Sanjay Negi's thoughts on Current Affairs and Information Technology Directions.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

NCPRI's campaign to scuttle Anna's Jan Lokpal

The basic argument against the Lokpal covering group “C” employees given by the government and their henchmen(women) in NCPRI is the size of the Lokpal organization required and the unwieldy structure it would create. They say this would make its functioning a non starter.

It is true that as organization size increases, the complexity of running the organization increases much faster. This is primarily because of the additional layers that have to be created to have effective span of control at each level. This is well known in management theory and is no rocket science.

That is why most government departments are inefficient and unaccountable. Of course when even the intention to deliver is absent, this quickly degenerates to corruption.

In fact government departments are inefficient and unaccountable in regard to their official responsibilities. But they are highly efficient and privately accountable for all the graft funds they are expected to extort and submit upwards at each level.

What explains this dichotomy between official inefficiency and corruption efficiency.

It is actually simple. As the size of an organization increases it is a natural process for its efficiency to fall much faster. The usual antidotes to this theoretical organizational design challenge are to standardize processes, automate processes, or decentralize processes thus providing operational autonomy.

We clearly observe the efficiency of the graft collection machine of the government has been achieved by decentralization of operations. Like a terrorist organization machinery, each cell has operational autonomy as long as the expected extortion collections are forwarded upwards periodically.

Like a terrorist organization there is swift punishment for the non performers like punishment postings.

In this environment of ruthless and brutal corruption efficiency in government, how effective would a centralized Lokpal organization be.

It would be a war between a huge but highly decentralized graft collecting government organization and a relatively small Lokpal organization looking to catch these terrorist cells wherever they smell trouble.

The Lokpal organization would have to be highly centralized to win this war. That is how they will be able to concentrate there force at the point of action. In this asymmetric war for the Lokpal efficiency is not required. Only effectiveness is called for.

When you create a Lokpal organization of 50,000 people you are basically making a statement warning the crores of corrupt public servants that the lokpal has the potential to come down hard when required.

It is the counter terror of the Lokpal which will deliver immediate results. The Lokpal doesn’t have to catch all terrorists. Destruction of just 5% of the cells is enough to put others to sleep.

No wonder the sponsors and brains of the corruption machine and their henchmen in NCPRI are focusing on the size of the Lokpal. They know that limiting the size is their only hope of continuing their decentralized graft collection businesses as usual.

At the end, I still feel the forces against IAC or Team Anna are too powerful. It would be a modern day miracle if you win. I do not expect you to win against this powerful government graft terrorism machine. One day you will get tired and give up. Even then like a common citizen I am grateful to you for what you are attempting.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What happens when a chain reaction goes out of control?Catastrophic explosion of course. Yes Explosion as in an Atomic device

Corruption in the Government system in India has become a self sustaining chain reaction. Power is breeding money which is helping the corrupt get more powerful. The net outcome is the state of Nirvana for the government class and their cronies in business.

There was a Chief minister of a small North Indian State who had set a target of Rupees 3 crore collection every day from the state bureaucracy. This was about 10 year back. Now the figures would have multiplied several times over.

To give the Chief Minister 3 crores every day, the system would be extorting scores of times more if not hundreds of times more. We can only imagine what would be happening at the national level.

The Government is known to be pathetically inefficient in its public service work. This is true all over the world. Where India is different is that the government is very efficient in corruption collection targets.

Formally corruption extortion is illegal and is a crime like any other heinous crime. But the state runs the extortion machinery with great effectiveness while maintaining plausible deniability all the time.

The operation looks eerily similar to the methodology adopted by Pakistan's ISI while mounting terrorist operations in India and Afghanistan.

The strategic target setting and ideological basis is provided by the central authority. The infrastructure is made available seemlessly and skills are transferred continuously. The operational details like time of strike are left to the local operatives.

The Indian state's corruption machinery works much like the Pakistan ISI's terror machine. Both feign ignorance of the activity and even publicly condemn it.

However the Indian state has put in place a self sustaining chain reaction corruption machine which the ISI has not been able to accomplish with terror.

The state's corruption machine hums along like a Nuclear reactor gone critical. It efficiently produces all the outcomes for which it has been designed.

However without the moderator cadmium rods in the form of an anti corruption machinery like the Lokpal, the chain reaction will soon go out of control and an explosion is very much on the cards which obviously is not acceptable least of all to the beneficiaries.

It is not at all surprising that with great prescience the Congress party's manifesto promised a Lopkpal. The NAC under Sonia and the Congress henchmen and women in the NCPRI who designed the cadmium rods of the sarkari Lokpal know exactly what they are doing. Their mandate is to keep the corruption reactor from exploding. So their Lokpal has just the right potency.

The current debate is about the strength of the cadmium rods. The government class would like the corruption reactor to work continuously for ever and hence is fighting for an optimum Lokpal who just keeps the reactor from exploding.

The Anna Team wants the cadmium rods to be loaded fully so that the corruption reactor can be shut down within a predictable time frame. Hopefully after the reactor is shut down, it can be carefully dismantled at leisure...there will be a lot of toxic aftereffects which will need to be handled by experts. Maybe we can import proven expertise from China and Saudi Arabia for summary decisions to deal with the delicate subject of toxicity.

The government class has done its home work well. It has united the political class including most of the opposition from the left and the right, most of the media, the bureaucracy and even the judiciary. Every one is singing the same tune. Anna's Jan Lokpal goes too far. Some moderation is called for.

They are right. To keep the corruption reactor humming and avoiding an explosion a moderate Lokpal is absolutely essential. It is in nobody's interest to not have a moderate Lokpal....nobody wants an explosion. These people who wish to shut down the corruption reactor are fascists and should be shunned.

Pitted against such overwhelming intellect, poor Anna has no chance. His protests will soon hit the law of diminishing returns. Fewer and fewer people will come out on the street with each successive edition of fasts and strikes. The public will get fatigued and one day the government system will pounce. It will declare Anna a persona non grata in Delhi and Mumbai and confine him to his Ralegan Siddhi.

The contours of the fatigue are already visible. Ace operators of the corruption reactors swept the municipal polls in Maharashtra. It did not help that the opposition was the Shiv Sena which questioned the very need for any additional cadmium rods implying that the original reactor design had enough safety provisions built in. The voters must have torn some of their hair off in puzzlement.

Back in Delhi, there is general consensus over the vendors of the cadmium rods. The SP, BSP, RJD insist that the vendors must be from the OBC, SC, ST categories too. This will of course ensure that the cadmium does not accidently shut down the reactor.

There is also consensus that the Prime Minister will not touch the cadmium rods. Who knows in a fit of integrity the poor man may actually shut down the reactor. Better to keep him away from the controls. In any case it is well known that he does nor really run the reactor. He is just a by stander whose name is printed on the nameplate of the reactor.

There is also a demand that the rector be split into two. Like the visible iceberg over the water, the visible part of the reactor will have some additional cadmium rods since much of the recent public outcry was over the functioning of this part. It is understood that the invisible part of the reactor which is below the water line in any case is very well designed and there is no danger of any explosion there. So no additional cadmium is required for that part of the reactor.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Is this corruption or India's brand new Caste System?

On the face of it it looks like corruption by public servants that is common across most of South Asia is no big deal. Some shared genes no doubt.

2500 years ago, people in power created the caste system design to deny other people's children opportunities of life. This system was centered around agricultural land the only productive asset of an agrarian economy. The king owned most of the land and leased it to his noblemen all of whom came from his warrior caste. This was natural as the king became king by killing all his rivals.

The king made an exception for the temple owners. These priests also owned a lot of land and they shared no revenue with the king. The priests thus owned about one quarter of all fertile land and that too tax free. They generated significant additional income through their religious services which again were mandatory for many.

The rest of the society which was the majority was landless.

This was the origin of the caste system. All those who controlled the revenue generating assets were the higher castes and the rest who produced all the wealth of the country and had to work for a living were lower castes.

In modern India, the government formally handles more than 60% of the GDP. This includes all the taxes, monetary printing and borrowings. The vast majority of the population (about 95%) run on the balance 40% of GDP. Of this 40% another big proportion is extorted by the public servants and 95% population is left with perhaps less than 25% of GDP as take home income.

Just like earlier times, the government, its employees, and its cronies control the bulk of the revenue resources of the country. They are the higher caste today.

The rest of the population which includes traders, all private sector employees(managements of large industry are higher caste though as they are cronies of government), all highly paid MNC employees(the MNC management is higher caste though as they are cronies of government), all unorganized sector business owners and their poorly paid workers, rural laborers and the underemployed is the lower caste. These are the people who produce all the wealth of the country to be sucked off by the government system. They have yet not become untouchables but are being systematically excluded from opportunities of life just like before.

Corruption is just an instrument to ensure this exclusion. Government creates complex laws and rules and then its employees and politician brokers use these rules to extort money from bewildered people who cannot understand the sophistication of these laws. Exactly like the priests used to create complex rituals earlier to extract offerings from the common populace.

Interestingly, many members of the modern higher caste are still called Dalits and Tribals. These are those lucky few who through the reservation policy have got co-opted by the system. No wonder they oppose tooth and nail any attempt to reform the system. Example is Mayawati's BSP's opposition to the Jan Lokpal proposals.

The fact is that people like Mayawati and many Dalit intellectuals who appear on TV programs now actually belong to the modern higher caste. It is in their interest to let the system perpetuate and defend it from any undermining by misguided people like Hazare and company.

Recently there was a big furor over the the FDI proposals for retail trade.

Nobody asked why normal Indian traders who work 14 hours a day, live very frugally, have little need for opulence and expense, employ inexpensive staff, are very intelligent and are very well networked with their supply chains are still not able to compete with organized retail with fully air conditioned stores, well paid employees, opulent ambiance and expensive infrastructure in a low margin business.

The answer is simple. The Big organized retail management is part of the modern higher caste and the small trader is a modern lower caste member. The government machinery extorts from the lower caste taders in myriad ways.

First the rent he pays as a percentage of his sales revenue is very very high because the government makes it very very difficult to build and run legal commercial space anywhere in the country. This restricts supply of such space and very very high rents as a percentage of sales revenues are natural. The organized retail in comparison rents bulk space in a prime area and pays much lower rates as a percentage of revenue.

Then there are the payoffs which are extracted by the municipality, police, tax officials from the small trader which the organized retail does not as it is from the modern higher caste.

All these outflows make the fixed costs of the modern lower caste small trader as a percentage of sales revenue much higher than modern higher caste organized retail.

This is the real secret of the issue. Of course we cannot expect out modern higher caste parliamentarians to discuss this openly. So in an effort to buy popularity they create a ruckus against foreigners in retail trade. This kind of obfuscation is exactly what one would expect from the modern higher castes to perpetuate their unearned privileges. The real issues are very different.

Another interesting subject...There was a land bill which was created recently for acquiring agricultural land by the state. Nobody seems to be discussing the fundamental issue of property rights here. The small farmer who now belongs to the modern lower caste has as much right to his land as Mukesh Ambani has to his Antilla mansion.

Can the government acquire Ambani's home for public could make a good hospital....of course not...he is from the modern higher caste and therefore his fundamental right to property is protected.

The modern lower caste farmer has no such the minds of this feudal government, it still owns all the land and everybody is still a tenant. So village land can be acquired at will and some crumbs of compensation can be thrown at the keep them from immediately starving...of course the prince Rahul Gandhi is large hearted and has promised to increase the quantity of those crumbs....

Look at the debate over the Lokpal bill. The feudal government considers itself above CBI has to work under yoke of the royal can anyone think of touching them or their caste people....