Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Police Reforms for Humane Working Conditions of Police Constables

By Gagan Krishnadas

The decision by Akhila Karnataka Police Mahasangha to protest by taking a ‘mass leave’ on June 4 is not surprising given the inhuman working conditions of the police personnel, especially the ones in the constable cadre. The Delhi Police in 1967 had protested against bad working conditions. The protests by Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) in Uttar Pradesh in 1973 turned violent and army had to be called in to control the protests. It is notable that the strike by police personnel – first of its kind in Karnataka is being planned to be carried out peacefully. Looking at the statistics of the personnel and working conditions as recorded in the research reports, the protest by the police personnel seems very legitimate.

The Problems
The present protest by Karnataka Police and the previous protests have all been against bad working conditions. Bad working conditions include:
a. inadequate pay at the lower levels;
b. lack of disability benefits;
c. no housing and dearness allowance;
d. long hours of service;
e. lack of promotion prospects;
f. no leaves;
g. performance of menial duties for senior officers; and
f. corruption.

Although the work pressure exists in the entire police department, it is the personnel at the constable grade who face the maximum brunt of all the problems in the department. The police department works round the clock and is prescribed to work in 3 shifts of 8 hours each. But in reality, police personnel work for two shifts in a day of 12 hours each. Though entitled for a weekly off, they are not allowed claim it. Corruption and political interference have also affected the working conditions in a negative way.

The Additional Director General of Police (Recruitment and Training), Bangalore conducted a study titled “A profile of Junior ranks of Karnataka Police. – A survey of their Attitudes, Behaviour, Mental makeup and Stress levels” during December 2008. The survey indicated that, around 39% of the police personnel at the constable cadre responded that they worked for 8 to 12 hours. 35% of them responded that they worked for about 13 to 16 hours a day. It is shocking that 22% of them responded that they worked for 17-24 hours a day. Police constables from Bangalore city responded that they did not enjoy even one leave in a month.

Police Work Force in Karnataka
As per the data published by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), Karnataka has a sanctioned strength of 1,07,053 personnel, but the actual strength is 73,746. There is a vacancy of 33,307. When it comes to constables and head constables, the total sanctioned strength is 94,478; whereas there are actually 64,909 personnel in service. There is a vacancy of 29,569 police constables. The burden of 31% vacant posts is creating more pressure on the existing 69% of the constables.

The number of police personnel also affects the citizens. As per the sanctioned strength, there have to be 174.88 police personnel per lakh population. But actually, there are only 120.47 police personnel per lakh population. As per the sanctioned strength, 55.82 personnel will have to monitor 100 square Kilometers; where as there are actually 38.45 personnel per 100 square Kilometer. Since less number of police personnel is available per 100 square Kilometers, their work pressure is more and their responsiveness to citizens is affected.

Police Reforms
Under the Constitution of India, Police is a State subject. It is the responsibility of the State Governments to maintain law and order. However, the Union exercises some degree of control by having a cenralised recruitment and management of Indian Police Service (IPS). In Karnataka, the main law applicable to the police force is the Karnataka Police Act, 1963 which is modeled on the Police Act of 1861 made by the Britishers. The Police Act of 1861 was drafted as a tool to crush dissent after the First War of Indian Independence in 1857.

In the year 2006, the Supreme Court in the case Prakash Singh v. Union of India laid down seven directives for police reform. Most of the states in India have not complied with the directions even after Supreme Court issuing contempt orders. Karnataka and Kerala have partially complied with the orders. There is an urgent need to look into the problems faced by the police personnel and make their working conditions humane. The humane treatment of police personnel will go a long way in the police treating the citizens in a humane way.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Neethaane En Pon Vasantham

You are my golden spring - that is what is meant by Neethaane En Pon Vasantham - Goutham Vasudev Menon's next in the offering. I have watched Vaaranam Aayiram and Vinnai Thandi Varuvaaya only to become his fan for the way he brings up love, romance, emotions on the screen as a delicate mix of art and technology.

The only thing that comes to my mind every time I think about Vaaranam Aayiram are the excellently shot scenes, Suriya, his guitar and of course the guitar chords of Harris Jayaraj. Goutam chose AR Rahman for Vinnai Thandi Varuvaaya, and now has succeeded in roping in Ilayaraaja! There's one dialogue in Vaaranam Aayiram where Suriya says "those days were like an Ilayaraja song". No exaggeration, but yes a random good song of Ilayaraja contains so much within it, and gets over in just 5 minutes! And the hero in the movie goes through something similar where he spends a few beautiful days with the girl of his heart which gets over in no time.

I was just watching the theatrical trailor of Neethaane En Ponvasantham on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XG8PWUgAIiM and was just thinking on how the movie would be. Goutam Menon picks up those very tiny things that happened in the life of a person and intricately focuses on it in his movies. There was one such scene where Jiva is shown looking at Samantha which reminds us of a similar scene of Simbhu looking at Trisha in Vinnai Thandi Varuvaya.

For a director who extracted the best out of Harris Jayaraj, I am waiting to experience what he would have extracted from Ilayaraja. Ilayaraaja is known for his "different" and fusion type treatment of western instruments. The audio of Ponvasantham is out, but I am yet to listen to any of the songs. After seeing the theatrical, it seems to me that there is a high dosage of electrifying western (and rock) influences in the album along with the classic Ilayaraja stuff in the foundation.

Waiting for the movie. Not sure exactly when it would get released. Going by the release of the trailer, i hope it will be out by December or the new year. And just observe the title written in a curvy style. I don't know what others would interpret it. I can surely say that it represents the season of SPRING (vasantham)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

NLPCaptcha - get paid for preventing spam!

Just sometime back as i was browsing through The Hindu website, i noticed a comic at the end of the news story. The kid in the comic strip saying something and one word is in blue colour. Below, there is an instruction, "type the word in blue". I took some time to realise that this was actually a captcha!

We have a new Captcha on the internet and its called NLPCaptcha. While all these days a lot of website owners and bloggers have paid premium services for avoiding spam in their comments section, this one does the exact reverse. You use the captcha to prevent spam, the only difference with this captcha is that there is an advertisement within the captcha! The user will have to type some selected letters within the advertisement.

This ensures that:
1. The advertiser can know the number of people who actually took notice of the ad
2. Spam views will be taken note of
3. There is a surety that the website visitor took notice of the ad for a few seconds before keying in the words in order to make his comments posted on the website / blog.

The hindu has already incorporated this. In m estimate, this is going to be the next biggest thing in advertising. If the NLPCaptcha ensures a revenue per correct entry of words, instead of clicks, that could generate really good revenue especially for bloggers. Let's wait and see how things go!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Accountability Issues

When we recall the year 2011, it gives us the glimpses of political revolutions in the middle east, Occupy Wallstreet in the US and Anna Hazaare movement in India. The common thread running across was the people’s resistance with the established governments. This kind of opposition stems from the disappointment with the ineffective and corrupt machinery. Keeping these developments in the background, The Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore organised a symposium on “Strengthening Institutions, Enhancing Governance”. Accountability – which is a major issue was addressed in one of the sessions by Mr. Harish Narsappa from Daksh Foundation (partner at Narasappa Doraswamy & Raja), R. Balasubramaniam from Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement and Yamini Aiyar from Centre for Policy Research.

Harish Narasappa spoke about the basic things of accountability including “who is the government accountable to and for what matters the government is accountable”. The whole of accountability in India has its origins in the Constitution of India which guarantees various social and economic rights. He said that the people can hold the government responsible during elections. Apart from that, the people can enforce their rights by approaching courts and by way of agitations. Government departments are accountable to the people on the basis of the legislations and rules which govern them. They are also accountable to the external statutory bodies like Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and Lokayukta. He said that the lack of independent and scientific audits of the performance of executive, legislature and judiciary on a regular basis is a major concern in India. It was delighting to see Harish, a corporate lawyer experienced in cross border mergers and acquisitions doing his bit in matters of public policy.

Yamini Aiyar said that the people ought to know where and how our money is spent. It was with this intention, PAISA project was taken up and during the study, they took up the task of following the path of the funds right from allocation upto the time it reaches a rural school and the works are done. By doing so, we would know where the pipe is leaking exactly and where the leakage goes. She said that the planning at the higher level goes well, but in its way, a lot of it gets blocked in the machinery or else gets lost.

Dr. R. Balasubramaniam shared his experiences in trying to bring awareness in the rural people about accountability. He said that some of people in tribal areas do not even know that the social benefits given by the government is the money paid by the people. He said that at the first stage, this type of awareness was supposed to be made. Next stage he said was to involve people in fighting for accountability in a matter which directly concerns them, like roads and public distribution system (PDS). Balasubramanian who has worked extensively in studying accountability issues in PDS said that the man who runs a fair price shop will be bound to give a certain share of the food grains to the members of gram sabha and local politicians, failing which he will not be supported.

Accountability is one of the ways of bringing responsive governance in the various machineries. The authorities derive power from the people and are answerable to the people. The session had audience questioning whether the NGOs who draw money from the governments are bound to be accountable? If yes, to whom? There were views that accountability starts from within individual person and it is a matter of how open we are.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Baadal Nanjundaswamy - an artist from Mysore

This post on director Pawan Kumar's Lucia website made me search my photo database for the photos of Badal Nanjundaswamy - an artist from Mysore. My memory goes back to the year 2006-2007 when I was in Mysore. I had observed some creative painting works while passing through Kukkarahalli. Baadal belongs to Kukkarahalli.

Let me first tell something about Kukkarahalli. Kukka - means a person who washes clothes. Halli in Kannada means village. This place was dominated by people who wash clothes. The village is just next to a lake called Kukkarahalli Kere. Kukkarahalli is a small village type of settlement at a place between Manasagangothri (Mysore University) and Saraswathi Puram. There is a "dhobi ghat" next to this village. A lot of people from this place were dhobis. Now, they do various other professions. The road that passes through Kukkarahalli has an old temple and a government school. Badal Nanjundaswamy had his art workshop just next to this government school. This is where he showcased his artistic skills. Check the below photos.

The petti angaDi (box shops) next to the government school were decorated with the colours of Badal. For a long time, I wondered who was the person behind this art. One fine day, Prajavani (known for its interesting news) covered a story about Baadal. Before Prajavani had covered the story, I had taken a couple of photos of his works. His works were never static and were in sync with the happenings in our society. The photo you see above was made when Rang De Basanti movie had released just then. You can observe Ambedkar, Che Guevara, "Be a rebel", "Rang De Basanti" in the graffiti. Being a product of CAVA, he also used this space to convey the people about the CAVA art festival.

Baadal Nanjundaswamy painting graffity work in mysore kukkarahalli kere
The photo above was taken when there were anti-reservation protests across the country. Baadal expressed his pro-reservation stand without any hesitation. And the Kannada wordings you see in the cloth banner was his opposition to the Kumaraswamy's corrupt Government.

chamalapura power station revanna protest by Badal nanjundaswamy poster
 The above photo was taken at a protest against the setting up of Chamalapura Coal Power Station at Town Hall Mysore. The Kumaraswamy Government had during 2007 decided to set up a Coal Power station at a village called Chamalapura (20 Kms from Mysore city) which would have caused environmental problems and displacement of villagers and also destruction of wet fertile land. The situation was similar to what was seen in the movie Maathaad Maathaadu Mallige. There were protests in Mysore for which Baadal had made a protest in his own way through this poster. In the cartoon, you can see a person whose face is half covered in smoke. That is REVANNA who was the then Power minister (Kumaraswamy's brother). Here, Revanna is shown farting thick black smoke. This was symbolic of Revanna using his influence to set up the power station which would cause a lot of pollution. This poster was later moved to Kukkarahalli in front of Baadal's usual place and it stood there for a long time. Baadal even erected a sign board in Kukkarahalli with the words "illinda Chamalapura kEvala 20 kilomeeTar maathra" (Chamalapura is just 20 kilometres from here).

Baadal has been one young artist in Mysore who has used his art and his own time whenever there was social issue / concern. In around 2008, he even contested the local corporation elections as an independent candidate as a protest against the previous corporators who had ignored the development of Kukkarahalli. He was even threatened by his opponent Lingappa. Badal was having a lot of pressure to withdraw his nomination papers. Badal disappeared from the locality till the last date of taking back the nomination papers was expired. Badal had then told about the needs of the people of his village. His main concern was that the youths of his area were good at sports and they needed sporting facilities.

Badal has done a lot of art work for the dramas that were staged at Kalamandir (which is in the vicinity of Kukkarahalli). Once I was surprised to see the fruits and vegetables painting in front of a vegetable shop (next to Saraswathi wines) which had the signature of Baadal! He has done a lot of street art work around this place.

I need to tell one more thing, this is the same Kukkarahalli on which Hamsalekha penned a song "Koorakk Kukkralli Kere" in the movie Nenapirali. It's a co-incidence that Hamsalekha (Gangaraju) belongs to the dhobi community (do not take this as a casteist remark). Kukkarahalli Kere has the legacy of being the place where a lot of poets spent their free time. The lake is still the property of Mysore University. Kuvempu (who lived just about 2 kilometres from Kukkarahalli kere) was a regular walker on the banks of Kukkarahalli kere. He has written a couple of poems also about Kukkarahalli Kere.

When I watched Lifeu Ishtene during last September, little did I realise that the excellent artistic works in the song "Yaarig Helona Namma Problemmu" was done by Baadal. It was only when director Pawan Kumar introduced Badal on his Lucia blog, I realised it. I thought that all this information should be available to the people on internet, and hence blogged it right away!

In this blog post, I tried to look at an artist not in an isolated way, but as a product of the society around him. In my efforts, I am happy that I was able to speak something about Kukkarahalli and my favourite poets Kuvempu and Hamsalekha.

This is how Baadal welcomed the first BJP Government of South India! (excuse me for VGA Camera bad quality) I am searching for another photo where Baadal had made a red-black based graffitti of Che Guevara during his birthday. I am not finding it in my database.
Added: A google search for Badal Nanjundaswamy gives media coverage in The Hindu, Tehelka (surprised!), Times of India, Deccan Herald. And there's a Youtube video of his art exhibition in Suchitra art gallery, Kalamandir.

Friday, April 27, 2012

That 90's life! Part 1

Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.

It was in 2009 december, i read this quote in Upendran's Know Your English column on The Hindu. Every generation feels so. I do not want to exaggerate that our generation was intelligent than the previous, or wiser than the one after us. But I surely feel that our generation experienced the mix of all types of things - tape recorder as well as i-pod; single channel tv as well as cable tv; hand video games as well as computers. We saw the transition that happened in India. 

I was born in late 80's and i grew up through the 90's. The decade of 1990 shaped what i am today. I remember my senior Sarthak going nostalgic when i reminded him about the DDLJ era! He started his analysis that it was a transition period where India was just experiencing globalisation due to the opening up of our markets. (I do not want to get into the 1991 LPG theory again like my innumerable economy related projects!) And our generation could experience the fruits of this transition. Not just this globalisation trend, there were other reasons too for 90's being special. There was a change in the way programmes were being conceived on National Television also.


Let me start with the National Television. The Doordarshan was the only channel catering to all our entertainment needs. DD was so influential that the sunday Chandrakanta episodes would be discussed back (on monday) in the classroom during lunch break! DD and Hindi Cinema (which had not yet fully achieved an image name of Bollywood) were the two hooks which connect the 90s Indian generation. The National Television was good enough to subscribe to some of the foreign feeds like - Street Hawk, Saturday noon sports round up, Jungle Book, Duck Tales, Tales Pin, Danu the Dianasaur. They also ran some of my most favourite shows like the ever enchanting Surabhi which introduced us to nook and corner of the country's heritage, culture and travel. I would some day write in detail about Surabhi series itself.

Chitrahar was our only connection to Bollywood cinema. It used to be telecast every wednesday 8pm. My family didn't believe in taking kids to cinema halls. And my hindi cinema knowledge came from my cousin sisters who were in college and used to get Stardust, Filmfare, Cineblitz from circulating libraries. I came to know that the young man singing "bazigar main bazigar" was Shahrukh Khan, because my sisters told me so.

Please remember that 90's of Hindi Cinema comprised of - Gulshan Kumar, Nadeem Shravan, Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan, Anuradha Paudwal, Anu Malik, Shahrukh, Salman Aamir Khan, Kajol, Karishma, Divya Bharathi (more about her later), Rahul Roy (Junoon movie), Mahesh Bhatt, Pooja Bhatt, Abbas Mastan, Aditya Chopra, Yash Chopra, Madhuri Dixit, Jatin Lalit, Viju Shah and so many more. I hope you know most of them. These are the people who shaped the 90's. In the beginning (1960s and 70s), it was family producers who ruled the industry. And by 80s and 90s, most of the big bollywood productions were done by T-series, Venus and Tips. (And there was also one company called as TIME which closed its operations by the end of 1998.) Kumar S Taurani, Ramesh S Taurani, Gulshan Kumar - all these producers were the owners of popular music labels. It was only after 1999-2000, Yash Chopra and Yash Johar productions made a wave and made way for corporate production houses.

The most influential movement was the Gulshan Kumar's T-series company and its best collection of cinema and devotional music. Not to forget T-series' Rs. 16 per cassette project which actually made the cassettes accessible to the general public. I can remember that Hindi cassettes were priced around 28 to 35 Rs, but T-series were priced at around 20-25 Rs. Aashiquee was one of the biggest blockbusters of 1990s produced by Gulshan Kumar. Even today, T-series has some of the best collections of Hindi cinema.

All you 90s people will remember Ashiquee (released in 1990) for its melodious tracks. This movie actually made the career of Nadeen-Shravan (music directors who later was alleged to have plotted the murder of Gulshan Kumar). Kumar Sanu and Anuradha Paudwal were also equally recognised. This was directed by Mahesh Bhatt and i remember Mahesh Bhatt telling directly that he intentionally covered the faces of both hero and heroine and the people came to cinema halls to find out who the two people were! At a time when star faces bring in the crowds, it is pertinent to remember that such a trend also existed.

The earliest hindi song i remember singing was from Ashiquee. Hence i have special regards for this movie songs. Who can forget the intro guitar tune which Rahul Roy (his face covered) strims in his guitar in a night club and suddenly lights expose his face... and then starts the song: "saanson ki zaroorat hai jaise..." . I was crazy about music since those days also. When some guests asked me to sing a song, i rendered this song like this "bas ekkku sanamm chaahiyee eee eee aashikeee key liyee... tin tin.. tin tin.. tin tin.. tin tin..." (i had a south indian hindi accent) The guests burst into laughter that the 4 year kid (me) had included even the background guitar music with the lyrics. And when i rendered the songs, i used to sing the songs with all wrong lyrics. Half was hindi and half were my imaginary words. Like today's kids, we did not have internet or lyrics book to know the right lyrics. I had to manually write down the lyrics in my diary after reversing the cassette a hundred times.

Come to the music aspect, Nadeen-Shravan were like Rajan Nagendra of Kannada. They believed in giving the main melody tune. They had their style of using guitar, dholak, congo and background strings. Listen to the song "Jaane Jigar Jaane Man" and you will observe their excellent talent of arranging background strings (violins) as a perfect jugalbandi with the singers. In the song mentioned here, the violin strings appear after each line like a chorus giving company to the hero-heroine. That line "jaaanaaam, jaane jahaaan... jaaanaam" was so well tuned that it denoted departed lovers calling each others names and searching. I recently observed the ads calling for auditions of Ashiqui-2. I doubt if that magic can be recreated.

End of PART - 1

In PART-2: In the present part, i wrote too much about Ashiqui. Next part, i will try my best to make a summary of other movies, especially Shahrukh Khan movies and music directors Jatin Lalit who are behind the songs of Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar, DDLJ, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and ended their journey with Fanaa. The 90s cineme will be incomplete without Suraj Bajratia's two trendsetting movies - Maine Pyar Kiya (circa 1988-89?) and Hum Aapke Hai Kaun (What am I to you?). I need to speak about the Abbas-Mastan and Anu Malik bonding and the hindi remakes of popular Hollywood movies they made. And not to forget the David Dhawan Govinda comedies (No. 1 series). Akshay Kumar had his share of Khiladi series movies. After movies, i need to write about the trends these movies set and how the trend affected us - the school going kids. The dressing sense, the dialogues (DDLJ influenced guys to say - palat palat to girls, KKHH influenced boys n girls to tie friendship bands). Will write about all that in the coming parts. I think "That 90's life" has sufficient stuff to churn out 2-3 more parts. But i assure it wont be like Ekta Kapoor serials. Do give your feedbacks on what you would like to read in the next part. Criticisms also invited.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cool, humour, serious and life

I used to be a silent person long back. And during college days, I started getting humorous. It was all because of some good comedy serials, i started developing some sense of humour. Humour has everything to do with the people around you. Jokes arouse laughter, but humour in our own lives depends on the people around us. It depends on their response also.

I have taken things in a cool manner. There was a time when i used to get afraid about my marks. I study honestly and write down honestly. But finally the marks i get does not always reflect the knowledge i have acquired and what i have written. Some worst written answers have fetched me good marks. There's a way in which the Indian teachers evaluate your exam papers. There's no scope for creativity and writing skills in it. Hence, there's nothing i feel bad about my marks. The easiest way to get over the bad feeling is to take it cool. I make fun of my own marks. At least now, i have friends who are ready to crack jokes on marks and celebrate over bad grades! School days were so bad that every person would be graded only on the basis of marks. There were times when some friends would stop speaking to a particular boy when he failed!

End of the day, its not about how much you score, its all about what you want to be. Indian education system will surely be in a better position only when school children dont care about marks and move ahead with their true knowledge. The examination system is such that if you have a hard disk of 500 GB and are able to save everything in your brain, you are a rank holder!! Ha ha ha. Your reasoning capacity and creative thinking has nothing to do in the present education/examination system. I remember in my school days as to how all other students were busy converting base 10 numbers to base 2 in a hurry (during exams!). And i was one fool analysing the philosophy of base 2 system. At around 5th class, i was analysing the philosophy in it. It was only after a gap of 10 years i got an answer - that computers work on base 2 system! I forgot to say that i ran out of time in maths test and scored bad marks.

Now, coming back to the main topic. I always prefer being humorous. It's always a better way of staying young. This evening, i was watching a song from a movie which released during my +2 days. I had watched that movie 5-6 times in theatre. Music by AR Rahman, and i was so crazy those days to become a musician. But hard realities forced me to become a professional liar or whatever. Today, watching that song again rekindled that crazy attitude of mine. But i know i cant go crazy for a couple of years. Its only during the young age, you prefer taking risks, you can do something unconventional. I get afraid that i may loose this craziness forever. But to my support, i met a person recently who believes in doing unconventional things and he's surely over 40. I hope i can get back into my crazy life again. I hope the almighty gives me the energy to go crazy again.

It's always nice to make fun, crack jokes out of your own life. But why is it that sometimes, you feel like getting serious in something. Till yesterday, it was all fun, i could make humour. I had no inhibitions. I was not even afraid to discuss. I took it as fun. I did not feel like hiding. I am feeling that I am getting serious. No, i really want to enjoy the fun and still be cool with the matter. Why is it in life we get serious over everything? Why can't it go on forever as fun? I think that the person who can strike the right balance between humour and seriousness is the one who can stay calm and happy. After all, you cant forever take the things in a cool manner. At the same time, taking things too seriously removes all excitement from life. Hence, its about a balance. I hope i will be able to strike the right balance.