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The undercover boss

When Akbar wandered the alleyways of Old Delhi, he didn't announce it with sun-guns and boom mikes . It is amazing that the media begins to talk of how finally here is a person of the people, who has descended from on high to walk the earth with mere humans

I was, as is often my wont, watching TV the other day, not really looking for inspiration or enlightenment, but sort of floating along in the hope of being entertained, when I came across this program called Undercover Boss on BBC Entertainment.

This is not a program as you may wrongly surmise from the title about the CEO of Victoria's Secret. This is about the czars or at the very least paid satraps of various enterprises who purportedly go incognito to meet their humble minions and see for them what happens, as you may say, in the belly of the beast. There they find hidden truths, real insights and the like which, in the wonderfully sugar coated world of television, transforms them and their companies. Care and nurture and sympathy then flows from every pixel of the screen.

I am usually sanguine about these things, believing as I do in the innate goodness of people with few exceptions. Vlad the Impaler springs to mind. (I am of course curious as to how these CEO's remain unidentified, given that there is a camera crew following them around. I presume there is a cover story for this undercover work, which is readily credible.)

But it is television after all, reality now passing for art.

This of course started me thinking. (Amazing how I can start thinking like this with such little to go on. Impressive!) I thought about ancient kings and apparently even queens who would descend from their palaces cloaked as commoners or disguised as mendicants and who would wander the streets and villages of their kingdom revealing themselves to no one, trying to measure the satisfaction index of their rule.

It is presumed that this resulted in a kinder more benevolent realm. One can't say for sure, since this was chronicled by fawning royal historians. In a sense this is like today's TV and you can't really be sure. But it is for sure that when Akbar wandered the alleyways of Old Delhi, he didn't announce it with sun-guns and boom mikes.

And now in my enchanted land, I see the Overcover Boss at work: The politician who says he will undertake a 'Padayatra', a journey on foot across the rural landscape of a federal state or two. He may or may not actually walk, and may be ferried by helicopter to convenient staging points.

Or there is the more flamboyant 'Rath Yatra' which has signifying nods to Royal Chariots, nay, even to the temple chariots of Jagannath from whence we derive the word juggernaut. So we have our versions of the Popemobile which are flamboyantly decorated campers that drive the politician from town to town, village to village where quote adoring unquote citizens come out in thousands to cheer and exhort their hero. This form of the 'boss' wandering his lands is always as the politician will tell you, issue based. As in, they have an issue with the other party and they would rather get the voters to duke it out than roll up their sleeves and fight it out like knights of yore.

We also have the heart-warming stories of the youth icon who sups with the lower caste villager, photo-op and all thrown in. I of course think why this would even be written about, if for example he had dined with a not low caste but equally poor villager. Or going further, in extremis, if he had dined with a non-poor, non-low caste person, me for example!
The answer is that it makes for good TV as Murdoch might say. We don't seem to realize that we only perpetuate the idiom of high and low caste by harping on their unfortunate accident of birth, economic circumstance becoming a secondary footnote.

Hey, but that's just me, being contrarian as usual.

The reason for all this al fresco dining is apparently so that one can truly understand the nature of what ails these people. (I could tell you all that in one word but I wouldn't make for good copy.)  It is amazing that the media begins to talk of how finally, here is a person of the people, who has descended from on high to walk the earth with mere humans.

This too is reality TV.

In all fairness the youth icon is a darn sight better looking than half the TV stars.

So from the anonymous and concerned truth seeker to the well publicized vote seeker: what a journey we have made my countrymen?

We seek no truth about what the poor man is going through, beyond the advantage we perceive in its newsworthiness, or that we can use to cast aspersions at the others who also live in glass palaces of power.
If we really wanted to know what people thought of their so-called leaders, we might have considered the anonymity of modern day market research.

But we already know what people think of their 'bosses'. And most of it would be unprintable and eminently 'bleep able'.

Unfortunately, we don't even seek the saccharine transformation of the undercover boss.



Nagesh Kini FCA

5 years ago

There is neither the undercover Akbar nor Birbal nor Tenali Raman going round incognito. From Pope mobile to airconditioned Raths to heli-dropping.

The so-called 'Peoples Icon' Annaji has lost his sheen more particularly because of the patent misdemenours of his followers like Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi. Political posturing in Hissar to settle brownie points. Sarkari Sadhu Ram Dev and Agnivesh jumping on the band wagon off and on all just smeared his image and it was left to Mumbai to undo Ram Lila!

The governing party is equally to be blamed for bending backwards -
a. Negotiating with Ramdev at Airports and Imperial Hotel,
b. Indulging in getting a self-styled group of Civil Society, when they ought to have had a more broad based dialogue with many others,
c.Giving unrealistic promises and assurances of getting the bill passed when they did not have the numbers.

What the country needs is better enforcement and implementation of the existing IPC, CPC, Prevention Of Corruption Act, RTI.

The gory happenings in both Houses live broadcast of misbehaving, howling and screaming MPs only filibustering all long is not what we, the people want.

As Citizens, we need to be heard as laid out by the 73rd and 74th Amendments. The Parliament cannot be more supreme that the people who elect them.

The Lok Pal Bill fall flat for the 9th or it is nth time?

Oil Ministry refers RIL marketing margin issue to EGoM

The Petroleum Ministry, which had long held that the marketing margin was a bilateral issue between the buyer and seller of gas, referred it to the EGoM after user industries like fertilisers sought a clarification on the legality of the levy

New Delhi: The Petroleum Ministry has asked a ministerial panel to decide if Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) can charge a marketing margin over-and-above the government-approved sale price for KG-D6 gas, reports PTI.

The issue of the $0.135 per million British thermal unit marketing margin charged by RIL "to cover for the risk and cost associated with marketing of gas" has been referred to an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, official sources said.

The Oil Ministry, which had long held that the marketing margin was a bilateral issue between the buyer and seller of gas, referred it to the EGoM after user industries like fertilisers sought a clarification on the legality of the levy.

In addition, the Central Vigilance Commission had in September asked the ministry to furnish reasons why it was not involved in fixing the marketing margin.

The ministry's technical arm, the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), too, had opined that RIL should share a part of these earnings with the government. It wanted the marketing margin to be added to the gas sales price of $4.20 per mmBtu and profit-sharing between the contractor and the government to happen at the combined rate of $4.335 per mmBtu.

At present, RIL and the government split profits at the gas sales price of $4.20 per mmBtu after deducting the project cost.

Sources said RIL has contested DGH's view, saying the marketing margin was a cost levied beyond the gas delivery flange and as such, was not regulated by the Production Sharing Contract (PSC).
The PSC provides for fixation of the gas price at the 'delivery point', the point at which an upstream operator transfers custody of gas to a marketing and transportation agency. That point for the eastern offshore KG-D6 gas is Kakinada, in Andhra Pradesh, and the government had in 2007 approved a gas price of $4.205 per mmBtu at the delivery point.
State-owned gas utility GAIL India also charges up to $0.18 per mmBtu as a marketing margin on gas it transports and none of it is shared with the government.
The DGH demand also ran contrary to the stance the ministry took on the issue in Parliament last year.
The then-Petroleum Minister Murli Deora on 24 February 2010 told the Rajya Sabha that companies like RIL need not share the marketing margin with the government as it was a bilateral issue between the seller and the buyer.
"The said price ($4.2 mmBtu for five years) does not include any charge beyond the PSC delivery point. The marketing margin (levied by RIL) is beyond the delivery point and arises as a result of the gas sale and purchase agreement signed between the seller and the buyer," Mr Deora had said.


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