Independence Day Message to Mr. Modi

Dear Prime Minister,

Happy Independence Day!  Congratulations as you present the first Independence Day speech as the Prime Minister of India. Your election campaigning style, hard work, rising from a tea seller to the Prime Minister is an inspiration to the new India.  Ideas are plenty, execution is reality. I understand the intricacies of governance. However, there are 5 things we could change quickly.

IRCTC Website: I understand our personable and ever smiling Railway Minister is working hard to make the rail & technology systems efficient. We talk about bullet trains from Mumbai – Ahmedabad.   We expect apple quality from the IRCTC website. I planned a trip from Chennai to Coimbatore and the tickets are always sold out (a great problem to have). I used the online system to check the ticket prices and it was a conundrum to tackle. TATKAL booking never works and the site is jammed. The user interface is poor. With the country that hosts Infosys and Wipro Engineers, this should not be a difficult problem to solve and we just need to have the right minds in place.

Transparency in tenders for Road Work:  The only thing that does not change in India is roads being repaired every other week for maintenance. Unfortunately, our roads are not able to withstand a even a drizzle.  This is a picture from Anna Nagar (Chennai), taken after a drizzle on Tuesday night.

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Price per square feet of an apartment in this area is Rs. 14,000+ and 1 ground(2400 sq.ft) is sold at a whopping Rupees 40000000+.  Who is doing the road repair work? What is being spent on the road-work? Why do these roads break after every rain? We don’t have answers for these questions. With potholes everywhere, it is very unsafe to drive and travel during rains. Can we coordinate better with the state governments so the ownership of the repair work, cost being spent on repair, warranty of work, be published on a website / news media so that, public is aware and we know who is accountable for the mess on roads.

Better the life for a Construction Worker : In the last 10 years or so, we have high rises coming up across the country. This is certainly a welcome trend. However, I do not think we have learnt a lesson from the recent Moulivakkam incident.  This is a larger problem than an one off incident.  This is not a Chennai issue but a nationwide trend. I have not seen any stringent measures taken to prevent such incidents in the future.  The sad part is, we have no clue on why the Moulivakkam mishap happened. More laws are being put in place , however this is only seen as extra steps in approval process for building construction and as we all know, aggravates the problem.  Quick things we could do to improve the living conditions for a construction worker: 1. No cash payment for workers, all payments need to be made by check. The construction company or the contractor company will do the job of opening bank accounts for all the workers and do a direct deposit to the respective construction workers bank account. 2. Health & Life Insurance for all construction workers (to be taken care by the construction company). The construction companies in business are mid-large enterprises. I am sure they understand the severity of life and with strict execution and able leadership, everyone will fall in line.

Set up a Small Claims Court:   There is a big overhaul required to clean-up the judicial system (we all understand this). How about we setup a small claims court so disputes can be settled then and there. Claims and disputes less than Rs. 1 Lakh will be taken up by a small claims judge and decision can be made in a single hearing. This system is successful in the United States. This will be a welcome first step to clean up our judicial system (decisions take several decades and the plaintiff and defendant become deceased by the time we have a verdict). Setting up small claims court will be a great first step and we will at least have a feel of quick decisions.

Reverse the Tolerance Trend: People have a great tolerance level when it comes to poor work by the government and we are used to the ‘chalta hai’ attitude. However the law makers of the land are very sensitive if questions are raised.  Can we have all the 543 parliamentarians come up with their own 5 point agenda for their respective constituency for the next 1 year. We can monitor their progress every month/ 2 months and report them on the Lok Sabha website. At the end of the year, it is for everyone to see each parliamentarian’s accomplishment.  The next year we have another 5 point agenda. We do not want to wait 5 years to find out what was & not achieved. This will also assist in our Less Government and More Governance mantra.

I understand execution is tough and not sure if you would have the time to read through this letter. However like every Indian who aspires for a better India, I thought it is important to pen my notes as we all care of this great country.

Happy Independence Day. Thank you Prime Minister.

Sincerely,

Karthik Chidambaram.