General Elections 2014: a Game Theoretic Analysis

With less than 20 days left for the first phase of elections, each party has almost finalized the list of candidates; giving a final touch (Congress has already declared) to their manifestos, busy in bridging the gaps between like (?) minded parties for opportunistic alliances, and making advertisements in the print and electronic media. Campaigning is becoming crucial for all political parties.

One strong trend which is emerging clear from the campaigning- candidate selections and the alliance formations – winning the election by hook or by crook –  that’s the ‘Game‘;  a zero-sum or/and a non-zero-sum game but mostly with opportunistic coalitions. The outcome of this game is the real face of our democratic form of government, in which some times the major national party sits in the opposition and a the leader of a small party with 20 odd members can become the Prime Minister of this country. (Please do watch the above video link to see a beautiful illustration of Indian democracy by (Late) Shri Pramod Mahajan.)

And the saying “every thing is fair in love and war” is becoming a reality for this election game-war. It is a game in which political Parties, Media, Election Commission, Police and the Voters are the major players with many strategies for a goal – ‘Rule’ – with and without coalition in which Nash-Equilibrium may not be guaranteed !!

Like every other game, here too, the strategies are very important not only to form a government but also to form a stable and sensible government at the centre and in the states. Strategies are mostly formed by the active players – Political Parties, many in number and extremely divergent in characteristics; propagated by the passive players – Media; judged by the unique players of the world’s largest democracy – the Voters.

Lets analyse few of the common strategies –

Candidate Selection: It is indisputable to say that candidate selection depends majorly on the polarization factor – caste, religion, outsider vs. insider, etc. More than qualities like honesty, capability, loyalty and integrity, importance is being given whether the candidate is from Urban or Rural area, a Hindu or a Muslim, a Brahmin or a Yadav or a Kurmi or a Dalit, a Lingayat or a Vokkaliga or a Kurba, a Jat or a Thakur, an Iyer or a Mudaliyar, son/daughter of some “big” man or an aamjunta, and many more. Change of parties to earn a party ticket are common; for many candidates getting a ticket is more important than the ideology of the party. If the political parties are to be blamed for this kind of polarization and division of the society, then the media is also equally responsible for generating their masala-news and live analysis.

So far as the voters are concerned – we too are biased for our caste and religion sentiments. Remember- neither making a holy dip in Varanasi will make some one a Hindu-sympathizer nor wearing a skull-cap will make some one close to the hearts of Muslims.

Are we going forward to bridge the gap or going back to the era of un-touchability ? The choice is ours !!

Hate/Love Speeches: Making a hate speech is very easy these days. Reason – the conviction rate is very low and the convictions are not exemplary ! Hate speeches targeting religion, caste, community, migrants, etc. are threatening the peace and sovereignty of the country. The words or phrases used by the politicians are sometimes derogatory and flaring. Moreover, these days personalized comments are pathetic and in utterly bad tastes, mostly used to polarize voters and to stop some one from even doing good at any cost. What surprises me more is the negative publicity – parties are busy in finding out others’ faults, not in publicizing their own good governance. Criticizing others for their failures is not bad but laying the foundation of good future is more important. This is not only happening in party manifestos but also in reality. We fail to observe any party or leader sincerely or humbly accepting their mistakes and offering to find remedies for it; rather it appears from their statements that doing wrong things are their deliberate actions and their birth-rights.

If hate speeches are bad, then what about love speeches ? Saying “I love to be in the midst of tribal people” and doing nothing for them; or saying “I will go from home to home and sleep in villages” who had once mocked other leaders for eating and sleeping in Dalit homes. All for the benefit of TV cameras – these are merely romanticizing the election bids !

Freebies: We all love freebies and indisputably this becomes a major strategy during elections. The ‘one-kilogram per rupee’ Rice concept, re-adjustments in the number of of Cooking-gas cylinders, free Ration, Laptops, TVs, Cycles, Washing Machines, even free Electricity, free Water, loan-Waivers and many similar things are common these days. Irrespective of the class and affordability of the people, the freebies are very popular these days. Its as if these are all literally raining from the heavens. Political rallies, party manifestos and advertisements are saturated with freebies – “If you vote for me, I will give you this” ! … Are you really giving from your pocket ? NO !! Then who allowed you to do so ? … Let us understand that freebies are making us nikarma (indolent) and are being distributed from the tax-payers’ money which was meant for the development of the country. If any political party wants to give any substantial gifts to the society by making election-oriented promises, then let them promise us good governance – not generate or do nothing about tackling policy paralysis and corruption; let them create for us a system of quality education,  quality jobs, sustained opportunities to earn our livelihood at our native places (no migrant-labour), good roads, green environment, continuous supply of clean water, electricity, necessary and regulated material resources at reasonable prices, transparent accounting system, ample safety and security for all its citizens, and so on and so forth. Not freebies… Freebies will not eradicate poverty; rather it will keep re-orienting using foolish methods and then reinforce the downward-spiralling of poverty.

A true leader must have the vision to empower its nation by building on every available resource and not callously aim at the gaddi (seat of power) !!!

Alliance: Both pre-poll and post-poll alliances are becoming crucial these days. The pre-poll alliances we see these days are actually not based on a common agenda; rather these are based on political compulsions for a post-poll government formation. Moreover, no one (political parties as well as their leaders) is untouchable. On a critical analysis, we can see that most of the pre-poll alliances are actually converting a zero-sum game to a non-zero-sum game. Here are a few instances – LJP-BJP in Bihar, Shiv Shena-BJP-MNS (?) in Maharashtra, BJD-JMM in Odisha, RJD-Congress in Bihar, TDP-BJP in some parts of Andhra Pradesh, flip-flops of TRS-Congress in Telangana, DMDK-PMK-MDMK-BJP in Tamil Nadu, AIDMK-Congress, DMK-Congress in Tamil Nadu, BJP-BJD in Odisha.

Parties with a strong vote base sometimes do not form pre-poll alliances, so that they can get maximum window while forming the post-poll alliances. Examples – BJD in Odisha, AIDMK in Tamil Nadu, TMC in West Bengal, etc.

Alliances are good if they are formed to truly serve the nation or the state. But bad if these are formed to stop a party or a group to form the government, may be in the name of secularism, corruption /anti-corruption, language, regionalism, etc.

Contrary to pre-poll alliances, post-poll alliances are formed mostly with a compulsion (with political excuses) and with invisible agendas – which are selfish in nature. The compulsions of post-poll alliances will rise with the increase in small and regional parties, and the undesired effect (w.r.t. voters) will be echoed as in 1989, 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2009,… and the recent post-poll alliance of Congress and AAP in Delhi which only lasted for 49 days !!

For an ideal case, alliances should not be dictated for egoistic and selfish reasons but should be committed only and only for the benefit of the people !!

Reservations based on Caste and Religion: This is another big strategy the political parties play, both before and after the elections. To gain vote shares, parties promise reservation for particular castes and religions which needs to condemned right away. Though the concept of reservations was decided and rightly offered for creating a short-term balance in the society, now it has become a major political sword for winning elections after elections, without actually balancing the caste and religion differences in a society particularly like India.

Division of States or Special Status Category: Recently, the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, and the demands for ‘special status category’ to Bihar and Odisha have fuelled this strategy of forming a coalition (pre or post) and winning sympathy-votes based on “step-motherly” treatment by the Centre. If such divisions and categorizations are not justifiably carried out by the Centre (but only for coalition parties to gain sympathy-votes), then we will soon see further territorial divisions and non-beneficial alignments.

Bribing: Bribing voters and candidates are not new. Wine, Women and Wealth play important roles in bribing the voters and political rallies. Critics and analysts say that any thing in the range of Rs. 700/- to Rs. 10,000/- is being spent per vote by many of the candidates. On an average, some of the candidates are reportedly spending more than Rs. 30 to Rs. 50 crores per constituency. I still remember the punch line “Give me 10 votes and take a new bike” – very commonly seen and heard during the Local Bodies Elections-2012 in Maharashtra.

As mentioned before, the political parties are playing the election Game with their positive and negative strategies, and the media (paid or fair) is a party to it in propagating the political agendas in various forms. Both positive journalism as well as negative journalism are part and parcel of the game.

But the outcome of the Game depends on our ultimate decision- whether to fall for the cheap and divisive politics or rise and stand-up for a self-reliant, stronger India which can give corruption-free governance and sustained employment ! If our votes are sold to these corrupt leaders for a selfish and baseless favour or meagre cash or a bottle of wine or freebies,  or a reservation based on caste /community /religion, or a loan-waiver… then whom should we blame but ourselves ? And therefore, it also lies in our hands – what ways we pave for our children – the future of our society !! In this regard, we must appreciate the efforts of countries like Japan and China which have been utterly careful and diligent to correct wrong practices and sustain good ones.

This is the right time or opportunity to show our strength, to redress defects in the system and make it clean and strong. Its our time to play our own Game; let’s cast our precious vote not under the influence of “MCR” – Money, Caste and Religion but on our own conviction – a conviction that is largely based on morals and right knowledge. We need to do something substantial, which will make our life rewarding and us worthy aamjunta; not an useless and corrupt aamjunta. Let us prevent corruption, bring in good governance and create sustained jobs for a better life. Let’s respect our dignity, our state and our country. The choice is definitely ours !!! It is not that far… just couple of weeks more!!

Aamjunta – what do you say?

Jai Hind!

Welcoming Telangana and Seemandhra – what lies next ?

With green signal given by the Lok Sabha to the Telangana Bill, creation of the 29th state of India becomes a reality. Now, Andhra Pradesh is divided into two smaller states – Telangana and Seemandhra (the one which opposed the division of Andhra Pradesh). Though there is a sense of pride and victory by some people of Telangana, the general mood of the people of the region, particularly of Seemandhra, and other parts of India is not happy regarding the way this specific bifurcation was handled and new states are being created.

Most surprisingly, the recent developments which came into light are undemocratic and pathetic !

First, six Honourable MPs (Congress) of Seemandhra issued a no-confidence motion against their own party and the government. They were later expelled. But their grievance was never discussed in the parliament. Neither the parties in power nor the parties in opposition bothered to listen to their dissent.

Second, Pepper Spray was used by Mr. L. Rajagopal on 13th February, 2014 which shamed the Indian democracy and Parliamentary system. His act was merely condemned by the political parties and later, he was suspended. However, he had managed to defend his act on live-TV shows and became an over-night hero in his constituency, Vijayawada (Seemandhra).  Many critics of Seemandhra MPs view their opposition to the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh only as a means to safeguard their business investments in parts of Telangana, particularly Hyderabad (its supposed capital) and an election tactics. It is widely alleged that the LANCO business unit in Hyderabad of Mr. Rajagopal was bailed-out by a political pact with the UPA government.

Third, and the most surprising thing is the complete blackout of the debates in the Lok Sabha. It was never seen since the live telecast of Parliament proceedings began in 1996. Hon’ble Speaker says  – it was a technical glitch; BJP says – first, we were unaware of it, then admits it was a “technical glitch”, and then blames it was a “tactical glitch”; Congress – as usual does not say any thing (even the Union Home Minister refused to comment on the blackout) and the rest call it as the “murder” of democracy or stage walkouts. What surprises the aamjunta is the way the Bill was presented and passed; there was no proper debate, no discussion, no clear plan of action for Seemandhra or Telangana, and above all no consideration on the fall-out of this Bill !! Whom should we blame, only the party in power – UPA (Congress in particular)  or the opposition (BJP in particular) or both ? Don’t we see that both of them have tried to use this sensitive and controversial Bill to earn more seats in the next general elections ? It is just “hunger and abuse of power” – both so destructive in nature, especially in the context of a multi-cultural and multi-lingual country like India !

This actually frustrates the common man of this country. Unfortunately, we probably have no option but to elect one of them (Congress or BJP or coalitions led by them) in the future, as the alternatives including Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Third-Front can prove to be more disastrous for this country !!

What would follow are perhaps – Bandhs (strikes) in Seemandhra and other parts of India, fights between various groups of  Andhra Pradesh and Delhi, debates on television and in newspaper columns, and increase in demands for creation of new states in other parts of the country – Koshala in Odisha, Vidarbha in Maharashtra, Harit Pradesh in Uttar Pradesh, Bundelkhand in central India, and Gorkha Land in the east /north-east ! This does not stop there; as it did not stop with the creation of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Goa.

The Pandora’s Box is opened now with many political compulsions, strikes, acts of hate, and various other possibilities including elections and re-elections !

If we analyse the impact of creation of smaller states, we can certainly find two major points – (i) smaller states boost regional parties which are definitely not a healthy sign for a democracy like India and (ii) smaller states bring political instability as in Jharkhand and Goa – 8 Chief Minsters in last 10 years (9  governments in last 13 years) in Jharkhand, and 14 governments in 15 years between 1990 and 2005 in Goa !! The instability can be frequently created by regional parties, especially in a coalition type of government.

Other than the above major points, smaller states give rise to further intolerance, regionalism and selfish motives, which sometimes hinder the growth of India as a whole, and complicate the inter-state relations and distribution of resources – water, mining, dams, power, etc. Likewise, administration and delegation of executive tasks may take a back seat. In this light, one should take thorough note of the detailed analysis in the arduous Srikrishna Committee Report.

Further, such divisions of states in cacophony can also highly complicate the internal security with many neighbours as observed from New Delhi and NCR. Many fear that the anti-Maoist steps being carried out jointly by Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattishgarh, etc. may also get diluted.

As I have mentioned in one of my previous article, the way we are creating smaller states with the above motives and intentions, an European Union model is not ruled out in India in the future – with one or two major partners (states) and many smaller partners (states) with political and financial instability.

Aamjunta needs to awake, arise and take the centre-stage as a voter, implementer, jurist, lawyer, businessman, student, teacher, social activist and others – for, by and of India. We need to go beyond the selfish intention of small states and think of an united India only, without which our existence will be at stake.

It is now obvious that the selfish political parties will instigate us on the differences in languages, religions and region-specific development. But the choice is ours; whether or not to fall in their line !

Aamjunta – what do you say and how do you react ?

Chanakya’s  (370–283 BC) “akhanda Bharat” (undivided India) is becoming “khanda Bharat” (divided India) !!  “Uttistha Bharata” (Arise India) !!!

Jai Hind…

Other articles on Regional Politics in India:

1. Regional Political Parties – danger to Democracy and India?

2. Yes to Telangana – Opening of the Pandora’s Box or another European Union !!

Aamjunta’s Dilemma – whom to Vote in 2014 ?

We do acknowledge and understand that for ‘aam aadmi‘ folks to suddenly work on so many responsibilities (simultaneous or not) centred on the capital of India, there is tremendous pressure and hindrances around. But how can any ‘good’ party forget the usual law and order scenario, or even its very own principles ?!? Citizens should remember that nothing can change over-night; so also should any party holding the reigns of power, especially if it has no experience !

There is no point in comparing the present political parties in terms of ideology, political will, presence, discipline, transparency and leadership quality. None reflect any sincere ideology at the level of national consciousness. As an ‘aamjunta‘, I see no party having a true national agenda or any leader having the shades of a statesman. Almost all of them are interested to serve the nation – getting into power or remaining in power is the main motto. And the bad-taste remarks mutually hurled at each other by the political leaders are awfully making the puzzle dirty !!

Aamjunta is really in a dilemma…

Congress (UPA) – mired in multiple and mega scams /scandals and despite having enough time, absolutely nothing was done by it to redress those matters. With their able foreign policy, all our neighbours including Maldives and Bhutan are in ‘tu-tu main-main’ (squabbles) with us. Their idea of Swaraj and Social Empowerment is only limited to Rahul Gandhi’s speeches and their leaders are either busy in the coronation drama or with making derogatory remarks against Narendra Modi.

BJP (NDA) – still inducting back corrupt /indisciplined ‘netas‘ or being completely callous about rooting out corruption. It looks like the definition of India is still limited to some states in the north or central part of the country; with no or diminishing presence in the North-East region, Bengal, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, etc. ; even grass-root level politics is yet to evolve in many such states. Moreover, they cannot rely only on the charishma of Narendra Modi; fetching the magic number 272+ is still a huge task for them ! Major changes or re-structuring their vision should be their prime agenda while preparing for summer of 2014.

AAP – during its initial activism, very boldly raised several issues against corruption but never pursued any single matter to its solution; now the party’s daily stand on administration has made it synonymous with the term ‘U-turn’ !! And the jugalbandi with Congress is somewhat fishy ! Their leaders are still in dharanas, and/or verbal duel mode and their induction process is also not convincing. But the rise of AAP has definitely changed the political equations at the centre.

Third Front – for God’s shake this experiment should NOT be repeated; most disastrous governance in Indian history !! Their rise is definitely a danger to India’s democracy and growth.

If we want to standardize a yardstick in this regard, then (apart from tackling corruption, inflation, etc.) here are some more potential weights for us to assess:

(i) Is anyone really thinking of the nation or the society as a whole ? Has any national party or one aspiring to become so yet campaigned in or adequately spoken about the far-flung North-East region of India ?

(ii) How many have considered settling the issue of Indo-Bangladesh enclaves ?

(iii) Has anyone addressed these matters – growing incidents of rapes, juvenile justice system, human-trafficking, acid-attacks, improving care and financial aid for the orphans, old and destitute ?

(iv) Is any leader talking about revamping the current education system in the country ?

(v) How much has been achieved in diminishing judicial backlogs and increasing the police:public and judge:public ratio ?

(vi) What about the health care industry ?

(vii) Where do we stand in our external policy and defence preparations ?

The list can be endless but these are very basic current issues of the nation. Therefore, these must be substantially addressed by whoever wants to come to power or gets it. At this stage even, many ‘aamjunta‘ like me do not know with certainty whom to vote !

Does ‘right to reject’ or invoking ‘Rule 49-O’ of the elections conduct have any meaning ? Not really.

May be, we should be highlighting work of good performers like Mr. Naveen Patnaik, Mr. Manohar Parrikar, Dr. Raman Singh who have done really well; at least, in the recent past, if you consider the limited support and resources that they have got in-hand. Till date, they are not involved in any public spat ! So why don’t we speak in all positivity about their achievements and their desire to achieve more for the mass ? As some would have observed, these three men have known when a leader has to work at break-neck speed and when he has to go slow or even compromise for a greater cause.

Is there any way to give chance to such men at the centre ? Let us not forget for a single moment that what we choose today, we would be rewarding it to ourselves tomorrow and to our next generation(s) !!

Aamjunta – what do you say ?

Yes to Telangana – Opening of the Pandora’s Box or another European Union !!

With the formation of 29th state of India – “Telangana” (carved out of 10 districts of earlier Andhra Pradesh, with some decisions pending regarding allocation of 2 more districts and the status of Hyderabad)… the political parties, the intellectuals, the political commentators are making calculated comments. Though there is a sense of pride and victory by some people of Telangana, the general mood of the people of remaining Andhra Pradesh (AP) and people of other parts of India is not happy about the way this particular issue was handled and the states are being created. One simple question always arises time and again – on what basis new states are being created in India – on political ground or, on language or, on religion or, on ethnicity or, on some growth-model or, on some kind of compulsion ?

It is certain that the creation of Telangana is more due to political reasons than that of administrative or governance or people centric ones. With 2014 General Election in mind, the UPA-II government in general, and the Congress in particular, have played a game to win more seats in both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, to counter the growing popularity of YSR-Congress and/or to take Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) into their coalition. This political will is yet to be ratified by the people in 2014 – time will be the best judge of course !!

Though it is being argued by TRS (in particular) that the creation of Telangana is to handle the (under) development of that region, it is not difficult to understand the political motives of TRS leaders. It is certainly a mix equation of power – hunger of power and abuse of power; hunger of power is more destructive than the the abuse of power though.  This also results in mistrust between common citizens or aamjunta, business men, companies, politicians in various degrees. The mistrust being created with the formation and demand of new states also have long lasting impact on the development of the states in particular and India as a whole nation. This is a very sensitive issue and needs to be handled carefully.

The impact of creation of Telangana is definitely not limited to Andhra Pradesh; its impact is being felt in Odisha in the form of Kosala, in Maharashtra in the form of Vidarbha, in Uttar Pradesh  in the form of Harit Pradesh, in central India in the form of Bundelkhand and in the East/North-East in the form of Gorkha Land… ! It may not stop there; it did not stop with Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Goa before. The Pandora’s Box is opened now with many political compulsions, intentions and possibilities !!!

If we analyse the impact of creation of smaller states, we can certainly find two major points – (i) smaller states boost regional parties, which are definitely not a healthy sign for a democracy like India and (ii) smaller states bring political instability as in Jharkhand and Goa – 8 Chief Minsters in last 10 years (9  governments in last 13 years) in Jharkhand, and 14 governments in 15 years between 1990 and 2005 in Goa !! The instability can be frequently created by regional parties, especially in a coalition type of government.

Other than the above major points, smaller states give rise to intolerance, regionalism and selfish motives, which some times hinder the growth of India as a whole, and complicates the inter-state relations – water, mining, dams, power, etc. This also complicates the internal security as observed in New Delhi with many neighbours. Many fear that the anti-Maoist movement being carried out jointly by Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattishgarh, etc.  may also get diluted resulting in more and more kidnaps, bomb-blasts, killing and loots in different parts of the country.

Other than the above points, what bothers aamjunta is the possible political instability towards which India is heading with the current developments. It is almost certain that in the next General Election, no single political party will get simple majority at the centre; a coalition government led by Congress or a possible Third-Front government led by smaller parties are definitely not ruled out, and hence the fear of scams, corruptions, horse-trading will definitely rise. Even a possible BJP-led government at the centre will have many compulsions too ! Someone has rightly remarked – this will bring demons with crisis in democracy !!

The way we are creating smaller states with the above motives, an European Union model is not ruled out in India in the future – with one or two major partners (states) and many smaller partners (states) with political and financial instability.

Chanakya’s  (370–283 BC) “akhanda Bharat” (undivided India) is becoming “khanda Bharat” (divided India) !!

Aamjunta needs to awake, arise and take the centre-stage as a voter, implementer, jurist, businessman, student, teacher, social activist and others – for, by and of India.

Uttistha Bharata” (Arise India) !!!

Aamjunta – what do you say and how do you react ?

Jai Hind…

Another article on Regional Politics in India: Regional Political Parties – danger to Democracy and India?

A Joint Looting Technique: Politicians and Officials – tu tu main main…

Introduction:
False Promises and Freebies around elections.

Literature Survey:
2G, Coalgate, Riots, Bollywood, Rapes, Contractors, etc.

Problem Definition:
Define a Real-time Multi Objective, Multi Constraint Non-Linear Problem formulation of the current Crisis

Objective Functions:
Win Election,
Loot the Country,
Evade Law.

Constraints:
Loot Public money by hoodwinking the Public and Media; if caught then change the rule and make your own investigation report;
Manipulate the Committees by money, power, malicious investigation reports and unethical and unprofessional lawyers.

Any guess how?

Solution Technique:
Use CBI, Officials’ and Politicians’ joint effort.
Where, CBI=Coalition/Congress Bachao Institution;
Coalition can be defined as UPA at present and Congress in particular, NDA or 3rd Front in the past.
Make derogatory, communal, illegal and illogical statements to polarize voters and then give so called media clarifications.

Result:
1984, 2G, Coalgate, Increased Sexual Crimes, Chit Funds, SEBI-Sahara, Chinese Incursion, Sarabjit, Foreign and desi-Chopper Marriages,  … and many others in line …

Conclusion and Action Plan:
Only watch IPL/Movies – and vote for the same shameless people again and again!!

Sharam to hai hi nahin 😦

Open Letter to Aamjunta

My name is Kurian Varughese. I am an IT professional – working for TCS in Bangalore (Whitefield). I reside at Munekolala ( Green Garden Layout – close to Kundanahalli Gate).

I was on my way to board a BMTC volvo bus on April 2nd-at 7:40am when my cell phone – Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (costing Rs 38,500) was stolen while I was boarding the bus. As soon as I got into the bus I requested the conductor to stop and check if my phone is around. I dialled my number from a passengers phone and it was ringing. Someone picked up the phone and when I told them that I will come to where they are standing and pick up the phone. That person said OK and immediately cut the call – and also switched it off. I tried recalling several times but the phone was switched off.

I feel it is a professional racket operating in this area – as when I went to report this incident at the Whitefield Police Station – they said that it is not the first time that such a thing has been reported. They also did not allow me to register an FIR saying that the side of the road from where i boarded the bus it comes under the purview of HAL Police Station. When I went to the Vodafone Store next to Graphite India junction – they said that on April 2nd – they had received more than 6 such requests for duplicate SIM card.

When I went to HAL police station – they also did not allow me to register an FIR – instead asked me to change the wording of my complaint letter – from stolen – to lost mobile phone. The police officer gave an acknowledgement receipt – but NO FIR. He said that this acknowledgement should be enough.

In the complaint letter – I have stated the IMEI number 354666056537152 and also my SIM number 9886839373 – The police officer made me change the content of the letter – from saying that the phone is stolen – to the phone is lost. I believe this is because he did not want me to file an FIR.

He gave an acknowledgement slip and when I was about to leave – he asked if I was leaving just like that? I knew that he wanted a bribe – I had to pay him Rs 300.

I feel it is not right and that I don’t have to pay any money to get my complaint filed and to request for an FIR.

I seek your help to bring justice and to help track down my phone using the IMEI number that i shared.

It is very disturbing to know that so many such instances are taking place and nothing is being done about it by the Police. Look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,
Kurian

Short-Term-Memory-Loss !!

“Earlier, the Bofors was a talking point. People forgot about it. Now it is coal. This too will be forgotten. Once hands are washed off coal, they again become clean.”

– Union Home -Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Pune, 15th September, 2012

Does he really mean that we all Indians have short-term-memory only? Whether he is right or wrong, that will be proved in the due course of time in 2014 and in subsequent elections, but I would like to remind him and many others like him, that we do not forget, may forgive… and here is a small list for their information and aamjunta’s notice.

Black Money

As per the recent statement given by the CBI Director, Indians have an estimated $500 billion of illegal funds in foreign tax havens, more than any other country. Other media reports claim that the total black money exceeding $1.4 trillion are stashed in Switzerland alone. Whose money is this and who are the beneficiaries — politicians, bureaucrats, industrialists, real-estate mafias or gundas? Even with Supreme Court’s intervention the Government neither provides the list and amount, nor ensures transparency in the investigations. They only bring white papers… 😦 Does it not show how weak our system is ? If yes, then we need a drastic change in our administrative policies to check such unaccounted transactions, negating the economic-position of India !

Coalgate

Coalgate or Coal Allocation Scam is a multi-party scam involving PMO directly and indirectly, MPs of multiple parties, bureaucrats, corporate biggies and many more. As per CAG’s estimation and argument, the inefficient and malafide intentions behind the coal block allocation resulted in Rs. 185, 591 crore ($33.59 billion) “windfall gain” to the allocatees. With the highest amount, it became to be known as the mother-of-all-scams ! While the BJP-led opposition is gunning for the government, PMO in particular and the UPA managers led by Kapil Sibbal in general, have been hitting out at the CAG, incumbent and ex- Chief Ministers (CMs) of Chattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. While arguing against CAG’s report on policy making, the government should also remember that wrong policies with malafide intentions, inefficient and slow decisions can be more harmful and disastrous for the country. Kapil Sibbal may deny that no one benefited from the coal block allocation, and Congress Party may again bring the zero-loss theory, but it can never prove itself clean. Other parties too are involved; not just Congress is to be blamed. Moreover, if their claim that coal allocation was scam-free, then why the CBI is filing FIRs after FIRs and why is the Inter Ministerial Group (IMG) busy in de-allocating coal blocks ? With Supreme Court of India having taken the coal-allocation issue seriously, it would be no wonder if you see ministers and bureaucrats in jail very soon.

2G Spectrum Allocation

Kapil Sibbal’s Zero Loss theory was again proved wrong by the Supreme Court of India and Dr. Subramanian Swamy… an estimated loss of Rs. 176,645 crore ($31.97 billion) is not at all a small amount for a country struggling with poverty and malnourishment. While the Supreme Court declared allotment of spectrum as “unconstitutional and arbitrary“, and quashed all the 122 licenses issued in 2008 during the tenure of Mr. A. Raja, it further said that A. Raja “wanted to favour some companies at the cost of the public exchequer” and “virtually gifted away important national asset” ! Are Raja and his bureaucrats to be blamed alone ? Definitely no. The then Finance Minister and the PM too are to be blamed equally. In addition, the PM must be answerable for the failure of his office to take appropriate action against the culprits. According to Time Magazine, 2G Spectrum Scam leads the number two position on their  “Top 10 Abuses of Power” list. 

CommonWealth Games

Though it was a matter of prestige to host international sporting events like the CommonWealth Games in India, it became a national shame due to corruption and malafide intentions of our politicians, bureaucrats, industrialists and corporations. The total value of the estimated scam in this is Rs 70,000 crore!! In a country where more than 40 crore people live below the “official poverty line” of Rs 32/- per-day income, can we forget and forgive the culprits? The question arises in such situations – “Who is to be blamed” ? The Government, of course – the then Sports Ministry and the PMO, which is directly or indirectly involved. With concerns at national and international level, how do we say that the the game was a success and India has the power to host games of Olympic standard in future ?

Land and Housing Scams

Grabbing Government land, and House/Flats meant for the poor and needy people is not new in India. It was there before independence by Jamindars or Land Lords, and now by the politicians, gundas and bureaucrats. However, the point what hurts most is grabbing the land used for religious activities, and flats meant for war-heroes or their families and poor people in the name of :

  • Adarsh Housing Society Scam: Though the government land was allocated for the construction of a housing complex for “the welfare of serving and retired personnel of the Defence Services“, over the years top politicians (3 ex-Chief Ministers and many more ministers figure in CBI’s list), bureaucrats (Senior IAS Officers) and military officers (of GOC and Brigadier Rank) bent several rules and committed various acts of omission and commission in order to have the building constructed and then got themselves allotted flats in this premier property at artificially lowered prices in their own name or relatives’ names..

  • Karnataka Wakf Board ScamAlmost 50% of its land has been misappropriated by politicians and board members, in collusion with the real estate mafia for a fraction of its market value; alleged misappropriation amount of Rs 200,000 crore ($36.2 billion).

And the list continues….. Bofors scam, Fodder scam, Karnataka Mining scam, Cash-for-Votes scam, National Health scam and many more !!

Like Sanjay Singhania (Amir Khan) of Ghajini movie…. with short-term-memory-loss,we Indians also keep a note that ensures a long-term-memory. Moreover, the point what aamjunta would like to bring here to the notice of fellow aamjuntas and to the Politicians of this country is very simple :

We are not to be taken for granted for all the misdeeds, corruptions, communal violence and regionalism; when time comes we will show what we can do. We have done it before with many corrupt politicians and national traitors… The power of an ‘aware’ electorate can change the course of a nation’s history. The key to root out all such vices lies in spreading ‘Social Awareness’ among the masses. Then, who knows what is stored in 2014 !!!

Maoist Menace in India and Aamjunta

The recent kidnap and hostage drama of the district collector of Malkangiri (Odisha), Er. R. Vineel Krishna and Jr. Engineer Pabitra Majhi has once again opened the Pandora’s box of democracy and governance in India. It is unfortunate that the Maoists had targeted Er. Krishna who has been working effectively and honestly for the Tribals of Malkangiri and that to, after the inauguration of electricity connection to a village after 63 years of India’s independence. On a serious note, this incident once again has proved the lack of coordination between the police and the civil administration. However, on a positive note, the kidnap drama has initiated food for thought among the Tribals for whom the Maosits are working (claiming!), the Politicians – both at the Center and at the States, the Government machinery, the Intellectuals – both anti-Maoists and the sympathizers, and the aamjunta like you and me. If some one carefully observes the reaction of people of Odisha and that of the people of Malkangiri in particular, then certainly one can understand the concern, love and respect of the people for the Collector who has been working selflessly there. In addition, it has increased the frustration of the people against Maoists and their day-to-day interference on public life – by killing, blocking roads, kidnapping and using tactic of bomb-blasts. Overall, the episode of 9-days rather seems to be a positive development. Moreover, it is a learning experience for the Government, corrupt Politicians, Maoists and the Intellectuals.

Killing and kidnapping by the Maoists is not new. They have done this before during their Nayagarh (Odisha) attack in the fateful night of 15th Feb 2008 and other instances. They took the entire town by surprise and nearby villages in their captive for hours, killing policemen mercilessly. Their action on that fateful night and the killing at Nayagarh, Nuagaon and Dasapalla on their way to Phulbani jungles is very much similar to that of Talibans in Afganistan during their march towards Kabul in late 1990s and early 2000. This is just barbaric; no one can justify this kind of barbaric activities. Who gave them the rights to kill innocent people just because they supported the system in place? Interestingly, their leader Mr. Sabysachi Panda under whose leadership Nayagarh attack was hatched, was a local BJD leader before joining Maoists. His father Mr. Ramesh Panda was a long time MLA of Ranpur in Nayagarh. With this kind of background if he does not feel to be a part of the system, then there are many other ways in which he can take part and motivate the people for their rights. Taking the Maoist ideology is not at all the right way. He should have taken a positive clue from the Praja Andolan of Ranpur (to which he belongs) during the independence struggle of India.

Not only Nayagarh or Malkangiri, Maoists are very active in various parts of other states like Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh. The numerous killings at Dantewada or the land mine attack on Chandrababu Naidu’s convoy, or the sabotage of train lines leading to numerous accidents or kidnapping police men, doctors, engineers can never justify their means of struggle.

On an ideological view, the socialistic aim of the Maoisim or Naxalism might be right, but the means of their struggle cannot be justified. Violence, killing people – be the policemen or the aamjunta, just to show strength, calling frequent bandhs and stopping the development activities in the tribal areas cannot be justified as right paths to achieve a socialistic society. These only delay the development process ! Moreover, the Maoists have failed to notice some of the substantial work undertaken for the upliftment of the tribals by some honest men of the land.

Violence alone can never solve their issue; history has proved again and again – in Arab, in Sri Lanka, in Libya, in Myanmar and in many parts of India too. Contrary to that, peaceful struggle with human base and mass agitation can definitely uproot the corrupt government and the officials. It has happened in India in 1947, in Bangladesh in 1971, in South Africa in 1990s and very recently, in Egypt. However, peaceful struggle does not mean to keep silent all the time and to be a silent spectator to all misdeeds of the government; it should be a strong and honest opposition with human base. One has to remember that if the common man can make the government, then it can definitely throw the government out of power.

If development of people is the core issue of Maoist movement, then we need to look at it from all angles – from the Government’s angle, from the NGOs’ perspective and from the people’s view. One will not disagree to the fact that most of the regions where Maoists are active are mostly undeveloped – no road, no education, no sanitation, no electricity and no development for the last 60 years. But, who is responsible for this?….. Only the Government and babus? How can you discount the indifference of the aamjunta of those regions for decades? And how can you discount the politicians of those regions and let them go scot-free for ages? Are not they accountable? Of course, they are… Then why are we silent on that? Moreover, it is not that funds have not been sanctioned for development, rather sanctioned funds have been siphoned to foreign banks, luxury estates, villas and flats in cities. A very small fraction of the sanctioned amount actually reaches there, and some times money also returns without being duly spent.

In addition to funds, Government also encourages its employees by giving extra remuneration for working in those remote areas. But how many of them have worked and how many of them are working? Most of them never go there; the teachers, the doctors, the engineers and even the VC of the Central University works from Bhubaneswar (citing an example in Odisha). All of these are open secrets. It is a collective failure of aamjunta and a conspiracy or callousness of corrupt babus, politicians and greedy middle-men.

It is late, but better late than never. The development programmes have started as evident from the trips of Collector Er. Krishna. Most of the development programmes are directly monitored by officials, the political leadership has realized its mistake and aamjunta of those regions are vigilant. Then why anymore the killing and kidnapping drama? Let every one fight for the common goal – development and continuous development. Let the law of the country takes its own stand – to punish or to reward; we can definitely be a part of the system and expedite the development process. If the babus and politicians are corrupt, then we should be blamed first; we only made them corrupt for our “chalta hai” attitude. Can we stop bribing, start using RTIs, file PILs and keep an eye on our development programmes? Every one should be answerable, and we need to change the method of our opposition and struggle.

The other major change required in this area is the communication of this part with the rest of the world. Other things will come automatically – be that education, sanitation or electricity. Road blocking, bandhs and life-threats will only delay the development process. There is a need for drastic change in the education system in those areas. Remember – education can bring all changes in life as in Chanakya’s era or in Bangabandhu’s era or in Mahatma’s era; history repeats every time.

In addition to all these, there is a strong need of robust reformations in the State defense mechanisms of the Maoist-hit regions. Policemen should also be very well-equipped with modern arms and ammunitions, technology and information system; not with out-dated guns or batons  only as seen in many parts of this region (note: Most of the policemen posted in Maoist regions even do not always keep arms and ammunition with them, and they are advised informally to keep safe of their own.). Medics and para-medics must reach them promptly. Good rewards, citations and recognitions at public ceremonies must be duly commissioned as a salutation of their acts of bravery and priceless sacrifices in protecting the lives of the aamjunta.

As for the surrendered-Maoists, proper rehabilitation centers must be set-up and the State must find suitable employment for them.

The media and the aamjunta have very crucial roles to play in the system, right from creating social awareness and motivating people to guard against an otherwise corrupt and ungrateful system.

Very sensibly and collectively, let us stop politicians, bureaucrats, miscreants, middle-men and goons from hijacking the entire development programme of the land. At this stage, our internal malices, stigmas, and huge corruption with the public funds are menacingly large to enable us to stand as an united India against any external aggression/threat, or to take further leaps towards even pursuing a world-class economy. Its high time for all of us to act in a matured manner… There’s absolutely no more space left for any dilly-dally! Unless we realize and take care of ourselves, no one can do any thing for us. It is an wakeup call for the aamjunta and then the rest.

Jai Hind!

Note: For the benefit/reference of interested readers, this article is a sequel to “Odisha Assam me Hai na!“, an article published by aamjunta.

Mumbai 26/11: Years Come and Go

New Delhi, 16th October, 2009: “India still Vulnerable to Mumbai Like Attacks” – P. Chidambaram, Home Minister, Republic of India.

If, this is the kind of statement made by our Home Minister, then what do you think: India is safe and can counter Mumbai 26/11 like attacks? Can India protect itself from such kind of attacks in future? Can we avoid such kind of attacks? One year has just got over and many more years will come and go. But, what about our action and reaction to such tragedies? Are we in the right direction? Where do we stand after one year of the tragic incidents of Mumbai? Is the history we are creating  follows the ‘right’ path?

Before finding an answer to all of the above queries or before debating on Home Minister’s statement, let us discuss some ground realities of  the aftermath of “Mumbai 26/11” and analyse the happenings of last one year from aamjunta’s perspective. We start this discussion in a step by step manner starting with the police reforms, action by the state and central government, re-action by the media and public awareness.

1. Police Force Got a New Look in Mumbai: Around Rs. 360/- million has been spent to modernise the Mumbai Police. There was a plan to spend more than Rs. 1200/- million to modernise the police force. Anyhow that amount still remains unused 😦 . A Quick Response Team (QRT) with 900 officers, (out of 900, 200 officers are trained on the line of NSG) has been deployed. 39 combat vehicles with latest arms and ammunitions and Global Positioning System (GPS) on board and 10/12 bullet-proof vehicles have been inducted. Moreover, there is a growing awareness among the police force and their families on health issues with an aim “always fit” to combat any kind of eventualities, which include handling internal or external terror  factors. Even though the new look of Mumbai Police, it is still not equipped enough to counter the sophisticated terrorist attacks. Still much more requires to be done without much red-tapism.

But it is to be seen: how is the quality of the materials, arms and ammunition, bullet-proof jackets purchased in the present scenario? Is it a repetition of the materials purchased before, which was the reason behind the death of Hemant Karkare and others in the past. Moreover, do we really behave humanly with our police force? I doubt!

2. New Look of Indian Navy: Geographically, India is vulnerable from all sides; Arabian Sea in the West, Bay of Bengal in the East and Indian Ocean on the South. This complicates the border security through the sea. We have to accept that at present Indian Navy do not have that much capability to counter terrorist attacks through its coasts. However, Indian Navy is waking up to its demand – Indian Coast Guard is re-shaping with 3000+ new recruits. Strength of Marine Commandos (MARCOS) is increasing, additional boats and bullet-proof boats are getting deployed in both east and west coast, chain of coastal radars are getting in place. But, still we lack in our preparation and alertness.

3. New Hubs for NSG: Four hubs of NSG – Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata with a strength of 241 each are in place now. In addition upgrading the weaponry and other arms and ammunition has already been done and some are on the pipe line. But what about the administrative hurdles for deployments at the crucial time? We lost precious time in Mumbai (during 26/11) and Chandigarh (during Air India Plane Hijack in 1998). It has to be kept in mind.

4. Mumbai got its New ATS Chief: How can ATS function without its head and that too in Maharastra for almost 8 months? It was really shocking! But after Mumbai High Court’s strict warning Maharastra Government appointed Additional Director General (Railways) K.P. Raghuvansh as the new ATS Chief on 11th June, 2009. That post was lying vacant after the death of Hemant Karkare during 26/11 terrorist attacks. The question arises – how come government took such a long time to appoint ATS chief and other senior police officials? Is it a failure of the state government or a political compulsion or a mere negligence? Aamjunta– What is your opinion?

5. Respect Shown by the Government Towards the Martyrs: Till today, the government does not know where is the bullet-proof jacket used by Hemant Karkare on that fateful night? Is this the way we treat our officers who have sacrificed their lives for our country? On a different note, even no one has time to inaugurate the memorial built at Thane on the memory of the martyrs of 26/11. Quite disgracefully, even some of the memorials built for the martyrs do not have correct names. Are we really serious or our respect is just a show?

6. Maharstra Home Minister: R. R. Patil is back as the new Maharastra Home Minister, a year after 26/11. During the terror attacks, he went on describing the incident as a small incident in a big city (and later denied that a communication gap resulted due to poor “Hindi”).  What about his speech in Hindi now? Hope this time he will not make any mistake while answering in Hindi.

7. PIL Filed in Mumbai High Court: There was a huge public outrage on the media’s role during 26/11 operation. Many news channels were irresponsible and their actions were condemned by the public and a section of media itself. Their code-of conduct during the operation was felt to be a security threat to the country. We too have condemned their action in our previous posts. In addition, a PIL has been filed in Mumbai High Court on 5th Feb, 2009 on behalf of the common man by ‘Small Change‘. Let us wait and watch and hope for the end of media-apathy.

8. Public Awareness: It is definitely a positive development that the common man or the aamjunta is aware now and is waking up towards its own responsibilities. There were silent marches, candle light protests, blood donation camps, etc. People have understood now who cares for security and who does not. Use of RTIs and  PILS have been substantially increased to bring the state machinery into line. Public awareness has also been increased which may become the key to national security and intelligence.

9. Committees after Committees: A two-member enquiry committee by R. D. Pradhan, ex-IAS officer and former Union Home Secretary and V. Balachandran, ex-IPS officer and former special secretary R&AW was set-up by the Maharastra Government. Recently, the committee has submitted its report. One wonders that this committee does not find who was responsible for the lapses, be the ministers or administrators or the police officers. However, it has slammed the then Mumbai Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor, without even giving him a chance to defend. Moreover, there is no answer to other strategic failures like delay in action by NSG, delay in counter attack by Mumbai police and the strategic failure of intelligence. It was just a mere cover-up exercise of the government. Interestingly weak opposition both at the centre and state have not even bothered to force government or to put pressure. Instead, they are busy with their own speeches, morchas and in-fights. When will they think for the country, when their own houses are disturbed and fractured? Shiv Sainiks are so frustrated that they have to attack press offices these days in order to remain in news, leftists are busy with their own ‘red’ politics, BJP is busy with its internal problem – to find a new party chief and new leader and finally the 2nd/3rd/4th front… either busy with inaugurating their own statues or election campaigning or scams.

10. Diplomatic Relation with Pakistan: It is just like a cat and mouse game by both the governments on one issue… Delivery of dossier continues between India and Pakistan. Accusations after accusations and statements and counter-statements… is there any end to it? Pakistan is already getting its own boomerang, which  was created against India and Afghanistan. Everyday there are bomb blasts in different parts of its own country.  Do they want dossiers or actions or bomb-blasts? When will the diplomats grow up? Do they think by doing this they will get J&K? Indian diplomats should also realize that there are differences between making statements and taking actions. Better to take some serious actions first and then bring other things into perspective.

Aamjunta – what is your opinion? where do we stand- as an individual, as a city, as a state and as a country? Do you see any progress in any of the above fronts? Let the government do its own part and let us do our own. Seems government is coming up with a 20 point plan on the anniversary, but is that sufficient? Are they serious to implement this without politics? What about opposition? Where are they? Busy in fighting with other Indians on the basis of language, domicile and living! or providing a constructive opposition to the government?

Years will come and go, but … our actions and reactions will be remembered as a part of the history. So, decide whether we should facilitate a good or bad history?

Jai Hind!

P.N.: Let us pay our humble tributes to those thousands of innocent lives lost not only in Mumbai 26/11 but in many such attacks in the name of terror and politics.

Where do we stand after one year of the tragic incidents of Mumbai?

Credit Card Fraud and an Unusual New Year Gift

Accidentally I called the customer care of my new credit card issuer (Citi Bank) to know the amount that I had to pay, even though the due date was some 20 days ahead. I usually keep a track of all my transactions through Internet banking, but was unable to do this time as the card was new; I was waiting for the Internet transaction facilities. After going through the usual process of verification with the customer care, when I asked the executive about the outstanding amount, I was shocked to hear her answer. I could not believe what she was telling me. I asked her again and requested her to verify the amount. But, alas, the figure did not change. It was Rs 96, 541/-. I could not believe what I was listening to and cut the call. Sat for some time near the telephone booth and thought of asking the agent again. Dialled the customer care once again and asked the new executive the same question, “could you please give me the outstanding amount of my card?” Same answer…

After getting the same answer for the third time from a different customer care executive, I asked her to give me the details of the transactions. To add salt to my wound, the customer care lady gave me the details; the latest was Rs 77,135/- and the the rest were some Rs 12,206/- . To my further queries, she told me that the latest transaction was made in Euros and looks like some one purchased an Apple iMac using my credit card on-line! The transaction was made some 3 days back. She did not give me any more details on that transaction. When I told her about my credit limit and argued with her how come the bank allowed that transaction to succeed?, she told me that, since the transaction had crossed my credit limit, which was set to Rs 25,000/-, bank had charged some Rs 7,200/- as extra charge. It was like a bomb shell! The worst part was that she asked me to pay the entire amount immediately, otherwise the bank will charge heavy interest on the transactions.

Politely with a heavy voice, I told her “I do not have any idea about the Apple iMac transaction, I have done transaction only for Rs 12,206/- , out of which some through direct purchase using my card and some using on-line transaction for some fee payment for a friend of mine“. I told her that, “listen, the card is with me and I’m responsible for the transaction of Rs 12,206/- only, the other transaction is a fraud one and I’ll not pay a single pie for that“. Further, I asked her a basic question, that “how come the bank did not inform me when my credit limit crossed and when passed the transaction”?. I told her, look, even the bank did not send me an SMS for the huge transaction, which is a normal procedure with other banks. I argued that, if the bank charges extra money for crossing the limit, then the bank should also inform the customer while crossing the limit. That did not happen in my case. Bank simply did not act on it. Before cutting the call, I asked her to stop further transaction on my card with immediate effect.

After talking to the customer care, I called my friend, for whom I did on-line transactions to know his idea and knowledge, if any, on the huge amount. He was shocked, beyond my expectations. The worst part was his parents came to know from our conversations about this. They became very serious and asked me in detail about it. I told them that these kind of fraud transactions happen in real life, neither their son nor me are responsible. Though they some how believed my assurance, yet they had sleep less nights.

All these things happened in a span of 2 hours in the late afternoon of 29th Dec, 2005. In the evening, I called again the customer care and asked her about the methodologies for a complain. She took some 10 minutes to give me the detail and asked me to send a fax on some number stating disputed transaction. I did the same within no time and kept the fax detail for my reference. Came back to my room, wrote a letter to the bank with the details of my transactions and the disputed transaction. Could not sleep properly, searched the Internet on how to deal with such kind of cases for hours, wrote couple of mails to people for their help and suggestion. Tried all my resources that night, but no success.

Next morning, I went to the post office, sent the letter along with the copy of the fax which I had sent in the previous night through registered (ad) post. In the mean time, I got 2/3 calls from various people of the bank asking me to pay the amount immediately. I told them firmly, that, I had already disputed the transaction and will not pay a single amount other than my own transaction“. In the evening, I went to the ATM center of Citi Bank at Hiranandani Gardens with my friend and dropped a cheque for the payment of my transactions. Called the customer care again in the late evening to get the status.; was feeling restless and nervous.

On 31st Dec, 2005 I called the bank two times to know the status of my complain. Got the stereotypic answer, “it is under investigation, will get back to you soon“. I too got couple of calls from the bank and some recovery agents to pay the amount. In the night the world was celebrating the new year other than me (and my friend of course). In the morning, I met my guide in lab and wished him new year wishes. After a brief chat, he asked me whether everything is ok or not. I could not control my self and told him about the incident. He was shocked. Immediately he asked me to go to the police station and to file an FIR. What he told from some of his recent experiences was shocking. Looks like some other bank had even sent recovery agents (gundas) to collect the fraud transaction amount some time back from one of our faculty members. After thinking a bit he asked me to write/talk to an IPS officer, who happens to be a PhD student of my batch in IIT Bombay. He knew his name, though did not have the details of the gentle man. Immediately I sat down and searched in the Internet. I was lucky, got his email id and his home page.

With hope I wrote a mail to him explaining my case. In that mail, I requested him either to call me back or to give me his number, such that I can speak and explain my case. I did not know, that I was the luckiest at that moment. Within no time, I got a call from some unknown number. I was bit reluctant to pick up the phone as I was getting calls from various people on payment. But, this time the call was from the IPS officer. He asked me to explain my case in detail over phone and to email him my complaint letter and other details such that he can take up that case personally. He assured me and asked me to relax. On the back drop, he instructed me to file a complain with the local police station. Immediately, I sent him all my details and the scan copy of my complaint, which he forwarded to the Mumbai Head of Citi Bank with a personal note. He called me again and updated me about the case and gave his mobile number, to talk to him in-case I face any problem further. He repeated again to file the complaint with police.

At about 2.15 pm, I along with my friend went to the local police station (Powai) to file the complain. That was the first police station visit of my life. It was a big mess, no one was there to listen to us. They simply denied to accept any complaint. Initially we thought that there might be a communication gap. We tried to explain then, but in return, we were sent from one table to other for more than one hour. They even were not ready to listen that some senior police officer of IG rank had instructed us to file the complain. Arre woh.. bade log hai.. unko kucch pata nahini hota hai, was their answer. Then they called some one over phone and discussed and asked us to go to Andheri to file our complaint as it is an on-line transaction problem.

Then, some one among them told us since the bank’s head office is at Chennai, we should file our complaint in Chennai. Simple harassment! We were frustrated, called up our rescuer again. We updated him about our position, and asked him about our next step. He advised us to go and talk to the police men again and to ask them to take our complain. This time he told us to divulge his name to the local police. But, nothing happened. All our requests and explanations were in vein. We got so much frustrated that we decided to come back to our hostel. As a matter of courtesy, I sent an SMS to our rescuer and explained him about our situation. To our surprise, he called us immediately and directed us to wait near the police station till his further update. After some 10 minutes we got an SMS from him asking us to meet the police men again. In that SMS he also gave the contact details of the ACP of the local district (Powai) and asked us to speak to him in case of problem.

After getting the SMS we went to the police station, could not believe the sea change in the behaviour of local police. “are saab ke liye chai lao.. aap yaahan baithie, laiye, hum aapke complain receive karte hain.. VIP Treatment! For some time, I could not believe, whether that was a dream or reality. But that was the reality and we could manage this time; filed our complaint, got it stamped and assurance for further help. We thanked the God and the rescuer. It took 3.5 hours to file a complaint though.

Came back to lab and thanked my guide for the help. His morning advice was the best new year gift for me. The case got solved in another 30 days without much problem. Our rescuer made it sure that I get no threat and no calls from the bank. Finally I got a letter from the bank on the reversal of the transaction and the fine.

A fraud transaction had happened on my card, happened with one of my friend recently (even though he happens to be a manager in the issuing bank) and can happen with you aamjunta at any time. Be careful and tactful while dealing with the bank, recovery agents and the police. Keep a track of all your transactions and make sure to get an SMS for every transaction you made.

Wish you a Happy and Fraud Free New Year 2009.

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