Posts Tagged ‘IIM Bangalore’

Why Delhi gangrape victim shouldn’t be named

7 January 2013


The British newspaper Sunday People has outed the name of the Delhi gangrape victim, but the Indian media has not fallen for the bait—yet—although it has been trending on Twitter.

Here Rajeev Gowda, chairman of the centre for public policy at the Indian institute of management (IIM), Bangalore, argues why it is best not to name the girl.



Should the Delhi rape victim’s name be revealed? At least for the purpose of honouring her (with her parents’ consent) by naming revised anti-rape legislation after her, as Union Minister of State for HRD, Shashi Tharoor has suggested?

The issue is substantially more complicated.

The Indian media has been admirably restrained so far by not revealing the names of the victim or her companion. Instead, she has been given different monikers like Nirbhaya, Damini, Amanat and Jagruti to describe her fighting spirit.

But the media has also twisted Tharoor’s tweets as if he were interested in making public her name, thus causing needless controversy.

A more diligent media would have instead focused on what inspired Tharoor to make this suggestion. His inspiration comes from United States where names are often attached to laws, especially to add a poignant human angle to legislative changes.

But this little media episode demonstrates a key lesson on why it’s better for India to refrain from going down the path of honouring the victim by naming the bill after her.

Naming this victim potentially gives a license to name other rape victims and that can cause incalculable damage to victims and their families in an India where values are in flux and rape-related stigma is cruelly real.

Further, it is quite likely that we will get into political wars over the naming of future bills and parties that thrive on symbolic huffing and puffing rather than concrete content would just divert attention from the actual work that needs to be done and probably hold up parliament over such non-issues.

Various commentators refer to Megan‘s Law, named after a child killed by a released sex offender, as an example of how the USA names laws. In the USA, numerous other laws are named after the legislators who promote them. But in the American context, unlike in India, there is tremendous scope for individual Congresspersons and Senators to initiate and pass legislation.

Megan’s Law itself is part of a set of initiatives involving naming and shaming, which has also been raised in India as a policy option after the recent Delhi tragedy.

The recently deceased News of the World tried to launch a campaign for a Megan’s Law-type bill in the UK. This media campaign resulted in attacks on people who resembled the perpetrators of crimes and also triggered violent vigilante attacks. Such outcomes may satiate the anger and passions of mobs but certainly do not strengthen the rule of law.

In a decade-old book chapter, I had examined the political and media processes that led to the passage of Megan’s Law and similar laws across the USA using the Social Amplification of Risk framework. I emphasized the importance of politics and contrasted the American experience with how the British dealt with the News of the World campaign.

The British were suitably restrained, appropriately so.

Based on those experiences, I would assert that it’s better to retain the anonymity of victims (and possibly perpetrators too) and focus instead on the harder tasks of changing societal attitudes and improving governance to prevent such crimes from ever taking place.

Otherwise, the collateral damage from name-related moves can be substantial. The twisting of Tharoor’s well-intentioned tweets is just a hint of how counterproductive things can get.

Also read: Free, frank, fearless? No, greedy, grubby, gutless

Besides Pepper Spray, the Rape-Axe condom too

How TV ads turned us into a nation of voyeurs

Delhi gangrape, liberalisation and Godwin‘s Law

Facebook, Twitter, bloggers and now private TV

Ramayana, Upanishads, and the Delhi gangrape

Has anti-defection law strangled our democracy?

2 January 2012

From left, Ganesh Karnik, Sandeep Shastry, C.V. Madhukar, P.G.R. Sindhia

GAGAN KRISHNADAS writes from Bangalore: The centre for public policy at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIM-B), recently organised a conference titled “Strengthening Institutions, Enhancing Governance”.

It  provided an opportunity for politicians to share the stage and their thoughts with academics and researchers about the changing role of elected representatives and its implications for legislative institutions.

P.G.R. Sindhia from the Janata Dal (Secular) and Captain Ganesh Karnik of the BJP represented the political class, while Prof Sandeep Shastri and C.V. Madhukar represented the academics.

It was interesting to see how people within politics and out of it viewed the proposition:


P.G.R. Sindhia of the JDS divided the political history of modern India into three distinct phases.

“In the first phase between 1950s to the 1970s, we had politicians who were role models, like Sardar Patel et al. They had complete knowledge of the country and their constituencies. The expectation of the people from these leaders was constructive community matters, not individual gains. People also had faith in these leaders and not to forget, we also had a stable government.

“In the second phase between 1970s and 1990s, we could see that the people were disappointed that their expectations had been belied. They voted against the Congress and we saw coalition governments coming into power and small political parties taking birth. Though I am totally against Indira Gandhi and was a part of the movement against Emergency, I have huge respect for her. She enthused the people with the 20-point programme and her Garibi Hatao scheme. She was able to gain the confidence of the masses with land reforms which was followed in Karnataka too by Devaraj Urs.

“In the third and the present phase between 1990s and 2011, the people have totally lost their faith in their leaders. People are disillusioned with elected representatives. Due to globalisation, the availability of money to the political parties has increased. Now, people expect money and personal favours from their elected representatives. Our MLAs most of the time are busy attending marriages, funerals and birthday parties.

“During my first election in 1983, Ramakrishna Hegde and H.D. Deve Gowda asked me contest and I won as a result of the anti-incumbency factor. I hardly spent Rs 30,000 and my supporters spent about Rs 1.5 lakh. My caste is microscopic in Karnataka and I did not win on the basis of caste at any time. I have defeated stalwarts like Deve Gowda and M.V. Rajasekharan. My winning margin used to be as high as 50,000 votes. When I contrast it with the year 2004, I spent about Rs 1.25 crore, but my majority was just a few thousands. Money and muscle power rule the politics today. To curb this, we need strong laws and it needs to be implemented through the Election Commission. Democracy is the best form of governance for our country and we need to strengthen it.”

C.V. Madhukar, founder and director of PRS Legislative Research, had his own take on what has failed Indian democracy.

He said that the anti-defection law introduced in 1985 was responsible for destroying state legislatures. He said that, from 1950s upto 1989, we had a maximum of 14-15 political parties. After the introduction of anti-defection law, the number of political parties had reached a peak.

Madhukar said that Indian legislative institutions were suffering because of four reasons:

a. The anti-defection law has silenced independent voices within a political party.

b. The poor participation of our legislators in the house.

c. Lack of adequate and expert research support to the legislators on various matters.

d. While the role of legislators is primarily to make laws, oversee working of the government and represent the voters, what they do in reality are the petty works of their constituencies and their supporters.

He said that during the 14th Lok Sabha, 1,400 documents were tabled. It was impossible for a member of Parliament to go through all the documents. He lamented that when an MP goes to the Parliament library and seeks for material on a particular subject matter, what he gets are the newspaper clippings from the last 60 days.

Madhukar asked: “Should our policy should be based purely on the opinion of a few newspapers?”

Captain Ganesh Karnik of the BJP read out the preamble of our Constitution and asked how many of these aspirations had been fulfilled.

There are three categories of voters. The first category whose choices are fixed; the second category who are intellectuals and vote on the basis of issuesl; the third category are the ones whose votes can be bought by the politicians. Unfortunately, the voters in third category are the ones who play the decisive role in every election.

There is a need to educate this section of voters. Though it is not the role of a legislator to go for marriages, birthday parties and do personal favours such as transfers; he is bound to perform these functions since these are the very people who have elected him and they expect him to do so!

Sandeep Shastri, the pro chancellor of Jain University, negated the views put forward by the politicians, Sindhia and Karnik, that the people voted on the basis of money alone.

Empirical research suggests that contestants who spent the highest amount of money never always win the elections.

Politicians have been in power all these years and they had all power to make changes in laws, change the mindsets of the people, yet they had failed.

At the end of the session, it was clear that the two politicians blamed the people for taking money for voting; the researcher blamed the lack of expert research support to leaders which failed them in taking proper decisions; and the academician said money power alone doesn’t work and that politicians themselves were responsible for the bad state of affairs.

Who do you think is right or wrong? Or do we need to take a holistic view and say that each group is responsible for the failure of our democracy?

(Gagan Krishnadas is a post-graduate student at National Law School of India University, Bangalore)

4 reasons why Jairam Ramesh is right about IITs

25 May 2011


Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh has done a signal service to the IITs and IIMs by calling into question the “world-class” qualifications of their faculty

Jairam should know: he is himself an almunus of IIT Bombay, where his father Prof C.K. Ramesh was on the faculty of the structural engineering department.

However, instead of appreciating the minister for his candour and assessing how we can go about applying correctives, the alumni and faculty of many these institutions are up in arms. (We can easily excuse the politicians for their politically motivated comments.)

I agree with Jairam that IITs and IIMs are well known today because of the outstanding performance of their BTech students and not because of either their PhDs or research output or teaching faculties. Of course, there are few outstanding world-class professors at these institutes. But they are an exception and not the rule.

Before holding Ramesh guilty, can we try to get answers to the following questions?

1) Compared to even the second tier institutions in the world, how does the research performed by IITs and IIMs compare both in quality and quantity with other world-class institutions?

2) How many BTech alumni and MBA alumni with PhDs are professors in IITs and IIMs? We are likely to find far more of them in foreign countries than in India. Why? What does this say of the quality of IIT and IIM faculty?

3) Just about every government institution suffers from lack of proper management coupled with poor governance. What has been the efforts of the IIM faculty to study and contribute to their improvement? A world-class faculty would have taken such a challenge to contribute to India’s development.

4) Every one knows about India’s energy crisis. A world-class faculty would have taken up the challenge of contributing to this sector. Has any one heard of any great breakthroughs in energy sector by IITs?

I am an alumnus of IIT Madras and have worked in different parts of the world in the international oil industry.

My effort to promote an energy institute (most leading world class institutes have such institutes) did not get any support from the faculty members of IIT Madras. A world-class faculty would have established such energy study centres and many such critical centers of excellence a long time back.

I rest my case.

Also read: Why Tata Steel (and others) won’t recruit IITians

‘Mediocrity is fast becoming a way of life in India’

CHURUMURI POLL: Do our B-schools have a problem?

External reading: Forever third-class

Is a City’s fate bound by its political preference?

20 May 2009

KPN photo

All seven seats in Delhi have gone to the Congress. Six out of seven in Bombay have gone to the Congress-NCP alliance. The Trinamool-Congress combo has prevailed in Calcutta. And in Madras, UPA partner DMK has triumphed.

With a Congress-led UPA in power at the Centre, things will be smooth for these metropolitan cities. What of Bangalore, which has plumped for the BJP?

Saritha Rai quotes M.V. Rajeev Gowda, a professor at IIM Bangalore, in The Indian Express:

“Once again, it appears that we will have nobody to represent Bangalore’s agenda in a clear way…. Bangalore and Karnataka are losing out because of the mismatch.”

Read the full article: No one to speak for this city

Photograph: A girl sells cashew fruit at Mekhri circle in Bangalore on Wednesday (Karnataka Photo News)

CHURUMURI POLL: Bring back Swiss bank money?

6 April 2009

In an election devoid of a unifying theme other than hate and fear, “Swiss Bank Money” has emerged as a major mantra on many a political lip.

From L.K. Advani to Sitaram Yechuri, bringing back “unaccounted money” stashed away in tax havens like Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Cayman Islands has become the refrain. The amounts mentioned are astronomic: The BJP says Rs 5,000 billion crore up from; CPI(M) pegs it at $1.4 trillion; JD(U) says it is $1,456 billion; Rs 692,328 crore in the last five years alone; anywhere between Rs 25 lakh crore and Rs 70 lakh crore.

Narendra Modi says the Swiss bank money have fuelled the stock markets, Advani wants the names of ministers who have been to Switzerland made public; the BJP wants to conduct a week-long survey to drum up public opinion following rumours and reports that India was not just unenthusiastic about French efforts at the G20 summit in London to make tax havens transparent, but plainly casual.

Underlying all the flagellation is the belief that the Swiss banks will readily divulge the names of Indian “tax evaders, corrupt individuals and criminals” like they did in a Florida tax evasion case involving UBS Bank, and the assumption that the current global financial crisis is the right time to strike the iron. An IIM Bangalore professor says “India will be in the top five league if all the ill-gotten money is brought back.”

Advani, for his part, goes the whole hog. Even if we take the lower limit of the estimated amount of Rs. 25 lakh crore, the money is sufficient to, he says:

• Relieve the debts of all farmers and landless
• Build world-class roads all over the country – from national and state highways to district and rural roads;
• Completely eliminate the acute power shortage in the country and also to bring electricity to every unlit rural home;
• Provide safe and adequate drinking water in all villages and towns in India
• Construct good-quality houses, each worth Rs. 2.5 lakh, for 10 crore families;
• Provide Rs. 4 crore to each of the nearly 6 lakh villages; the money can be used to build, in every single village, a school with internet-enabled education, a primary health centre with telemedicine facility, a veterinary clinic, a playground with gymnasium, and much more.

Questions: Are these numbers real, or are Advani, Yechuri & Co merely flaunting a fictitious chainmail and indulging in politics by insinuation? Will any government—even a BJP-led one—really be able to bring back the money? Will the Swiss banks oblige? Is all the money in Swiss banks illegal? Can our parties and alliance take the risk of rubbing individuals and industrialists who finance them on the wrong side?

Also read: S. Gurumurthy on funny money

India’s dirty money dilemma

Advani and the Swiss money hoax