullet for the development of India. Neither is it a panacea for all the problems our country faces. But it should give us a strong foundation upon which we can grow further.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Building Towers, Cheating Workers

"Please don't go....I will give you even more discount from 200 Dh". When the receptionist in the hotel said this we got shocked.
A discount for a hotel room in Dubai? That too when the prestigious and much advertised IT exhibition (GITEX) is going on ? Is it the same Dubai where all the hotels were booked in advance for 6 months ? My memories quickly went back to the time when I was here a few years back. Dubai was "growing" in an unprecidented pace and fashion. Entire Dubai was being transformed to a pile of skyscrapers. At that time, 25% of world's construction cranes were operated in Dubai ! Every thing was going up. The rent, clost of living, salary for the upper class, government charges for services and anything else which could be charged. Every newspaper and every government official was talking about the "development" and "boom" being witnessed by Dubai. Real estate and construction were in the vanguard of the boom. The atmosphere was always buzzzed about something huge and amazing. Every project was prefixed by something like 'tallest' , 'biggest', 'largest' etc..

Behind the glittering facade, the boom was a euphemism for a recipe of neo-liberal development model with most inhuman treatment of working class, environmental degradation, unsustainable development and above all a complete lack of transparency in any process.

There was a mad rush to be something which Dubai was not and could never be. Dubai was busy in burying its core identity and culture and was eager to embrace an artificial identity taken from the realm of the rulers fantasies.
But no voice of discontent was ever heard in the media or public. Everyone was asked to be in line and follow the herd. Nobody questioned the sustainability of pumping in 400 million gallons of water to the newly created Tiger Wood golf course per day to keep up the green color(This was while human right organizations were complaining the lack of enough water in the labour camps).
Nobody talked about the grave environmental threat posed by an artificial "all air conditioned island" to be built for the super rich. Nobody questioned the idiocy in having mega development projects for an amount many times more than the GDP of the country itself. Nobody discussed the abhorrent condition in the labour camps which shelters the employees who were actually doing this development projects. They were treated with utter contempt and were only tolerated as a "necessary nuisance" to bear with untill the city is developed enough and they are not needed any more. Rules and regulations were carefully tailored to exploit the working class to the maximum and increase the already huge profit margins of these engineering corporations(Not surprisingly, most of them owned by the rulers)

People were paid based upon the skin rather than the skill. I remember having read the words of an american girl who was in Dubai in an article published by London daily Independent, "All the people who couldn't succeed in their own countries end up here in Dubai, and suddenly they're rich and promoted way above their abilities and bragging about how great they are. I have never met so many incompetent people in sitting in such senior position. A philippino girl doing the same job as a European girl is paid a quarter of the same salary. The people who do the real work are paid next to nothing while the incompetent managers are paid 40,000 pound/month."

Actually Dubai's fixation for 'qualified expatriates' (read white and rich Europeans) is what put these incompetent managers at the helm. All these urban development projects are squarely aimed at these 'qualified expatriates' or their super rich Arab counterparts. Their policy and vision of development have resulted in this catastrophe. Working class and labour class, who were mostly Asian origins like Indians, were driven away from Dubai to the outskirts so that they are kept outside the gazes of super rich. These poor people were forced to live in so called labour camps bereft of any necessities like proper sanitation and good drinking water. The condition in such camps were so inhuman and gruesome that it resulted in an unusually high rate of disease, death and suicide in the camps. As their passport is taken away by the employer at the very first day of landing up and having paid a huge sum of money for securing the visa, they have absolutely no option other than going through this abject condition. Either there is no rules to protect the human rights or whatever rules does exist are conveniently not enforced by the authorities.

Now everything in Dubai has hit rock bottom. The prices, rents, traffic congestion and above all the confidence in economy and government have plummeted. We could see the luxury Jumeira residential area full of "TO LET" boards. There came a spectacular end to a few decades of credit, environmental degradation, slavery, suppression and human right violation. The gamble which had paid off for some time has come to an end. Dubai is a metaphor for a world of neo-liberal globalized country that is going to be trashed out in to the dust bin of history.

The government has not learned anything from this at all. News papers are not allowed to cover the recession or the reasons behind the collapse. A new draft law makes it a crime to damage country's economy or reputation, punishable by 1 million dirhams. This law effectively do the censorship on any news not white washing the government. Straight denial and outright suppression are the means adopted by the government to counteract the issue. When respected journalist, Johann Hari had a detailed report on the collapse of the economy and the human right violations in London daily Independent , he was banned from the country and report was made inaccessible in Dubai. Consolidation of power is so obscene that the ruler of Dubai is the vice president as well as prime minister of the country !

The collapse of Dubai shows some important insights to the mode of development in vogue in modern era. It shows that development does not mean having a lot of super highways or skyscrapers. This is especially true in the case of India as we are trying to emulate the Neo-liberal model by means of SEZ (in farm lands) and driving out the poor from their inhabitants in the name of development. Infrastructure is useless until and unless every element of society is equipped to make use of it and contribute it to the progress of the society. Development without providing prosperity to every body in the society is useless and counterproductive. Its even more important to have great degree of transparency for the government. Or else, there is a good chance that we witness similar situation in our country too. Already we are facing unrest in many part of our country because of the skewed development process.

While packing off, I saw the leading daily in Dubai and it is all about the new excitement in the business community and signs of 'strong recovery' in the economy. Excuse me, haven't you told us the same things a few years back too ?