Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Chocolate and You

Like eating chocolates? Did you know that there is a very large association between chocolate and child labour? Cote d'Ivoire is the leading exporter of cocoa beans to the world market and, most probably, the chocolate manufacturing company, whose chocolate you are relishing, gets its raw materials form this West African country. I believe that children from the age of 12 to 16 are working under the most inhumane conditions and extreme abuse in cocoa farms to harvest the beans. Some times the only food that these children get is corn paste, a far cry from chocolates. They probably do not even know what chocolate is.

It is an irony that children are forced to labour to produce something that is associated with pleasure. This only goes to show that misery in one part of the world is associated with pleasure in another part. Child labour is then, not just the problem of that country which allows its practice, but to the entire human community that allows such atrocities to take place.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Admnistration Service

I was reading the newspaper, the Deccan Chronicle, this morning when I read the article "Life As It Happens" by Joginder Singh wherein it was stated that a Hong Kong based political and economic risk consultancy ranked India's "suffocating bureaucracy" as the least efficient.

This brought in a train of thoughts and made me remember my father who, though he worked all his life in Administration and Finance, he was in Defense - Procurement, never asked any of his four children to go into Administration. He wanted all of us to become professionals, either doctors or engineers. This, in spite of the fact that he was very powerful. And the thought of entering the Administration Service also did not enter into our minds. That was some forty years back. I also remember an incident that happened during, I think my pre-final year in Engineering college when we were being briefed for an NCC Camp - it was compulsory in my college days and I personally think that it should be made compulsory now also - when after the briefing, our Commandant asked us what we were going to do after graduation. One of my mates said that he was going to do his IPS. Our Commandant flew into a rage. He wanted to know from my mate what he was doing in an Engineering College if he wanted to do his IPS or for that matter IAS. He, my Commandant was of the opinion that it would have been better if the fellow had taken up his B.Sc. or B.A. and then went into the Administration Service; that, would have left a seat vacant in the Engineering College for someone else to fill and do something constructive for the country.

But again, as I mentioned previously, that was some forty years back when doctors were known to be practicing a noble profession and engineers were building this developing country. What they are doing now is a debatable point. And what doctors and engineers are doing in the Administrative Service is even more debatable.

Why has our bureaucracy become inefficient and "suffocating"? Were they not efficient when they belonged to the Indian Civil Service and even a few decades back? I spent some 33 years in government service and during my earlier days did come across very efficient civil servants, but come to think of it, they were the older mature ones. They had matured. I particularly remember one officer who used to review some of our ongoing projects, there were some twenty three major projects going on then, for a few hours at a stretch and then call in his stenographer and dictate a comprehensive and complete report of the review out of his memory - together with figures.

The question now is: "Have the people in the bureaucracy become inefficient of their own will or have they been made inefficient?"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fixations

I do not know if it is true, nor could I get it verified from any Internet source or otherwise (maybe someone could be kind enough to verify it for me or put me right), but I heard somewhere that Sean Connery quit playing the role of James Bond because, in real life, he started to look behind his shoulder to see if someone was following him. The role that he had played seemed to have taken a fixation in his mind. True or not but quite possible, what about our Indian heroes? Those who act in films, where in a shoot out, are being shot at by a few dozen men armed with automatic and semi-automatic weapons (and grenades to boot) and come out unscathed, nary a scratch. What kind of mental fixation will they get? A sense of invincibility?

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