Stiffer cow slaughter laws may save cattle but what about people?

By Aakar Patel – When did you first read stories of cow vigilantes?

I suspect that like me you did not read of cow vigilantism before this government signalled intent and then state governments like Maharashtra and Haryana began introducing laws in March 2015.

This triggered something that began the violence, and Mohammed Akhlaq was murdered in September 2015.

In brief, the rules allowing how cattle (including buffaloes) may be sold for slaughter have been changed to make it very difficult, if not impossible, to conduct a meat business.

Ostensibly the reason is to control disease and hygiene, but you have to be particularly innocent to believe that.

Those made apoplectic by distinctions between good terrorists and bad terrorists now make a distinction between good Hindutvawadis and bad Hindutvawadis.

How difficult is it to understand that if you keep pushing gau raksha what you will get is gau rakshaks? more>


How to speed up judiciary

Let’s make India’s slow courts, currently exacting an enormous human and economic toll, world class
By Amitabh Kant – India ranks 178th among 189 countries on the Enforcing Contracts indicator, making it one of India’s worst performing indicators in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business study.

This largely accounts for India’s overall poor ranking and has acted as a major barrier for investments to India.

The glut of cases in the lower courts is where the root of the problem lies. Most importantly, we need to acknowledge it and monitor it on a continuing basis.

We need to have access to high resolution data on judicial processes at both the high court as well as the lower court level. A number of courts do not have data under the “Date filed” column, the most crucial piece for identifying delays.

The quality of data is circumspect and is non-uniform between courts, which use different abbreviations, categorization, and formats which makes comparing data between courts an arduous and costly process. Significant progress has been made towards computerization of courts.

However, computerization must include within its ambit the standardization of data collection across courts and not merely computerization within silos. more>


The resilience of the VIP

By Santosh Desai – By itself, the ability to claim the right to quicker passage in traffic, is privilege enough, but in this case, the siren as symbol was far more potent.

It signified a sense of screaming impatience with the very people that those in these vehicles were meant to represent. It identified people as the problem and power as the solution. By visibly identifying the special, it made everyone else ordinary.

Can one mere new rule change a time honored practice?

The whole point of reaching a position of power is to get the beacon, wangle some security and to hurtle past toll booths without paying.

As long as the principle that underpins this action is not challenged at a fundamental level, banning one action is bound to end up as a token nod to a half-hearted intent.

There can be no piece-meal approach to this problem. We cannot have a separate protocol for VIP handling for at airports. We cannot keep thinking of the waiver of frisking during airport security as a privilege, we cannot allow officials to put their designations on their car registration plates.

The extent to which this behavior is considered normal can be gauged by how easily and publicly a self-important high official can start groveling the moment someone even higher appears on the scene. The tableau of an untidy gaggle of people alternating between barking orders at underlings and groveling energetically in the direction of the presiding deity is a common sight. more>


How feudalistic

Attempts to replace beacons with sirens must be squashed, VIP culture must be rooted out
Times of India – On Monday, May 1, so-called VIPs were to bid bye-bye to beacons. This followed on last month’s Union Cabinet decision that beacons would only be allowed on vehicles providing emergency services like ambulances, fire engines and police conveyances.

Unfortunately many netas and even babus are resisting the change tooth and nail. From up and down the country there are reports of attempts to bulldoze the beacon ban.

Particularly worrying are reports of beacons being replaced with sirens. Quite apart from the noise pollution and illegality, this is an accident hazard. The traffic disruption caused by VIP beacons was bad enough but the screaming of VIP sirens would be even worse. more>