No sting operation this

[Cross posted on Praja, comments off]

I swear, I was not trying a sting operation here. Though I do wish our electronic media tried sting operations at these day-to-day levels as well, but they are on to bigger things :)

I like observing these situations though. The ‘negotiation’ lingers on, hands go in and out of various pockets – driver’s license in cop’s, wallet out of the ‘entrapped’, bike key in to the supporting cop. Faces frown, a little bit of sulking and threats later, peace is made.

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Trenching for Metro!

Found this interesting tender on Bangalore Metro site. Rs 27 lakh worth of work to be done in 60 days, it goes:

Identification of underground utilities by trenching in the metro corridor.

I know this is reality. But isn’t it a sad reflection of record keeping on part of our utility companies?  In Pune, I heard rumors that the University Road flyovers were delayed because they discovered some unexpected underground utilities during the course of work. [I bet the contractor there may have (mis)used this as an excuse to delay the project to their convenient schedule.]

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The three job sites

An observation on the three job sites that are spending a lot of advertising rupees to gain your attention. Each of them claims to be number 1 !

  • Monster India’s TV ad shows cricketers washing clothes with their bats and Classical dancers guiding airplanes on a taxiway. The message is about skills and matching jobs – a bit ‘mature’ one.
  • Naukri.com’s classic where an employee spells out the name his boss – H as an Hitler A … R … I as in idoit – is about you not liking your manager, or perhaps your job environment.
  • Whereas, Timesjobs shoots it ‘straight': If your salary is making you feel too small, look for a change.

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Complaints: a tale of few cities – #1

E-governance is a two way street, no initiative is complete without an electronic and easy way of taking in suggestions and complaints, and may I add – RTI (Right to Information) applications as well. How about we look at relevant online systems of a few city governments?

KALYAN-Dombivili gets cited for having one of the best egovernance implementations. As about the complaints system, you can lodge one via 4 clear steps. You get a token # in the end that you use to get status on your complaints. Even better, there is a citizen charter there that tells you the number of days a complaint should take to get addressed and who all get to act on it. One curious thing – even though Kalyan has concept of “unique citizen #” for its residents, it is not used in lodging complaints.

HYDERABAD lets you register complaints, as well as check status on same. One thing that sets them apart is – you can search and lookup all complaints. 1491 entires for March 2007, what says you, is usage high or low? Searches showed me that most complaints lodged and disposed are about street lighting. Understandably enough, most complaints in “encroachments” category are ‘pending’!

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Overheard … #4 – Burnt a bus? Pay up.

… that Maharashtra state government is going to bring in a legislation that will ask the organizers to pay up if a rally organized by them leads to damage of public property.

After Mr H D Kumaraswamy talked about acting tough a few months ago (when an anti-conversion rally lead to acts of arson in parts of Bangalore), Ravi had mentioned similar ideas on Metblogs. I don’t think HDK did more than that talk, so it may be time to take a cue from Maharashtra government now.

The only problem with such a legislation is – governments will have to bear the burden of proof that an incident was indeed a result of organizer’s actions, and that means cost and legal battles. Regardless, good thinking and a welcome start. Don’t let the “mobs” get away because in our country, they really think they can. If you burnt a bus, you got to pay up, simple!

Just curious #3 – Kabhi Weakness Kabhi Strength?

Last week, an interesting quote was credited to Renault/Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn:

… Engineers in other parts of the world always need more resources to do the same thing … (Frugal engineering is India’s strength) …

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Social cost of cars

After that comment on the previous post (on Tata’s car), I tried to search for linkable material on “social cost of cars” type work done by CSE. Couldn’t locate any. But thankfully, the Swaminomics column that talked about it – TOI has it online. Read – “The hidden social cost of vehicles“:

… There is little appreciation among politicians or the middle class of the huge social cost of cars. They cannot see that huge subsidies, mostly hidden, are being ladled out to car-owners. These need to be abolished and replaced with user charges or taxes that reflect the full social cost of cars …

Stuff like motoring infrastructure, pollution are obvious to many. We do pay towards these by way of taxes and direct-costs (emission norms compliance, euro-II, Bharat-I etc). But things like cost of congestions and hidden parking subsidies are neither well understood nor explained or obvious.

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Un”fair” hiring game in the skies?

I am glad someone brought this up because I have had these thoughts myself as I watched our airlines grow. We are talking about cabin crew on our domestic airlines. A former US diplomat termed this “racism” in a newspaper column this week, but let me take this a bit further.

Perhaps, racism is not the right word. Skin color bias is the objection I would raise. You don’t see many (any?) dark complexioned flight attendants on our domestic airlines, do you? Actually, there is more. Just look at these job descriptions on various airline sites to discover this. Most are clear about complexion requirements and one has a preferred marital status! Besides, there is age and sex bias as well – all want them young (less than 25/27/30 years), and some only want females!

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Mumbai best, Kolkata worst.

[Resident Alien's observation about Mumbai and Bengalooru drivers makes me write this big note] I have been to all the so-called Indian metros a few times over last 2 years. Been in the dreaded taxis and private cars as well. Based on experiences and observation, here it is, for the first time ever, silkboard’s Metro traffic rankings :)

  1. Mumbai
  2. Chennai
  3. Delhi
  4. Bengalooru
  5. Kolkata.

This order is based on the stress you endure while driving, and not just the average speeds or crowding levels. Stress, I would say, is more a function of traffic sense drivers have, and then some other things like policing and general design of roads (width, traffic lights etc).

Now, on to the potentially controversial attempt at explanations.

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Us and Them – 3

A different “Us and Them” piece this time. No photos, and a lot more chatter.

Did you follow the recent noise around Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) in Pune? Ignore the fact that they rushed to inaugurate a half ready system (they always do that, don’t they), that thing sounds like a good idea if implemented as promised. I hear Ahmedabad too is going BRT, and Delhi may join in as well.

What is Namma Bengalooru up to? Metro sounds exciting. The Volvos are definitely on, HDK again talked about getting a thousand more. But where exactly will these 1000 machines ply? Compete with our cars for the same lanes?

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