Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Comparison

I am 26 running 27. My first 25 years I lived in India. A country known for many things, famous and notorious. The past one year I have been living in Dubai, UAE. I always considered the Middle East, particularly Dubai, as a source of making a quick buck and getting the hell back to your home town.

But then, I noticed that the only thing I was missing in this foreign place, was my family and friends. I wasn’t missing my country. I wasn’t missing my place of origin. If my family and friends were here I would be better off living here.

I sat and thought about it and the realization was pretty simple. Dubai is superior in all terms. Why?

Having spent one year in Dubai I realized this place is far well equipped from all angles when compared to India. There is social security. There are no political fallouts. The economy is booming. No tax! the infrastructure is fantastic. And above all the people are great. There is a strong civic sense.

How is it that such a small Emirate has scaled such Herculean heights? Is it because the population is small and manageable? Is it because there is no poverty? Is it because they are rich in oil? NO.

The population being small or large does not matter when running a country. Anyone who has lived in Dubai for a few years know that Dubai has developed only in the past 30 years. It was a nomadic culture before that. And for those under an illusion that Dubai is oil rich, it sure is not. Their oil reserves which has been responsible for the country’s superb transformation and prosperity is scheduled to run out in the next 20 years!

As I see it, their phenomenal progress is a culmination of many factors the most important 3 being:
- Vision
- Ownership
- Commitment

The leaders of this nation have taken it upon themselves to put Dubai on the world map and make it the place to be. Their vision is to be the destination of choice. And they have pulled out all stops in ensuring that.

Liberal economic policies coupled with world class infrastructure has created a congenial atmosphere for trade to flourish. The cropping up of state of the art business hubs like Media City, Internet City, Knowledge Village and the numerous free zones has ensured that.

The real estate and the retail sector is booming as the focus shifts to transforming Dubai as a tourist destination. The contribution of the non-oil sector has risen for one third of GDP in 1993 to over two thirds today. They had the vision to realize that oil is not going to last forever. Their dependence on it should reduce.

And why are they doing this? Because, there is a sense of ownership towards the nation. Every citizen of this country feels the country is their home. Unlike in India, as our Honorable President Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam put it, in India everyone is out to rape the nation. In Dubai, they ensure through rigorous rules, that it does not allow anyone to rape it. Any initiative taken is given the full respect it deserves.

This sense of ownership, leads us to the next factor, commitment. Since people feel they are a part of this place, there is a sub-conscious commitment to the set vision. Rules are also set which ensures that people are committed to their duties and responsibilities to the nation. The commitment to good governance is supreme.

I noticed that of the above three factors, at least 2 are missing. Ownership and commitment. A country is only as good as its people. You may have the vision set for the next 20 years, but if the ownership and commitment is absent among the administrators and the citizens, there is absolutely no use.

This commitment and ownership should flow right from the politicians to the peon in a government office and every citizen of the nation. The day we understand this, is the day we will start overtaking other nations in the quest to be known as a developed nation.

Till then, you will have people like me writing blogs like this. I know what you are going to ask me. What am I going to do for my nation? Frankly, I don’t have an answer. I believe no one can single handedly bring about a transformation. It has got to be a collective effort. The sooner this enlightenment happens the better it is for India.

Friday, February 10, 2006


Nowdays, after Sex and Sharukh Khan, the third ‘S’ that sells in India is Sensationalism. And who understands that term better than the News Channels! Sensationalism was always part of Media, but the last decade or so has seen it go overboard.

Dig this. Star news in the name of a cover story runs the news about the breaking up of Karishma Kapoor with her husband ‘whatshisname’? How important is that to the nation? Another terminology abused by this news channel is ‘breaking news’ and ‘flash news’. Check out the following ‘breaking news’, ‘flash news’ I have come across in this news channel.

BREAKING NEWS: “Shahid and Kareena Kapoor caught kissing”
FLASH NEWS: “Laloo Prasad plays cricket”
BREAKING NEWS: “India won the toss and elected to bat”
FLASH NEWS: “Man slides down a mountain as part of a religious ceremony”
BREAKING NEWS: “Mangal Pandey fares badly in the box office”

I grew up thinking that “Breaking news” or “Flash news” was something which news channels flashed across the TV screen when there was news of “National Importance”. Like the following:

BREAKING NEWS: “Tsunami hits South India”
FLASH NEWS: “Rajiv Gandhi assassinated”
BREAKING NEWS: “India wins Cricket World Cup”

The third one is wishful thinking but definitely “BREAKING NEWS” alright!

So what is causing these news channels to take to sensationalist journalism?

Is it fear of competition? I don’t think so. Because to counter competition in the Media industry, I believe strongly you got to turn to quality journalism. Report truly “ground breaking news”. That’s the only way to remain on top.

A couple of things where I think these news channels have got it completely wrong.

- They got the pulse of the nation all wrong. People, who watch news, DO NOT want to see an analysis of why “Kyunki saas bhi kabhi bahu thi” is doing so well on TV.

- They are concentrating on beating their competition by telecasting any and every news and focusing on blowing it out of proportion.

Living in Dubai I get to view only Star news. Some of their rubbish programs include:

- Match ke Mujrim: A “below the belt” program which crucifies cricket players who didn’t do well on a particular day. They haven’t even left out Sachin for Christ’s sake.
- Sansani: An utterly ghastly host, with a hoarse voice assisted by “khufiya camera”. They call it investigative journalism.
- Cover Story: Covers everything but quality news.

The garbage is endless.

India IS a land of great potential. The world has realized this. They view us as an upcoming super power. But, there are so many pressing issues which need to be ironed out in our great nation.

We have so many social, political and economic issues much much greater in importance than an actress’s marriage gone bust or a cricket match or a godforsaken Don (they ran a cover story on Dawood by the way and treated him nothing short of a Demigod, an outsider would think he was Robin hood).

If India is to become a super power, an average citizen HAS to realize the magnitude of these social, political and economic issues. He/she needs to realize what their contribution should be towards the nation. He/she needs to realize their role. The only medium through which this “Realization” can take place is the Media, specifically, the News Channels, given the number of people who own TVs and have a cable connection.

It is high time they started acting responsible.

When and how, they intend to do it? Now that will be “Breaking News” isn’t it?