February 2, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

Here is another round of for your perusal:

  1. It wasn’t immediately obvious that christening December 25 as Good Governance Day by the Indian government made ‘biblical’ sense. The birth of Christ amidst ordinary folks grazing cattle two millennia ago symbolised ‘goodness’ in everyday life of the masses. He rose to greatness, and sacrificed himself to uphold certain humanitarian principles; this is an indicator of value-based governance—acting according to principles of common good for all. Probity in public life today also demands extreme sacrifice; good governance without rising above petty self-interest is not feasible.
  2. The ferries in British Columbia (Canada) are a lifeline for people and goods of that region; big boats carry hundreds of vehicles and thousands of people every day between Vancouver, Victoria and other islands. It is entirely because of such efficient water transport that the state capital of British Columbia has been, and continues to be, on an island Victoria. Since there are noises being made lately to re-organise water transport on major rivers of India, there may be some lessons from BC Ferries. The joy of riding those ferries is over and above mere efficient transportation—clean, punctual, with restaurants, free access to wi-fi, beautiful views along the route and sighting of marine life in the waterways.
  3. Jhansi is a major railway junction; it is also known as the birth place of the courageous queen of Jhansi who fought against the colonial rule. Nearly two-thirds of the city is still ‘occupied’ by railways—land, housing, employment. However, rapid migration to Jhansi from poor districts of Bundelkhand region has begun to change the demographics of the city. Once Jhansi Junction had the longest platforms of any stations in Asia; today they are a place of rest for some stray cattle as well. The shrine of St Jude in Jhansi also beacons those who have lost hope. It will be a wonder if it does become ‘smart’ as it is one of the cities chosen under the Smart City programme.
  4. The growth engines of Indian economy do not necessarily shine through high-rise glass structures of metros . Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore may be contributing to economic growth through large industrial and service enterprises. But the mercantile trading business also drives economic growth ‘invisibly’. Kanpur –the old Manchester of India during the two World Wars—looks relatively under-developed, filthy and chaotic today in comparison to these metros. Yet, the city contributes maximum to the tax revenues of the state of Uttar Pradesh, and controls wholesale trade in cloth and leather between Delhi and Kolkatta. Not to mention its additional contributions to national economy through ‘hawala’ and other invisible means!
  5. The flights between Bubaneshwar and Delhi seem to be always full these days; there is a rapidly growing air traffic in the state of Odisha. Many passengers look first-timers, and seem to have small town roots. The mining industry in the state may be generating incomes for a new middle class in small towns and block headquarters of Odisha. The youth of such families are rushing to study in Bhubaneshwar (and beyond) courses in ‘management’ and ‘computer science’ as new age professions. After Mumbai and Delhi, Tata Housing is investing in Bhubaneshwar. Some things are in the air of Utkala these days!

Sincerely

Rajesh Tandon