Tuesday, August 09, 2011


Last week, while at a petrol bunk, in a moment of weakness, I entered my name and my mobile phone number with an attendant there. He lured me into the trap by offering to include me in a lucky draw. I have, in the past, won a suitcase from VIP through a lucky draw. This time, I was hoping for an all paid vacation to Port Blair.

Two days later, a tele-girl called.

"A very good evening to you sir. Can I take two minutes of your time, please?"

"Yes, what can I do for you?"

"You had entered your name in our lucky draw, sir. Do you own a Mahindra four-wheeler?"

"No, I do not."

"Do you own any other four-wheeler?"

"Yes. A Ford."

She must have gasped. A Ford? A Ford? She then dropped the bombshell.

"As a special gesture, we would like to invite you to a membership from Club Mahindra, a holiday..."

I cut her short. "No, I will not be interested."

"Why sir?"

I was floored. How could I answer this question? I had to think quickly on my feet. "I already have a Club Mahindra membership." That was an excellent answer. She waited for a second and threw the next dart at me.

"Sir, in that case, will you refer your friends?"

"No. I don't have any friends that I can refer. If I did refer them, they wouldn't remain my friends."

She thanked me and cut the call.

This seems to be a nice way of collecting phone numbers and addresses. Offer some freebie and idiots like me will give all our personal details. Then, you can resell the database to every tele-marketer.

Seems like a good idea. I should try this somewhere myself and sell them all books.

Monday, August 08, 2011

US credit rating in Tamil Media

Today's Dinamani has an article on how India is in the 14th place of Nations that have lent money to the USA. Though technically correct, the US didn't beg India to borrow some money. US Govt. issued treasury bills and India, along with several other Asian countries, stood in line to subscribe to them. It was not the lender setting out stipulations; but the borrower setting out terms. Countries like China, Japan and India had no other option but to take up these highly rated paper, even though the yield was low because they had dollar surplus. The headline for this story in Dinamani reads: US still owes India Rs 1.83 lakh crore, suggesting that there is a likelihood of US running away without repaying in full.

Dinamalar has a longish article titled US getting hammered, credit rating brought down. The article is reasonably complete but wouldn't make much of a sense to a Tamil reader, as it lacks the context. This is more a news wire story translated into Tamil.

As an aside, Dinamani pronounces Poor correctly, Dinamalar makes it 'puvar'.

I couldn't locate any story in Dinathanthi, which I am looking forward to. Dinathanthi tries its best to make such complex news easy to the lay Tamil reader, with the correct context.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Land grabbing in Tamil Nadu

The new government headed by Jayalalitha is on an arresting spree. Yet another former DMK minister was arrested today on charges related to land grabbing. Already one former DMK minister is in judicial remand. There are talks of possible cases against MK Azhagiri's wife Kanthi.

Land grab is the easiest way to make money for the politicians. They do this when they are in power. Grabbing government land (poramboke land) without a clear title is the easiest. Then, the acquisition can be legalised over time with appropriate orders. I am not fully aware of the process. I will be grateful if someone can educate me on this.

The second method is legally acceptable but morally repugnant. The Chief Minister uses his discretionary powers to allocate land owned by the government to his chamchas at rock bottom prices. Then, this land is parcelled and resold to developers for a huge profit. This is a widespread issue. Former Karnataka CM Yeddiyurappa is accused of this (amongst many wrongdoings). Jaffer Sait, ADGP (now suspended) of Police and head of intelligence in the previous DMK government has been accused of this. So are several others.

The third method gets into the murkier world of underground. You threaten poor, invalid and meek with dire consequences and take over their land on forged power of attorney documents. The meek will simply suffer. They cannot complain as the police will not file cases against the ruling party goondas. They give up. Ugly though it may be, this seems to be the perennial resource for the politicians.

It is on this account that almost everyone in the DMK and his dog is being accused off now. There have been such allegations against the jailed MP and former telecom Minister A. Raja. Kanimozhi, Rajathi Ammal and their alleged benamis are accused of such doings. As mentioned above, Azhagiri is accused of the same. Almost every single minister in the previous government and probably all the MLAs are accused of this. I am yet to hear of Stalin or Karunanidhi being directly accused.

One of the moves by Jayalalitha widely acclaimed (except by the DMK) is setting up a special complaint cell for this purpose. And the cases are streaming in.

Nobody, except the die-hard DMK cadre, believes that the cases are foisted falsely on these people. DMK leaders are rather talking about inaction on cases related to AIADMK people during the 2001-2006 period. (Surely DMK government should have processed them then?)

Sanctity of the private property is paramount in our modern democracy. No one has the right to take away the land owned by ordinary people without convincing the particular person and paying the right market rates. (Government with its eminent domain is another issue and needs to be discussed elsewhere.) That politicians can easily break this is a dangerous scenario. I applaud Jayalalitha for this aggressive move, even though it has been taken to spite her opponents. This will set a chain of events whereby DMK will prosecute the evil doing of AIADMK in the next term and so on. In the meantime, the civilians will get emboldened to create institutions to prevent such fraud being committed on them by thugs of the political parties.

Till then, we will watch with glee one more former minister going to jail.