Saturday, November 10, 2012
With this issue we are ushering into the 13th year of its persevering and diligent existence. It was in Nov 2000 that we hit the trail Towards a Purposeful Regimen. As usual, in recent times, we are upbeat about our journey in the world of letters. We are looking forward with renewed vigour to make our journey meaningful in the larger context of pan Indian evolution.
India is a happening place of all kinds, from bizarre to ridiculous. Take the case of a Samajwadi Party MP Brijbhushan Sharan Singh. The other day he was protesting against the alleged ‘persecution of innocent people’ by the police, outside the police headquarters in the Baharaich district. On asking, ‘if he is into Gandhigiri of peaceful protest’, his answer spoke volumes of the rot within the political establishment of India and particularly in UP. “Hum Gandhi nahee, hum tho mafia hain, hamare khilaaf chaalis mukaddamein hain. Badmash Aadmi Gandhi Kahan ho saktaa hai”. At least, Sharan Singh was honest in admitting his darker side. But can he be honest to serve the nation and therefore aam aadmi, the mango people?
Of course, as usual we have taken up many of the happenings of the month that went by, for its news content and relevance in the larger context of Issues & Concerns. Month-in-Perspective is a tiny trip into the happening India. We have tried, to fit whatever we could, within the space constraint. Hope our readers find them interesting.
Scandals, scams & the elephantine progress is a regular feature and an essential part of our development story. Veerbhadra Singhs, Nitin Gadkaris, Robert Vadras or even Vijay Mallya’s King Fisher stories are all part of our evolution towards, hopefully, a ‘developed’ society. The skeletons of corruption, looting of national resources, mismanagement of economic activities, keep on cropping up, as if from unexpected quarters.
Loot of public money for private gain has been an ongoing process for a better part of India, a Super Power in waiting. But the way things are, it appears that this status of ‘Super Power-in-waiting’ can be interminable. Poor Dr APJ Abdul Kalam must be wondering, ‘Where did I go wrong!’ when he said that by 2020, India can be a Super Power. Nothing can be more farfetched, in a country where 1/3 of its population goes to bed hungry with and a host of myriad negatives in the Human Development Index. Indians continues to be poor in a country that has allowed riches in a few hands. We have tried to tell in Focus how this national loot has affected our quality of life in general. Hope our readers shall find it interesting. Do revert with your thoughts.
KARNATAKA: For quite some time Karnataka has been in the news, mainly for all wrong reasons. The most important being the continuous skirmishes within the state BJP body politic. Ever since BS Yediyurappa’s reluctant stepping down as CM, the circus within the BJP ruled state government had reached ridiculous proportions, with party insiders themselves feeling sorry for the low level of antics by all and sundry in the party hierarchy. It has already seen 3 Chief Ministers in less than 3 years period with BSY threatening to start his own political outfit. Then there was this foreign travels by legislators belonging to all political parties, having great time in South American countries, at the cost of public money, at the times of drought in most parts of the state, and perforce had to cancel their trip. Then there is this Cauvery water distribution problem. While it is true that there has been some 35% less rain and therefore less available for release at the KRS reservoir, there could have been more imaginative statesmanship on either side to address the issue. Jayalalitha is certainly not a saint and is not expected to be so, the leadership in Karnataka had the responsibility to take Tamil Nadu authorities into confidence before taking unilateral decisions regarding the water release. After all water is a national resource, and needs of everybody are same. Of course PM Manmohan Singh added to the problem by refusing to see the Karnataka CM when he came to Delhi only to see the PM. This was no way to treat the CM of a state. Hope God Varuna comes to the rescue of all parties to the problem in Nov/Dec period. So that being Indian scores over being parochial.
Despite all these problems, the government in Bengalooru has reportedly finalised a blue print for a Five Star Government Guest House at the cost of some Rs. 75 crores at Kumara Park area of the city. This new development is ostensibly to accommodate the increasing number of VIPs visiting the state and other government guests. From the overall experience of the past, it can be safely wagered that its utilization may be more for political heavy weights and less for foreign guests. It is sure to be a white elephant. Government can certainly have rate contracts with different hotels in the city for visiting guests of the state, if cutting cost is the objective, as was claimed.
Belgaum is in the news for all right reasons. If Mohamed cannot go to Mountain, Mountain has to come to Mohamed. That’s what happened to Belgaum when the government in Bengalooru came calling to meet the people of Belgaum with this newly constructed Suvarna Saudha. It is indeed a gift to the citizens of Belgaum as Karnataka celebrates the Rajyotsava Day on Nov 1. Hope the development shall receive a much needed kick start for the entire moribund North Karnataka with the complete government apparatus made available to the people of the region ‘on a platter’ so to say.
While congratulating the Karnataka govt for this thoughtful development, for this ‘singular achievement of bringing the administration closure to people, in Belgaum itself there are other issues needing pertinent attention. Govt has reportedly spent some Rs: 400 crores for this Suvarna Saudha, but they give an impression of being “penny wise and pound foolish”. While it will be wrong to call this expenditure of 400 crores as pound foolish, they apparently do not think that “it is wrong for boys and girls to share the same hostel premises where inmates’ privacy is compromised”.
There is this hostel run by Deptt. of Youth Services and Sports (DYSS) near Kolapur circle in Belgaum, both men’s and women’s hostel is housed in the same premises which includes common dining hall. This has been reportedly so, for the last 10 years.
The girl inmates, 48 in number, who are mostly wrestlers and judokas, do feel the need for a separate area for relaxation after their training or practice. A retired senior Coach Seshanna too feel the need for a separate area for girls to relax, especially after the training. Any inhibitions on the part of girls will only stymie their performance and thus shall render their efforts as well as govt expenditure, a waste.
It is true that, mercifully, there have been no untoward incident of any kind for any female hostelites. And like any govt. official, H. Basavraj, Dy Director of DYSS, feels ‘there is no need to change the status quo since nothing has happened for all these 10 years’. So quite frankly, like all our developmental approach, we wait for an accident or an untoward incident to happen. Only then we will realise the need to go for a separate hostel for girls. This is Yeh Mera India.
While we are about it, it is important to note the angry remarks of Shiv Sena and other Maharashtra politicians in asking president Pranab Mukherji to cancel his participation in the Suvarna Saudha inauguration. For all the 56 years since 1956, some or the other politicians from Maharashtra, always complained about Belgaum being in Karnataka. Mahajan Commission, which has gone into the issue has reiterated the correctness of Belgaum being in Karnataka. But the larger issue is, there is no serious problem on the ground except that those who are speaking Marathi in Belgaum had asked bilingual government notification of all relevant govt papers.
This is only an administrative decision, and there need not be any problem for Govt in Bengalooru to concede. However what is needed is to get both Maharashtra and Karnataka to feel as Indians first, all else later. For this to happen, I & C had suggested in the past to both Karnataka politicians and some civic groups in Belgaum, to install in a public place, a memorial for 26/11 hero, Tukaram Ombale. Of course it is a tragedy that many in India do not even remember his name, but most remember, the villain of 26/11, Ajmal Kasab.
The present Suvarna Saudha, if some space can be found within its compound, can show case the life size statue of this Ombale, as a martyr’s memorial, this can unmistakably send an emotional message to all Maharashtrians that we are all Indians. Hope politicians in Bengalooru take the call.
UTTAR PRADESH: There was this small 10 lined report “Sachan wife Questions Probe” under ‘SHORT TAKES’ in Times of India, Mumbai edition. It was indeed a short take, because we are used to give short shrifts to anything relevant but inconvenient. Malti Sachan, the wife of former U.P. Dy CMO Y.S. Sachan, questioned CBI’s closure report on Dr Sachan’s murder case. Although the details are not available, it appears that CBI suddenly became efficient, that it decided to close the case which is probably not even one year old. If the wife of the victim doubts the intention of the agency, there is certainly more to it than just closure. She may be right when she has alleged in her application asking for a copy of closure report that CBI was motivated to close the case only to save real culprits who are high-ups in UP political establishment. Public are privy to the goings on in Delhi about BSP prop to the fledgling UPA II, post Mamata withdrawl of support. Some way of saying 'Thank you' to BSP Supremo ‘Maya-jaal’, the former UP Chief Minister, by compromising truth and justice!?
ORISSA: There was this debate in the electronic media, anchored by a former BBC, ‘Hard Talk’ host Tim Sebastian, “ARE INDIANS MEAN”. 64% said ‘Yes’, after the debate, which was 3% more than what the crowd had voted prior to the debate. Of course there were not many, either in the panel or among the audience to tell stories of monumental meanness that is fairly rampant all over India. There is always a solution for economic poverty, but for mental poverty there is no solution. In this Mera Bharat Mahan, there are millions who suffer from mental poverty. There is this story of a mother selling her 17 months old child for Rs. 5000/-. Stories of such sales due to poverty are there in the media, appearing fairly regularly. But to sell a child, whom you have looked after for 17 months, to buy a cell phone, a pair of jeans and some matching tops is probably the most bizarre anybody must have come across. But this is exactly what happened in Orissa, early this month. Rakhi Patra of Mundamala village sold her baby son to one Babula Behara of Cuttack, and refused to take it back, when the issue became public and police intervened. What can we call this?
MAHARASHTRA: There was this film ‘Ardh Satya’, about the frustration of a police officer fighting corruption in government. The frustration goes to its zenith, when he was deployed as security incharge for the very same minister whom he was following in his corruption trail. Of course in the film police officer succumbs to his sense of self respect and kills the minister, when minister makes fun of his helplessness. Can that happen in real time politics? There was this report, although happened few months ago, but remained uncommented, or probably even ignored by many in the media. Gulabrao Deokar is a minister in Maharashtra Govt. and belongs to coalition partner NCP of Sharad Pawar. He was arrested by Jalgaon Police and having failed to get bail from High Court, manages bail from apex court for a mere 10 days. During these days happens the independence day, and as district incharge minister he is supposed to or rather privileged to unfurl the national flag on 15th Aug. In the event, those very same police officer and his personnel have to give him a guard of honour and have to salute this accused minister. What can be more tragic and humiliating for the police? But quite strangely, why did apex court decided to give him bail, that too only for 10 days, knowing fully well the possibility of disrespect to the national flag, because of an accused unfurling it?
Can you imagine an Indian, a Hindu at that, roaming about in Karachi freely for years with visa being extended from time to time, using his car with a red beacon ! Yeh tho mushkil he nahee, naa mumkin hai. Indeed it will well neigh be impossible. But in India reverse is quite possible if a report from Mumbai in the print media is to be believed.
SayyedWaseem-ur-Rehman Shah - a so-called spiritual guide-a Pakistani, visited India for the first time in Nov 2006, on a 90 days visit visa. And believe it or not he is still in the country, reportedly with extended visa valid upto Dec 2012. So, for all these years, he has been in and out of India many times. Media also reports about some private complaint lodged against him for making inflammatory speeches in Sangli and Mumbai. Complaint also talks about his alleged attempt of usurping a dargah land in Bhandup, a Mumbai suburb. Now comes the allegation that he roams freely in a vehicle with red beacon. Bombay High Court has seized of the issue and have pulled up the police “How can you let this man, who has offences registered against him roam freely in the city?" If one thinks, Vadra was not wrong after all, when he called India a ‘Banana Republic’, cannot be faulted. In India of 21st century it may not be shocking after all!
NEW DELHI: Chidambaram, despite his proximity to the power centre of UPA II, do have his ‘Nay’ Sayers. Not merely from the opposition but also from within the UPA power portal. If Subramanian Swamy, is a constant irritation to the present finance minister, there are others from high position who have perceptions vastly different from the power centres. Deposing before the JPC, ex-cabinet Secretary KM Chandrashekhar has informed that it was “Finance Ministry under Pranab framed 2G note on PC”. According to media report, former cabinet Secretary’s submission indicate that the "buck for the 2G note stops at the finance ministry, fair and square, even if jury is still out on, if there was a deliberate intent behind stating ‘DOT could have invoked cancellation clause if finance ministry had stuck to its stand of auctioning the 44MHz spectrum’." Thus, being back in the seat of FM, is not going to be comfortable for PC who was the former FM before Pranab Mukherjee, who is currently the official 1st citizen of the country. Good luck to PC.
The whole of India is privy to the disclosure of Team Kejriwal on Robert Vadra’s alleged financial wrong doings and his histrionics. While it may not be relevant to go into the actual figures of alleged financial misdemeanors of parties to these charges, it is very important how parties have reacted to these allegations. Some people had the gumption of remembering some Hindi film villains as Roberts, who are depicted as bad in the film, is only because, if ‘t’ is removed only the word ‘rober’ remains. Although one who loots is ‘robber’ with one additional ‘b’, this ‘rober’ at least phonetically merges with the ‘robber’. The other was the comment by Robert Vadra, one of the party to the alleged wrong doing. This Robert Vadra, being in close proximity to the most powerful family in the present day India, has the capacity to hit the bulls eye, may be for wrong reasons. Hence what he said shall remain in the media debate for a long time, whether anybody likes it or not. He had reportedly called his beite noire, the Team Kejriwal, as “Mango People in Banana Republic”. Sources close to this Vadra had stated, this to be a ‘light comment’, but it did become, to his utter chagrin, an explosive comment. In one sweep, this Vadra had reduced the country and its people to a mere joke. Roget’s Thesaurus describes ‘Banana Republic’ in some 750 words. All words connotes largely the same or similar inferences, meaning ‘uselessness, trash, nonentity where law and order has no space for operation’. This is, according to I & C, is a serious accusation from an apparently powerful part of the government. But for some strange reasons, except a few in the electronic media, entire print media ignored it. By this act alone media has proved this Vadra right, isn’t it!? That Vadra has closed his Face book page is a tribute to the reaction of at least some of the members of the 4th estate and of course Team Kejriwal, is no reason to feel nice. Vadra has to apologise to the nation for this highly childish and irresponsible remark. Of course it is another matter that, constitutional authorities like H R Bhardwaj , the Karnataka governor has gone on record, almost calling Robert Vadra as a “towering personality” like Indira Gandhi. This was an extremely unfortunate and uncalled for intervention from a person holding constitutional position. Besides it was very amusing to see how UPA II ministers of Congress Party and their spokespersons rushing to the defence of this upstart called Robert Vadra. And mind you, Union Law Minister of India, reportedly stated “I am prepared to die for my leader”. This is an absolutely outlandish statement for the Indian Law Minister Salman Khurshid to say. Isn’t it right for Arvind Kejriwal (AK) to question the very propriety of an Union Law Minister, (Like Bhardwaj was in the past), when AK put Salman Khurshid on the spot by saying “You are the Law Minister of India, who does not want to die for India, your land of birth and all that you got, but want to die for an individual, who is only the president of your party, who was not even an Indian till some decades ago?” Thus all these people, beginning from Karnataka Governor Bhardwaj, and to all those UPA II functionaries, are only rushing to prove that they are indeed 'Mango People in Banana Republic'.
Yes indeed, this upstart Robert Vadra is very right or at least these UPA II functionaries are trying their best to prove him right, of India being a “Banana Republic”, or else can anybody justify the inclusion of Suresh Kalmadi, of Congress, A. Raja & Kanimozhi of DMK in House Panels?!
The world is privy to the fact that all these three were jailed, and are out only on bail. They are accused of serious financial irregularities running into thousands of crores, in the administration of Common Wealth Games and allocation of 2G spectrum. But for this PC Chacko, the JPC chairman and Congress spokesman, it is the prerogative of any Member of Parliament-jailed, bailed, convicted-no big deal, as long as their status as members of Parliament is not cancelled by the speaker or the court order. Every panel member of such committees has an enormous influence on the working of committees of even calling for files and officials in the apparent discharge of their functioning as committee members. In such case, how can any committee be above board? Isn’t this a clear indication of a Banana Republic where even a jail bird can sit on judgement?!
After the recent media blitz on the financial irregularities in the company’s of BJP President Nitin Gadkari, it was very amusing to read what he had categorically stated some three weeks earlier.
Media had gone to the market, with handful of documents to prove the many wrong doing by Gadkari, and when electronic media cornered him to respond to some of their pertinent questions, he had just walked away, visibly in discomfort. In the last BJP conclave that took place in New Delhi on 29th Sept, the party had drawn up a whole lot of plan to hit the road with Gadkari announcing the slogan ‘Congress Bhrastachar hatao, desh bachao’. But the latest media onslaught on Gadkari, and BJP going little quite, has seriously put paid into any war cry they had planned before the Gujarat Election due in Dec 2012. Also in jeopardy is the possible re-election of Nitin Gadkari as BJP president for the 2nd term. It is indeed an unenviable position to both the largest political parties of India, ruling as well as opposition. Indeed ‘hamaam mein, hum sub nungey hain’.
WORLD: Suddenly, in recent days there have been few positive India centric developments in Pakistan. One was the Shadman Chowk of Lahore being renamed as Bhagat Singh Chowk. It is indeed a good gesture, but a long overdue one. It came rather so late in the day, after 65 years of Indian sub-continent being politically independent. It was in 1931, that Indian revolutionary Bhagat Singh was hanged in the Lahore jail, for the assassination of DSP Saunders, earlier in 1930. He had planned to kill Lahore Police Chief Scott, but by mistake Saunders became his victim. As history records, Shaheed Bhagat Singh is one of the most inspirational icons of Indian freedom struggle. He was born in the Lyallpur district of West Punjab, presently in Pakistan and died in Lahore central prison, which too is in Pakistan. Hence commemoration of his memory should have been the natural corollary immediately after the independence in 1947. But his being a Sikh was a problem to the Pakistani mindset, which took 65 years to overcome. However, better late than never. Two cheers for the Pakistani leadership of Nooral Amin Mengal, the Distt. Administrator of Lahore City.
Another path breaking development has been that of a blasphemy case on the reverse gear. In an extremely rare incident, a blasphemy case has been registered by one of the Karachi police station against some 9 Muslims for ransacking of a Hindu temple in Gulshan-e-Maywar area of Karachi, besides looting and vandalism being other charges. Pakistanis were protesting the U.S. film “Innocence of Muslims”, during which time this attack on Hindu place of worship took place. According to Zohra Yousuf of Pakistan Human Rights Groups, she “had never heard of a blasphemy case against Muslims for damaging a place of worship." Thus, this was indeed a surprising development. Is Pakistan turning over a new leaf over its relationship with India? This latest development indicates some radical positive change. Hope it remains.
In a similar development in Bangladesh against the U.S film locals reportedly torched some 11 Buddhist temples, besides some Hindu place of worship, and ransacked some 30 Buddhist houses. The ire of Bangladeshis was no doubt against U.S for allowing the film’s release and exhibition, but the Burmese ethnic cleansing, involving Rohingyas was also the reason for the attack on Buddhist temples. In a world getting increasingly polarized on religious lines, these violent remonstrations represent the failure of human societies to co-habit in peace. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar are all part of larger Indian geographical map, connected by land. While Pakistan and Bangladesh are part of the pan-Indian landscape, Myanmar is only an extension of Indology with Buddhism having occupied as the official religion of the country. Thus there is commonality among all four of us with innate Indianism. Some kind of a block, among these nations, may be possible to be created, with Indian initiative. What all need to understand and appreciate is, whenever there is a public display of anger, leading to violence, rightly or wrongly, it is the poor who suffer the most. Some time it can be tragically irrepairable. So as a responsible and responsive citizenry, what is possible to be done, has to be given a try. It is certainly in the realm of possibility and not utopian at all. Hope somebody somewhere takes the initiative at an appropriate level to make this difference.
“Zardari asks Sindh govt to frame Law to Stop Forced Conversion”, was a report datelined Islamabad, some time ago. Against the backdrop of reports of mass migration of Hindus from Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari has reportedly directed the government in Karachi to draft laws to amend Pakistan constitution as part of the effort to prevent forced conversion of minorities in the Sindh province. Forced marriages of Hindu women to Muslim men and then converting them has been an ongoing perpetration practiced across the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and government looked the other way not wanting to take on the mob fury led by fundamentalists. Despite there being a Human Rights Groups, for all the 65 years, since the creation of Pakistan, minority identity was being systematically destroyed, is a fact known to all. But some of our so-called respectable media houses, somehow refused to take cogent note of it, for their ‘secular agenda’. But the fact remains that a theocratic state like Pakistan cannot protect the interest of minorities, whether it is Hindus or Christians. When Ahmediyas and other miniscule Muslim Groups themselves are target of Sunni authoritarianism in Pakistan, what hope can Hindus and Christians have, to protect themselves? President Zardari probably means well, but who listens to him or his ilk?!
Someday it had to happen. It is inevitable. Human spirit cannot remain subjugated forever. But it happened at one of the most unlikeliest of places, right in the Taliban stronghold of Swat in Pakistan. Story of Malala Yousufzai is a story, right out of some Hollywood thriller. For a 14 year old, she is certainly the best thing that has happened to the directionless Pakistani leadership. The targeted shooting of Malala, after being identified by people around the school, she is attending, is not only the most despicable act of violence but the height of cowardice. That a 14 year old girl couldn’t be handled by this crazy Talibanies without violence is the reflection of its desperation and failure of Pakistani leadership. Entire humanity, not just the Muslim world should celebrate this young icon, who should be globally recognized for the bravery and strength of character she displayed in standing upto the decadent Taliban culture.
The fact that she is the first recipient of Pakistan’s National Peace Award for youth, is certainly commendable for being imaginative in her selection for the award. It does show that there exists a space within the Pakistani mindset that a fighter for a just cause is publicly recognised, more so if she is a girl child. Kudos to those who honoured this courageous spirit. Now that she is slowly recovering in a London hospital, lets all pray that she recovers fast so that someday she become a BEACON OF HOPE for all women especially Muslim women the world over. Two cheers to Malala Yousufzai.
The tragedy of Pakistan is if there are incidents like honouring the likes of Malala there are others who reflect a barbarian and extremely backward mindset.
A member of Baluchistan Assembly reportedly presided over a tribal council to give away 13 girls, aged between 4 and 16 years, in marriage to settle a clan dispute between two disagreeable tribal groups. For these tribals, who probably swear by the higher tradition of Islam, these girls were mere goats and lambs meant only to be sacrificed, and not as human beings just as these tribal men themselves.
Of course the apex court in Pakistan took a suo moto notice of the incident and has directed the officials in Baluchistan to take action against those responsible. The dispute, reportedly was an issue of murder of a member of an tribe by the somebody from the other tribe. To correct one bloody wrong, these tribal councils are committing more bizarre crime of bartering young girls, so that bad men go scot free and girls and women continue their journey of unending suffering in these pockets of inhumanity. Even apex court, reportedly, only fined tribaly council some Rs. 3 million, and just didn’t take the call to set right the blatant miscarriage of justice. God save Pakistan.
India is indeed a land of scams. Why? you would ask. Somebody deciphered SCAM, as representing - Scheming, Crafty, Aggressive, Malicious.
We, Indians, probably have some of the best brains on this earth, and some of them are in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). To scheme, one needs good IQ, and these IAS have it in abundance. They are managers of our national resources. They are supposed to scheme for the nation, how to raise resources and how to deploy these resources for the greatest good of greatest number, that is Bahujan Hithaya Bhahujan Sukhaya. Of course the objective is ‘Sarve Jana Sukhino Bhavanthu’ of our sacred scriptures, or the Sarvodaya of Mahatma Gandhi. But somehow, being a vast country-geographically, socially and ethnically-the administrative apparatus, which is overseeing the re-distribution of our national resources, has for varieties of reasons, failed in fairer distribution of these resources. Could we say their SCHEMES have failed? The answer is Yes & No.
The answer is ‘Yes’, because, very early in the freshness of Rajeev Gandhi, the politician, he had famously observed “Only 15 paise in a rupee reaches the target, and 85 paise gets lost in transit”. This explains they are CRAFTY as well. It is the craftiness of officialdom in joining hands with politicians that have helped the combination in SCHEMING to plunder the national wealth for all these past years, for themselves, their friends and relatives. This has been happening for all the 65 years of post independent India.
No one can say with any amount of certainty that the word scam was derived from a British slang word scamp, which means swindler. But almost everyone will agree that India is giving the word an altogether new perspective. No longer is a scam limited to a few swindlers trying to loot a few crores. Scams in India have gained gigantic proportions with one after the other multi-billion Rupee scams tumbling out of the closet almost every month.
Starting with the UNDERGROUND, the latest in the series of scams, is the alleged wrong allocation of coal mines by the government. According to the draft report presented by the CAG, on the allocation of coal blocks to both private individuals and companies, so also to the public sector companies in the iron & steel and power generation industries, there have been major flaws. Report informs that the government had the legal authority to allocate coal blocks by auction rather than through the screening committee, but chose not to do so. Why? Did they have an agenda? As a result of this failure to auction, beneficiaries of this allocation got windfall gains of over Rs:10.67 lakh crores, with public sector companies getting the benefit of little over 50% and private companies the balance of little less than 50%.
Here SCHEMING & CRAFTYness were both in operation, for the simple reason, while coal mines are a national property, there are any number of private players who would like to make use of it for private gain. Thus while allocating these coal blocks to public sector companies, both the administrative apparatus and the political masters joined hands to allocate these national properties to private companies also. Of course they do have an explanation every time they deviate from the norms. This combination of Babudom & politicians took care to see that public sector companies were allotted more by 5% than the private companies. According to CAG draft report: the windfall gain by private companies in US $ terms was US $: 90.63 billion whereas by government companies gain was of the order of US $: 95.67 billion. This is a very very huge amount by any standard of comparison, when it comes to loss to national exchequer.
While gain by government companies may benefit these companies to some extent, even here, there is a great scope for private exploitation in connivance with the administrative apparatus and their political bosses. But with respect to private companies it is indeed a total loss for the nation. Besides these private companies also, many a time have political patronage and partial ownerships, so these allocation also leads to concealed loot by these politicians. As we have witnessed in the media, there were ministers involved in allocating these coal blocks to their preferred companies with their stake therein.
Of course, as usual, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chided the CAG for its ‘wrong’ reading of the law as well as its accounting of losses. The Finance Minister has, like his colleague Kapil Sibal in the past, also came up with ‘zero loss’ explanation saying, these coal blocks are not mined and hence no loss.
However, the government became suddenly alive to the awakening that CAG forced on it. Opposition across the political spectrum demanded that all allocation be cancelled forthwith. Government countered that there is a procedure to be followed for cancellation, forgetting that the same government had followed no procedure in allocating the coal blocks. An Inter Ministerial Group (IMG) was formed in a hurry. After it went into emergency meeting to save the face, in the midst of snowballing controversy all over the media, IMG acted, to recommend cancellation of these allotments to private companies. One by one they started cancelling the allocation of coal blocks and even encashed many bank guarantees, wherever mines were not developed within the stipulated time frames.
Of course, there were these 2009 mining scams of Orissa, where government lost some 7000 crores and the infamous Madhu Koda mining licence scam where he reportedly collected some 4000 crores from the allottees, also in 2009. This Madhu Koda is being chased by the investigation agencies, including Swiss Bank to track this money. This collection of such huge sum only after issuing license explodes on the face of P.Chidambaram, who cried hoarse with this ‘zero loss’ claim.
Then there is this Goa Mining Scam, where the Govt. lost power and the Union Secretary for Mines Vishwapathi Trivedi was shunted to a punishment posting for showing exemplary diligence in exposing the scam.
Here, how can we forget the unceremonious exit of BS Yediyurappa, CM of Karnataka, post Bellary manganese ore mining imbroglio! Minister Janardhan Reddy is still languishing in prison, courtesy Andhra Pradesh government.
Another UNDERGROUND scam in the making, is the abrupt shifting of Union Petroleum Minister Jaipal Reddy, an honest and hardworking minister, in the recent reshuffle that took place. He, like one of his predecessor, Mani Shankar Iyer, too was shifted for resisting private sector pressures to do things favourable to these private players. Most of these private players want windfall profit or disproportionate profit. They have no concern when they deprive nation, its legitimate claim, they only believe in self aggrandisement. So any Babu or Minister doing a dutiful job for the nation, is a foul guy, and they want them removed from their SCHEME of things. Hence giving reasons of indecision, the Prime Minister and his coterie of advisors shift such honest people. This is only the beginning of another scam in the UNDERGROUND. We have to wait and see what coming days unravels.
There appears to be another huge UNDERGROUND scam in the making, if some print media stories are to be believed. Private companies, like it or not, most of the time, are interested in only themselves, let the country go to dogs. Until 2007, only public sector Indian Rare Earths Ltd was allowed to mine monazite, the thorium rich sand, from the beaches of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. According to one estimate this loss could make Coalgate and 2G Spectrum loss pale into insignificance. Figure spoken is close to Rs. 50 lakh crores. Reportedly a powerful mining cartel of Tamil Nadu has exported to China and Japan without government’s knowledge, some 2.1 million tones of this sand. This quantity had the ability to provide 50 years’ power need for the entire country, as a fuel to nuclear plants. Can this country be saved from the private sector and the inefficient/corrupt government?
Coming to OVERGROUND, scams are innumerable. Almost along with the political freedom Indians, sort of, got freedom to loot the country. Cheating or making money illegitimately, could it be an Indian psyche?!
It was in 1948, there was this Jeep Purchase Scam. Reportedly country lost some Rs 80 lakhs, relatively not a small money those days. Then there were series of scams in the ‘50’s LIC-Haridas Mundhra scandal, due to which then Finance Minister TT Krishnamachari had to resign. Teja’s Bank Loan in 1959/60 to the tune of some Rs 22 crores was the biggest those days. (see box on pg no.12)
In 1987, there were 2 infamous cases of Bofors (Rs 65 crores) and Howitzer Defence Purchase (HDW) – Rs. 20 crores. 1990s began with the Harshad Mehta securities scam involving thousands of crores of public sector bank funding which was lost to the exchequer. Indian Bank non performing questionable assets to the tune of Rs. 1500 crores was another major scam of 1992. Sugar import scandal of 1994 to the extent of Rs. 650 crores ‘Chara Ghotala’ of Bihar some 950 crores too was unearthed in 1996, so was Urea Deal of some 135 crores. Ketan Parikh and Stock Market scam of 2001, reportedly caused a loss of over one lakh crores. Telgi’s stamp paper scam involving Maharashtra politician was an unparalleled loot of the public money for years. This surfaced in 2003.
In 2005, it was the Scorpene Submarine scam which caused the loss to the nation of about Rs 20000 crores. In 2006, Hassan Ali, the horse breeder international cheat, reportedly owed to the government some Rs 100,000 crores in income tax due. But where and how did the income come from? For whatever reasons, the government has not gone after him with due diligence. Satyam Computers’-Asatyam Scam caused loss to all and sundry of thousands of crores of rupees.
Common Wealth Games, involving Suresh Kalmadi and his babudom coterie allegedly caused some 40000 crores loss to the nation, by acts of Omission and Commission. The high profile Kalmadi was jailed along with some of the other official conspirators. Irrigation scam involving some 70000 crores in Maharashtra has already taken the toll of Deputy CM of Maharashtra Ajith Pawar, with other possible ramifications. Then you have Adarsh scam, of residential property development scam on Defence land in South Mumbai. This whole scam is so representative of the rot in the system, where wholesale collusion of civil officials, army personnel along with the politicians apparently exploited the system, to their personal benefit.
Then you have this Tatra All Terrain Army Truck scandal. Reportedly BEML, a public sector company, was purchasing it at around Rs 27 lakhs per truck and supplying it to the Army at about Rs 80 lakhs. Robert Vadra land buying and selling to DLF became another high point in the public perception of exploitation of the system for personal gain, by people connected with power. Vadra connected to Gandhi family, buying land from government at low prices and selling it to private developer at high prices does raise questions. More so, when amount of money involved is large. Former Union Minister Veerbhadra Singh’s exposure of receiving crores of rupees in cash from an industrial house is one of the continuing skeletons falling from the cupboard of the system. This industrial house, apparently had paid to the entire ‘who’s who’ in Union Ministries and its autonomous functionaries. One paper commented “Seems like entire govt was on the payroll of the Mittals.” According to report some Rs 100 crores was said to have been paid, by the company as bribe in about 3 years time, the period under scrutiny by the I.T. Deptt.
Coming to OVER THE GROUND scandals 2G Spectrum allocation scandal take the cake, besides Air India aircraft buying deal under the minister Praful Patel, a businessman politician.
It was the 2G spectrum scandal that really catapulted Comptroller & Auditor General of India, on the national scene as never before. When the news of CAG report hit the media headlines, it indeed overtook the anxiety of a nation caught in all kinds of financial wrongdoings to benefit some private pockets.
Although 2G Spectrum allocation losses were bandied about by most opposition parties in 2008 itself, it was only 2011, when CAG formally came up with their findings to tell the nation that it was Rs. 1,76,000 crores that country lost. Earlier opposition did not have the wherewithal of nation’s auditor to pointedly arrive at the loss figure, which speculated around Rs: 60000 crores. Thus the bombshell from CAG really unnerved the government with Supreme Court intervention, UPA II had no way to escape. Main player, A Raja, the telecom minister landed in Tihar Jail, along with DMK chief’s daughter Kanimozhi a Rajya Sabha MP for being a partner in the national loot. Even some of the babus were sent to these confinements for conniving with politicians to the detriment of the nation.
Of course what has been covered in these pages may not be exactly the tip of iceberg, but it has not covered a fair number of scams and financial misdeeds where country was forced to become poorer. According to some conservative estimate, during these past 65 years as a free nation, these scandals of mind boggling proportion has deprived the nation of about US $: 20 Trillion, or closure to Indian Rupees of over Rs: 900000000000000. Even if just 10% of this explosive figure was available to the planning commission to make the true difference on the ground, we would have already become the Super Power. We are low in literacy, low in sanitation, low in per capita income, low in safe drinking water availability, low in health parameters, low in overall human development index. But high in growing population, high in malnutrition, high in financial disparity, high in inequity in salaries and wages, high in unconcerned citizenry, high in hunger index, high in corruption index and many other dynamic parameters. Less corruption probably would have seen better India.
Yes Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s dream of 2020 being the year by which time India can become a Super Power shall remain a dream until the above negatives are reversed. For which we need a government that performs and delivers.
Long years ago, Singapore Prime Minister had observed India as a ‘floating land mass in the Indian Ocean’. Of course since those days, things have indeed changed, but its been very slow and tardy and nowhere near what Singapore is in HDI and other standards of development.
When shall India become a better state in the eyes of its own citizens, is a huge question that will continue to baffle generations of Indian. Only a newer and less corrupt governance can improve the lot of India and Indians. Will it happen?
J.Shriyan with inputs from Manasa Rao
Towards a Fair Society –
What Went Wrong with India?
Respected judges and friends
I’m in a quandary… Should I speak on the topic ‘Towards a Fair Society – What Went Wrong with India’ or should I rephrase the topic and ask, “Is there anything at all that has gone right with India?”
NO, NO… I’m not a cynic… But when I take stock of the situation that has been prevalent in Independent India, I wonder if there is anything at all that we can be either proud or hopeful of…
Think about this…
Ours is a nation where pizza arrives before an ambulance does. Ours is a place where no one cries when a war widow is made to survive on a pension of Rs. 80 a month, but many blatantly celebrate the release of criminals guilty of bribery, scam, rape and murder. Ours is a country obsessed with getting money from Swiss banks but has turned a blind eye to 56 Indian soldiers who are still held captive by Pakistan from the 1971 War. I ask you, “What has gone wrong? Is there anything that is right?”
John F Kennedy once said “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honours, the men it remembers.” Let’s see whom we have honoured… Sourabh Kalia, was the first Indian officer to detect the Pakistani intrusion into India and inform the authorities about it. What was the price he paid? He was captured by Pakistan and after 22 days of torture, was ultimately shot dead. It’s a matter of shame and disgust that this unparalleled bravery was never compensated, but on the flip side, we have managed to spend 60 crores on a man who held our whole nation to ransom, Ajmal Kasab.
Friends, I ask you, “What Went Wrong? Is it fair?”
The answer is, as W.B. Yeats said, “Things fall apart and the centre cannot hold…The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” The answer lies in the words of Wilfred Owen, “None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.”
The truth is… none of us are prepared to take up the issue if it does not concern us… (If legislation fails to ensure justice, we throw our hands up and ask helplessly, “What can we do?”)
We always blame others for problems –first the Mughals, then the British and after independence, Politians. But think about it… who is to be blamed? 125 Crore Indians or 540 MPs? Many of us do not even bother to vote and then criticize the people who are elected on vote bank politics. This INERTIA is the root cause of many of our problems and we are to be blamed equally.
But is everything lost? Is the doom’s day near? No, I’m an optimist. I do not question the age-old adage which states that every cloud has a silver lining. For the first time in India, we have had a people’s movement which is the anti-corruption movement. [I do not want to get into the quagmire of politics and discuss if Anna Hazare’s party should get into politics or not… My focus is on the strength of the common man. Isn’t ours a democratic nation which claims to have governance by the people, for the people and of the people?] When people get together, they can achieve wonders… Moreover, in every individual lies tremendous scope for good.
Think of how Rajendra Singh of Rajasthan, the Magsaysay Award winner, known as the ‘water man of India’ changed the barren village of Kishori into a ‘white zone’ single-handedly… Think of Pradip More of Maharashtra who has put up a brave fight on behalf of the manual scavengers, to restore their dignity… These are common people, fighting for common people with uncommon determination… These are the real heroes of India… If we cannot be one of these heroes, let us at least show our solidarity with them. Friends, then and only then will India be fair and only then we can echo the spirit of Tagore and recite the lines, “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high, unto that heaven of freedom my father, my country has awoken.”
III rd BCom, St Agnes College
This is the prize winning speech at the Elocution Competition held to commemorate the release of 150th issue of I & C. - Editor
GANG LEADER FOR A DAY
The Stay-Together Gang
In the spring of 1996, I learned that I had received a junior fellowship at Harvard’s Society of Fellows. I was ecstatic; it was a much-sought-after position, a three-year salaried research post. I went to tell J.T. the good news, and that I would soon be leaving town, although I still planned to maintain my ties to Chicago.
The smells of Ms. Mae’s cooking-collard greens, cornbread, and smothered chicken-hit me as I walked in the door. “You still manage to get here right when the food is ready, don’t you? J.T. said with a laugh.
I apologized for missing the last few suburban Black Kings meetings.
“They still think you’re the director of communications,” he said, laughing again but looking at the TV instead of at me. “There’s another meeting next Sunday if you want to come with me.”
“Sure,” I said, trying to sound enthusiastic. “That would be great.” I explained why I’d been so busy lately. Until I learned of the Harvard fellowship, I had been applying for teaching jobs at universities all over the country, including Columbia University in New York.
J.T. interrupted my explanation. “You remember Curtis, that tall dark boy you met?” He suddenly sat up and began to speak with great enthusiasm. “Curtis is from New Jersey, or at least he has work out there. Hey, what do you think about heading out there with me? I’ve been wanting to go and see how they do things. He and I have this bet. He says the women are hotter in his projects. Says I should come out and see.”
I did remember Curtis, a nerdy-looking drug dealer who worked out of the housing projects in Newark. We had exchanged a few words at most when he came to visit J.T. about a year earlier.
“Somehow,” I said to J.T. trying to sound appreciative, “I don’t think that would be such a good-”
“Yeah, you’re probably right. Probably not the best time for us to leave right now, especially with everything that’s going on. You need to watch me do my thing. I know.” He grew pensive. “I got a couple of big meetings next week, and you probably want to be around for that.”
Before I could ask him about these meetings, he had another idea: “You know something? You remember how we talked about how gangs are different across the country?”
I had once told J.T. that gangs in New York and Boston were said to be much smaller than Chicago’s gangs, rooted in local neighborhoods as opposed to being part of a citywide wheel. But no one, I told him, had managed to write an in-depth, multi-city study of street gangs.
“I could help you meet people all over the place!” he continued. He stood up to get a beer from the fridge. “We got people we know in L.A., in Las Vegas, St. Louis. Black Kings are nationwide! I mean you and I could figure out how the whole thing works.”
“So you’ll be my research assistant!” I said with a laugh, not quite sure what he was proposing.
“No, no! You’ll still be writing about me. The book will still be about me, but this will add a new dimension to it.”
“Yes, it would add a lot, but I’d really have to check with my professors. I mean, I’m not sure what’s going to happen once I move….”
J.T.’s voice immediately took on a guarded tone. “No, I understand,” he said. “I know you got a lot to think about. I’m just saying that I could help you. But yeah, you talk to your professors first. No big thing…
We sat there, not speaking, eyes on the T.V. I kept hoping we’d be interrupted by Ms. Mae calling us for a dinner, but we weren’t. I didn’t even have the energy to muster up a question about J.T.s business or his life, as I’d always done previously whenever he sensed that my interests were shifting. Finally a college basketball game came on, and the blare of the crowd and the cheerleaders drowned out the silence between us.
With the demolition of Robert Taylor now formally scheduled to begin within a year, the drug economy in J.T.’s buildings was already faltering. Some of his best customers were tenants, and they were starting to move out. So were a lot of the BK foot soldiers who still lived at home with their moms. J.T. offered to rent Ms. Mae a home in one of several neighborhoods, and she tried out a few, but she wound up coming back to a cousin’s house a few hundred yards from Robert Taylor. The whole place had also grown thick with police, called in to protect the streams of contractors, engineers, city planners, and the other bureaucrats who were plotting the massive demolition.
With less demand for drugs, there was less work for J.T.’s rank and-file members. It was in his interest to place these young men in a new gang, since he never knew when he might need their help in the future. Given his standing in the BKs, it was certainly within J.T.’s power to reassign his foot soldiers to other BK factions throughout the city. But he was able to place only a handful at a time, and no more than a few dozen overall. Worse yet, this strategy tended to fail in the long term, since in most cases the host gang wouldn’t fully accept the new member.
J.T.’s gang also had a lot of older members, in their thirties and even forties, who were unwilling to accept a transfer, since that typically meant a drop in seniority and, accordingly, income. Some of these men began to leave J.T.’s command altogether, trying to secure positions within other gangs around the city – occasionally, to J.T.’s deep displeasure, within a rival gang.
A few of J.T’s men traveled as far as Iowa to try to set up shop. I never went along on any of these out-of-state recruiting trips, but judging from the frustration of the BK missionaries who returned to Chicago, this plan wasn’t going to work out very well.
J.T. tried to hold things together, but the new economics of his situation conspired against him. He grew lonely, feeling as if he were being abandoned by his own BK family. His sense of paranoia grew even more acute. Whenever I saw him, he immediately began to speculate that the more senior BK defectors were revealing the gang’s secrets to rival outfits: where the BKs stored guns and drugs, which cops were open to bribery, which local merchants were willing to launder money.
And then there were the arrests. The federal indictments that had begun to tear apart other gangs were now striking the Black Kings as well. Barry and Otis, two of J.T.’s younger members, had recently been arrested. I wondered how long J.T. would be able to stay free himself. One night, driving back from one of the suburban gang meetings, he mused that jail might actually be the best of his options, since anyone who escaped arrest for too long was suspected of being a snitch and placed himself in real danger on the streets.
Soon after this conversation, I heard that T-Bone had been arrested. He was eventually convicted of trafficking narcotics and sentenced to more than ten years in prison. His prompt transfer to an out-of-state prison fueled speculation that he was testifying against his peers to get a reduced sentence. I tried every avenue I could think of, but I had no luck reaching T-Bone. I eventually heard that he had died in prison, and he became celebrated in death for never having cooperated with the police to sell out other gang members.
For a time I thought that J.T. and I might remain close even as our worlds were growing apart. “Don’t worry,” I told him, “I’ll be coming back all the time”. But the deeper I got into my Harvard fellowship, the more time passed between my visits to Chicago, and the more time passed between visits, the more awkward J.T. and I found it to carry on our conversations. He seemed to have grown nostalgic for our early days together, even s bit clingy. I realized that he had come to rely on my presence; he liked the attention and the validation.
I, meanwhile, grew evasive and withdrawn – in large part out of guilt. Within just a few months at Harvard, I began making a name for myself in academia by talking about the inner workings of street gangs. While I hoped to contribute to the national discussion on poverty, I was not so foolish as to believe that my research would specifically benefit J.T. or the tenant families from whom I’d learned so much.
As demolition became a reality, and as J.T.’s gang continued to fall apart, so did our relationship. When I told him that I’d been offered a job teaching sociology at Columbia University upon completing my Harvard fellowship, he asked me what was wrong with teaching in Chicago. “What about high school?” he said. “Those people need education, too, don’t they?”
A purse that charges your phone!
New York : Now charge your phone by putting it in the purse! A new cute clutch hides cutting-edge technology in the lining that makes it possible to simply drop your phone in the pocket and watch it power up.
Imagine a world in which you never have to worry about your cell phone running out of battery again. For women at least, that world is here, thanks to 27-year-old Chicago entrepreneur Liz Ormesher Salcedo, who has invented the ‘Everpurse’ that charges your cell phone on the go. ‘Everpurse’, hides cutting-edge technology in the lining of a cute clutch, making it possible to simply drop your phone in the pocket get it charged.
Salcedo developed the technology while working as a social worker, where she regularly found herself stranded when her phone ran out of juice.
Salcedo and her husband Dan, a serial entrepreneur, started experimenting with off-the-shelf parts from an electronics store until they made the first prototype in one of her old bags. “I tore out the insides and I glued and taped things down,” she said. “I moved things around and I played with it for a week, and then I moved it around again.”
They would continue to make adjustments over the next year until they perfected the ‘Everpurse’, which they put on a crowd-funding platform in early September in the hopes of raising USD 100,000 to professionally produce and sell the bags. ‘Everpurse’ met its fundraising goal in just six days and the pot keeps growing.
They’ve now raised over USD 150,000 and have orders to make roughly 1500 bags. “We’ve gotten a lot of ‘oh my god this changes everything,’” Salcedo said. Fans can order the purses in an array of colours, in either fabric (USD 129) or leather (USD 159).
The bag powers up when placed on a wireless charging pad, and holds the equivalent of two iPhone batteries when fully charged. The technology can easily be modified to hold even more charge, Salcedo said, which means a bag that could power your phone for a full week is “totally doable.”
New electronic device helps paralysed people walk again
London : Scientists have developed an electronic implant that can help paralysed people walk again. A British surgical team carried out the treatment on four patients, allowing them to walk once more, the Daily Express reported. The device, made by a German firm is designed for victims of stroke or brain damage whose nervous systems have been impaired.
A patient fitted with the device in July had recovered sufficiently took part in the Torch relay through London. The woman, in her 20s, had suffered a brain injury in a road accident and could not walk. “It is amazing to see patients who had a useless withered limb walking again almost normally. One of our first patients went back to work after many years off following a stroke. She had been unable to cope around the home let alone going to work. Now she has resumed her career,” Orthopaedic consultant Dr Michael Jauch, leading the programme, said.
‘ActiGait’ is only available privately at one clinic at present but the hope is that it will eventually become accessible to National Health Service (NHS) patients. Stroke patients and other brain damage victims are often unable to walk because nerve signals no longer reach their legs. By implanting an electronic stimulator into the upper thigh, signals are sent by a buried wire to muscles in the calf and foot, reported media.
A tiny computer on the waist sends radio signals via an external antenna to the stimulator. It then fires an electrical current to the calf muscles where an electrode is fitted. The circuit is completed by a small switch worn in the user’s shoe, which makes sure the foot does not hit the ground too hard. It also lets the stimulator know when to deliver another shock to the calf muscles.
Patients control the nerve stimulation by adjusting the settings. “It’s easy to use and patients walk normally within minutes of us turning on the computer,” Jauch was quoted as saying by the paper.
The implant by firm Ottobock is powered by a rechargeable external unit. The implant is expected to last at least 10 years.
The one issue Gandhi would have taken up…
Mumbai: What is the one issue Gandhi would have taken up today? Answers differ from displacement to education to female foeticide and decentralization. Sudarshan Iyengar, Gandhian and Vice Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapith said, “Gandhiji would have gone on Satyagraha to protest against the enormous control that the state exercises over natural resources in the country.” Rajni Bakshi, author of ‘Bapu Kuti’ agrees with Iyengar. “I think Gandhi would have chosen to protest against massive displacement that is taking place today under so-called government projects and schemes,” she says.
Protesting against violation of women’s rights came next. “I am sure Gandhi would have protested against female feticide that we see happening now more than ever before,” says Bakshi. Ramesh Oza, Gandhian and founder of the Sandipani Vidyaniketan School in Porbandar says that Gandhi would have been sure to protest against exploitation of women as commodities through advertisements and other mediums.
Considering the deplorable state of literacy in the country, it is no wonder that education makes it to this list too. “We have not been able to provide education to every citizen even 60 years after independence,” says Bakshi. “Commercialization of education is rampant in the country. Gandhiji would have definitely protested against education turning into a money making business in our country,” says Iyengar. He hastens to add that the battle would be against commercialization of education and not privatization.
Social activist Mayank Gandhi who is a key member of the non-violent India against Corruption movement says that Gandhiji would have campaigned wholeheartedly against decentralization of power. “Gandhiji worked all his life against concentration of power in the hands of a few. That is exactly what has happened today.” He says that it is because of power being concentrated at the top that villages are in such a very poor state. “Through decentralization of power, Gandhiji would have worked towards empowering the villages in our country which have been forsaken since a very long time.”
Gandhi also says that there is no doubt that Gandhiji would have protested against corruption in all spheres. “But he wouldn’t have wasted so much time on discussion as Gandhians now do. He would have jumped straight into the battle against corruption and led by example,” he adds.
Tushar Gandhi, great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi is of the same opinion as Mayank Gandhi. “He would have campaigned against abuse of power that is so rampant today,” says Gandhi.
“That would have an automatic effect toward changing society as a whole for the better,” says Gandhi.
Chaitra Redkar, a professor of political science at SNDT College says that Gandhi fought inequality when he was alive and that is what he would always continue to fight against. “Inequality is so ingrained in our society. Gandhi would have not only fought inequality but also integrated different people’s movements so that there wouldn’t be so much fragmentation in movements,” she says.
Asghar Ali Engineer, Chairman of Centre for Study of Society and Secularism says that it is pointless having roads and buildings and colonies named after Gandhi when we don’t respect and follow his principles.
“Non-violence is fundamental to his philosophy and we don’t practice non-violence. Gandhi would have gone on Satyagraha to have a different development model – a model that would have its foundations in non-violence and truth and not hypocrisy,” he asserts.
CBI cheated by a Data Entry Operator
New Delhi: A Data Entry Operator allegedly managed to siphon off Rs 18 lakh from the accounts of the country's premier investigation agency CBI.
The case came to light after a complaint was filed by Pay and Accounts Officer, which works under the Finance Ministry and manages accounts of CBI, that a data entry operator hired by them on a contractual basis, had allegedly withdrawn Rs 18 lakh through cheques, CBI sources said.
The PAO, who sits in the CBI headquarters, alleged these are initial figures but the amount may be higher as more such withdrawals could come to light, they said.
Based on a complaint, the agency arrested Prashant Kumar Jha, a resident of Uttam Nagar, under the Indian Penal Code sections relating to criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery among others and relevant sections of Prevention of Corruption Act.
Chambers call for criminalizing private sector bribery
New Delhi: Industry bodies have supported a proposed law to criminalise private sector bribery saying such an attempt would help in checking corruption.
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has commended government’s attempt to amend the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to make corruption in private sector a criminal offence.
“We believe that such a provision could be an effective deterrent and help curb corruption,” it said.
The Central Government has proposed to make bribery in private sector — both giving and accepting it — a criminal offence by amending the IPC. However, FICCI, said that it was necessary to ensure that the amended law does not cause undue harassment to businessmen in the country.
The Government’s move was also supported by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India with its Secretary General D S Rawat saying that the body favours such a law.
However, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said it was “examining the matter internally”.
The draft Indian Penal Code (Amendments) Bill, 2011, circulated to states and Union Territories by the Centre for their comments, would cover graft by an individual, firm, society, trust, association of individuals, company, whether incorporated or not, which undertakes any economic or financial or commercial activity.
At present, there are no legal provisions to check graft in the private sector.
As per the draft law, whoever in the course of economic, financial or commercial activity promises, offers or gives, directly or indirectly, any gratification, in any capacity, for a private sector entity, for the person himself or for another person shall be punishable.
The Centre has asked all States and UT administrations to give their views on the proposed amendments.
“Strengthening of corporate governance norms and increasing disclosure requirements thereby creating a market mechanism to penalise errant private firms could be a way to check corruption,” said Kunal R Gupta, Associate Director, PWC India. He also cited a US Law which deals with foreign bribery saying it had a “tremendous impact” in the manner in which companies and persons in that country do business.
“We understand that in the US context US Foreign Corruption Practices Act (FCPA) of 1977 which, in a slightly different context of foreign bribery, deals with the supply side of bribery, has had a tremendous impact in the manner in which the US companies and persons do business and on their compliance policies,” Gupta said.
The expert hinted support to a regulatory body close on the lines of the US’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the UK’s Financial Services Authority (FSA).
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has off late declined to play a CVC-like role to check corruption in private firms saying it was not its mandate.
Baby sold to buy mobile phone
Jajpur (Odisha): Investigation into the sale of a baby boy by his mother in Odisha's Jajpur district has revealed curious details - the money was used to buy a mobile phone and a pair of jeans among other things.
"Rakhi Patra of Mundamala village who sold her 17 month-old son for Rs 5000 purchased a new mobile phone, a pair of jeans, few new tops (to go with jeans) and memory cards for her mobile with the money," Jajpur superintendent of police Deepak Kumar said.
The investigations were conducted when a division bench of Orissa High Court took suo moto cognisance of media reports on the sale and directed the police to recover the baby and hand him over to his mother.
Rejecting the mother's claim that she sold the child to meet the legal expenses of her jailed husband, Kumar said her new acquisitions were evidence of the fact that she did not sell her baby boy due to poverty.
She had confessed before us that she had purchased all these items from the money out of the sale of her baby for Rs 5000, he said, adding the goods were seized from her.
The woman refused to take back her son after police handed her the boy after recovering him from Cuttack yesterday. We had handed over the baby but to our utter dismay, the mother refused to take him to her custody in the presence of the general public.
Later, we handed him over to Child Welfare Committee. Rakhi, who is 20 years old and a daily wage earner, had in association with a rickshaw puller sold her son to Babula Behera on Sept 17 in Cuttack.
Police rescued the baby boy from Nuapatana village following the order of High Court division bench comprising Chief Justice V Gopala Gowda and Justice BK Mishra.
Indian Institute of Political Management
Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and his cabinet colleagues had to turn to the Indian Institute of Management or IIM at Kozhikode to learn modern skills for governing the highly politically-conscious state.
The state may soon have an institute solely to train politicians if a project proposed by a US-based non-resident Keralite works out. Vinson X. Palathingal, a successful IT entrepreneur based in Washington, will announce the project at the Emerging Kerala 2012 investor meet to be held at Cochin from September 12 to 14.
The objective of the institute christened as Indian Institute of Political Management or IIPM is to produce well-informed leaders that would provide high quality political leadership to the India of 21st century, says Vinson.
“India is the largest democracy in the world. Still, majority of educated and middle-class citizens despise politicians, and never want their children to have anything to do with politics. This dichotomy obviously does not bode well for the dream of a great future for India,” says Vinson.
“Considering that most talented young adults tend to choose technical professions and show little interest in public life, tomorrow’s political leadership may belong to the mediocre. If the country is to develop into a major powerhouse, we need to see young leaders with higher intellectual and mental capacities enter politics, and be adequately enabled to run the country into the future.”
The IT entrepreneur, who heads two companies-Amaram Technology Corp and Amsco Global LLC, both in Washington DC-says his inspiration to set up IIPM came from George Washington University or GWU which offers masters and certificate programmes exclusively devoted to various aspects of political management.
Get married @ 12.00 midnight
London: Just married at 3 am! With the lifting of the 176-year-old ban on marrying at night, now Las Vegas-style weddings can take place in Britain.
The government is reforming the marriage law, which dates from 1836, so that people can marry outside the hours of 8am-6pm. Civil partnerships can also be held at any time of day with the removal of the traditional time restrictions. Blackpool Tower will be one of the first venues to take advantage of the new rules, offering weddings at sunrise, midnight and even at 3am at the top of the tower, the media reported.
The change, to be brought in by the Home Office after public consultation, is designed to give people more choice.
It is also hoped that it will unblock long waits to get to the altar. Mark Harper, the Home Office minister with responsibility for the General Register Office, said: “Removing these restrictions will give people greater freedom of choice when planning their big day.”
Churches and other religious venues will still have a right to stick to the traditional wedding times. But other civil wedding venues are expected to conduct all-night weddings. Kate Shane, general manager of the Blackpool Tower Eye, which is 380ft above ground, said: “We are really excited about this change in the law, as it now means we can offer sunrise, sunset and even midnight weddings at the top of the iconic Blackpool Tower.”
In Las Vegas night-time weddings have been popular for decades, though not all of them stand the test of time. Singer Britney Spears married her childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander at 5am (local time) at the Little White Wedding chapel. She wore jeans and a baseball cap. The marriage lasted 55 hours before it was annulled.
Kelly Chandler, director of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners, was optimistic about the relaxation of wedding hours. “This is a positive move which allows those planning their big day greater flexibility,” she said.
TN Gets Dalit Speaker
Chennai: Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa sowed the seeds for creating history by nominating her party man P Dhanapal, a Dalit, for the post of the Speaker of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly. Dhanapal was unanimously elected to the post much to the joy of Dalits in the State. In fact, he is only the second Dalit to occupy the top post in the Assembly. Officials said this was the first time a Dalit was elected unanimously to the post. Over 60 years ago, a Dalit J Sivashanmugam Pillai had occupied the post but he had to contest an election. Dhanapal and a host of Dalit leaders thanked the Chief Minister for her gesture.
SC youths to be imparted skill development training
Bhopal: A programme has been chalked out to impart skill development training to 10,000 SC youths this year. The Schedule Castes Welfare Department has set aside a budget of `10 crore for the programme during the current fiscal. Under the programme started since October 2, as many as 3,920 candidates are being imparted training in retail trader, computer accounting and BPO trade.
cockroach-eating contest turns fatal
Washington: A 32-year-old man who had won a cockroach-eating competition in Florida died shortly after swallowing dozens of the live cockroaches and worms.
Edward Archbold was among 20 to 30 contestants participating in "Midnight Madness" event at Ben Siegel Reptiles in Deerfield Beach, authorities said.
The participants' goal was to consume as many insects and worms for a prize of USD 850 python, the 'CNN.com' reported.
Soon after the contest was over, Archbold fell ill and began to vomit, the Broward County Sheriff's Office said.
Companionship Sr Citizen style
Mumbai: Jeevan Sandhya Sathi Parichay Sammelan has organised a ‘Senior Citizen’s Marriage Sammelan’ for single elderly citizens on November 25 at Sahitya Mandir Auditorium in Vashi and is free of cost.
This initiative was taken up by a senior citizen couple, Mansukhlal Shah and his wife, Taruna Shah, who had previously organised similar sammelans for handicapped people in Mumbai.
The eligibility to participate is that males should have adequate financial security in order to support the spouse.
Religion or caste of the senior citizens signing up for this won’t be taken into consideration.
This sammelan was inspired by Aamir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate episode on senior citizens and the event will be graced by Jayant Joshi (80), former chairman of LIC and his wife Leina Joshi who got married in 2005.
To participate in the sammelan, contact Mansukhlal Shah at 8108839998 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters can be posted at: A 903, Mermaid-1, Sector 11, CBD Belapur, Navi Mumbai.
Gandhi & Jail inmates
Mumbai : About 120 under trials at Arthur Road jail took a Gandhian pledge, sourced from M K Gandhi’s book ‘India of my dreams’, at creating a country of their dreams. The programme was held in association with Mumbai Sarvodaya Mandal and Gandhi Research Foundation.
It started with sarvadharma prarthana (a prayer for all religions) followed by Gandhi bhajans, sung by Dhvani Pandya. A C Rane, the Superintendent of Arthur Road jail, appealed to the inmates to bring about a change in themselves.
“Plenty can be achieved in life by adopting the teachings of truth and non-violence,” said Rane, addressing the inmates. “Realize the responsibility of your families and you will be able to change yourselves.”
An oath was administered by Prof Heena Shah, MMP Shah College, Matunga to the jail inmates at the end of the programme.
“A lot of criminals sometimes don’t know where they went wrong. The pledge was taken so that the inmates finally come to terms with their crimes and work towards self-reformation,” said Rajesh Shinde, administrator of Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal.
The Mandal is planning to show the inmates a series of films including Gandhi, Lage Raho Munnabhai based on Gandhian principles.
Where there is will…..! Swiss Bank a/c frozen
Mumbai: In the first instance of an Indian agency getting access to Swiss bank accounts in its black money probe, the Enforcement Directorate has frozen about Rs 6 crore of stashed funds of a Mumbai-based businessman in an alleged money laundering case, media reports.
The agency, which approached Swiss authorities some time back in connection with the probe, received a shot in the arm when the banking and enforcement authorities there agreed that the money stashed in the accounts was prima facie “proceeds of crime” and it was important for India to get access and control of these accounts. The case pertains to an alleged contravention of money laundering laws by Sayed Mohammed Masood, Chairman of ‘City Limousine’, whom the agency is probing for floating illegal ponzi (fraud investment plans) schemes by promising extraordinary returns which were not honoured. “Two Swiss accounts in the name of Masood and his business firms, holding USD 1.25 million, have been attached under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act,” case investigators said.
Student auctions her body for the poor!
London: A 20-year-old Brazilian woman student is auctioning off her virginity to the highest bidder to raise cash to build homes for poverty-stricken families, the Daily Mail reported. Catarina Migliorini, a physical education student of Italian descent, has till now been offered $155,000.
She hopes to pump in the money into a non-governmental organisation that will construct houses in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. The girl rejected claims that she was a prostitute, and said she still believed in love, the daily reported.She will reportedly be followed every step of the way by an Australian film crew for a documentary called "Virgins Wanted". "I saw this as a business. I have the opportunity to travel, to be part of a movie and get a bonus with it," the woman said."The auction is just business, I'm a romantic girl at heart and believe in love. But this will make a big difference to my area," she said.
Catarina signed up to the project two years ago when she saw an advert by Thomas William Productions looking for a virgin to film. Director Justin Sisely will "record her emotions" before and after her first sexual encounter. She will get $20,000 and 90 percent of the final auction sale price, which ends Oct 15. The winner will be tested for sexually transmitted diseases prior to the encounter that will take place on a plane, leaving Australia for the US.
2 banned from all-you-can-eat restaurant
London: Two British men have been banned from an all-you-can-eat restaurant for beating everyone to the food and eating too much. The manager said the pair were "a couple of pigs". George Dalmon, a former rugby player, and Andy Miles were banned from the restaurant Gobi, in Brighton, the Telegraph reported. The men would each eat five bowls of stir-fry during their regular meals at the Mongolian barbecue, customers can request meals "as many times as you wish" for 12 pounds.
Woman travels 644 kms to get a haircut
London : A loyal British customer has clocked up a phenomenal 38624 kilometres, equivalent of the Earth’s circumference, visiting the same hairdresser for the past 37 years. Susan Parker-Jones from Shrewsbury, Shropshire, travels 644 kilometres six times a year for a haircut, to a stylist she trusts with her locks. The guest house owner embarks upon her trip at least six times a year to get her hair-styled by Jo Sparks, who has been cutting her hair since 1975, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported.
US nurse throws away kidney
Chicago: A nurse in a US hospital "accidentally" threw away a kidney from a living donor with medical waste and ruined it.
The kidney was removed by a surgeon and then inadvertently thrown away by a nurse. It took about an hour or more to find the discarded kidney, which was among medical waste, sources with knowledge of the botched surgery said.
The kidney donated by a Toledo man to his older sister was thrown away with medical waste at the University of Toledo Medical Center, Ohio, in what experts described as a rare accident, The Blade newspaper reported.
US man arrested after fight with stop sign
Rosewell: A New Mexico man is behind bars after police said he got into a fight with officers – and a street sign that said ‘Stop’.
KRQE-TV reported that 45-year-old Raymond Garcia was arrested following a scuffle with police who used stun guns, pepper spray and a baton to stop him.
Police were called to an intersection following reports that a man was having an altercation with a stop sign. When approached, Garcia who police said appeared under the influence of drugs, ran from officers. Two officers then shot him with laser darts, but he kicked them as they got close. Garcia was darted again, but broke off the laser leads. When an officer used his baton, Garcia snatched it away. According to police, even pepper spray didn’t stop him – he wiped it off his face and threw the baton at them before being subdued.
Garcia was finally arrested and charged with aggravated assault against a police officer, disarming, and resisting officers.
Champion eater devours 191 chicken wings
New York: Competitive eater Joey "Jaws" Chestnut devoured a record 191 chicken wings in 12 minutes, becoming the new world champion.
Chestnut set the record during a wing-eating contest at the annual National Buffalo Wing Festival in New York, defeating a longtime rival, Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas. Thomas, a five-time winner of the contest, was second with 170 wings, the 'New York Daily News' reported.
"Sonya had the crowd of 10,000 people behind her, but she was out of synch," said George Shea, the chairman of Major League Eating, the governing body of all stomach-centric sports.
The makers of a banana republic
Dr. M. V. Kamath
Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law- what’s his name? -Vadra?-yes, Robert Vadra has said it all. According to his perverse sense of humour, Indians are mangoes in a Banana Republic. How right he is? The poor man has discovered himself. But that’s what Vadra’s father in-law, Rajiv Gandhi, not to mention Rajiv’s mother, Indira Gandhi and in a distant way his grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru turned India into: a Banana Republic. Consider its achievement, in various fields. Indian Universities do not figure anywhere in the top two hundred in the world. This year Hong Kong – just an ordinary city – has five universities and Singapore two, in the top 200. Even the University Malaya in Malaysia ranks at 156. India in all has 567 universities and not one can claim world recognition. India has 292 Think Tanks among the 5,329 such institutions round the world. (China has 425 and the United States 1,815). And yet not a single Indian Think Tank has been named among the top thirty. According to B.S.Raghavan, even Lebanon, Azerbijan, Egypt, Indonesia and Singapore have made it to top 50, with one Think Tank each. Even Lebanon is better qualified than any in the Nehru-Gandhi India. Foreigners who visit China are frequently quoted as saying that the Chinese held India in utter contempt. No wonder. Poverty in China decreased from 30.7 per cent in 1978 to 14.3 per cent in 1987 and was further down to 3.2 per cent in 2001. In Indonesia, the proportion of the population in poverty dropped from 41.1 per cent between 1967 and 1987 to 11.3 in 1996. In India the people below the poverty line constitute about 36 per cent. As to suicides among farmers, India beats every other nation hollow. The total number of farmer suicides in 1995 touched 2,70,940. Talk of Infant Mortality Rate (IMR). The rate in Indonesia (per thousand live births) is 22.72, in Korea it is 4.2 and in Malaysia a low 2.54. The figure for India is 48.2. What does it say of our Congress and UPI government? According to Gurcharan Das, it takes 89 days to start a business in India. The same process takes less than two days in Scandinavia, the United States and even in little Singapore. Inefficiency in India is to be seen to be believed. When Dr Manmohan Singh was Finance Minister in 1990, he set up a Committee to make an exhaustive study of Central Laws. It was found that 1,500 out of 3,500 laws of the Central Government had become obsolete. The recommendation was made that if those obsolete laws were scrapped or significantly modified, the citizen’s live’s would improve. Writes Gurcharan Das: “when Manmohan Singh became the Prime Minister in 2004, many expected him to follow through with this, but he did not.” And he has been in power since 2004 – that is, for eight long years. And what kind of Legislative Assemblies and Lok Sabhas have we been having all these years? Consider these figures: one in five members elected to the Indian Parliament in 2004 had a criminal charge against him. To quote Gurcharan Das again: “Of 128 Members of Parliament charged, 84 were for murder, 17 for robbery and 28 for theft and extortion. Those charged included 40 per cent of Maharashtra’s MPs and 35 per cent of Bihar’s. One M.P. faced seventeen murder charges”. On 13 July 2012, according to the media, of the 4,896 MLAs and MPs who constituted the electoral college for the presidential votes, 31 percent had declared in sworn affidavits before the Election Commission that they had criminal charges pending against them. Comments Gurcharan Das: “Of these tainted legislators, 641 had serious cases – rape, murder, kidnapping, attempts to murder, extortion and robbery against them”. At least they are truthful. The big question is: Who gave them tickets, Vadra’s mother-in-law? Vadra perhaps does not remember that a lady close to the Sonia Gandhi inner circle, Margaret Alva, was literally thrown out of the party for making the allegation that tickets were being given to those who paid up. She merely told the truth. Says Gurcahran Das: “The real worry is that many crimes of politicians are never booked”. You saw that, Bob? Suresh Kalmadi involved in a major scandal has now been taken back into a Government Committee. The Commonwealth Scam is forgotten, as once Mr Shinde cheerfully predicted! That indeed must be a reward for a corruption. A. Raja, once part of the UPA II government allegedly made a vast fortune on behalf of the Karunanidhi family firm in the corrupt way he distributed the 2G Spectrum licenses to favoured firms. The loss to the government is placed at a modest Rs 1,79,000 crore by none less than the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG). Yes, Robert, your mother-in-law is really presiding over a Banana Republic, and even for the money you made, you have to be grateful to her. It always pays to marry a powerful politician’s daughter. There is no government in Delhi. Says India Today (15 October). “For three years the Jairam-Jayanthi regime has jinxed development with the obstructionist approach in the Environment Ministry”. According to the Weekly, Jayanthi Natarajan “has successfully stalled every attempt by the Prime Minister to make her fall in line with his reformist vision” and over the past three years “Jayanti Natarajan and her predecessor Jairam Ramesh (between 2009 to 2011) have succeeded in making the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF) the single biggest stumbling block to India’s growth story”. Adds India Today: “The story is the same across roads, steel, defence, making it impossible for India to achieve its target of attracting an investment of $ 1 trillion in infrastructure between 2012 and 2017. Good politics is threatened, Big Business is frustrated and the UPA Government looks unlikely to achieve its much-needed, election-required growth rate of 8 per cent”. The red tape has become a green noose and it is strangling development”. Incidentally, The Indian Express (18 July 2011) reported that “in the past decade, money laundered out of India was at least Rs 1,886,000 crore” and that the quantification of that was worked out “on the most pessimistic manner and by considering the global parameters”. Yes Robert Vadra. We are a banana republic. And we have to praise the Nehru-Gandhi self-centred government for turning it into one. You know that from personal experience, don’t you? Or are you forgetting that you, too, are one of the rotten mangoes?