Ajay’s rant

BREXIT – what happens when the ‘powerful’ don’t get their way!

Ajay's rant | Politics

I have been utterly dismayed by the negativity in the press and every other media channel and social media forums, and by the marches and petitions since the morning of the 24th June 2016.  This is Propaganda at its worst and the destabilising forces at work, which had been ready to go into full throttle should the need arise and ‘if the nation woke up’!!  I have stayed away from responding to any social media posts because there is so much hatred and vile intentions underneath a lot of these posts and articles.

In the good old days, you may have heard theories about the CIA sabotaging and undermining the governments in the Far East, the old Soviet Union and the Middle East for their selfish reasons.  Something similar is now happening in the UK – a modern western democracy, because the public spoke against the power of the big corporates.  The corporates are stronger than the governments in this day and age and have taken over the role of the governments of the 60s to the 80s.  They flood the market with negative comments and hate filled stories and ‘opinions disguised as facts’ for a few days and then strike with a move which nobody reacts to as they have all been conditioned to accept that action as being reasonable and ‘the norm’ after the protracted media campaign to desensitise this situation.  I fear something big and nasty is about to happen!  This is how propaganda works, isn’t it?

We talk about Democracy and Magna Carta and Civilised Society, until it suits our purposes and soon as someone with a differing opinion seems to take lead, all these principles are thrown out of the window and we start making calls to annul the vote and reject the other side’s win.  How shallow is our belief system?

In the recent EU debate, I have always been a ‘LEAVER’.  There was never a doubt in my mind that EU, as an organisation, has to go.  As Darren Hannan, MEP rightly said – “You don’t have to love the FIFA, just because you love football”!  I always thought that the EU was the short-cut route for the big multi-national conglomerates to get the political and trading machinery of this continent to work in their favour.  It was a lot easier to keep the EU going so that they can achieve full control without having to go through the parliaments of 28 different nations to get their agendas through.  EU, with its unelected commissioners and president were responsible for passing laws for lands as diverse as Estonia and Germany.  The asset grabbing and control of the individual economies was happening right before our eyes with no end in sight.  A democratically elected government could be forced to resign as had been seen in Greece and similar signs in many other countries. When Cameron made efforts to get a good deal for the UK and his efforts were mocked and rejected despite the impending vote in the UK by the powers in the EU, it was obvious that ‘they’ had thought they could fool the UK population into ‘staying’ as they had the machinery to manipulate the agenda in their favour.  They were too sure, but the result went the other way, as nobody expected – not even the creator of this referendum – Mr N Farage ( a lying twat!)!!  The Brexiters were caught with their pants down, as it has now turned out.  They did not expect to win and hence, had made no plans of what to do in that scenario.  During the campaign days, even they had realised that the powerful machinery behind the ‘Remain’ camp was too strong.  Despite their rhetoric and passionate speeches, they were themselves, not ready for the result, because of the conditioning effect of the propaganda.  They had resigned to having played a ‘game for the elite’ after spending millions of pounds of tax payer’s money just to satisfy their egos. But something had been mobilised or the negative forces had taken over the campaign and other groups jumped onto the band-wagon to further their own agendas and promote the ‘Leave’ campaign.  The genuine reasons for leaving the EU were forgotten and more populist agendas were being promoted as the main reasons for the EXIT.

The result has, unfortunately, brought out the worst of both sides or I should say – the more vocal elements are the negative influencers on both sides.  The REMAIN camp was mainly funded by the big banks and major corporates who wanted the EU machinery to stay as it works in their favour to keep it in place.  They are more sophisticated in how they work and can mobilise people in large numbers to work for them.  Marches in London were organised to get people to reject the vote and separate London from England for EU purposes, any genuine arguments by the LEAVERS are being portrayed in a negative light by telling half-truths, the fear of splitting of the UK and Irish issues are all being propagated as the reasons why this vote should be annulled.  This is ‘fear-mongering Stage 2’.  The markets are a making of these same people and they control the movements and use that to influence the public as part of their propaganda to express how poor this decision was. The markets and currencies will settle down once the dark powers have settled on a leader to take this country forward.  I hope the ‘white knights’ win! Nobody seems to have the brains, the power and desire to portray the endless opportunities this (BREXIT) situation has to offer us.  At the same time, the negative elements in the LEAVE groups seem to have taken the upper hand.  The racism against long established residents and citizens of this country has been displayed in the vilest manner.  The thin veneer of civility and multi-culturism and unity has been washed away for many and the strong underlying hatred for all ‘non-English’ people has come to fore.  I have heard of violent incidents against Polish and French nationals and a member of my own family has been subjected to racist slur and abuse in the middle of London!!!  I assume that these are the type of people who had the mind-set of the Bristall killer of a noble MP, who was just doing her job.  What happened to the laws against hate speech?  Why are the police not out in big force on the streets to curb such activities or is it that the governments feels that to be necessary only when some ‘Muslim’ terrorists are out on the street?  These English terrorists are NOT isolated examples of rogue mad men.  They have an agenda to fulfil, which has to be stopped.

I always said that if the BREXIT happens, the UK will need a strong and united opposition to keep the Tories in check and ensure that the democracy and transparency we have fought this referendum for is not lost in our own country.  I would have extended this to get things in motion to dissolve the unelected House of Lords. Instead, we seem to have created a vacuum with no leadership on either side of the political spectrum.  Too much in-fighting and power struggle to be a leader is going on.  Despite all the shenanigans, Corbyn is the only sane force I believe who can take this nation forward in a calm and sensible way.  He has the mind of someone who can get on the right side of business, political and social thinking and get a good balance.  I disagree with all those who claim he does not have the necessary leadership qualities.

There is too much going on behind closed doors in the corridors of power, I think and I await the developments over the coming weeks and months with bated breath.

 

How does ‘capitalism’ affect bus drivers?

Ajay's rant | Diary of a London Bus Driver

Capitalism to an economist means a mechanism of wealth creation and distribution, whereas a layman’s interpretation of the word is how the workers in this world get ‘screwed’ by the rich employers – strange, eh? Or is it just a strange case of Homographs?

The London Bus drivers are an unusual breed. The workers in this industry come from a vastly different range of backgrounds. Some have been in this industry since they left school, which could have been 30 years ago and many, have more recently, come from several other professions in the recent years, as job markets have changed with recession in our economy leading to redundancies in many sectors. The privatisation of the bus industry and much of the transport sector had opened many lucrative opportunities for individuals with the right business approach, because of the huge subsidies and opportunities to return massive profits for their shareholders. The controls and monitoring of performance of the privatised industry were poor for almost the first 20-25 years, leading to most profits made by such companies in this period. Hence we saw the proliferation of many European companies enter the UK transport sector because of the huge potential profit margins with little control. While the economy was strong and companies made eye-watering profits, the workers were also enjoying above-average wages and reaping rewards of a newly privatised industry in its infancy, while the darker forces of capitalism slowly gathered force.

Slightly tighter controls by the public bodies like TfL (Transport For London) and use of technology to monitor the performances of these privatised companies began to take place in the mid-noughties and they suddenly, began to feel the mild squeeze on their, earlier easily derived, profits. The bosses could not suddenly let their life-styles suffer. Hence, came the onslaught on workers’ terms and conditions and pay scales. With pretty blatant collusion with the unions, the old pay structures were slashed and new terms and conditions imposed on drivers and an ever increasing pressure on established drivers with implied fear of job loss if they fail to comply, despite the fact the employers needed these drivers to keep the services running. The recent recession had provided the employers with an endless stream of new applicants willing to do the job despite the increasing imbalance between the working hours/pay/terms. The older established drivers fear losing their jobs for the slightest misdemeanour, because of increasingly punitive approach by company managers, who are under increasing pressure from the bosses due to their own amended work contracts. The companies try to extract every extra minute out of the drivers that the extremities of the ‘Driving Hours’ law provides them, with no regard to health and safety of the employees.

Direct impact on drivers

  • Many drivers are now doing over 37% more hours, at times, to earn the same daily pay as in 2010
  • Drivers are being given less travel time between destinations (garage and route terminus) to start and finish off their ‘profitable’ part of the duty
  • Drivers are given less preparation time from the first sign-on time to start their duty and also less time (sometime none) to start the second part of their duty after their meal-relief (lunch time to the non-initiated)
  • Duties starting at unusually early hours, like 3 am or 4 am used to be shorter jobs to offer drivers more rest time. This is no longer the case. You could still be expected to work for 10-11 hours, despite starting your day at 3 am or 4 am. Imagine the impact of this on your concentration and health after 3-4 days of such duty.
  • Annual pay-rise are hard to come-by, and a real struggle to extract out of the companies.
  • Sickness pay, unsocial hours work, extra day work (rest day work), Sunday rates have all been cut to the bone or no longer available.

 

Drivers are their own worst enemy!

  • Drivers do not help their own cause by, unknowingly, offering additional services to the employers which make their wage bill much lower than it should be.
  • Drivers coming to work early (sometimes even 2-3 hours) offer their employers an army of unpaid workers to call upon if another driver is delayed or unable to make it to work, as these early arrivals will happily take on the other duty just so that they can finish a bit early. Such ‘stand-by’ drivers would otherwise need to be arranged by the company at additional cost.
  • A driver, agreeing to do additional rest days at the same rate as any other day in the week means they are offering the company extra employees at no additional cost. Drivers also fail to recognise the adverse health effects of such long shifts over sustained periods of time doing this job.
  • A blatant case of drivers not recognising their own strength has been when they fail to support their own unions, on rare occasions, when they have called a strike to fight against these attempts to drive down wages by the employers (in return for measly incentives offered by the employers).

 

Unions are nowhere to be seen while this onslaught is causing a severe deterioration in the job pay and conditions of all bus drivers across the capital.  This is the epitome of the dark side of Capitalism, when profit making takes a higher position than anything else – including health and well-being of the workers, and also, indirectly, the business customers.  Without being an alarmist – Imagine what a tired and frustrated bus driver can end up doing!

I love my India! or India: The motherland, disappointing…

Ajay's rant

July 2007

I have just returned (26th July 2006) after travelling in India for two weeks. I spent my time in
Delhi, Saharanpur (UP) and Jalandhar (Punjab). Although having enjoyed my stay
with family and relatives, I have come back with a feeling of general
disappointment with the country I was born and brought up in. The booming
economy and flash new townships offering the comforts expected by an NRI from
the Western world cannot hide the missing components of a falsely claimed
‘prosperous’ society. India is indeed a land of contrasts and Grand Canyon sized
rifts between the rich and the poor. There are massive mansions and flash new
townships with squalor and filthy shanty towns as neighbours. This has been true
in the past as well, but then India was ranked amongst the ‘developing’ nations
and it is now a ‘major’ economy with an ‘open’ market wooing in ever increasing
foreign investments. What has this investment brought in for the nation’s
working class? I see more misery as they see no change for them, but massively
bigger houses and more fancy cars for their employers and the upper middle
classes. They are left to make do with struggling indigenous brands of goods or
the rejects from China which make their way into India, thanks to the new breed
of opportunists who have found new sources of cheap imitation goods to satisfy
the huge population which strives for the Western products, but can only afford
the 3rd rate rejects. India has always had a dual level of commerce with
substantial part of it not declared to the authorities. This massive grey
economy has been further accentuated with the opening of the markets to Western
companies. They (the foreign investors) saw the huge population as a massive new
insatiable customer base and their Indian collaborators saw it as another
opportunity to earn humongous profits in an uncontrolled and hopelessly
inefficient system. The tax collection systems are archaic and the people
responsible for running them still open to doing favours for the business
community in return for financial gains despite several claims by the government
to root out corruption. This is absolutely impossible to achieve in a country
like India where it is so deep rooted and has found a cosy home at every level
of public services starting from the very top in politics. It has been widely
argued for long that Democracy has not worked in India. Many reasons have been
cited including excessive poverty, huge population, innumerable languages and
regional differences and above all many religions. All the positive ideals of
Democracy have been twisted and turned by the politicians for their personal
gains. How else can you have state chief ministers lasting decades or handing
over power within their immediate family? Certainly not because they have
thought about the upliftment of the masses and put in place some exquisite
strategic development schemes and have been rewarded for it. This has been
possible only by the use of muscle power and having the wrong elements in the
society ensuring that the masses dare not vote against the current ruling party.
The politicians will stoop to any level including riots and silencing those who
dare speak against them. This is only possible because the whole system is so
badly infected and few have been educated of their rights. Any honest person who
wishes to speak against the system refrains from doing so for fear of reprisals
against them or their loved ones. I thought that this was the ill the world’s
democratic powers stood up to remove when they were trying to eliminate the
communists and fascist dictators. How well has India managed to embrace all
those evils into its democracy?

The favourite past time of most Indians is to moan about the corruption levels.
I believe that the relief will have to come from within the business community
who will have to find one honest person who really wishes to make a difference
and the community to support him/her and withdraw its backing of the corrupt
system for short term financial gains.

The massive land sale currently in vogue in most states in the country is
generating huge income for the state governments and in turn for the brokering
politicians, of course, most of it as private undeclared income. The developers
are raking in the billions by selling off much needed accommodation, often built
at sub-standard quality. The apartments in many of these developments, often
poorly finished, look awful even when keys are handed over to the first owners.
The finish quality has never been of priority for the Indian craftsmen. This is
not to say that they are incapable of doing so. My other major concern is that
these developers and the local politicians seem to forget that they also need to
attend to the sustenance of these townships; the utilities, the transport links,
the roads. Sanitation is often poor and not much better than that found in some
African nations which are so badly debt-ridden. The developers of such
residential townships do not seem to think of this as their responsibility to
provide the supporting infrastructure. The politicians seem to only think of
these as promises prior to elections which are conveniently forgotten soon after
they have been elected back (for the 10th time). How else would there have been
road schemes started 2 years ago still awaiting completion of the construction
phase or water supply schemes with roads dug up but no sign of workers and
completion for months or even years. Yes, broadband has arrived for the consumer
at home, but have you seen how it is delivered; with CAT 5e cables hung on poles
in the open, exposed to the elements, stretching across the street at times at
height no higher than 15 feet from the ground. So next time you have your new
custom built hand-made computer desk delivered to your home in a truck, you will
have to carry it in from the end of your street as the truck will be unable to
enter your street unless you want to damage the precarious supply of utilities
to the whole of your street. This is the state of affairs in Delhi, the nation’s
capital. No joke.

Talking about the commercial activity in India, there have always been two
elements to the revenue generated by any business; one declared and other much
chunkier undeclared business. This has, I guess, been in existence from the days
of the Raj, when the business community wanted to pay as little in taxes to the
British rulers as possible. This, I am sure, has always been known to the
authorities who have turned a blind eye, otherwise how would they get all those
huge donations, which have now proven to be the root of most ills in the
society. A massively new thinking is required to eradicate this from our system.
This grey economy is also well supported by the systems to make major capital
purchases for businesses and also private property. It is well known that the
recorded price is never the actual price, which could be several times higher.
This is no underground system but an open way of performing business in India.
This gives you an idea of the scale of the grey economy in India.

Any schemes to better the public services seem to take years in India to
complete. Even the scheme has had the relevant authorisation given, which in
itself could take years, and funds allocated to it and payments made to the
contractors, it could take years to complete the project although the digging up
may start soon, but the dug up road/site will not get completed for years (or
even moved further from the initial stages). Who cares about the inconvenience
caused to the residents or the motorists in the area? A development site will
remain an eyesore with heaps of building materials lying around till they rot
for years. Why do most shopping malls look like they have never been completed?
The Delhi Municipal Corporation awarded massive contracts to private firms
recently to keep the streets clean, but this public money again seems to have
been used to line a whole hierarchy of pockets as the streets are as dirty as
ever and act as the disease sources as they have been for the last 30 years in
parts of Delhi. Even this is beneficial for the local governments. The state
offers an appallingly poor health service. Most of the population relies on huge
amount of doctor’s surgeries and medical diagnostic centres to offer them the
medical services so often caused by the state by not offering the basic
sanitation and clean environment for its constituents. These doctors and other
medical professionals are amongst the richest in India and for obvious reasons,
are popular allies of the politicians. The spirit of the Hippocrates’ Oath every
doctor takes on becoming qualified no longer exists.

No wonder every poor working class person (and ones below) feel left out and
disenfranchised from the system. The booming economy and foreign investment has
brought nothing for them. Very few businesses in India plough any funds back
into the community. This is not the culture here. A rich man’s charity in India
extends only as far as offering servant quarters to their live-in aid who they
brought into their family as a child and has been with them for several decades
now with one short annual break allowed to visit his/her family in the rural
India.

Now compare this to China. A country with much higher population than India only
a couple of decades ago. A ‘forgotten’ Communist land till some American
corporates saw the potential offered by massively cheap labour a few years ago.
The authorities also used this for the benefit of their land and with some
strategic planning and forward thinking now excel in most fields and are ahead
of India in most fields, including science and technology and manufacturing. The
basic infrastructure in the land is of international standards. The poverty,
squalor and massive shanty towns much a part of all major Indian cities are
hardly visible even in the interiors of the countryside. Now ask a poor man in
India – Would you rather have the right to vote or clean streets and sufficient
food to feed his family?

Also see the link below, which is not a fair comparision – comparing a small town called Jaipur with the cosmopolitan Beijing, but nonetheless…

Clíches & Hypocrisy – in Cinema!

Ajay's rant | Politics

Feb 2005

I asked a panel, which included the organiser of a popular film festival in Bradford, the question about how the mass Bollywood films were impacting the society in general. The standard response – ‘…that is such a
cliché question and I strongly disagree that cinema has any impact on the society; it merely reflects the society’ ensued.

I state that it is the responses on this issue which are the clichés, not the questions.

Being specific, Bollywood cinema (most of it, not all) has degenerated to the levels of soft-porn movies. A producer is not worth his (or her) salt if there isn’t an ‘item number’ in the film. I do not know the roots of this phrase (’item number’), but surely it was born on the streets of Mumbai, Delhi or another Indian cosmopolitan city and suggests something sleazy. But the issue is that that this ‘item number’ mentality has somehow seeped into the rest of the film as well. Very few ‘Bollywood films’ can now be classed as ‘family films’. The only films I would trust would be the ones from the Barjatya family. This family has brought us films like
Dulhan Wahi jo Piya Man Bhaye, Maine Pyar Kiya, Hum Saath Saath Hain and many others. Unfortunately, the audience has been so much influenced by the money-minters that there are fewer and fewer of the Barjatya family type films to be seen these days.

The fact that the number of magazines on our news stands which in some way are connected to the world of cinema and the number of websites dedicated to this industry are only second to those related to politics/news disproves the argument that ‘cinema only reflects
it’s society’. I believe that a few individuals exposed to the western media and culture believed that it is acceptable to impose that on the Indian
audiences and went ahead with the agenda unchallenged. A very small minority can have their views repeatedly visualised on
the cinema screen and push it through the means of ‘popular cinema’ and normalise the views of the masses to influence them
to the extent that they begin to accept that as the norm. I am not suggesting that there were no ills in
the Indian society and sex & sleaze does not happen/did not happen 20 years ago, but thanks to Bollywood, most
youngsters accept this as the norm now. I am sure that male-female relationships at school & college ages now far exceed the levels and cross
the boundaries which would have been unheard of 10-15 years ago. The whole society has been brain-washed to accept this trash. The law-makers and censor boards are in bed with the producers or are too slow to respond that it is too late before they take any action any way. Don’t get me going about the pace of the Indian Legal system!
I am by no means a ‘dinosaur’ or unaware of phrases like ‘evolution’ and
‘progressive society’, but I believe that society can ‘move with the times’
without carrying the ills introduced by this means.

Once this first stage of ‘normailisation’ has been accomplished, then the next steps are to make the bill-boards and hoardings on the streets more bolder and sleazy, television adverts more vulgar,
thereby ignoring that young children will be exposed to these as well. I bet,
then it is the same groups of individuals who gather in their high-society gatherings and complain that ‘the innocence in our children’ does not exist any more and that the ‘children are becoming adults’ at a much earlier age now. They probably event suggest that they would be sending their young children to some exclusive boarding schools where they are taught morals and civic values and not exposed to so much ‘rubbish in the society’.

I hate the hypocrisy of this industry and the wantonness with which films are made and shamelessness of the individuals involved. There is a market for ‘XXX’ rated films and magazines and adverts – let us not let it seep into daytime TV (6 AM to 12 Midnight) and our streets.

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