Wednesday, 7 February 2018

An Era of Darkness (The British Empire in India) by Shashi Tharoor

An Era of Darkness by Shashi Tharoor  , published in 2016   by Aleph Book company , is an eye-opener for all those who think that the British Empire in India was a mixture of good and the bad. Shashi Tharoor has done  remarkable  research and very convincingly tells us in 333 pages  that  nearly  two centuries of British rule in India  was out and out a period of oppression and loot  of  India .
 Tharoor rolls out relevant data to prove the above .When East India Company  took control of India , India’s share of the world GDP was 23 per cent. When the British left India in 1947, it wasjust above 3 per cent. The British left  India as  a society  with 16 per cent literacy , a life expectancy of 27, practically no  domestic industry and over 90 per cent living below  what today we would call below poverty line. They  systematically destroyed Indian textile , steel-making and  shipping industry .They substituted  Indian textiles by British ones manufactured in England. This deindustrialization of India was a deliberate British policy and not an accident.
            In 1922, 64 per cent of the total revenue of  the Government of India  was devoted to paying for British Indian troops dispatched abroad. As many as 74,187 Indian soldiers died during  world war one.
          The racialism and exploitative attitude of the British rulers  was reflected time and again in unforgivable massacre of Indians in Jallianwala Bagh in 1919, in the writings of Rudyard Kipling and  in the statements of Curchill. Churchill suggested in 1942 that Mahatma Gandhi should be “bound hand and foot  at the gates of Delhi, and let the viceroy sit on the back of a giant elephant  and trample(the Mahatma) into the dirt”. Rudyard Kipling hailed General Dyer as “The Man Who Saved India”. And Macaulay said:”A single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia”.
                The British policy of divide and rule reached its culmination in the horrors of Partition  that eventually  accompanied the collapse of British  authority in 1947.Over a million people died and about 17 million were displaced during Partition.
              Tharoor says that there were only three benefits to India  due to the British rule:
1. English Language.
2. Tea.
3.  Cricket.
 An Era of Darkness is an outstanding book on the history of  British Empire  in India. Every Indian  , and  every student of India  and  the UK, must read this book.  Shashi  Tharoor has  an excellent control over English language . I  strongly recommend  this book  .

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Dostoevsky wrote The Idiot in Florence between 1868 and 1869.It is the story of the prince Myshkin. He had suffered from epilepsy since childhood. He had  a naive directness and honesty which prompts others to call him idiot. The prince never thinks of changing himself , though he knows that others call him or think  him  as an idiot. But by the end of the book , we find his naive directness changed into an  anguished silence. Ippolit is a young rebel who , instead of meekly accepting his fate  believes in weeping , protesting and revolting .To him , the prince advises to” pass  us  by and forgive us our happiness.”

           The two other central characters in the novel are Rogozhin and Natasya Filippovna.  The prince  also loves  Natasya  , who in turn falls in love with him. Rogozhin loves Natasya  with passion .Agalaya , the youngest daughter of General Epanchin , also loves this idiot prince .The whole book revolves around these relationships in an unpredictable way. Despite its  615 pages, I liked the hardbound edition of Everyman’s Library. It is a profound book , recommended for those who like serious literature.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Home going by Yaa Gyasi

Home going (published in 2016) is a debut novel by Yaa  Gyasi. It  is about slaves , slave traders and their life  over many generations , spread across  Ghana and Gold Coast in Africa , Birmingham in Britain and Albama, Mississippi , Harlem , New York and Stanford in the USA. It is both ambitious and courageous in scope , and by the time you reach the end of its 300 pages  , you are spell bound .

                It traces the history of slavery  in a style that evokes compassion and courage. Some of the incidents  described are  bordering on horror  but the  author  keeps them close to the possibility of humanity. The book tells us how and why the world changes slowly and painfully through generations  , and why it is the way it is.In the process , it  gives voice to the suppressed and inspires us to make this world a better place.It makes us understand the  world better. It is one book which demonstrates  how a work of fiction can teach us better than any other  way. Though a debut , this novel has the potential to become a classic.I highly  recommend it .

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

This  is  my first novel by Wallace Stegner , and certainly not the last .What does  crossing to safety mean? We have life- long friendships and relationships  which  keep changing over  time .Then a  stage  comes  when we get reconciled and achieve our safety  in those friendships and relationships , accepting  and loving our friends , spouses as also accepting ourselves. This stage one has to cross  into  through much soul searching .This novel , published in 1987 ,was written by Wallace Stegner when he was 78 year old. He has  also described  in it the insecurities of old age , increasing fragility of body  as also the enduring  love in marriage. “We all  hoped in whatever way our capacities permitted  . .. . . to leave a mark on the world..Instead , the world  has left  marks on us. We got older.Life chastened us  so that  now we lie  waiting to die”. But Stegner  makes survival a grace , rather than a necessity.
Stegner  emphasises the role of luck in life: ’’Talent lies around us  like kindling waiting for a match, but some people , just as gifted as others , are less lucky. Fate never drops a match on them”. And the role of plans in our life: ’’You can plan all you want to .You can lie in your morning bed  and fill  whole note books with schemes and intentions .But within a single afternoon,  within hours or minutes, every thing you plan  and everything you fought to make yourself, can be  undone as a slug is undone when salt is poured on him. And right up to the moment when you find yourself dissolving into foam, you can still believe you are doing fine”. So, you need not set specific goals in life.
                       The novel has four characters -Larry , his wife Sally , Sid and his wife Charity. The story is narrated by Larry Morgan .Charity starts the friendship  between families , which  grows into life long relationship among the two couples. The couples meet during the Depression years in Madison , Wisconsin.They have differences in their upbringing , social and financial condition  but their friendship survives all these differences.Over the time , Larry becomes successful writer. Sally   gets afflicted by Polio. Sid Lang  is fired from the post  at Madison , with the result that he and Charity  are forced to stay , along with children at their family’s estate at Vermount.
        Charity  has a nature of controlling her husband Sid as also every one around her. At times , this takes  a dangerous and darkening aspect. She often bullies Sid aggressively. Charity  is novel’s fulcrum and creates strain in the friendship also. She knows that she is dying of cancer , but still , she tries to controls the condition of her death.

     Cossing to Safety seeps into you slowly , as you keep reading .The  language is superb  and the  book is full of insights. Long after you have read the  novel , its story reverberates in your mind.I recommend  you to read this book.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Identity by Milan Kundera

This slim novel (166 pages) by Milan  Kundera was published originally in French in 1996  and was translated into English  by Linda Asher in 1997.
      It is the story of a  woman called Chantal  and her lover Jean – Marc. Chantal  has divorced her husband  , after the death of  their  five  year old child. The book tries to explore the meaning of identity and the role played by friends  , lovers  and strangers in shaping that identity.
For Chantal , her identity is defined by  the perception of strangers. One day she tells her lover that “Men don’t  turn to look at me  anymore.”.He becomes jealous and also concerned that perhaps due to  getting older , she is insecure.  And  he decides to   write  anonymous but affirming letters to her  , to make her feel better. But when he finds her happier after receiving anonymous letters , he becomes  more jealous. He spies on her to locate where she keeps her letters and becomes  still more jealous when he finds that she has  hidden them under her braziers. On the other hand , when she discovers that it is  he who  has written these anonymous letters and he has spied on her , she  becomes furious . She thinks that Jean Marc has contrived the whole thing to  trap her. The two become estranged  from each other , and lose their identities as lovers. Thus for lovers , their perception of each other  keeps changing from day to day and the identity of each  to the other is quite slippery. Their relationship fails because  each has twisted the identity of the other , in their insecurity ,  anxiety and loneliness. When we conceal our identity from others, we lose our own identity.
This is a short but  engaging novel which prompts  the reader  to think about  his or her own  identity. While discussing friendship , the   book says:”  Friendship is indispensable to man  for the proper function  of his memory. Remembering our past , carrying it around with us  always , may be  the necessary requirement  for maintaining , as they say ,  the wholeness of the self. To ensure that the self does not shrink , to see that it holds  on its volume , memories have to be watered like plotted flowers , and  the watering calls  for regular contact with  the witnesses of the past , that is to say ,  with friends. They are our mirror; our  memory; we ask nothing of them  but that they polish  the mirror from time  to time  so we can look at ourselves  in it.”. It further goes on to say that we view  friendship “ as an alliance  against adversity .But may be  there is no longer  a vital need for  such an alliance.”
                       But  the novel  lacks a certain vitality when it mixes the  real and the fantasy .for example , they both board the same train from Paris to London , only to find that it was a dream .When did their real life change into a fantasy, with contradictions between  the projected identity and the reality, is not very clear.

A good food for thought in the form a novel which  traverses the border between the reality and dreams, while exploring the concept of identity. Worth a read .

Thursday, 28 September 2017

The Honest Always Stand Alone by C. G. Somiah

The title of this book  made me curious to read this book of memoirs  by a former IAS officer , CG Somiah , who later on became CAG(Comptroller and Auditor General) of India. Though the book does indicate that Somiah was an honest civil servant , yet  his  continuous rise in  career to the top  in civil service despite his honesty ,   does not  really  prove the title of the book right; on the contrary , you begin to  get curious .
                             Somiah was  no doubt honest , hardworking civil servant who believed in shouldering  responsibility. He  joined the IAS in 1953 (Orissa cadre)  and was Home Secretary of India  during the years when Rajiv Gandhi  was the Prime Minister of India.He  wrote this book  after reaching the age of seventy five  , out of his memory as he “never kept any notes”. He dedicated this book to “the dwindling band of honest officers who are battling  heavy odds to maintain  their integrity and dignity  to extend  corruption-free good governance to the people of India. They need all our support.”Unfortunately , the book was published in  July , 2010 and Somaiah died at the age of seventy nine  on September13,2010 .
As Secretary , Forests and Cooperatives , Orissa , he was asked by the Chief Minister , and Forest  Minister to give a proposal  for giving remission  and relief  in the lease rent  in the final year of three years lease to the kendu leaf contractors. He refused to do this  as it  was a move to make money by the CM  by sacrificing the revenue of the State. Within   fifteen days, he was transferred to  Cuttack  as Excise Commissioner. Even as Excise Commissioner , to break  the  cartel of excise contractors , he put certain units to retendering .He was asked to cancel the retendering which he refused. He was transferred abruptly to Delhi as Director , Budget  in the Finance Division of the Ministry of Defence. The CM  also recorded scathing adverse remarks in the character roll of Somiah.As a result , Somiah was not included in the panel  for  Joint Secretaries for two years. This resulted in a loss of promotion for two years.
 He was Joint Secretary  Home during emergency .After this, he returned to the state and  became  Chairman of Forest Corporation and then   Home Secretary of Orissa. In  November , 1980 , he became Additional Secretary , Finance  in Government of India. Then he became Secretary , Department of Company Affairs. He was shifted to Secretary , Planning Commission, where he got in close touch with Rajiv Gandhi, the  Prime Minister of India. He joined  as Home Secretary , Government of  India in  June , 1986.He found that both his telephones  in his office were bugged  on the orders of the Director , IB.
                He chose KPS Gill , an IPS officer of Assam cadre  to serve as a deputy to Julius Ribeiro  to help him fight the growing menace of terrorism in Punjab. Later , Gill succeeded Ribeiro as DGP of Punjab and had phenomenal success in eliminating terrorism in Punjab . Somiah played a critical role in the success of  operation Black Thunder  in Golden Temple , Amritsar when   terrorists surrendered and were taken into custody.
  In solving the issue of Gorkhaland , Somiah played a crucial role and was instrumental  in creating an autonomous  Darjeeling hill council  for the hill areas of Daejeeling , Kurseong ,Kalimpong and part of Siliguri.This came to be known as Darjeeling Accord and solved the issues  of   of  Gorkhaland.
However , Somiah did not like Rajiv Gandhi’s decision to circumvent  the Supreme Court judgment in Shah  Bano’s case by getting enacted in Parliament in  May ,1986  the Muslim Women (Protection of rights on divorce) Act.”I was getting sick of my work and the long hours I used to keep in office and I felt I needed a change”. And the change came .Somiah got permission to visit Egypt and Greece  for three weeks  .
Regarding Salman Rushdie’s Satanic verses , Somiah writes:”I read Satanic Verses and came to the conclusion that the book needs to be banned  in the interest of maintaining law and order in the country”.After taking legal opinion , the book was banned in India.
Somiah believed in astrology , though he  wrote that had no desire to know his future. He recalls how TN Seshan was an astrologer. How Peri shastri , the then chief Election Commissioner was offered  governorship if he acceded to the Prime Minister’S(Rajiv Gandhi’s) request  to postpone  the Presidential election  after Zail Singh completed his term. Peri shastri firmly refused the inducement  and quietly slipped into retirement.
After demitting the office as Home Secretary , Somiah took charge as the Central Vigilance Commissioner. His successor Kalyanakrishnan  was sacked from his job when he missed out reading  just two lines of the Intelligence report where  there was a hint that an attempt would be made to kidnap the daughter of Syed Mufti Mohammad, the Home Minister. The kidnapping did take place but home department had not taken any preventive action .
      Somiah was sworn in as the Comptroller and Auditor general of India by the President on 15 March , 1990.On 22 May , 1991, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. On 11 March ,1996,  when he turned sixty five, Somiah handed over charge to  his successor , Vijay Shungloo. CG Somiah died on 13 September, 2010 at the age of 79 years. One cannot fail to be impressed by Somiah’s  humility, integrity and professionalism .
There can be two interpretations to Somiah”s story in this book. One  is that despite wide spread corruption in India’s Political –administrative system , it is possible for a civil servant  to stay honest and still reach the top. The other is that  you can be honest in  your own limited way  way and if luck favours you , you can reach the top. I for one , subscribe to the second interpretation .

Saturday, 2 September 2017

A State of Freedom by Neel Mukherjee

Human urge is to strive for something better than the existing situation .Do we have the freedom to move into a better state? Can we really transform the possibilities we are born into? Through five stories, the novel attempts to answer this question.   
   I kept wondering long after  I had read the book: Can we really transform the possibilities we are born into? What do the  characters and stories suggest as an answer? The  answer seems to hover between Yes and No , and each reader has to decide it for himself or herself.
     When a poor man  Lakshman finds a baby bear , he decides to earn better by training  the baby  bear into a dancing bear. He  names  this bear Raju. In the process of training it to dance  , he subjects the poor animal through  excruciating and painful cruelties. The bear loses his freedom and the man   also  does not  have  a good life.
 A  poor girl Renu  goes to Mumbai  to earn money by working as a cook in many houses. This she does to  send money to educate her nephew in the USA in Physics. She waits for the day when the nephew  would return  to India  after doing his Ph.D.and she will have better days.
Another poor girl Milly   from Jhar Khand  is sent by her parents to work as a domestic cook with a view to earn money and  send a part of money so earned to her parents back home. But  her employer in Mumbai  treats her like a bonded labourer and does  not permit  her to move out of the house . Milly then marries a perfect stranger who  rescues her from her employer’s custody .
 Another story is of Soni (Milly’s friend) and her elder sister and her mother .The mother dies of Cancer. Soni and her sister join  extremist( Naxalite)  group to escape into a state of freedom from poverty.
 The book opens with the  story of an academic  from India , settled  in USA , who takes his son to  Fatehpur Sikri  , after their lunchtime tour of the Taj Mahal.Due to various odd experiences including  facing  a bear on its hind legs  with its muzzle pressed to the glass of the car, the  boy gets unwell and dies.
The book is full of many unforgettable scenes and characters. The characters , despite their poverty and unequal social system , manage to preserve their dignity. The author  narrates the stories with compassion  and grace.He has a complete control over language and pace of the stories.
             The story of Raju bear was the longest and reminded me of Kartick Satyanarayan’s Wildlife SOS India  in Agra ,  India(whom I met while serving  as Secretary , Forests and Wildlife , U.P. , India).No wonder , I found  their name in the list  of acknowledgements given at the end of the book.

           A State of Freedom is an outstanding   and beautiful work of literature .

Thursday, 24 August 2017

The Coal Conundrum --Executive Failure and Judicial Arrogance by P.C. Parakh

This is a book by  a former Secretary Coal , Government of India  describing in detail how a senior civil servant  was made to suffer, eight years after his retirement criminal proceedings against him, for taking reforms in Coal sector forward. Mr. Parakh has impeccable reputation for integrity throughout his service career. The book also  goes on to show  that economic reforms can be  brought about only when  reforms in judiciary and administration of criminal justice are also taken up simultaneously.
           The book deals with the case pertaining to the allocation of  a coal block in Orissa,   involving Hindalco which  resulted in criminal case against  Mr. PC Parakh (the then coal Secretary),Dr. Manmohan  Singh(former Prime Minister of India) and  industrialist Kumar  Mangalam  Birla. When , due to ignorance or arrogance ,  a citizen has to lose reputation  and dignity , and has to suffer prolonged mental agony ,no court  in the country has the capacity to  compensate the citizen for such a loss.  As  Mr. Arun Shourie in his  foreword to this book says:”He must  set out the truth in words that the lay person will understand , not leave the matter to lawyers and their legalese. The reputation has been assailed in public, it must be restored in the public’s mind.”He goes on to say that in times like ours , to stand up to calumny ,to stand up to an unjust system  is itself one of the tasks  that the honest have to perform for our country.
 A law that criminalises an executive action on the basis of one of the many multiple interpretations  and which does not call for strict proof of criminal intention , can be misused and abused  on the basis of subjective thinking .Such bad laws like Section 13(1)(d)  of  Prevention of Corruption Act , 1988. ( obtaining a valuable thing or pecuniary advantage  merely by abusing official position) must be soon thrown out of the statute book by the Parliament .The sooner it is done , the better it will be  for the governance of the country. Otherwise civil servants will hesitate to take decisions, resulting in poorer governance.
       Mr PC Parakh  has revised his views about a career in civil service in India. It is not the smaller pay packet that civil servants get  as compared to their counterparts in multinationals .It is  the real possibility that a sincere and honest civil servant like Parakh , may be robbed off his/her dignity , honour and self-respect , and be financially ruined by being forced to run around  investigators, lawyers and courts  in the evening of life  (Mr. Parakh is 71 years old and still waiting for  final decision of the court).Incidentally, the book was self published by Mr. Parakh  , as no publisher was perhaps willing to publish it .

This book must be read  by  all the serving  civil servants .It must also be read by all serious aspirants to  a career in civil service in India. And it should be read by  all citizens of this country (India) who want to see a better governance and economic reforms implemented well .

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Burnout and Low Morale of Civil Services in India

    Yogi government in Uttar Pradesh in its first 100 days  transferred most of the IAS and IPS officers in the state  including    chief secretary and director general  of police  .A new transfer policy is in place and transfer of  other services and levels is continuing. But such an exercise may be give a signal that a new government has come in place of the old  but hardly any thing else. What is needed is a combination of decisions and an approach which gets the much-abused civil service out of a state of burnout and raises its morale.(I include all rungs and branches (generalist, police  as well as   technical)  of civil servants in this phrase civil services)  Without motivation and morale, all decisions of new government will  be implemented half-heartedly. In Uttar Pradesh ,  a  majority of civil servants  suffers not only from burnout , but also from cynicism , low morale and lack of meaning and pride.
                   Morale of civil  servants is essential  for  building effective , accountable and inclusive governance  institutions .It  indicates  the health and  the capacity of civil services to  deliver  services and results. Morale is the degree  to which civil servants  have respect for their own jobs and a commitment to the organization.                      
                       Burnout is  “ a condition  of emotional exhaustion , depersonalization  and reduced personal accomplishment  that can occur among individuals  who work with people in some capacity”  (Maslach ,  Jackson and Leiter ). When  employee’s resources  fall short of the demands and expectations of leadership , burnout may result.  Burnout   leads to   low morale , reduced quality of service , high rates of illness and absenteeism , indifferent and cold attitude ,a tendency to devalue one’s work(negative self-assessment) , high staff turnover, and low career satisfaction.              In India , where  unemployment levels are high ,  public servants   do not quit despite low morale , because of the  security that a government job offers .
      The factors which affect the morale of  civil  services  in India are as below:
1.Ethical climate:
 In  a work culture, steeped in corruption ,  the stress levels of honest employees are high  .They are  called upon to   exercise    inappropriate use of  powers , resources  and even  connive in frauds. .This  makes them  either  corrupt , or  if they choose to  fight against corruption , they end up  in  burnout.
2.Administrative Leadership:
If  the selection  of the  administrative leader is  not on merit  ,  integrity   and professionalism  but on the basis of connections and  loyalty to political bosses , the administrative leadership becomes weak  or absent . Such leaders lack commitment   to engage  people in organizational improvement efforts. They  have little courage  to take or recommend action against  corrupt or inefficient subordinates. They are unfit to lead. 
  John Le Carre wrote:”  A desk is a dangerous place  from which to view the world”. When leaders spend more time  behind their desk  and less time  outside connecting with the real people , they  display a lack of  empathy and  a poor understanding  of how the  government  works  for the common man  .
        Sometimes , when the top starts  behaving in retaliation , there is a fear all around and a toxic culture prevails throughout the organization .
3.Narrowing decision making powers:
The Rules of Business  vest practically all decision making powers in the departmental ministers. Secretaries and Heads of departments  and other levels have  very little powers to decide                 
4.Fair and Respectful treatment at work place:
 If there is  a perception that employees in general do not receive the  desirable level of respect from the organization. then , employees also harbour feelings of disrespect for  their bosses , though such feelings may be disguised. This results in low morale.
 5. Expectation  of  loyalty to the party in power:
Loyalty to the party in power  rather than neutrality  is being increasingly demanded by political leadership. This discourages  honest public servants  who wish to remain neutral and unpoliticised.
      6.  Criticism of civil servants by  political leadership:
 Politicians, backed by media ,  often  accuse  civil servants(babus)  of blocking plans, being overpaid and under worked ,” unhelpful and uncooperative “ “ Red tape “ “indolent pen pushers”  are some of the terms used for bureaucracy bashing . This accusatory culture  undermines the trust of civil servants in political leadership, demoralizes them  and  raises doubts about the future of civil service . Further , the   efforts  of political leadership to” reform” and  reorganize the civil service only end up in   demoralizing the civil service because     such steps are projected as   efforts to shake up the self-serving ,  lazy, apathetic  and incompetent bureaucrats .
                   Blaming civil servants  for failures  of polticians,  as a  scape goats,  to deflect public criticism  from their own inadequate leadership also demoralizes the civil servants. .Civil servants  are always   an easy targets .
7.Political and bureaucratic  turn-over and continuity:
Political leaders have brief  tenures , specific political agendas and short term perspectives .The tenure of  senior civil servants is also short , often less than a year. These  frequent  and abrupt changes in political  and administrative leadership  makes it difficult for  civil service  to  sustain engagement .
      8.Accessibility and authenticity of leadership:
Political leadership is  generally not accessible even to  the senior civil servants. Even when they are available , open-ness and authenticity seem very rare.  There are hardly any  genuine and credible interactions .This also applies to interaction between senior civil servants and their junior colleagues.         
9.Inquiries and disciplinary proceedings :
Often ,  CBI or vigilance inquiries are instituted against the senior civil servants without  proper  scrutiny and thought .If this is done against officers who have a reputation for honesty and good conduct , as  has happened recently in Coalgate scam , it demoralizes the entire bureaucracy .
10.Recognition and Rewards:
 .When  recognition/reward /award system is arbitrary and  whimsical  and awards are handed down to the favourites regardless of merit,  it results in only a contempt for the awards . Placement , promotion , rewards and awards  should be based on  merit , competence , hard work .But instead ,often ,  they depend on  loyalty , yes- man ship , recommendation of  parliamentarians  and other powerful individuals.
      11. Unchallenging Environment:
When  there is a lack of leadership and direction , it gives rise to an unchallenging and dull work environment , which in turn  offers no opportunities to rise , learn  or grow. This in turn leads to low morale.
12. Excessive reliance on consultants:
Sometimes ,  consultants are appointed at huge expense , to reform a sector .Such consultants may  have no knowledge of local background , culture and field conditions , and end up in suggesting remedies which are worse that the disease .                                  
Outsourcing services, running government like a business may  also  result in  poor  services and poor morale.
                     In India , job commitment , professional satisfaction, engagement  and ethical conduct in public services is declining.  Trust in organization  and  leadership  is also decreasing ,resulting  in poor governance. In the long term , this could  threaten citizen’s trust in state legitimacy .While we want the best and the brightest youth to join the IAS and other services , our system is actually scaring them away .A major cultural change is required that  puts data at the heart of  policy making and management practice. Government must change its relationship with citizens so as to address their ever increasing demands. A consistent monitoring of morale of the employees is  required to ensure that corrective actions are taken regularly.
 (This article was published with some editing changes in the magazine  News Times Post , Lucknow  , July22,2017 issue.)

Monday, 17 July 2017

Climate of Hope

Climate of Hope  by Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope  is a book ,published in 2017  , to save the planet  from the ill effects of climate change.Michael Bloomberg  is an entrepreneur ,philanthropist , and  former Mayor of New York City. Carl Pope is an environment leader.
                    The main thesis of the book is that cities backed by citizens and businesses can  tackle climate change  effectively. It is a bottoms  up approach and needs the support of national governments as well as international community. This is the first book that explains how   city level action  to tackle climate change  is not only possible but also necessary.
               The book deals in detail how we are already on our way from coal to clean energy, from petrol and gas based transportation to electric vehicles. It also tells us how we should eat and how we should  live  to meet the challenge of climate change.
                     The book also mentions several market failures which are perpetuated by special interests, like   continuation of fossil fuel  subsidies. Such market failures that privilege fossil fuels  have  to be addressed by national governments. We also need to devolve more powers to cities , power to borrow funds for infrastructure and power to manage transportation systems.
            But a transition from coal to   renewable energy and sustainable energy  will result in loss of jobs and unemployment .We must create  solutions to such serious problems, in the interest of meeting the challenges of climate change.
             Citizens have to understand these solutions and then communicate to other citizens. This conversation   must be led by ordinary citizens and local leaders on a continuous basis.