Govt’s Proposed Fleet Retirement Programme: What it is & What it means for the Industry

India is today the world’s 3rd largest emitter of Carbon only after USA and China. While India’s carbon emissions are merely a 5th of China’s today, they are expected to fast catch up in the decades to come. India has always been committed to the cleaner global environment and always played a proactive role. At the Paris conference India not only presented itself as a responsible nation that would take steps towards safe guarding environment, but also positioned itself as a global leader that would pave the way to the future.

One of the major areas of environmental impact and carbon footprint is vehicular emissions. It is estimated that the number of vehicles of all types has increased threefold in the past thirty years. As part of its responsibility towards a cleaner and a sustainable environment, the Indian government is coming up with a policy for retiring diesel commercial vehicles that are 15 or more years old. The idea is to replace those older polluting commercial vehicles that we all see bellowing black smoke, with newer vehicles that pollute less.

Here is a snapshot of key commitments India made for a cleaner and sustainable environment:

  • A 20-25% reduction by 2020 in emissions compared to 2005 levels.
  • A 33-35% reduction by 2030 in emissions compared to 2005 levels.
  • Generate 175 GW through renewable & other clean energy sources by 2022.
  • Double the non-fossil fuel based energy share to 40% by 2030. Currently 80% of India’s energy is produced from fossil fuels, known to emit the most carbon of all energy generation methods.
  • Significant expansion of forest cover to absorb an estimated 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2.
  • Transitioning to Bharat Stage VI (BS VI) standards by April 2020 to reduce vehicular emissions by over 60% from the current BS III/IV across the country.
  • Upgrade of fuel quality to the clean BS VI standard nationwide by April 2020.
  • Encourage design & manufacture of Hybrid & Electric vehicles by providing necessary assistance and incentives to the market players under the FAME India scheme (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric vehicles) under NEMMP 2020 (National Electric Mobility Mission Plan).
  • Provide impetus to production and consumption of Biofuels including Bio-diesel and Bio-ethanol under the National Biofuel Policy. The target is to achieve a 20% mixing of biofuel with the regular fuel.
  • Increase Railway’s share in transportation from about 36% currently to 45% thereby achieving a cleaner land based transportation. Since majority of railway transportation is through electric engines, the overall consumption of diesel as fuel for transportation will be greatly reduced.
  • Develop low carbon emitting transportation infrastructure that includes Dedicated Freight Corridors, Public Transport Systems & Energy Efficient Railways towards achieving a “Safe, Smart, Sustainable Green Transportation Network”.
  • The top 5 global emitters – China, USA, India, Russia & Japan make up for 64% of global carbon emissions.

Carbon Emissions

Although India is the world’s 3rd largest country in terms of carbon emissions, it can be seen that its per capita emission is nowhere in comparison to the other nations, all of which are heavily industrialized.

Country COEmissions kt (2014) COEmissions (%) Emission t per Capita (2014)
China 10,540,000 29.55% 7.6
USA 5,334,000 14.95% 16.5
EU 3,415,000 9.57% 6.7
India 2,341,000 6.56% 1.8
Russia 1,766,000 4.95% 12.4
Japan 1,278,000 3.58% 10.1
World 35,669,000 5.0

**Source: EDGAR Database by European Commission & Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.

Voluntary Vehicle Fleet Modernisation Programme (V-VMP)

When questioned on retiring 15 year or older commercial vehicles in early December 2015, the Minister for Road Transport and Highways Mr. Nitin Gadkari is quoted to have said:

“An integrated policy to check pollution by over 10 year old commercial vehicle will be formed soon. Cabinet nod will be sought on it and only then it will come into force. There is no such decision at present to ban 15 years old commercial vehicles (CVs).”

The policy is termed – ‘Voluntary Vehicle Fleet Modernisation Programme’ and here is what it entails:

  • Commercial heavy vehicles (trucks and buses) shall be covered under the programme.
  • Vehicles that are 15 years or older would NOT be eligible to ply on the roads & will be scrapped.
  • The implementation will be carried out in a phased manner.
  • Vehicle owners would be compensated for the vehicle – valued at about 10% of its purchased price at the time of scrapping.
  • Owners of scrapped vehicles will receive a rebate from the vehicle manufacturer when they purchase a new vehicle.
  • Government of India shall also provide a concession against the scrapped vehicle at the time of purchasing the new vehicle.

We will of course have to wait for the full policy to be released to get full details and understanding of how the policy is going to be rolled out. The VVMP is going to have a definite impact on a multitude of aspects. Whilst much of the impact may be positive in the long run, as with any change programme there will be winners and there will be losers. Here we are looking at two major market segments that will be impacted – Transportation & Automobile sectors.

TRANSPORTATION SECTOR

Transportation sector accounts for about 6.5% of India’s GDP and over 4% of India’s work force. Since 2000, the sector has grown at over 7% on average. According to the 12th five year plan report (2012-17) Road Transportation accounts for about 57% of all transport, while the USA accounts for 37% and China 22%. Railway Transport in India constitutes 36% while Inland Water transportation is the least utilized transportation service.

Most vehicle scrapping programmes globally had a ‘generally positive impact’ particularly for the automobile industry. Many major vehicle brands registered double digit growths throughout the duration of these programmes. With VVMP the Indian automobile industry also can be expected to gain considerably, with commercial heavy vehicle sales. However with the road transportation industry, the impact could be a mixed bag.

We are currently unsure as to how ‘Voluntary’ is the VVMP. The indication from the tonality of various announcements is, that this is going to be mandatory and not optional to fleet owners. The impact may vary greatly depending on how this policy if framed.

Goods & Bulk Transport

Whilst the transportation by its very nature means carrying goods to the length and breadth of the country, the impact may be more concentrated in the regions where there is high industrial activity. There are 8 major regions along with multiple smaller zones or ‘hotspots’ for industrial activity.

  1. Mumbai – Pune Industrial Region
  2. Gujarat Industrial Region
  3. Gurgaon – Delhi – Meerut Industrial Region
  4. Chotanagpur Industrial Region
  5. The Hugli Industrial Region
  6. Visakhapatnam – Guntur Industrial Region
  7. Bangalore – Tamil Nadu Industrial Region
  8. Kollam – Thiruvananthapuram Industrial Region

We must also mention the Online Retail Trade which has been growing exponentially in the country with the steeply increasing internet and mobile penetration. As of today most of these online retail stores cater predominantly to the metropolitan and urban space. With the recent push to digitization by government and increased broadband and mobile internet penetration, demand for online retail is only bound to grow. As more small towns and villages order online, the retail stores will have to create more and more local warehouses which in turn will require greater transport penetration.

The impact is going to be a mixed bag. Big logistics companies like VRL or Coastal Roadways with fleets running into 100s, keep overhauling vehicles as a policy and have efficient fleet maintenance processes. These organisations normally do not burden themselves with older vehicles. It is learnt that typically a vehicle is sold off once once it reaches a certain age – about 6-7 years. VVMP therefore is going to have a minimal impact on the very larger players.

VVMP may impact the smaller regional transportation players negatively if the programme makes scrapping mandatory. In this segment, fleet sizes are often less than 15. There are many private truckers who own and operate their own vehicle or very small local transportation shops with 2 or 3 trucks. These trucks are often very old – mostly over 15 years old. It is important to note that the vast majority if India, estimatedly over 75%, is made up of such small scale operators. Smaller players may lack financial means to procure new vehicles. The amount they are going to receive out of scrapping, would not nearly cover the new purchase.

No. of Vehicles Manufacturer Rebate Net Cost (₹) Manufacturer Rebate for Bulk Purchase (%) Net Cost (₹)
1 – 5 5% 8.5 to 42.5 Lakhs    
6 -10 5% 51 to 85 Lakhs 7% 49.8 to 83 Lakhs
11 – 20 5% 93.5 Lakhs to 1.7 Cr 8% 90 Lakhs to 1.65 Cr
21 – 50 5% 17.85 to 42.5 Cr 10% 16.8 to 40 Cr
  • Average Cost of Truck estimated at: ₹10,00,000.
  • Compensation for scrapping @10%: ₹1,00,000.
  • Average rebate by manufacturer on purchase of new vehicle estimated at 5%
  • We assumed manufacturer may provide higher rebate as the number of vehicles purchased by an entity goes up & has been variedly estimated between 7% & 10% 

Public & Private Transportation

It is estimated that private sector makes up for over 90% of road transportation of the Indian public. According to data published by the Indian government in April 2014, there are approximately 1,676,500 buses operating in India as of March 2012. Approximately 131,800 of these are owned and operated by state RTCs (Road Transportation Corporations).

Coming to Interconnecting or Non-Urban Transport, Bihar State RTC is the oldest fleet operating in the country with an average bus age of 11 years according to a 2014 report. Jammu & Kashmir RTC and Meghalaya RTC stand next at 9 and 8.7 years respectively. This would mean that by 2018-20, majority of these buses would be eligible for scrappage under the VVMP. Whilst private operator data in this direction is not available, we can safely assume that the situation can be at least similar to the state RTCs or worse. Private buses operated in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and so on, are generally by small business operators with aging fleets varying in sizes between 1 & 20.  The state run RTCs however have the advantage of public sector funding and are themselves experienced organisations with vehicle overhauling experience, well organised workshops and depots. Whilst we expect some financial impact in this segment, the operational impact may be minimal.

Alternative Transportation

According to experts the cost of transportation through waterways is a half of the cost through railways and a third of the cost through road transport. There is particular interest in Inland Waterways & Coastal Shipping with the government making it one of the areas of strong focus. The 12th Five Year Plan report says the following concerning transportation through Inland Waterways:

“According to recent studies, the total external costs of inland navigation after accounting for all externalities, including accidents, congestion, noise emissions, air pollution and other environmental impacts are seven times lower than that of road transport.”

The share of waterways based transport is less than 1% in India compared to 21% in USA, 12% in Europe and 10% in China. While our waterways today are quite under utilized, the government has exhibited renewed interest in developing this area.

As per The National Waterways Act (2016), a total of 111 waterways have been designated and identified for inland waterways transportation. Whist the first 6 (NW 1 thru 6) have been designated variously between 1986 and 2008, the remaining 105 have been designated and identified in 2016 alone.

Designation River(s) Length (Km) Status
NW1 Ganga, Bhagirathi, Hoogly 1620 Operational & expanded since 1986.
NW2 Brahmaputra 891 Operational since 1988
NW3 Udagamandal, Champakara, West Coast canals 205 Operational since 1993
NW4 Godavari river & canals 1095 Under Development
NW5 Brahmani, Mahanadi delta & East Coast Canal 623 Expected to be fully operational by 2016. Open since 2008
NW6 Barak River 121 To be fully operational by 2019.

In addition the government is also developing new terminals on the existing waterways. Should this endeavour be successful, a new avenue of transportation and market segment will be up for grabs.

What to Expect

  • Vehicle Dumping: If the VVMP roll out is done in phases, operators from one region may look to sell of their aging vehicle to a region where the programme is not in effect.
  • The banking sector may see much increased demand from various transportation businesses for loans towards procurement of new vehicles.
  • It is possible that the commodity prices may go up on this account. Greater investment in purchasing vehicles on part of the operator would mean a greater burden on the end consumer.

 

AUTOMOBILE SECTOR

The automobile industry accounts for 7% of India’s GDP employing over 19 million people. Various estimates peg the number of diesel commercial heavy vehicles aged over 15 years to be anywhere between 2.5 to 3.5 million as of March 2015. This would mean a tremendous growth opportunity for the players in the heavy vehicle manufacturing sector, as a result of VVMP. According to various figures the M&HCV (Medium & Heavy Commercial Vehicle) industry grew by a staggering 30% in 2015-16 at 302,273 units.

HCV Sales

**Heavy Commercial Vehicle sales data deduced from various company annual reports and market reports.

The number of commercial vehicles on the road has been increasing steadily over the past 10 years. While a relative reduction in production and sales volumes was observed post the economic slowdown, the market is again showing an upward trend.

New Commercial Vehicles_Decade Data

Related Industries

As the demand grows in the Automobile sector particularly the manufacturing sector, the demand is bound to increase with the related industries along the supply chain. Major sectors include:

  • Tyre Manufacturers
  • Iron & Steel

Tyre manufacturers can be one of the biggest gainers of the V-VMP move. While the demand is increasing as natural progression owing to increasing number of vehicles on the road, the V-VMP would mean a spike in the demand for the automobile sector which would in turn create a demand spike in demand for MHCV tyres. Greater demand for tyres would also mean that the rubber industry along the supply chain is also set to witness an increased demand.

The automobile industry is estimated to consume over 10% of the iron & steel produced. The Iron & Steel industry is expected to be one of the major gainers of the VVMP.

While growth rates in the steel industry over time have been sporadic owing to various factors, this move will create a definite market particularly for automobile grade steel. The recent government steps to curb procurement of the cheaper steel from foreign players like China has created the right kind of environment for the Indian steel industry and this move is only expected to provide further fillip to the industry. Scrapping of older vehicles is another area the industry will gain from. Recycling of metal from scrapped vehicles would prove quite cost effective as opposed to using mined mineral in the ore extraction and smelting processes. This would mean reduced costs for production of steel thereby increasing profitability.

  • The share of steel in the kerb weight of a truck is more than 50% – greater the demand for trucks, greater the demand for automobile grade steel.
  • Currently the production of crude steel is growing at 7.5% while the finished/refined steel is growing at about 3.2%.
  • The domestic consumption of steel registered a growth of mere 3.1%.

The VVMP roll out therefore would set a considerable demand for steel and in short time.

Vehicle Refurbishment & Recycling

This is one area which the Indian automobile industry has not explored owing to the absence of an organised scrapping industry in the country. The vehicle scrapping sector of India is largely disorganized and operates in silos under small traders in various urban centres of the country. The scrapped material thereof is usually unmaintained and unusable for any quality production.

Vehicle recycling and refurbishment is quite a prevalent and mature industry in advanced economies like the United States and Japan. The vehicles that do not meet the requisite standards in those countries are often taken down, refurbished and sold off to smaller economies. Major markets include Latin American and African nations. South Africa is considered a big market for used or refurbished vehicles.

New Technologies

With increased global emphasis on cleaner fuels and less polluting vehicles, the automobile sector of India will need to adopt newer technologies. It is expected that a $10 billion investment would have to be put into the automobile (car) sector to produce vehicles that are BS VI compliant. The consumer is also going to find it costlier to own a car with the price of an average diesel powered car being 75,000 to 100,000 dearer.

Whilst long haul and heavy duty vehicles still might have to rely on diesel for some time to come, there is endeavour to avoid diesel and look at other alternatives when it comes to MHCVs like city buses.

  • CNG: Vehicles, buses that run on Compressed Natural Gas. Today they are also trains that are powered by CNG. While CNG engines have been in the market for over two decades at various levels now, their penetration in India is still minimal. This is owing to greater vehicle costs and lesser availability of CNG across the length and breadth of the country. Also the particular vehicles running on CNG in India like city buses do not generate adequate power to run the vehicle and also provide air-conditioning. This has been a constraint and has driven many urban transport operators towards diesel powered vehicles.

 

  • Hybrid: The bus typically operates on two fuels, diesel & CNG. A Hybrid fuel tank is provided and the driver can switch between the fuel types depending on the necessity.
  • Electric: These are battery operated buses. Whilst these have been available in the global market for a while, not many operators in India have considered this option. Owing to various technical reasons and also owing to the energy situation in the country.
  • Ethanol: Swedish maker Scania has introduced an environment friendly bus that runs on ethanol. However the bus is about twice as costly as a normal bus and also the mileage offered by ethanol fuelled bus is only half that of diesel.
  • LNG: Liquified Natural Gas operated bus was recently designed and developed by Tata Motors and introduced in November 2016. The bus delivers a strong power of 130 HP and is reported to run 600 KM approximately on a full tank of LNG fuel. This however is in an introductory trial stage. This will take time as infrastructure necessary for LNG penetration into various urban centres will also need to be created.
  • Bio-CNG: Vehicle was demonstrated by Mahindra & Mahindra in January 2016. The bio-CNG plant developed by the company was stated as a ‘technology demonstration’.

It must be noted that in all the above cases, fuel supply penetration for any alternative fuel is an essential prerequisite for a smooth transition away from diesel vehicles.

What to Expect

  • The MHCV segment of the automobile industry is set to witness a surge in demand once the V-VMP is rolled out. We expect the overall demand to go up by as much as 30% in the first 2 years considering the number of vehicles off-roaded should the rollout be mandatory.
  • Associated sectors along the supply chain such as the Iron & Steel industry, tyre manufacturing sector, OEM segment and so on are also expected to witness a short term spike in demand as a result.
  • New opportunities are expected to be created owing the government decision to set up organised vehicle breaking/scrapping centres to handle the scrapped vehicles locally.
  • Vehicle recycling for refurbished parts, sales of refurbished vehicles to other developing economies may be avenues of new and unexplored opportunity.
  • Greater investment in alternative fuels and technologies can be expected from the automobile manufactures in the medium to long run.
  • Demand for vehicles powered by cleaner fuels such as CNG may shoot up in smaller towns more than metros.

 

CONCLUSION

Below is a SWOT analysis based on the understanding we have obtained in this process.

VVMP-SWOT

The V-VMP when rolled out is expected to create largely positive results in almost every aspect. As a responsible nation it is the responsibility of one generation to entrust a safer, better and a cleaner world to the next. No cost can be measured when it comes to a clean and sustainable environment. In addition the move is also expected to be generally and substantially positive on the economy in terms of creating greater demand for consumption, new avenues to explore, bring newer technologies and practices. The only concern happens to be the small time transporter. So long as adequate steps are taken to address the one issue, this move can be a transformative one for the coming generations.

 

 

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Times Now #MersalVendetta Debate: Where are our piorities?!

So this happened yesterday. Times Now prime time TV debate. Host: Anand Narasimhan. I actually like both the channel and the host! They are non-left. They run this hashtag #MersalVendetta and prime time debate at 10 pm (i think it was).

So what is it that they wanted to convey first, and then conduct a debate on concerning this – Mersal Vendetta? Mersal is this Tamil film that released recently. Apparently the film criticizes the current government particularly with GST. Well the Tamil filmstars including Rich & Communist Kamal have been up in arms about GST for films. They were asking – as usual – for exemptions because, the money they make seems to be not enough. Anyways..

In the process of it’s criticism, it seems that the movie also makes some false comparisons & mistaken assumptions. I have to be clear here – I HAVE NOT watched the movie, nor am I this tope expert on GST. Now the BJP instead of shutting the hell up and let the movie pass showing magnanimity (it wasn’t going to play for more than 30 days anyways?), started whinging about it. Bang comes the media & now the whole thing is a mad house.

Right! Diving into the core subject of what happened yesterday… So this Tamil film actor by the name Vishal came in strong support of the movie Mersal. A day or 2 later, some Income Tax sleuths arrived at his door step & pointed to a tax amount he defaulted (his Production Company actually) & questioned him for 3 hours. The media is quite naturally up in arms! Calling this a “bitter & childish act” by the BJP. Basically the media vociferously – questioned “the timing of it”.

Now parallel to this, It appears that some BJP guy from Tamil Nadu said in an interview or in response to the movie actor Vishal while giving a rebuttal – that he “watched the film online”. THAAAAAAAATS IT! Vishal is angry that “how can a guy, a public representative advocate piracy like this?”!!! The concerned BJP guy came up with an explanation that his statement was “misquoted” and that he actually meant that he saw only some clips being circulated online.

So in the TV debate, Vishal is on the show & acting all holy & pious. Anand Narasimhan asks him “do you think the tax raid is a vendetta”. To this, Vishal responds:

“I don’t want to comment on the questioning. The tax has to be paid and that is my liability. And I would not like to go in to it. I just want to stick to the point of piracy. Does the BJP person support piracy”?!

And that’s it.. Anand or anybody on the show would’nt question this guy on why he wouldn’t pay TDS or what were the reasons etc. They just focus on the narrative of “bitter BJP”. Well to be fair, the BJP didn’t have to talk nonsense. But the media should know better?! Mind you.. this debate went on for like 45 MINUTES! NOT ONCE did the news channel try to ask the actor on why he has defaulted his taxes in the 1st place. All of them ganged up on the BJP guy and went on with “do you support piracy.. you do .. you do.. admit it.. how can you support piracy.. why are you taking revenge on actors” blah blah blah!

I was watching the whole thing and wondering:

1. The TDS avoided by the actor is INR 51,00,000 approx.  (Acc. to what i watched on the programme)

2. Let us say the said BJP guy didn’t watch it in theatre and watched it online. What is the price of a ticket again? INR 200. Say 100 more people watched along with him – that’d still be 20,000 – not even a decent fraction of 51 lakhs?!!

And these guys in the media don’t give a damn!! They are after the guy who didn’t pay 200 rupees to watch a movie and ignoring the guy who didn’t pay 51 lakhs of taxes. Priorities!

Kashmiri Pandits: Return only possible with Demographic Re-balancing

The only solution or the way to rehabilitate Kashmiri Pandits is a demographic rebalancing of Jammu & Kashmir. Successive Indian governments including the current one are under an illusion that if you don’t tamper with the demographic composition of the region – you will garner some goodwill!

 

This of course is absurd and stupid. It is like expecting a carnivore to not eat you because you are feeding it meat each day. While the Indian government proudly keeps saying we ensured the demographic balance was not tampered with – what happened? Demographic balance WAS altered. The whole of Kashmir which was historically the fountainhead of Hindu thought becoming a Muslim majority state today (the means & methods of achieving this is a discussion for another day) in itself is DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE! Then during the course of 1980s and 1990s they have successfully killed, raped, terrorized and driven out over 90% of the Kashmiri Pandits further consolidating the “Muslim Status” of Kashmir. Now Jammu & Kashmir happily takes in and gives refuge to the supposedly persecuted Muslims who don’t belong in India. That Rohingya Muslims of Burma today can be found establishing refugee camps in Kashmir which is some 2500 KM away from the Indo-Burmese border is a testament to this. We need not be surprised if we find a couple of Syrian refugees to thrown in the midst in Kashmir today!

 

While this is going on, the minute there is an attempt to rehabilitate Kashmiri Pandits or if some army veterans need a place to live, the entire Kashmir Valley turns red with outrage! “This is OUR LAND.. the Indian govt. is trying to undermine us by changing the demography” they say. And who is ‘they’ ? The separatists of Kashmir who shout – “Pakistan se rishta kya? La ilaha illallah”. For those of you, who don’t understand Hindi/Urdu – they say – “What’s our relation with Pakistan?! There is no God but Allah” – in other words – Islam.

 

Recently when the Indian govt looked to rehabilitate Pakistani persecuted minorities (Hindus/Sikhs/Christians) in the state of Kashmir, this group again sprung to action. The slightest whiff and these Muslim separatist groups from Kashmir make a hue and cry shouting “Attempts to alter demography”. It is hypocritical to occupy the land and people there first & then say “we don’t want demography to change” – especially when these people have done NOTHING BUY change the demography, culture, the VERY SOUL of Kashmir. That the Sharada script is dead, that very few temples in Kashmir exist today, that systematically various bridges, roads, areas, colonies and hills of Kashmir are being renamed from their traditional Kashmiri Hindu names to Islamic, is representative of the epidemic that has gripped the region.

 

There are some quarters who propose a solution of “Winning the hearts and minds of the people”.. while that must be done, I am a big skeptic of this “winning the hearts and minds phenomenon”. For every one person who attempts to win the hearts & minds of people, you have five people who are showing the people there the path of violent Islam – which setting aside political correctness – we must admit, the youth finds quite attractive.

 

While we carry out these experiments that may or may not have some effect, some REAL, ACTIONABLE & PRACTICAL solutions must be implemented in tandem. In my view the most practicable solution is to re-balance the demographics of Jammu & Kashmir (gradually of course) to at least 70% Hindu or 70% non-Muslim over the next 50 years. We in India have rarely carried out such long drawn plans but we as the world’s longest continuously dwelling civilisation definitely have the capability of carrying out a mere 50 year plan. We just never had the intent.

 

So a concerted effort must be in place to achieve this. The persecuted & driven out Pandits of Kashmir need to be ensconced in an environment that is ideal & conducive to their success & thriving as a community. No. We must look beyond safety! This is after all OUR COUNTRY. Safety is something we take for granted. The largely dwindled numbers of the Kashmiri Pandits alone won’t achieve this demographic re-balance. The Modi government must work towards abrogation of article 370 or at least bring about conditions that no one cares much about this impediment. As the numbers rebalance themselves gradually – the currently shrill voices will slowly wither away in time. Yes.. while we are at it, of course we must work on the ‘hearts and minds’ of those Kashmiris who are patriotic and culturally Indian.

 

Bottomline – if you want to keep Kashmir…a peaceful prosperous Kashmir, a Kashmir that has a thriving Pandit community living and going about their lives fearlessly like you would in a Bombay or a Bangalore or Hyderabad or a Vizag (my city .. sorry have to plug it in 😉), you must achieve a demographic rebalance of Kashmir – a demography that consists of 70% Hindus and 90% of Kashmiri Hindus living in the land of Jammu & Kashmir.

 

No other singular solution will work & deep in your heart.. you know it.

Fortune favours the lazy.

So I had about a 150 rupees in my wallet. Mom called in the morning and told me about a secret location at home where she kept 500 rupees. I thought I’d go to the bank in the morning and withdraw cash as ATMs weren’t still working as of 9 AM. So i got working and procrastinated my visit to the bank. I thought there’d be huge queues all places and I can’t take that! So I thought may be i’ll go at 1:30 – 2 pm. Everyone will go to eat food & I can go to the bank and get some cash. Ate by 1:30 pm and a little heavily. Didn’t feel like going. Not on a full stomach..Nope. I thought I’d go at 4. At 4 – decided there’ll be too many people no point.
 
At 6 PM.. was hungry. I am covered for the day moneywise. No need to worry about ATMs also because if there were money in those machines, there’ll be long queues! I’d just get a 10 rupee Samosa. Then pack dinner for 50 rupees. Go to the petrol bunk, use mom’s 500 to fill up some petrol – today is the last day they’ll accept the notes. So I set out to steel plant township. Got the samosa in sector 3 as planned. Now to sector 1 to pack a couple of chapatis & curry. Thought to take a route that’d help me cover most ATMs. As I drive thru, all are shut. A local friend tells me, there was money at about 11 AM but by afternoon, it was all over. Thought to self – “phew.. we might have to go to the bank tomorrow after all!”.
 
Got the chapatis packed. Next.. to the petrol bunk. NO…. wait.. I thought.. “lets just go to ICICI.. they never have shutters, just defunct machines! Let me go and try….slim chance.. but what the heck?!..lemme play around!”. So got to the ICICI ATM opposite the club in sector 5. One guy was walking out.
 
Me: “Any luck”? Him: “Nope”.. as he walked away.
 
Decided I’d give it a shot anyways. Yesterday the machines were reading “Out of Service, Visit the Nearest ICICI ATM”. Now at least they seem operational on screen. So I try to withdraw 2000 (adhering to uncle Modi’s instructions).
 
Sorry “Unable to dispense cash”.
 
Ok. it is try 1000. “Unable to Dispense Cash”.
 
My fidgeting with the machine piqued the curiosity of another gentlemen in his early 50s. I stood beside me. I told him, I don’t think there is any money sir. I’m just trying different numbers. There was another machine right next to mine. He could’ve tried that. He didn’t. He just stood by me and watched.
 
So I try 500. “Unable to Dispense cash”.
 
100. “Unable to Dispense Cash”.
 
The man says – “why don’t you try the other machine?!”.
 
I did – 100. “Unable to Dispense Cash”. So he was leaving, I turned around, set the card in the wallet & 2 lights flash by. It was the ATM Cash loading team! The gentleman asked them,
 
“How long will it take?”.
“About 15 minutes sir.. you can withdraw cash after that”.
 
So I decide to wait the 15 minutes. The gentlemen walks towards his car. I hail him..
 
“Sir.. he says just 15 minutes. I’d suggest you wait. 15 minutes is a long time & there’ll be a long queue.”.
 
Him: “That’s ok. It’s just 15 minutes. No one will know. I have to quickly wrap up another errand.”. Got in the car and drove away.
 
Apparently the idiot didn’t know there is such a thing called a cell phone & people have friends! 😀
 
I stood right outside the glass door as the staff were taking out cash, opening the machine and doing their thing. The security guard with a gun, approached me. I smiled at him. He says “sir why don’t you sit in your car.. or walk around.”
 
I asked “does my standing here make you uncomfortable”. He says.. “yes.. we don’t allow people that close normally”.
 
Me – but this is not “normal”. On a normal day I would come back after an hour or go to a different ATM. If i step away from here.. there’d be a crowd here in minutes and i’d lose my place in the Queue – which is 1st now!
 
He assures me.. “sir.. don’t worry, I will ensure you will access the machine 1st”. So I walk away and wait near my car. Time passes.. heart pounding – I am not sure if the guard can keep his promise! 5 minutes pass.. about 15 people gather. All waiting. No queue. Just random positions. So once the loading is done, I expect a jostle. These guys each are calling their friends. That gentlemen with me remember?! He wasn’t yet back.. I giggled to myself thinking of him! 😀
 
Cash – all 100 rupee notes – loaded into the machine as the security guard stood watch along with us. All people curiously watching how the loading of cash is done. So in about 20 minutes not 15 it was all done.
 
The cash guy came out and said only 1 person 1st. They have to test. The guard said to me.. “Sir, you came here 1st, please go in.” I got up the steps.. pushed the door half way, with the ATM cash guy to escort me.. I turned around, looked at the queue – swollen by now. 30 people easily.. made a victory speech!
 
“I have THREE ATM CARDS. But I am going to use ONLY ONE. I request all of you to display the same spirit. So all of us will have cash”.
 
Of course.. they wouldn’t give a shit about what I said! But I did my little I guess! I walked in, drew the cash.. surrounded by the cash loading staff of 2 people & the guard. They asked me to count. I did. It was all fine – twenty 100 rupee notes 🙂 I walked out.. a freeman! The queue got bigger in these 2 minutes.
 
That gentlemen… remember.. was slowly bringing his car to a stop.. on the road.. looking at the queue.. with a long face.. I passed my car by his.. said “bye sir”. He just gave a blank look! 😀
 
Fortune favours the lazy 🙂

Dear Sanghis, Names of Characters in ADHM is NOT Islamisation of Bollywood

​So people on Twitter are whinging about this movie Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (which will finally release, I gather). Their grouse is about the names of the lead characters in the movie. They are terming this as “Islamification of Bollywood”. I disagree & I don’t understand what they are on about!

The film – probably – explores the evolving, complex relationships and complications in the lives of Jihadi Terrorists & the resulting emotional turmoil they go through …..before…They go BOOM!! 

The plot may be goes something like this….

“Ayan (Ranbir Kapoor) a young, ‘innocent & vulnerable’ Kashmiri stone pelter meets & falls for Saba (Aishwarya Rai Bacchan), a middle-aged, free spirited ISIS recruiter based at Muzaffarabad. While Ayan is quite smitten by Saba, she is busy frequenting between Hyderabad, Trivandrum & Dhaka scouting New talent and makes light of Ayan’s overtures much to his disappointment. 

Meanwhile Ali (Fawad Khan) a fiery & dynamic LeT operative from Rawalpindi is in a stable relationship with Alizeh (Anushka Sharma) a sweet, young & bubbly ISI Agent. Unbeknownst to her, he makes his way to Anantnag to carry out a Fidayeen strike. When Alizeh comes to know of this, she makes frantic attempts to replace him with a more disposable asset. She arrives at Muzaffarabad  with replacement, to be facilitated by Saba. Ali refuses this exchange & in rage warns Alizeh that she never repeat this, that it is his destiny to go BOOM in Anantnag. With nothing she could do to sway him, she requests that he allow her to stay, to which Ali consents. 

Ayan in the meantime arrives at Muzaffarabad as one of the fresh batch of recruits & he is happy to see Saba again. By now everyone notices Ali’s prowess in carrying out Jihadi attacks & garnering local support. Saba sees the gem in him & decides the Jihadi cause would be much better served if Ali operated from Syria instead of Anantnag. She faces initial resistance from Ali but as she explains to him the greater purpose of Islamic Jihad he becomes willing. As Saba teaches him Arabic each day, as part of his initiation into ISIS, they grow close. 

Watching this from the sidelines…both Ayan & Alizeh grow suspicious, jealous & angry at the developments. While Alizeh tries to secure orders from higher ups in LeT to pull Ali out, Ayan helps her with logistics. This draws them closer. Ali realises what’s going on & tries to make amends. But as Saba’s attempts to send him to Syria intensify, he’s torn between his ISI love Alizeh & his Jihadi calling. 

The climax is action packed with fast paced events revolving around these 4 characters which take the audience thru a breathtaking roller coaster thru the intriguing Jihadi world. The film concludes with revealing to us if Saba will prevail over Ali, if Alizeh will get back with Ali leaving Ayan & if Ayan will finally get Saba along with..of course his first assignment as Mujahideen handler. 

So please don’t be upset, that’s probably why names of the characters are such. You can’t make a Jihadi love triangle with people named Krishna, Lakshmi, Evelyn or Peter now…can you?! 😀 🙏👍

Why call it “Independence Day”?! Were we dependent on the British?

I do not understand why we call this the “Independence Day” – at least as we use the English parlance. In Telugu we call it  స్వాతంత్ర దినోత్సవం; and in Hindi we say – स्वतंत्र दिवस, which means “self-governance”. And I find that apt.

The question is – were we “dependent” on the British?! No. So how is it an “Independence Day”? I think the phrase is absorbed from America as they call their July 4th an Independence day. Whilst the oldest democracy can call its day an ‘Independence Day’, the largest democracy cannot call it that. Why?

There is much difference in the way America got it’s “Independence” and how India struggled, suffered, fought and achieved it. The Europeans and America were the same people. Same race if you will. They arrived at the land of America as explorers, cleaned it up and made it their settlement. The European people inhabiting America were “dependent” on the European or British Crown for everything. Supplies, security, weaponry and perhaps even ships! They couldn’t have survived initially without that dependency. Over time as they gained sufficient demographic mass in the region, got self-sufficient by consuming local resources, they did not like the interference of the Crown in their matters. So Monroe Doctrine.. yada yada yada.. and they declared themselves “Independent”. They said to the Crown, “we don’t need you, we are not dependent on you, we can take care of our own matters, don’t interfere, No. Thank you!”.

THAT in essence is “Independence”. They were not oppressed. They were the same people & one did not oppress or exploit the other. That relationship was not master-slave one but was a peer-to-peer one.

Now contrast this with India. The British came here as traders, took advantage of in-fighting among the local kings, provided military and tactical support to one side, initially by means of superior technology and slowly gained control of our entire civilisation at every level – Administration, Education, Military, Social System – everything. Then they raped our land, exploited our resources and shipped tens of thousands of tonnes of raw material as well as the loot they got thru various means. That the Kohinoor diamond still sits on the British Queen’s crown which technically today belongs to the state of Telangana, is a testament to the loot and exploitation of India by the British people. In fact one could argue that it was the British Empire that depended on India. Did India depend on the British for anything before they entered here or could we not have survived without depending on them?! Certainly not the case. They were definitely more technologically advanced at the time, but that is cycle of time. We got lazy over time and they got smart! But would we have died if not for the British?! So how are we “dependent” on them?! We were a living, breathing, thriving and a resource rich civilisation which has been in existence for 5,000 years before the British even heard about India! So how were we dependent?!

The Brits towed away perhaps 100s of billions of $ worth wealth (all kinds) which is one of the principle reasons why a British Pound trades higher than a Dollar today. Otherwise if you just took the raw naked Britain today – what do they REALLY have to be one of the top 10 economies of the world? As a colonial power, their dependence on India greatly contributed to where they are today. Every step we take in the past is what leads us to our present state. Other than exploiting resources, they made our education system weak, ineffective & useless. A lot of Indian languages died in the process, those that survived are ridiculed. Sanskrit is a great example. Today, British schools – a good number of them teach Sanskrit to their children while we jeer and mock that language with great pride! So even now we have given them something! Other than resource exploitation, how else have they depended on India? The great World War II. Did Britain have it’s own manpower and resources to wage a war of that magnitude on it’s own? NO.

Over 2.5 million Indians were – with the full knowledge and consent of the non-violent Mahatma Gandhi if I may add – were taken from India to fight a war that was not ours. Lakhs of Indians died in this war. Why did they fight it? Because the British told us that they would give us Freedom and leave if we helped them win the war. So we did! They needed food and they fell short of food. What did they do? Churchill – the Hitler of India – engineered the Bengal Famine. Took away all the food resources mainly from Calcutta – because the port was mature there, for the “noble cause” of war. An estimated 3 million Indians starved to death. We can google the images!

bengal-famine6

The nation of Australia needs a special mention here. Australia herself was involved in war and was resource strapped. But seeing our plight, Australia sent a vessel with food supplies (helping even when they were in bad shape) towards Bengal. The ship by command of Churchill was diverted to Britain to stock for war supplies.

So it was Britain that was “Dependent” on India. Not the other way around. So could we have done without all of this..by not “Depending” on the great British Empire?! Yess sirreee.. we could have! Finally thanks to World War 2, they got weak and we kicked them out!

Therefore I don’t understand why we call this the “Independence Day”. A better English Term would probably be “National Freedom Day”. In fact at a national level we must simply call it “Swatantra Divas” and use that term because that is the term that denotes what we are today – a free & self-governing society.

I wish you all a happy 70th Swatantra Divas. Jai Maa Bhaarati 😊

Journalism Today: Driven by an agenda & a compromised integrity

This blog is really not going to do much of an investigative work giving a historical perspective or citing incidents or quoting examples. Instead we take the example of only ONE article/news piece posted earlier this morning on Hindustan Times. We see so many titles, articles and headlines like this, by now it is common perception on how the media reports it’s ‘news’, how it resorts to highlighting certain groups and narrative depending on it’s agenda while resorting to protectionism of others. This particular article and headline serve as a concise and precise example of how journalism today, operates and how it wants you to view the world through it’s own biases.

The report is regarding a crime incident in Uttar Pradesh where an 8 year old boy – incidentally a Dalit was sodomised by a youth, incidentally a Muslim. Please access the article from the link below.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/8-yr-old-dalit-boy-sodomised-by-youth-in-muzaffarnagar/story-51Wjj5GCQeyahHVbKsKrTN.html

Information dissemination and propaganda is all dependent on what perspective or emotion you want to project and in what manner. So why are headlines given and why are they important? An overwhelming majority of people are known to not read the full news but read only the headline and move on. This means some 70 to 80% people, form a perspective just by reading the headline of a news article. A headline therefore is VITAL for a journalist – depending on what agenda he/she wants to drive. No wonder coming up with catchy titles has become an art and science in its own right! The heading of the particular article cited above, is a great example:

“8-yr-old Dalit boy sodomized by youth in Muzaffarnagar”.

Now what if I gave the very same news, this headline:

“8-yr-old boy sodomized by Muslim youth in Muzaffarnagar”.

This is as apt a title to the news as the one given by Hindustan Times?! So why didn’t they choose the title I have given?

The standard argument provided by Islam apologists is:

“You cannot paint the whole religion in that light.. there are many Muslims who are just living their lives peacefully and these outrageous acts by a tiny minority of people don’t represent the entire community”.

Well sure. Why not apply the same yardstick to Dalits?!

“You cannot paint the whole Dalit community as suffering atrocities just because a tiny minority suffered this outrageous cruel act?! There are a lot of Dalit people living happily & un-oppressed often with economic benefits, state patronage like reservations at schools, government jobs, victim protection, interest benefits at loans etc.?”

So what are you trying to say dear ‪#‎Presstitutes‬.. err.. sorry.. Journalists? That the boy was sodomised BECAUSE he was a Dalit? You musn’t use the word in a headline under any other circumstances right?! ……I mean if you have any integrity and intellectual honesty as journalists that is.

Also I thought oppressing Dalits is the preserve of “evil upper caste Hindus”! Why would Khalid – a Muslim sodomise a Dalit boy?! The general narrative championed by media is that Muslims & Dalits are equal partners at victimhood. So why not the title “Muslim youth sodomizes an 8 year old boy”. Because I believe somewhere, in the subconscious of the mainstream journalism and media, fortitude, uprightness, morality, intellectual honesty and above all – integrity – have been compromised to be subservient to few sections of the society and particularly to Islam and Muslims.

I term this condition – “Islamophilia”. Yes the media at large and individual journalists – many to count are smitten by it 😊

And Journalism – is supposed to be one of the most “honourable professions” to grace modern day human civilisation and democracy. Such a shame & disgrace.