Well done, Modi
Iapplaud Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to name a
minister for alternative medicine
including yoga, and the move to
teach yoga in all schools.
Now, what India desperately needs
is a minister of garbage with a central
focus of garbage reduction, education
of public, efficient disposal systems
and implementation of new technologies at a faster pace.
The recent ‘Clean India’ movement
is a great start and a federal minister
can sustain the momentum.
If the country is to operate like an
efficient corporation, it needs a customer service department with a tollfree number so anybody from anywhere can file a complaint or suggestion by calling that number.
Ramesh Sakaria Chester, New Jersey
Don’t cozy up
only to US
India needs the United States and Western technology and investment for its growth, and the US and
Western nations need India for its
huge market, low-cost labor pool and
also as a counter balance to
Communist China’s rise. There seems
to be a win-win situation.
However, the question is will the
relationship be fair, just, and long
lasting or will it be tilted in favor of
the West, with India as the underdog,
and be short-lived.
India has to play the cards right.
Excessive attachment to the West
may anger our trusted and tested ally,
Russia. It could also annoy many Islamic nations on
whom India depends for oil and gas.
Moreover, a lasting relationship with the West is doubtful since the West could lay-off India once its business
work is done. The lay-off culture in the Western corporate
world is well known. Plus the West is known for imposing
economic sanctions on India on and off for a variety of
reasons to suit their interests.
There is very little in common between India and the
West in terms of history, culture or religion. The only
thing that binds the two is business. Once business inter-
ests fade, the relationship comes to a screeching halt.
Bullying and double standards often practiced by the
Western nations could also jeopardize that relationship.
The Western world is well known for hegemony and domination and in the engagement of double standards and
flawed and discriminatory practices.
It is hoped that Indian foreign policy is smart and good
relationships with Russia and the oil-rich Middle-Eastern
nations remain strong as India continues to forge better
business ties with the Western world.
What India needs is great relationships with all countries if it has to grow faster, but that task is not easy since
much of the world is engaged in fights with one another.
Therefore, befriending one nation could upset another.
Sundip Mundkur By e-mail
There were near riots at the New York office of Cox and Kings
Global Services December 1.
The trouble started when people,
myself included, began lining up
around 2:30 pm on the first floor.
First, the lobby security guard
called ‘Fedex prepay’ customers to
the front of the line and allowed
them upstairs, annoying the crowd.
After all, we had all ‘prepaid’ for
our visas when we dropped them
off week ago.
It turned out that people who had
Fedexed their visa applications hadn’t been mailed their approved visas
by Thanksgiving as promised, and
had been told to come pick them up
in person, adding to the crowds.
Still, I was among the first 20 or
so in line to be given a number by
the security guard and allowed
upstairs around 2:45 pm.
Soon after I took a seat all hell
broke loose, as the waiting crowds
observed people from the back of
the line having their numbers
In short, the security guard downstairs had handed out numbers in the wrong order, negating the order of the lineup. Soon
an angry, ever-growing mob surrounded the gatekeeper standing near the front door. The pandemonium only increased as
more and more incensed customers filed into the crowded waiting room and were being seen faster than those of us who had
been patiently waiting.
The gatekeeper retreated behind the counter and offered no
explanation. The staff shouted and ordered people to return to
their seats, while processing only those loud enough and pushy
enough to refuse to budge. The digital number display wasn’t
working so they were shouting numbers out at irregular intervals, and soon stopped calling out numbers at all.
After about an hour they still had offered no explanations or
solutions, called out a few numbers for a few minutes to calm
the crowd, then ceased altogether.
After another half hour the mob stormed the counters again
and demanded service or at least an explanation and time estimate for when they could expect to be seen.
The staff only shouted that they were ‘working on a solution’
to the number problem although they never offered one. They
then took turns trying to shout out things to appease the crowd.
None of their claims panned out.
One of them shouted that the problem was that they were
‘training some new employees’ and that the longer we refused to
sit down, the longer it would take. This was false on both
counts. Sadly, this was my fourth visit to the visa center in a
I come all the way from Philadelphia, and every time I came
to submit our applications there had been one oblique, unfathomable problem after another.
I’ve been there enough times now to know all of the staff’s
faces, and believe me, there were no new employees causing the
problems. There may, however, have been inept, poorly trained
employees on duty.
Also, contrary to her words that refusing to sit down meant a
longer wait, the opposite was proving true. The only people getting prompt service were those who refused to sit down.
I waited patiently until another hour had passed. It was now 5
pm. I had been there since 2:30. A woman sitting near me was
nearly in tears because they had ‘lost’ her passport and she was
waiting for them to solve the problem.
Like the rest of the crowd I couldn’t take it anymore. I pushed
my way to the counter, thrust my three receipts at a clerk in
order to pick up mine, my wife’s and my son’s visas. He quietly
took them without argument. 30 more minutes passed, and I
finally received my visa.
Then I had to sit down and wait some more for my son’s
visa while other visas were distributed, then I had to sit down
and wait some more for my wife’s visa while still other visas
When I left, there were still dozens of people waiting to be
called. There was no reason for any of their procedures that
evening. I can only chalk it up to one word: Ineptitude. I was
there waiting for three-and-a-half hours.
It’s clear that CKGS has no clue how to process these many
visas. Its Web site is inaccurate and uninformative, and its e-mails telling you that your visas are ready for pickup never
It’s a Kafkaesque guessing game from start to finish, and
December 1 took the cake.
This is our third trip to India. In previous years our experience
with Travisa was smooth and professional. CKGS has been one
debacle after another.
Jeffrey Stanley By e-mail
Nightmare at Cox and Kings New York office
NIRANJAN SHRES THA/REUTERS
The Cox and Kings office in New York, on an uneventful day PARESH GANDHI