#GST is done, now work on GST-II

Finally the GST (Goods & Services Tax) in India is done if not dusted yet after being in the works for a decade.  From a foreign investor perspective, GST and FDI in Multi-brand retail are the initiatives that bracket India as a perennial “Work in Progress” economy.  Now is the time I believe to give a crack on another GST – “Good & Smooth Traffic” that is.

Traffic 2

Consider the situation in all the key cities of India today. In Delhi/NCR as I personally experienced last week, it just took one shower for an hour or so to bring Gurgaon oops Gurugram on its knees.  From the Delhi airport to the end of Gurugram took me 4 hours on a week day evening that too when it was supposedly against the traffic. I was lucky. The subsequent days it took more than 6 hours I was told. The CM had to do an aerial survey to understand the gravity of the jam!

In Mumbai these days you have traffic jams everywhere. In the so called freeways, Expressways, main roads, arterial roads, streets, gallis,.. everywhere.  Yes, in the air too. Flights departing out of and landing into Mumbai post 6 pm are routinely delayed due to air traffic congestion! And as I found today, even supermarkets are not spared of mammoth traffic. The space between racks are choked with oversized trolleys and sea of people that negotiating your way out is worse than Mumbai roads. I see this routinely in the neighbourhood supermarkets every weekend and sometimes on weekdays even. (Based on this, one is inclined to believe that “Achhe Din” have indeed arrived for the Great Indian Middle Class!!!).  Year after year during monsoons in Mumbai, the city resembles a Moon’s surface. May be it rains potholes!! For the Aam admi, every day it is “one small step becoming a giant leap” (as the pot holes are so big, deep and wide). For the city of Mumbai, Niantic the company behind the latest craze in town – Pokemon Go is better advised to go with a modified version “Pothole Go” which could be a runaway hit but slowed by traffic jams.

Ease of commute to work has become the single biggest hygiene factor these days for candidates when they seek a job. So much so, recently in a job interview the candidate asked me if we would anytime shift the office from current location and if yes, will it be still in the vicinity!! It is completely understandable I guess. With commuting and whatsapping sapping a lot of one’s time these days, “me time or family time” is on the shrink.

In India’s Silicon Valley and IT capital, “going live today” has a different meaning these days which is – atleast moving ahead in traffic while on the road. In peak hours it doesn’t matter where you are going and from where. Couple of hours on the road is a given. Columnist and now MP Swapan Dasgupta once tweeted “The unending journey from the airport to anywhere in Bangalore…” I would replace the words “the Airport” to “anywhere” now. The city missed a few crucial years in development when IT was on fire. Today, it is facing the heat of that miss.

In Chennai, if the Govt. spends one tenth of the money the parties spend on posters on building flyovers over key junctions, the city will be a different place to live. I am told that a 30km stretch of OMR (Old Mahalipuram Road) has only 11 signals!!.  Besides the myriad engineering college buses and IT companies transport vehicles, you will be lucky if you get some space to move your humble two wheeler.

In all these cities, the common story is of exponential growth with infrastructure not keeping pace at all. More often than not, a project planned today with certain expected growth in traffic becomes obsolete by the time it is commissioned as it usually takes 3 times longer time than planned. A very good case in point is the Chembur-Santacruz Link road in Mumbai which was opened amidst much fanfare and talk of smoother East- West connectivity and how one can reach the airport from Ghatkopar in 15 mins. 3 years after commissioning its already bursting at the seams. And in all these cities, there is very limited scope for road widening or expansion anymore. So this naturally calls of holistic planning with alternative modes of transport (like Metro) and also project conception and execution today with 25 years hence traffic in mind.

Ease of Traffic which essentially means less time on commuting has to become a National charter now. It won’t be too far when along with Bijli, Sadak, Paani and Bandwidth – Roadwidth gets into the National discourse during elections. So from a political perspective as well, focusing on less traffic on roads will become a game changer in the future. And the party which appreciates that and works on the same gets to reap the dividend. So I urge that the present Govt. to start work on “GST-II” asap. Just like how the central govt has to work jointly with the states for a smooth roll out first and then implementation of the GST reform, on the traffic also the Central Govt. must work with the states to give this a high priority work to a plan in all the key cities.  And like how “One nation, One tax” is becoming a reality considering India’s highly complicated historical tax regime, “Single nation, Smooth traffic” will soon become the need of the hour if not it is already.

I am not sure if the Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari’s children are politically inclined. I would presume so. If he starts work on this idea of a GST-II bill now, most likely it would become a reality during their time!!!

An Ode to the Odd – Even Formula!!!

DelhiIn a few hours from now, the capital city of IndiaDelhi will be at odds with the rest of the country in terms of daily commuting. For a few days now, the aam admi of the city has been at odds over their Aam Oddmi Party Govt’s big idea to improve their city’s air. The city’s Odd – Even Car formula by which Odd number cars are allowed on odd number days and Even numbered cars on even days is expected to cause much inconvenience and agony to the public or so it is fraught. Though the intention of the Govt. to clean up the city’s air has been noble, few odd questions arise over the decision making process and the execution of the Odd – Even scheme. Comparisons of Arvind Kejriwal with Mohammad Bin Tughluq another erstwhile ruler of Delhi who was notoriously popular for his decision making skills are odious but not completely off the mark. Almost everyone I met in Delhi ever since this scheme has been announced was of the opinion that this audacious decision has been taken in haste without giving a thought on the implications where the public transport is lacking in terms of network and the public lacking in terms of  social conscience. The Government’s view has been that this is only one of the slew of measures taken to reduce the air pollution and is being done considering the oddinary citizen’s health. The odded benefit would also be the improvement in the city’s traffic with reduced vehicles on the road or so they claim. So now what will happen if taking a leaf from Mr Kejriwal’s book many others try to introduce their version of Odd – Even scheme to find a solution to other problems?

  • Like In Tirupati temple where there is huge crowd every day. They can introduce Odd – Even Scheme wherein on Odd Days only people born on Odd days will be allowed 😁. This will help the oddministration in better crowd control,.. Even the lines in Loddu Prasad counters will be halved😁😁. Based on the success here the same can be duplicated in other places of worship where huge crowds throng like Sabarimala, Siddhi Vinayak temple, Vaishnodevi, Haji Ali,…
  • Like oddopting this scheme in the Railways reservation site irctc.co.in – which usually crashes or is very slow due to the rush of people using it day and day out. By this scheme on Odd days people travelling on odd days only can book tickets and so on😁.
  • Like following this in Mumbai suburban trains which transports probably 10 times its rated capacity every day. By letting only people born on odd days to travel on odd days – straightaway the cro(w)dd will be reduced to 5 times its rated capacity😁. Its performance will improve by leaps and bounds I’m sure.
  • Like copy pasting this scheme for the parliament functioning or rather nonfunctioning. Allow ruling party to disrupt on odd days and opposition parties to create ruckus on even days. By this our parliament will still not function (but who cares) but the proceedings will be more presentable while watching on TV 😁😁.
  • Like implementing this Odd Even formula instead of total prohibition in states. You don’t then miss out on the tax collections but at the same time end up partially controlling the so called ills of drinking. Next time the Tasmac bar opens in the morning – there will be only half the number of Bevoddas 😁😁
  • Like Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Shah Rukh agreeing to oddopt this formula when they want to release their films together. SRK films will be shown at even time shows (2.00 pm, 4.00 pm,..) and Bhansalis’ at odd time shows😁. By this both will manage to divide and rule while keeping their respective egos at odds.
  • Like the Ecom sites (Flipkart, Amazon,..) coming to an agreement on using the Odd Even system. Flipkart will run its shopping festivals on Odd days and Amazon on Even days. For Aam oddmi – it is everyday celebration!
  • Like the Central Government internalizing this Odd Even program for Population control. Enacting a law (if Rajya Sabha functions that is) whereby people staying in Odd numbered houses will have sex on Odd days and so on,..😁😁 This will turn out to be better than distribution of free coddoms!
  • ,…,…

We can go odd and odd 😜😜

What an Oddea Sirji? Isn’t it odd that it took so long for somebody to come up with such a Big Idea that could solve our country’s many ills??

Soon India will become a country that went against the odds and came up trumps!

On that odd note – whether you are born on an odd day or even day – no Odd – Even formula here – my wishes to you for a fantastic year filled with happiness and great health😁😁😁