Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The truth behind Oil PSU salary hike

I hope this to be the last of my article on Oil PSU Officer's strike. The truth has been out and has been given reasonable publicity on the net. Even some media houses has now come to understand how govt propaganda misled them. Star news has issued an apology and TOI had ran articles giving actual facts of the strike. Here is a fig which tell the actual story of pay hike :

After seeing the chart, you need to ask yourself as to how an entry level executive earn 1 lakh per month salary as was said by those half page ad ran by govt during the strike. You also can see from the above chart that the bureaucrats have willfully scaled down the recommendation of the Justice Rao committee. However in their own case, they got it raised handsomely over and above pay commission recommendation. This is called babudom. Why a second committe consisting of only babus were formed to reconsider Justice Rao Committe's recommendation ? Oil PSUs are not like govt department. They do not eat into tax payers money. Rather they generate enormous revenue for the nation by competing with foreign multi nationals. ONGC is now operating in several countries. These Oil PSUs are not run by babus, but by professionals. The babus could not digest the fact that professionals should get suitably rewarded for their efforts.

Just think : If these oil PSUs become sick or sold out to private parties tomorrow, you will be buying Gas Cylinder @400+, Kerosene @50+, Diesel @40+ or more. These so called private players will not bear subsidy. Reliance closed down its petrol even before crude price peaked at $145+. If the oil PSUs are not there, Reliance will be the happiest and will sell at whatever price they want. Prices will be raise fast, but will come down, if any, very slow. Their policy is not different from Private Banks who raised interest rates at every opportune moment, but has not reduced vene after many rate cuts by RBI. They goes up faster than you blink and comes down at snails fast.

I will be posting here few links to give more insight into the struggle of the Oil PSU workers.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Are we living in a democracy

55000 plus oil sector officers, an equal no. workers / staffs and their families are wondering this for last few days. If you think you live in democracy and you have many rights then just read on.

In my earlier post I had mentioned about the lose-lose situation out of the conflict between oil PSU officers and the Govt. The impasse had ended in a lose-lose situation for both. The oil PSU officers strike was literally crushed the most undemocratic way using brute force and false propaganda. The govt which could not even get a single terrorist leader sitting in Pakistan arrested till now had different ideas this time. What if they cannot stop Pakistan, they can certainly crush the voices raised from within the country. What govt did to crush the voices of these officers is unprecedented in our history and has made our head hang is shame.

To crush the agitation, a vilification campaign against the officers association in the media was launched. None in media asked the question as to why the strike took place. We know that media is sellable in India. But we never thought that it will stoop down to such an extent. Zee news even ran a programme calling the officers Deshdrohi. Most of these officers are professionals and pass out from top institutes of India including the IITs and IIMs. They became 'deshdrohi' because they had decided to serve the nation by serving a PSU rather than an MNC. 22 of them lost their lives not so long ago serving the nation in Bombay High and many over the years. Even former President Dr Kalam inaugurated a monument in Dehradun in 2004 dedicated to those brave ONGCians who lost lives serving the nation. But now this congress govt got them branded them as deshdrohis through a sellable cheap TV channel like Zee.

The main reason for strike was to get a pay revision as per Justice Rao committee recommendation. It has been 12 years since last pay revision. How can an organisation retain talents without proper remuneration? Media should have understood that these PSUs are not like govt departments. They are public companies where govt is a major shareholder and they are competing with the best in the world. For example, ONGC is the only Indian company listed in Fortune-500. It has been giving the nation thousands of crores of profit every year. It is possible because it has been able to attract some of the best talent from the top institutes of India. If the govt starts treating them like another govt department then the days are not far when such companies will become sick. During these 12 years, other govt departments had got two pay revisions. But oil PSUs had none. When it ome to their own pay revision, the babus got their salaries revised with hikes more than recommendation of pay revision committee. But when it comes to the PSUs which earn money for the nation, it was scaled down from the pay revision committee recommendations. This is the root of the problem. The pay revision proposed is different from the Justice Rao Committee recommendation. It is prepared by some cunning babus in govt. If the babus were suppose to propose the revision, then why a committee was set up? If implemented the pay revision will actually result in recovery rather than arrear for these PSU employees.

The media showed what govt wanted without bothering to verify them. The govt got it published that the entry level salary for these officers is Rs.1 lakh per month. That is a white lie. Every one of these officers is wondering as to how the salaries are one lakh per month. In fact they will be more than happy if they are paid such a hefty salary. It is understood that a number of interviews were given by PSU leaders during the strike, but none of them were shown. Why it was not shown is easily understandable. And yet we tend to believe that the media is impartial. Leaders were booked under multiple false cases. Rather than attending discussions with govt, they were made to run for life. During this time govt kept getting published that the PSU leaders are adamant and do not want discussion. Then they sent police to find employees and took them at gunpoint and made to work. Unbelievable but real. What a common man like me or you can do when govt is out to get you like that. The shocker is that 64 officers in ONGC, 3 in IOC and 3 in GAIL were handed termination order.

The strike was literally crushed. But this set an alarming precedence. The strike suffered because it was apolitical and struggle of some common people. The leaders of OSOA may have their own political inclination, but the apex body OSOA had no political affiliation. So no political party came to support and govt did what it want. It just crushed the agitation. The message was clear : Common man should not dare to protest. Do you still think that you are living in a democracy?

The realisation of the govt action has started to dawn gradually. This has set dangerous precedence. Voices are rising in political circles over the way govt handled the strike. CPI(M) had passed a resolution condemning such undemocratic action of govt. Every one hope that these officers who were dismissed fighting for 55000 people get their jobs back. It is important that common people should raise their voice against such action of govt. Otherwise you will lose your right to raise concerns. It is heartening to see that voices had risen in the net over such action of govt. But such voices should turn into a movement so that we can live without any fear.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Can you trust the Indian Media?

Oil sector PSU officers are on strike from today demanding an honourable wage revision. Scanning through news channels for strike news, I came across some shocker. Most television news channels are found to be conveying whatever message the govt propoganda wanted to show after garnishing it with their own masala and a bit of crocodile tears for common public. Notable among these are the self proclaimed No.1 channels like Zee news and Aaj Tak. The worst part of it is that most of the channels were actually ignorant of the reasons of the strike.

A situation of conflict got created by the strike between the officers of these premier companies of Govt of India and their controlling ministry. What resulted is a lose-lose situation for both parties. The officers association could not be taken into confidence by the PM by forming a GoM on the eve of the sheduled strike as the petroleum ministry had been making only hollowed promises over last few months. To crush, the agitation the govt unleased a propoganda to villify the oil officers. But these only worsended the situation and this where the govt lost.

The sad part of this story is that for most of us newspaper and news channels are our primary source of information. The worst is that most of us accept or tend to belief as true whatever is written in newspapers. But when you know the facts, you understand the truth behind the news. This makes you think as to how much of all the news you are fed by media for the day are true. This is making many to look for news in the net and independent blogs provides probably one of the most authentic source of information.

The malaise of the Indian media are primarily 1) Unsubstantiated news without any research and 2) Hunger for breaking news for TRP.

Many news items are written according to the handouts handed out by babus and officials holding press conferences in plush hotels. The hospitality decides whether the handouts require editing or not. I had a brief stint at handling outside pressure groups and understood that it was not my cup of tea.

The Breaking News fever of Indian media is still worse. The week after the Mumbai terror attacks, a series on terror was run in national Geographic channel. In one of the shows, they highlighted the case of how terrorists exploiting this hunger for breaking news. Months after the Mumbai attack, it is quite clear now how those breaking news and live coverage of Indian media were actually helping the terrorists. The anchors which were literally shouting to make a point that these pictures are shown live exclusively on his channel, have now gone silent. Some of these news anchors are incompetent but tries to be jack of all trade and runs shows on subject without even having minimum knowledge on the subject. Fortunately we still have a few good news channels and good newspapers which gives relatively better news, if not 100% accurate. Though most of the media are sellable, not all of them are doing yellow journalism.

As I had started with the issue of indefinite strike by all oil sector PSU, I need to let you know a few facts. It is quite obvious that the hardship caused to common man by any strike creates bad feeling for the group indulged in it. But a strike is always a last resort in a democratic country. Gandhiji started this peaceful process of hartal. One should understand that the group had exhausted all its available peaceful means to go for a life crippling strike. By this direct confontation and conflict, some of the officers had put their job at risk. 55000 others had lent their support to it. For the Govt a lot is at stake with election looming just a couple of months away. But who will gain from a lose-lose situation?