Finally, finally the speech that helped me win a District Competition in ToastMasters. This speech, The Rat Race is something that is very close to my heart. I keep asking people to get out of the maze of numbers and this has its origins there.
I spoke about Mohd.Azharuddin, Rajat Gupta and tried to come up with reasons as to why these people fell from grace. I spoke about the way we are tied to numbers from a very young age and the way they are wrecking havoc in our lives.
Here is the speech. Please do share your feedback.
I began my journey in Advanced Communication Silver (ToastMasters) last week, the manual I chose was Specialty Speeches. As a part of this, my evaluator would pick a topic and I am expected to speech impromptu for 5-7 minutes.
My evaluator gave me the following topic. “Are Surgical Strikes useful for Long Term Peace ?”. Here is my speech. Please do watch it and share your feedback.
Thanking Tech Mahindra ToastMasters for the opportunity.
While I am a diehard supporter of BJP, I have my own reservations with the package that was declared by the center yesterday. However, I also feel that there are quite some good points in the announcement made. In this post I am speaking about the stuff I liked and the stuff I disliked in the package. This might not go down very well with people who are seeing this issue from an emotive perspective. I request you to see facts as facts and not go with the emotive drama around the issue.
While bifurcating the combined Andhra Pradesh State in 2014. The Center made a few assurances. The biggest ones in the minds of the people are
1. Special category status to Andhra Pradesh.
2. Polavaram as a National Project.
3. 10 national level Educational Institutions.
4. Financial assistance to the construction of Secretariat, Government Offices, Raj Bhavan, High Court and other Government Buildings.
5. Tax Exemptions for Industries.
6. Financial assistance to the backward districts of A.P.
7. Center would fund the revenue deficit for Andhra Pradesh.
8. Feasibility Study for the establishment of a steel plant in Cuddappah district.
9. Feasibility study for a Railway Zone in Visakhapatnam.
10.Feasibility Study for a port near Dugarajapatnam
In one of the recent Rajya Sabha debates Mr. Jairam Ramesh , the architect of the flawsome AP reorganization act was saying that, when the Center meant Feasibility study, it meant that the government would take a positive decision on establishing that particular institution in Andhra Pradesh.
Now, let us see as to what each of these promises means.
Issue 1 : Special Category Status
In A.P, currently 99% of the population seem to believe this as the silver bullet that clears all the ills of the state. However, this is what it means.
1. For all Central Assisted State Plan (CASP) schemes, Central Government’s contribution will be 90% for the Special Category States, for the non-special category states, the center will give 60% of the funds.
2. For the Externally Aided Projects (EAP : Projects funded by loans from World Bank, BRICS bank, Asian Development Bank etc.) the center will pay 90% of the cost for Special Category States and 60% of the cost for non-special category states.
In the case of AP, we got an assurance only on CASP from the previous governmen (UPA)t and not for EAPs.
Now, the NDA government in its statement yesterday has agreed to fund the CASP as well as EAP projects on par with Special Status States.
Now I really don’t understand why we should have a problem with this. a. The calculation on this has come to around 3K crores per annum and the state government is poised to receive that. So we would receive 15000 crores in this regard.
b. Then, since this would ease up borrowings from the noose of Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Managment (FRBM) Act we might get borrowing for extra 3K crores per annum. I am not very sure about this. Please correct me if I am wrong.
From A & B we must get a benefit of a minimum of 15000 crores and a maximum of 30,000 crores in the next 5 years.
Now where did we lose on the special status here? Please explain.
Issue 2 : Polavaram Project
For National Projects the center funds either 70% or 90% of the project cost. In the case of Polavaram the center in its announcement yesterday made it clear that they would fund the entire cost incurred by State government after 01-April-2014. The latest estimates on the project say that it would cost 32000 Crores. Now that center has made it clear that they would fund it either by NABARD or other banks. It is a welcome move. The state gets to construct the project and bills are cleared by the center. Isn’t this a good thing.
We are gaining another 32000 crores here.
Issue 3 : Educational Institutions.
Here is the staus of the various educational institutions promised to the state of Andhra Pradesh.
1. A Petroleum University has already been established.
2. The IIT has already been functioning from a transit campus and the main campus is being constructed.
3. The National Institute of Technology has already been functioning since September 2015 in a temporary campus and its
main campus is being constructed.
4. The Indian Institute of Information Technology, Kurnool has already started functioning from the temporary campus and its main campus is being constructed.
5. The site for the Central University in Anantapur district has already been selected.
6. The Indian Institute of Science Education and Research has been established in Tirupati.
7. The Indian Institute of Management has been established at Visakhapatnam.
8. An All India Institute of Medical Sciences has been approved at Guntur and the land for the same is being taken over.
9. A Tribal University is to be established in the State of Andhra Pradesh for which a Site Selection Committee of the State has already approved the land.
10. A National Institute of Disaster Management is being established in the State of Andhra Pradesh for which identification and takeover of the land is being completed.
11. IIT in Tirupati has started functioning.
12. Central Institute for Excise and Customs is approved and is coming up in Hindupur.
A majority of the institutions have started functioning in A.P. and even for the others land has been identified/taken over.
Issue 4 : Construction of the Capital City
Coming to the capital, The bill says the center would fund the construction of Government Offices, secretariat, Govt Bungalows, Raj Bhavan, Assembly and High Court only. It doesnot speak any other thing about the capital. If the center were to fund only this much then even a 1000 crore rupees would have been sufficient.
However, even without the beginning of any construction work the center has given 2500 crores till date and they are promising 1000 crores more.
This money is not sufficient to build a capital city. The center needs to give more. As per bill this might be enough, however it is never enough if you want to honour the promise in spirit. This is where we ought to receive more money from the center.
Issue 5 : Tax exemptions
The finance minister in his speech yesterday has clearly said that Tax department would give a notification on the tax concessions being provided to AP. We can speak only after it is out.
Issue 6 : Financial assistance to the backward districts of AP.
Center has release 1050 crores till date and has promised to release 1050 crores more for the 3 districts of Uttarandhra and the 4 districts of Rayalaseema.
Again, 300 crores per district for a period of 5-6 years is o.k but not great. I personally feel that the center must have doubled the grant.
Issue 7 : Revenue Deficit
I request you to read the central draft in this regard, it is available here.
Here is what the center says in this regard.
The Fourteenth Finance Commission defined the financial relationship between Centre and the States for the five year period ending 2019-20. The Commission did not make a distinction between Special and General Category States. Its approach was to fill the resource gap of each State to the extent possible through tax devolution. Accordingly, the Commission recommended an enhanced devolution of 42% of the Central Government’s tax revenues to States. If devolution alone could not cover the assessed gap, for certain States, a revenue deficit grant was provided. Andhra Pradesh was one of the States determined to be a revenue deficit State, and the Commission recommended that the Centre would provide revenue deficit grant for the period of the Fourteenth Finance Commission. The amount of deficit for each year was mentioned in the report itself and a total of Rs.22,113 crores is to be paid to Andhra Pradesh as revenue deficit grant for the 5 year period.
The same document towards the fag end says.
The Fourteenth Finance Commission’s award came into effect from 1.4.2015. The enhanced devolution amount due to Andhra Pradesh is being paid in entirety. This has resulted in an increase of Rs.7,787 crore in tax devolution in 2015-16 compared to 2014-15, a growth of 55%. The revenue deficit grants for each of the years recommended by the Fourteenth Finance Commission will also be paid by the Government of India to the State of Andhra Pradesh. The same has been done for the year 2015-16 and 2016-17. There are no issues pending on that score.
So isn’t the center promising another 22,113 crores here. That’s what is my understanding. Please correct me incase I am wrong.
Issues 8,9&10 : The center is saying that feasibility study reports are negative in these cases. I personally feel that it is not correct. The Center should ensure that these projects come to AP. Particularly the railway zone must come to Visakhapatnam under any circumstances.
All in all, I feel that the center has done a decent job in providing assistance to AP. They did not do a great job and there are many things that are pending. Yes, a lot more should be done but then they are in power for only 2 years. Hence, I feel that we need to give credit to the government for the good things it did and also have a plan to get the things that are either in pending or in cold storage mode.
When the state was getting bifurcated some leaders brought in a samaikhyandhra movement and fooled people. They knew that they would not be able to stop the bifurcation but then they did rallies and fooled the public. Today, the same leaders are turning the special category status into the silver bullet for all the ills of AP. I request the people of AP not to fall into this trap. There are some good things that have come our way. There are a lot of things that need to be done. Let’s acknowledge the good ones and fight for the ones that we need to get. Let’s not carve out villains and heroes here, lets get to the negotiation table and claim our share of rights.
What comes to your mind when we speak about Sanskrit. A language that is very old, unknown to many people of today’s world. A language reserved for rituals, poojas and other Hindu customs. Isn’t it ?
Meet this young gentlemen who is trying bring the language closer to youth by converting Bollywood songs into Sanskrit. Here is one such song. Please do listen to it.
Really appreciate the thought process and guts of the young man. May he give us many more songs of this kind.
We had only 2 medals at the 2016 Olympics @ Rio, A silver and a Bronze. Well, that is not a great performance by any measure. Many people (particularly journalists from other nations) are happily taking a dig at the Indians for this.
We have our own commentators too, who are priding themselves by taking a cynical stand against their fellow countrymen.
To me India’s performance at Rio was not a very bad performance at all. Yes, we are a nation with 1.2 billion people but our sports culture is just taking shape.
I am a 32 year old and for many people in my generation sports has never been a career option. Sports periods in schools meant playing some games that would not get us hurt. In my generation the race was always to have good numbers, do a medicine or an engineering, get a well paid job and then escape the troubles and tribulations of either middle class / poverty.
My parents made me focus on my numbers and grades, I think millions of Indian Parents would have done the same in that era. Why did they do it ? Why did they not encourage their wards to become sports personalities ?
The answer lies in the way they experienced life. Many of them had trouble getting a proper education, many of them had to shelve their dreams because of poverty, many of them had to face innumerable hardships just because they did not have the resources to make it big. Will such a parent take risk and push his kid towards sports where the risk of losing is very high? If such a parent pushes his ward towards studies and nothing else is it his/her fault ? — to me the answer is a big NO. For a man who had to feed 4 mouths back home , Olympics is just a big rather too big luxury to afford. These people might have not just known that a career exists outside the arena of studies.
I think this also explains the 16 year medal drought(1980-1996) that this nation had at the Olympics. The economic prudence that started in the 90’s did bring an attitudinal shift.
We see that many parents are actually investing in sports and that is steadily bringing in good results in the country. We see world champions emerge in each sport and slowly but steadily we are having a good run at the international events. This is because the parents are seeing a future and are investing in this. In a democratic nation it takes time to get this attitudinal shift and we are witnessing it now.
For instance : We had a Deepa Karmakar who scripted magic in this Olympics, the Indian mens Hockey Team advanced to the next round for the first time after 1980, Bindra missed the medal by whisker, Jeetu Rai had a bad run this time around but we need acknowledge the fact that he was the world champion till a few days ago, If only Saina did not bow out with an injury we would have had another medal for sure, any one who saw Vishal Krishnan’s quarter’s bout would know that we have a champion in the making… The list is endless, we have had 119 athletes who qualified for the games and that in itself is a huge achievement for a nation whose sports culture started less than 20 years ago.
As the time progresses we will have more medals, till then, yes we will have to celebrate the wins of our young men and women wildly. That’s the best way to attract young talent into these games. If the world has a problem with our celebration , well, it is their problem not ours.
One of the best speeches I have heard from Tarek Fatah. He speaks about India, the civilization of Sindh, how Sindh and Hind are inseparable and how Indians need to have a change in mindset when it comes to Sindh. He speaks about the losses this nation has had to suffer because of the partition. This is one of the very good speeches that were delivered on India. Do listen to it.
Nominating Dr.Subramanyam Swamy to Rajya Sabha might have been a very thought of move by the government. This untiring crusader against corruption made a rocking entry in the Rajya Sabha and is laying facts threadbare.
The recent Judgment delivered by the Italian Court has spilled trouble for the politicians from The Indian National Congress. Since Sonia Gandhi’s name came up in this people from this party are up in arms and seem to be rattled. However, Dr. Swamy being Dr.Swamy has no place for all the niceties in the world and he is calling a spade a spade.
There was a debate regarding Augusta in the parliament and Dr. Swamy took part in this from BJP. In his 30 minute speech, he spoke about the idea behind acquiring the helicopters, the way it started under Shri Vajapayee ji’s govt, the way things changes after 2004 when UPA took over. He spoke about the way NDA under Vajapayee ji did not buy helicopters when there was a single vendor. He then spoke about the way UPS changed the rules to suit Augusta Westland in 2006.
He spoke about the various irregularities that took place in this deal. The field trials were done on another chopper, the specification for the cabin height was increased to help Augusta, the specification regarding the height at which the chopper was supposed to fly was also changed to suit Augusta etc.. He then spoke about the money transfer that took place and gave the details of the bribes. Then he even went on speak about the media management that was done in this case. All in all an awesome speech by Dr.Swamy. Do watch it.