Sunday, July 27, 2008

Day 42 : Looking at Last Week

I really lost it last week.

The Home Office is taking its time, and they won't tell how much more I have to wait. Does not matter that this is just a Leave to Remain, and under the current rules, they will almost inevitably have to extend my leave. There is a bit of an indication on the Waiting Times page, but the language is so arcane that it is hard to make out what they are really doing.

I can't call it a delay, as I was told that the process can take up to 10 weeks, and I have just finished 6 weeks. However, this is frustrating, as my job primarily involves travelling and I have several urgent businesses to look after. The fact that Home Office expects a 10 week processing time reasonable for a Highly Skilled Migrant shows how little they understand what the Highly Skilled Migrants may be doing in the UK. Besides, the fact that the process is not transparent, you can't even have an expected date, adds to frustration. My big problem today is that not only I can't travel, I can't even plan to travel.

This is almost affecting me personally. I have noticed that I haven't stepped out of the house since Monday. The first time I did so was yesterday, when I forced myself into it, but otherwise I was indoors most of the time in a exceptionally sunny week.

The reason why this is proving more stressful because we also have a partnership offer on table, which I should attend to, NOW. I realized that to do what we have set out to do, we must take on board a partner [or several partners] in India. We have an opportunity now, which I must attend to. Staying home is not something I would wish to do now.

Besides, I am increasingly feeling that I should remain involved in the operations in India. So far, my approach to this job has been that my primary responsibility is actually to set up the business, get things started, get able people to run it and move onto the next project. But, I am coming to the realization that this isn't going to be as easy. I need to get involved in India again, define and set the agenda. I must also spend serious time setting up a review mechanism. This is possibly my key mistake - I left it to the managers on ground and did not set up a functional review system. Trust works, but not if there is no transparency and information flow. I will have to spend time correcting this now - more the reason I need to travel.

Rather ironically, a day after I wrote the note on why the Indian democracy seems to work, there was the cash-for-votes scandal in the parliament. Three BJP MPs smuggled a bag and showed one crore in cash, claiming that they have been given that money to abstain [from the trust vote, which the government eventually won]. They made news and captured headlines, undermining the trust vote win by the Government. Largely, this incident was treated with cynicism - both by Indian public and World Media - there was nothing new in that claim of Bribery. While showing money in the parliament is theatrical and hogged prime time tele, showing cash is no proof of bribe. Several questions were raised on both sides, and surely most of them be ever answered. However, there is a question that I have to live with, and I must mention it here.

My immediate reaction to the theatrics of the BJP MPs with money was fury. It is indeed cynical to ask, but did they not know that bribery is a fact of life in Indian politics? Is this the first time they came across such a scandal? Surely not, as one of the MPs involved actually took money in return of leaking questions and was implicated in cash-for-questions scandal. So, why did they have to do it in the parliament?

This is obviously because the parliament sessions are telecast live and watched, in times like those, by millions across the country. So, what they were doing is a Public Meeting Gesture - where waving money creates the necessary visual image than saying that they have been bribed. Doing this, they of course undermine the democratic process and all politicians, and they don't seem to care. What is outrageous is that the leader of the opposition, LK Advani, knew about the plan and allowed it to happen. And, later, all the communist leaders, still recovering from the trust vote win of the government, took the cash-in-hand as irrefutable proof of bribery and did not utter a word about the abominable behaviour of the MPs that will bring all politicians in disrepute.

Democracy has its flaws. Democracy without responsibility is a difficult beast, and an attempt is being made in India to tame it. However, there are many people like Mr. Advani, who do not believe in democracy and want to undermine it at every stage. I did think this is Mr. Advani's Reichstag's Fire, where he did not care about the implications of action on the democratic process and was too busy undermining the opponents. The communists are of course no lover of democracy and free opinion - inside the party or outside - and they have now jumped on a train which is going to Gujrat [though they think they are going to Kolkata and BJP is going too]. So, while the bribery allegations may be true, the act of it undermined the country and its politics severely, just to save a few skins in the opposition front benches.

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