Freaky speedbreakers

In a move that I find quite crazy, someone in Canada has decided to paint images of small children on streets in a attempt to make drivers slow down. The images of children are drawn in a manner such that from a distance of around 100 feet, they look like a real child without any perspective distortion.

I wonder what will happen once people get used to these images on the road and then someone actually hits a child thinking its an image? I am horrified!


(Common)Wealth Games

While the Commonwealth games are still two months away, we are increasingly hearing sordid tales of Indian Olympic Association (IOA) officials making money in the guise of getting Delhi ready for the games. Here are a few examples that made me particularly sad:

  • Instead of buying treadmills, the games committee has decided to lease them for the duration of the games. The organizers claim that the cost to lease a treadmill for 45 days is a ridiculous Rs. 10 lakh. Investigation by media outlets have later revealed that you can buy (not lease) these same treadmills for around Rs. 4 lakh! (link)
  • Contracts have been brazenly awarded to the people who run the IOA. See this for example where the contract to prepare the tennis courts has been awarded to a company which is headed by the IOA treasurer’s son.
  • All preparations are hugely behind schedule. Many people attribute it to official apathy or incompetence. The truth is much more sinister. The IOA guys know that given a choice between (a) pumping money and getting Delhi ready at the last minute at all costs and (b) immense loss of national prestige by a lackluster event; the Indian/Delhi government will clearly choose (a). Hence, the IOA has deliberately delayed the preparations and now it is basically holding the Indian government hostage. “If you want us to be ready, we need Rs. xxx. And make it fast please!”.
  • Mr. Suresh Kalmadi has been the head of the IOA for the past fourteen years. I wonder what credentials does he have which allow him to remain the head of such a critical body for such a long time? His resume doesn’t list any sports background. The results he has delivered (as evidenced by our performances in international sports competitions) have been mediocre at best, and if you take out two or three brilliant individual performers, they are downright appalling. So why does he get to be the head of the IOA?

I am sure we will hear many more stories like this in the days to come. And it will be followed by the usual. After the games, a committee will be seated to investigate the conduct of the officials organizing the games. After six years of painstaking effort, all of it on taxpayer’s money, the committee will produce a 600 page report. Suresh Kalmadi by that time will be standing for his seventh re-election to the post of the IOA President. And India will be preparing for Olympics 2020 with the same wealth games being played in the background. I hope I am wrong.


Khaps and Modern India

You believe you know your society, your religion, your caste quite well. And then suddenly that delusion is completely shattered! I thought horrible things like honor killings were part of medieval cultures and Hindu society had largely moved beyond such terrible customs. Not true!

In a shocking case that come to light a few weeks ago, a Khap (sort of like a Panchayat) in Haryana ordered and successfully carried out the killing of a couple. Their crime: Marrying within the same sub-caste (or gotra).

Subsequently, a court in Karnal sentenced five people involved in the crime to death. That should have been the end of the case. On a more practical note, that should have been the beginning of the usual decade long appeals process where those five individuals would have begged the Indian state for mercy.

Not so! The Khap leaders are defiant. They don’t even claim that the crime didn’t occur. Rather they are fighting for their right to order such killings in the future! Here are some snippets from an HT article which covered one of the recently held protest rallies.

An assembly of 36 self-styled caste councils on Tuesday vowed to fight for the seven people convicted – five of them sentenced to death – by a Karnal court for their roles in an honour killing.

Several speakers said the authorities should not interfere in centuries-old traditions, as social norms were above the law

Former Haryana Police chief M.S. Malik, said, “We don’t want a Constitution or a law that goes against our age-old tradition. We feel strongly against the media for naming Khaps, accepted for the last 3,000 years, as Talibani Panchayats.”

I am sorry Mr. Malik, but the only way to earn the right to not be called Talibani Panchayats is by not doing things that Talibani Panchayats do! It is shameful that a retired IPS officer has such an attitude on upholding the rule of law and the Indian Constitution.

And finally, after all these events, it is the Judge who heard the case, who is running scared for her life. Indian Express reports that Justice Vani Gopal Sharma has requested a transfer from Karnal because she fears for her life after the Khaps have hardened their stance against the judgement pronounced by her!