Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Conspiracy

To Shankey, Sneha, Ramu,  Indranil, Bhargavi, Taksali and many more who themselves have had so many such ideas! :D

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Economics of Bribing

A story about how a conscientious thin boy* was compelled to bribe a TTE...and why you can do nothing about it!

It was the last day at college and the thin boy, like all others, was pretty excited about it. The term had been a long and hectic one and the bag packing was supposedly the last part of it. The thin boy was looking forward to catching his train to a'bad at 6:00 am next morning. Mom awaited his arrival with her own list of food items that she was going to prepare over the week.
The night went on quite nicely with goodbyes and hugs all around. After all, it would be some time before he would meet his pals again. As had been his practice, the thin boy did not consider booking a ticket before-hand. The journey was a short one and the general compartment wasn't all that crowded early in the morning...and above all that, booking a ticket on the internet required effort! Feeling tired and sleepy, the thin boy decided to have a nap leaving the last part of the packing for the morning.
Morning arrived,  TTB* woke up pretty early and finished his left over packing. The auto came in on time and TTB was off to the station! Tickets were bought and luggage moved to the platform. Thats when TTB  woke in, he realised that the train was running late which usually meant a more crowded general compartment. Moreover, it was a weekend and the luggage was too heavy to be carried in a general compartment! Not the one to be bogged down by such pity issues, TTB decided to take a risk - enter the sleeper compartment and ask the TTE for a ticket upgradation. The risk in the whole endeavour was that TTEs aren't always the kind-hearted gentlemen. And when it comes to young boys,  its easier to fine them and make some money out of it. TTB was scared, but determined. 
Finally, when the train did arrive (45 mins later), TTB got into the last of the sleeper compartments and expectedly, the first traveller there asked him what ticket he had. On being told of the general ticket, TTB was warned of the TTE and advised to get into the next general compartment. Worried, TTB dumped his luggage aside and decided to look for the TTE himself.
The TTE was soon found catching suspicious youngsters and fining them. He had a menacing look and the first thing he asked TTB was what ticket he had. Shakily, TTB muttered his story which the TTE did not find very convincing. TTB somehow managed to convince him and was told to sit in the S10 compartment.
 Later, the TTE arrived and asked TTB to pay 100 bucks for the upgradation. Well, the difference in the general ticket and the sleeper ticket was Rs 100 and so TTB did not mind paying. He took a  Rs.100  note and handed it over to the TTE. However, to his surprise, the TTE handed him Rs. 30 back and  asked  him to sit comfortably. TTB understood what was happening at once but, happy over just being able to sit in the sleeper compartment, did not dare to ask for a receipt.   

* TTB - The thin boy. Some names have been changed to protect identity :P

The Economics of Bribing - II

Actually the story above was supposed to be a short one, but just couldn't help it. So here goes the economics...
Well, the questions I was asking there is how do u stop this kinda X-Inefficiency? TTB was pretty happy paying 100 bucks as that might be his utility for the ticket and paying lesser than that would only increase his surplus. The TTE, on his part, got a surplus of Rs. 70 himself. So, when both parties involved are making profit, why wouldn't they go for it?
Well the Govt. is the one who is bearing the loss here. But then are we so self less that we would consider the losses borne by a far away Govt. to let go of our own immediate profits? Or are people living in countries with a CPI Score of  greater than 9 so self-less? Or is it that they have such robust systems that prevent corruption? Or just maybe a mix of both these.
Moreover, considering that TTB was just happy to not have been fined and sent to the general compartment, cud he have possibly dared to confront the TTE and asked him for a receipt?  Wouldn't that have required a more than normal dose of courage and selflessness??
In any case, there s some thinking to be done on how do we address this issue. Jaago Re is good but just not good enuff...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Art of Living 'DIRTY'

Thoughts expressed here are those of the author himself and he will not be held responsible for any consequences, whatsoever they may be, emanating out of trying to follow him in his myriad endeavors!

Lessons in hygiene that i have been taking from a variety of people keep ringing in my head all the time. Initially, there were moms and teachers who told us to not to throw our socks here and there after school and now, there are girlfriends who never mind giving lectures on how to keep your room clean. But, one just wonders, what if the importance of hygiene was twisted on its head to mean the importance of non-hygiene???           
The idea flashed through my head during one of those discussions about field-work that are a common exercise in IRMA. Just to give the unaware a bit of light, field-work is a part of our curriculum here where we are supposed to live in a village for two months and come out of it alive. I mean, you have to be alive enough to present reports having 15000 - 20000 words in them.
Coming back to point, the discussion mainly revolves around the latest happenings (or mis-happenings should I say) of the village. And the happenings could be anything from a malaria outbreak to naxal attacks to floods to... And with these happenings, invariably come the conditions that people live in. What crops in next is not for the faint hearted.
Well, reality is, most of the villages in India don't ve proper sanitation and waste treatment systems which makes them dirty. So carrying lotas to a hidden place behind a bush, squatting on the walls of the govt. building, peeing by the roadside, gutters overflowing across the road, etc. is a common sight and surviving in these conditions is a tough ask especially for city-bred guys like me.
So, wudn't it have been much better if we were given training in non-hygiene much earlier in life? In short, wudn't it ve been better if we were allowed to throw our socks here and there, play in the mud and have fun?
Even if u don't plan to work in a village, it wud help develop a sense of empathy towards the rural poor, take a lot of headache out of mom s head and help surf excel do better business (the fun part cud be the side effect)!
So dirtiness starts from your study desk...what say???