A private citizen changed a banking law in 90 days!

Early this year, when 69-year-old Mr. J. P. Vaghani, a Mumbai businessman, wanted to file a cheque bouncing case, he learnt that, according to a new rule (as per a Supreme Court order in 2014), a case under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act must be initiated at the place where the branch of the bank on which the cheque was drawn is located. This meant that Mr. Vaghani could not file the case at Borivali, where he had deposited the cheque. He would have to file a case in Kurla, the location of the bank from where the cheque was dishonoured. This meant he would have to travel from Borivali to Kurla and back, totally over 50 kilometers, for every hearing!

Mr. Vaghani decided to do something about this and, if possible, get the Supreme Court verdict reversed.

On March 15, 2015, he wrote to the Law Minister of India, referring to last year’s judgement, which was “tantamount to harassment of the complainants and benefited the accused who issued the dishonoured cheques.”

“In such circumstances, if business takes place between Mumbai and Delhi and a Mumbai trader delivers material at Delhi and receives a cheque in Delhi which gets dishonoured, then as per recent judgment, the Mumbai trader has to run to Delhi to file a case at the drawee bank’s jurisdiction for recovery and again as per the court, dates arise at his own cost leaving all his business at Mumbai,” Mr. Vaghani’s letter stated.

On April 22, the Union Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cleared the amendment to the Act clarifying the jurisdictional issues for trying dud cheque cases.

On June 10, the Union Cabinet decided to promulgate an Ordinance to the effect that “the offence of rejection/return of cheque under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act will be enquired into and tried only by a Court within whose local jurisdiction the bank branch of the payee, where the payee presents the cheque for payment, is situated.”

The Ordinance was signed and promulgated by President Pranab Mukherjee on June 15 – proving a huge victory for Mr. Vaghani’s efforts.

Of course, the ordinance would have to be approved by both houses of parliament within six months of being promulgated.

A banking law was amended in 90 days just because a private citizen “decided to do something about this”!!

For complete details, please read this Economic Times report.

Can’t our politicians read the writing on the wall, or are they refusing to read it?

Manish Tewari: “People wanted to teach BJP and its arrogance a lesson, they decided AAP is instrument of their choice rather Congress.”

Mamata Banerjee: “This is a victory for the people and a big defeat for the arrogant and those who are doing political vendetta & spreading hate among people.”

Nitish Kumar: “Delhi election results indeed is a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Delhi is the heart of the country so it reflects the mood of the country.”

Derek O’Brien: “A thrilling Tuesday for AAP & everyone of us who supported them, tight slap on BJP’s divisive politics.”

Vaiko (V. Gopalsamy, Founder, MDMK, Tamil Nadu): “People have staged a silent democratic revolution. They have taught a lesson to the Hindutva forces and the Modi government which has been supporting them.”

These are a few reactions from prominent anti-BJP politicians. All of them are celebrating AAP’s victory as BJP’s defeat, claiming that the fact that BJP’s vote-share dropped by 14% from the 2014 Lok Sabha elections shows that the Indian voter is disillusioned with the BJP government, and hoping that BJP will be defeated by them in assembly elections in the near future.

What they are unable or unwilling to realise is that AAP has won a positive vote from the people of Delhi. In the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, quite a few Delhi voters had declared, “Modi for PM, Kejriwal for CM.” This probably explains the 14% swing from the BJP to the AAP.

The best explanation I’ve come across so far is from Deelip Mhaske, who had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election as an AAP candidate from Jalna in Maharashtra: “We as alert citizens are able to create alternatives to traditional politics. This has to be the win of alternative politics over traditional politics. …. Every political party will learn a lesson — that Indians need action. No more will we blindly trust politicians, and we the ‘People of India’ are ready to take politics in our hands. …..

AAP’s win will change Indian politics forever. It will generate tremendous synergy among other social activists across India to be part of politics. Once good people join politics, naturally politics will change. A change in politics and political leaders will bring new ideas and transparent ways for governance.”

The people of India want results. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the people of Delhi voted for Narendra Modi because they thought he can deliver results as India’s PM. In the 2015 Delhi Assembly elections, they voted for Arvind Kejriwal because they thought he can deliver results as Delhi’s CM. The verdicts in both these elections are wake-up calls for all politicians and political parties, giving a clear message:Deliver or be voted out!

Can’t our politicians read the writing on the wall, or are they refusing to read it?

It’s OK to make honest mistakes!

Hindustan Times reported that, in his first meeting with nearly 80 secretary-rank officers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanded quick and bold decisions from the top bureaucrats, telling them not to worry about prosecuting agencies. He promised to back them all the way if they make honest mistakes. This reminded me of one of my own experiences.

A few years back, a customer reported a problem in a machine that had been supplied by us just over a year earlier. When our Service Engineer checked the machine, he found that a part had got badly worn out and had to be replaced. He informed the customer, who asked us to supply the part immediately. Since the machine’s warranty had expired, he would have to pay Rs. 6,000 for the part.

The next morning, another Service Engineer met me and informed me that he had worked on the same machine the previous week. The damaged part had been perfectly OK then. Since it had got badly worn out in a very short time, he felt that he might have made some mistake while refixing the part that day. He had obtained the correct procedure from the manufacturer. Now, he was sure that he had indeed made a mistake. He felt that we must not charge the customer for the replacement part and offered to pay for it himself.

I immediately replied that, while he had definitely made a mistake, I appreciated his honesty, particularly because nobody would have known if he hadn’t pointed out his own mistake. I also turned down his offer to pay for the part because, since his employer gets full credit for his good work, his employer will also take full responsibility for his mistakes.

We informed the customer exactly what had happened, assured him that the part was being replaced free of cost, and apologised for the inconvenience caused to him.

This Service Engineer was in the last month of probation when this incident took place. Prior to this incident, we were not sure whether we would confirm his appointment. However, because of this incident, his appointment was confirmed!

Obviously, we rewarded the Service Engineer for his honesty. Why didn’t we penalize him in any way for having made a mistake? Please read the quotes below.

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing. – George Bernard Shaw

Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time. – George Bernard Shaw

If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes. – John Wooden

Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations. – Steve Jobs

An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field. – Niels Bohr

No man ever became great or good except through many and great mistakes. – William E. Gladstone

I’ve learned that mistakes can often be as good a teacher as success. – Jack Welch

I was taking myself very seriously when I was going through life changes. And I realized that I needed to laugh at myself, particularly at my mistakes. – Spencer Johnson

Take risks. Ask big questions. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; if you don’t make mistakes, you’re not reaching far enough. – David Packard

I love mistakes because it’s the only way you learn. – Jane Fonda

I wouldn’t change anything because the mistakes and the hurt are as important as all the great fights. They made me who I am today. – Sugar Ray Leonard

You make your mistakes to learn how to get to the good stuff. – Quincy Jones

To swear off making mistakes is very easy. All you have to do is swear off having ideas. – Leo Burnett

What can I do if ‘they’ litter?

The “Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan” was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 02, 2014. There have been many reactions, most of which have pessimistically stated that India can never be clean.

Among the many problems that need correction is our habit of treating our nation as one large dustbin, or to put it politely, our habit of littering.

On July 25, 2013, I had published a post Can India ever be clean? … Yes! Today, I am presenting an edited version of that post.

My colleague and I were driving back to office after having visited a customer. We had stopped at a traffic signal. To our left was a popular street-food stall. There was the usual crowd of customers and a huge pile of disposable plates outside the dustbin next to the stall.

My colleague exploded, “Why are these idiots throwing the plates around the empty dustbin? Why can’t they throw the plates into the dustbin? It doesn’t involve any extra effort. They will never change! These people will always litter!!”

I replied, “People can change, and can be made to stop littering. I’ll explain how. But, firstly, why do you say “They will never change.” Why not “We will never change.”?”

My colleague replied, “People like you and I are different from the majority. We are aware of cleanliness, hygiene, etc. But, we are in a hopelessly small minority. The people who are totally ignorant about cleanliness, hygiene, etc. create filth by littering indiscriminately!”

I countered, “Wrong on both counts! Firstly, we may be better than many of our compatriots, but we are definitely a part of the problem. Secondly, we can make a difference. You’ve told me that you and your family are regular filmgoers who enjoy not just the film, but also the popcorn you eat while watching the film. What do you do with your empty popcorn packet?”

“I crumple it and throw it under my seat,” my colleague replied.

“What do your wife and your (6 years old) daughter do with their empty popcorn packets?” I asked.

“They also crumple the packets and throw them under their seats,” he replied.

“Did you instruct your daughter to do that?” I asked.

Realising what I was driving at, he replied, “Obviously, she’s copying her parents.”

“Correct!” I exclaimed. “You probably picked up this littering habit from your parents. Your daughter picked it up from you. Two decades from now, her child will pick up the same littering habit from her. What’s the point of being “aware of cleanliness, hygiene, etc.”? Next time, why don’t you and your wife fold the empty packets and keep them, to be thrown into the dustbin while leaving the theatre after the film ends? And don’t wait for your daughter to copy you. Tell her to follow your example. That would be a good beginning: 3 persons changed for the better! The 3 of you should spread this message to others, and ask them to spread the message further. It won’t be easy, but if you are persistent, you will achieve considerable improvement over some time. One thing’s for sure: things won’t get worse!”

After a long silence, my colleague said, “I agree things can improve to some extent. But, can Indians ever stop littering?”

I replied, “I’m sure there are a lot of persons like you who speak very passionately about this matter. All such persons should transfer their passion from speech to action, stop littering and make people around them stop littering. Every person who stops littering should make people around her/him stop littering. Eventually, all Indians will stop littering!”

What do you think?

A constable’s brave reply to Prime Minister Modi!

On October 2, 2014, during the launch of the Swachh Bharat campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi picked up a broom to sweep the parking area of Mandir Marg Police Station in New Delhi. He then asked the police personnel present why they did not keep their workplace clean.

While all the other police personnel responded with the usual embarrassed silence, one constable told Modi the police station was not clean because “a majority of them (policemen) remained occupied with his security route and they just didn’t have the time for anything else”.

The constable’s honest, and brave, reply has prompted the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) to re-evaluate the deployment of nearly 500 security personnel during Mr. Modi’s movement in the Capital. This India Today report quotes a senior police official: “On October 3, a new set of guidelines for the security arrangements came from the PMO which clearly asked the Delhi Police to deploy only the required number of personnel for the prime minister’s security instead of turning the city into a fortress.”

The constable deserves praise for having had the courage to speak up to the Prime Minister! Police personnel are usually silent in the presence of ministers, legislators and politicians since speaking up may invite overt or covert punishment.

Equally importantly, it must be appreciated that Mr. Modi took the constable’s feedback in the proper spirit!! Politicians normally do not act on inconvenient feedback from policemen and government employees, but ‘reward’ the giver of such blunt feedback with some form of punishment.

Will we see more persons following the constable’s example and more politicians following Mr. Modi’s example?

I believe that this incident will inspire more persons to give honest feedback to Mr. Modi. If Mr. Modi responds to all such feedback in the proper spirit, we will see more politicians following his example. Change will not take place overnight, but it will take place.

What do you think?