Sunday January 20, 2019
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Differences down under: India & Australia

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By Kushagra Bhatnagar

The article is about the experiences of an Indian who moved to Australia. The differences he witnessed in the functioning style of both the countries’ governments and societies.

Australia: I migrated to Australia in 2008. Since then I have been observing the Australian way of life rather minutely in comparison with the Indian way. There are stark differences between the two societies, and we all know most of them. Each one of us has their own way of explaining away the differences especially when the Indian side appears to be weaker, which it is in many cases.

However, I am not going to discuss the most commonly known real as well as the perceived differences. I am taking up the difference in the way the governments of the two countries handle regulations. The glaring difference exists in the fact that many businesses in India are completely unregulated while those same businesses in Australia (and I suspect in most of the developed world as well) are strongly regulated. Let us study a few of them one by one.

It is no discovery that two of the most unregulated breeds in India are commercial drivers and builders/developers. The commercial drivers whether for taxis, auto-rickshaws, trucks or buses are hardly under any kind of regulations. With total impunity, they feel free to cheat customers, behave rudely with them, violate traffic rules, not to speak of occasional rape of some hapless woman. No government has so far been able to rein in these people. Why? Because this crowd forms a strong vote bank.

Any effort to control their conduct is perceived to be politically unwise. This may or may not be true because no one has tried it. This needs no passing of bills in parliament; this needs no presidential ordinance; this just needs those in power to enforce the law with a stern hand.

Now we have some muddled minded rulers in India who had issued the dictum that the taxi/auto-rickshaw drivers are free to do what suits them. The police cannot book them for refusing a fare, for misbehaving with a customer, overcharging and even for drunken driving. Anyone residing in the national capital Delhi would vouch for the misery commuters have to suffer at the hands of the misbehaving lot of taxi/auto-rickshaw drivers. So in effect, the only law for this lot is that there is no law.

In sharp contrast in Australia, all the commercial drivers are strongly regulated. While an ordinary citizen has the chance of getting away lightly for traffic offenses, the commercial drivers have zero chance. One error and he loses his license, making him unemployable as a driver. I know for sure that even in Dubai and Turkey the commercial drivers are subject to tight discipline. Even the slightest over speeding will have the driver’s license taken away for a few years. Second offense and he loses his license for life.

Likewise, the builders/developers in India also enjoy the luxury of working in a regulation-free environment. Name any aspect of bad, irrational, unruly, unethical, customer unfriendly, outright cheating, fraudulent business conduct and you will find this lot is guilty of it.

They enjoy complete, unrestricted freedom of whatever business practice each one of them wishes to employ. Why? We cannot explain this nonsense by trying to link this with the politician’s’ fear of losing an election. This lot does not exist in numbers that are large enough to become a vote bank. So why the inexplicable liberty? Possibly the black money. We all know that property market is the largest creator of black money. It creates black money and it also consumes black money.

A great proportion of parallel economy thrives in the property market. Who are the people with enormous amounts of unaccounted money? Of course, the politicians. Hence, it stands to reason that they have a huge stake in the property market. This is why irrespective of which party is in power or out of it, this lobby continues to make merry at the expense of the customers. If I as a politician invest billion rupees in property market, I will jolly well make absolutely sure that the people who handle the market remain protected at all times.

Again in sharp contrast the builders/developers are regulated with strong rules in Australia which do not permit any discretionary powers to the bureaucrats or politician which can be misused. We all know there is a thin, practically invisible line between discretion and discrimination.

(The article was first published at http://indiantimes.com.au/)

Next Story

U.S. President Donald Trump To Address The Nation Regarding The Shutdown

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers missed a paycheck last week and are set to miss another next week.

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USA, Trump
During a training drill, a Customs and Border Protection official stops the flow of northbound traffic at entrance to the San Ysidro port of entry, Jan. 10, 2019, seen from Tijuana, Mexico. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump says he will make a major announcement about the government shutdown and border security during an address to the nation Saturday.

Trump said the announcement from the White House will take place at 3 p.m. Eastern Time and will address “the humanitarian crisis on our southern border.”

A standoff between Democrats and Republicans over funding for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border has led to a government shutdown, which is 29-days-old Saturday.

Trump has called for more than $5 billion in taxpayer funding for the wall, while Democrats have offered more than $1 billion in new money for border security, but none specifically for a wall.

Democratic sources say the money will be included in a packet of spending bills the House will consider next week: $524 million to improve ports of entry and $563 million to hire more immigration judges.

USA, trump
This Jan. 14, 2019, photo released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows some of 376 Central Americans arrested in southwest Arizona for crossing into the United States illegally. They used holes dug under a barrier to cross in multiple spots. VOA

Shutdown travel dispute

The dispute over the wall and the government shutdown also led to a dispute between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over her plans to travel to Afghanistan.

Pelosi accused the White House on Friday of leaking information about her planned trip to fly commercially to Afghanistan after Trump denied Pelosi the use of a military plane for the trip.

Pelosi said it was “very irresponsible on the part of the president” to release details about her sensitive travel plans, which the State Department said significantly increased the security threat on the ground.

The White House denied leaking Pelosi’s flight plans.

USA, trump
An Air Force bus waits on the plaza of the Capitol after President Donald Trump used his executive power to deny military aircraft to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just before she was depart to visit troops abroad, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 17, 2019.. VOA

Trump on Thursday revoked the use of a military plane for Pelosi and Democratic members of Congress to fly to Afghanistan to visit U.S. troops and to Brussels to meet with NATO allies. It was the latest maneuver in a bitter political battle over the shutdown, which is now the longest such government stoppage in U.S. history.

In a letter to the speaker, the president said that “in light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate.”

A spokesperson for Pelosi’s office said the trip would have provided “critical national security and intelligence briefings” as well as served as an opportunity for Pelosi to thank the troops.

The speaker’s office said, “In light of the grave threats caused by the president’s action, the delegation has decided to postpone the trip so as not to endanger our troops or security personnel.”

The president’s letter did not directly address Pelosi’s call Wednesday for Trump to delay his scheduled Jan. 29 State of the Union address until government funding was restored and the shutdown ended.

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Construction crews install new border wall sections, Jan. 9, 2019, seen from Tijuana, Mexico. VOA

“This is completely inappropriate by the president,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters outside Pelosi’s office Thursday. “We’re not going to allow the president of the United States to tell the Congress it can’t fulfill its oversight responsibilities.”

No end in sight to shutdown

The back-and-forth between the White House and the speaker indicated there was no end in sight to the standoff.

“While many Democrats in the House and Senate would like to make a deal, Speaker Pelosi won’t let them negotiate,” Trump said in a speech at the Defense Department. “Hopefully, Democrat lawmakers will step forward to do what is right for our country, and what’s right for our country is border security at the strongest level.”

Democrats insist they will negotiate stronger, more effective border security measures once the government reopens, but that a border wall would be wasteful, ineffective and a blight on America’s image.

Pelosi, the top-ranking congressional Democrat, said Trump’s “insistence on the wall is a luxury we can no longer afford.”

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A National Park entrance fee collection service is temporarily suspended at Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park, the lowest point in North America, during the partial U.S. government shutdown, in Death Valley, California, U.S., Jan. 10, 2019. VOA

Later Thursday, Trump also canceled a planned trip by a U.S. delegation to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The delegation, consisting of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and presidential assistant Chris Liddell, was scheduled to travel next week.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the president wanted to make sure “his team can assist as needed” during the government shutdown.

Workers missing paychecks

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers missed a paycheck last week and are set to miss another next week.

U.S. President Donald Trump says he will make a major announcement about the government shutdown and border security during an address to the nation Saturday.

Also Read: Partial Shutdown of US Delays Space Missions, But NASA Not Grounded

“Not only are these workers not paid, they are not appreciated by this administration,” said Pelosi. “We should respect what they do for their country.”

Pelosi’s move on the State of the Union drew sharp criticism from Senate Republicans.

“By disinviting POTUS for SOTU, Pelosi erased any pretext for her unwillingness to negotiate an end to the shutdown. It is personal, petty and vindictive,” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas tweeted Thursday. (VOA)