Saturday, December 10, 2016

The rise and fall of Emperor Modi

You can never take the people for granted, or you will surely be transplanted

November 2017. This is an excerpt from the screenplay of a musical play performed recently at the Kala Natak Academy, inaugurated by Prime Minister LK Advani. It stars Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley and a chorus of 30 cows. While reading it, please sing it in your head with a grand dramatic voice.
(Silhouette of Narendra Modi sleeping on a bed. Loud snores emanate. At the foot of the bed, a minion sits. Loud footsteps are heard. Arun Jaitley enters the room.)
AJ: Modiji, Modiji!
Chorus of 30 cows: Modiji, Modiji!
Minion, thrusting his arms out towards Jaitley: Do not wake him, Do not shake him. He is sleeping, he spent all of last evening weeping, for this nation, the creation of a Hindu god in a Himalayan location. Do not wake him! Please forsake him!
AJ: He must be woken! My spirit is broken! Forget the nation, I’m out of ration. I have no cash. The supreme leader has obliterated my stash, it’s all trash. He could have let me know at least. Oh, the beast!
(There is a loud grunt, and Modi rises, and then gets out of bed. He is wearing only his Modi kurta.)
Modi: Oh here you are, my little one. I am lohpurush, you’re a brittle one. As for your notes, why don’t you... write on them? As for your notes... a blight on them! You have been rather slow, lately. Don’t you see the plan, Jaitley? Like me, you must learn to see far. What happened to my churidar?
30 cows: Churidar! Churidar!
(Minion scurries off to fetch churidar.)
AJ: You say you want to attack black money. Are you being funny? This won’t hurt black money, truth be told. Hoarders keep their wealth in real estate and gold. In benaami investments and banks that are offshore. Why did you let go of the Panama chors? The IT department found only six per cent of black money is held in cash. So stop talking trash.
30 cows: Talking trash! Talking trash!
(A minion brings a churidar. Two burly bearded bare-chested men wearing harem pants appear and lift Modi by the armpits as he tries to peel on his churidar. Jaitley continues.)
AJ: More than 90 per cent of the cash out there is white! Those who have earned it feel it is their right. Their right to spend as they please, to save as they please. It’s their money, not yours to seize! Six hundred million people have no bank accounts! Three hundred million have no ID, and this is tantamount to theft from the poor, into the pockets of the rich. A reverse Robin Hood displaying a kleptomanic itch.
(Modi has put on his churidar, and the burly bearded bare-chested men in harem pants disappear under the bed. Modi is tying the naada of the churidar. Jaitley continues.)
AJ: Modiji, I have to tell you, this will cost you votes. As much as 86 per cent of the money in use was 500 and 1000 notes. Cash was used in more than 90 per cent of all transactions. This has set off a series of destructive chain reactions. Farmers are screwed, workers are screwed, small businesses are shutting down. A recession is a best-case outcome, the worst is a meltdown. And after all this, you accuse me of not looking far. Modiji, how long does it take you to wear your churidar?
30 cows: Churidar! Churidar!
Modi: Jaitley, you must understand, my churidar is tight. And you’ve missed the point completely, clearly you’re not bright. The poor do not matter: Let their blood splatter, let the economy shatter, ignore the presstitute chatter. I am the ruler of this nation, this is my domain, with a treasury to fill, an army of bhakts to maintain. This move is genius, such a lovely redistribution. The people’s wealth is now the government’s, a perfect solution. I don’t really care about a little collateral damage. If there are riots, well I’m sure, the army will manage. Besides, my PR is quite superlative. I have complete control of the narrative!
30 cows: Narrative! Narrative!
AJ: Modiji, you must remember, India is democratic. Right now the BJP feels much like the Titanic. We’re sinking, sinking, sinking! What on earth were you thinking? Optics has its limits, and no matter what you call it, the narrative won’t work when you hit people on their wallet. It’s clear that all this power has gone to your head. If we don’t get rid of you, this party will be dead!
(Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj walk in, holding a chair on which Advani is sitting.)
Modi: What do you mean? What is this crap? I am the Supreme Leader. I’ll declare an Emergency, and put you all in a feeder. Forget the aam janta, they are all kambakhts. I’ll drown out their voices through my sweatshop of trolling bhakts. The people are an instrument, a way to feed my pride. I don’t give a damn how many poor folks have died.
SS: And that is why, Modiji, you have got to leave. Politicians should serve the people, not rule them till they grieve. You made a big mistake demonetising those notes. Now we have to dethrone you to somehow save our votes.
(The burly bearded bare-chested men in harem pants emerge from under the bed, put a bag around Modi’s head that says ‘Garbage Disposal’ and carry him off. Singh and Swaraj lower the chair, and Jaitley helps Advani on to the bed.)
Advani: I’m so glad to be on top, this is my rightful place. Because of that Modi, I am now a moderate face! I saved his ass once, and that led to my downfall. The moral of the story: The higher you rise, the harder you fall.
30 cows: Moo! Moo!
(This article was published on November 25, 2016)
The above was published in Business Line


PBT is planning to organize a massive public rally in central Kolkata on Thursday (December 29, 2016) demanding expedited justice for the victims of medical negligence and cleansing of the medical councils that have been riddled with corruption. 

Despite frequent reports of death of innocent patients from reckless treatment and wide-spread healthcare corruption appearing in the news on a regular basis, hardly any doctor is found guilty by the medical regulatory authorities. 

Legal proceedings for compensation against the errant doctors are also languishing in the consumer courts for years and decades because large number of consumer complaints against trivial defective commercial products are stacked together with serious cases of death from alleged medical negligence. 

PBT plans to raise these important issues that are crippling the medical system through peaceful public protest rally starting at 1 pm from Esplanade (Y-Channel) on December 29 2016. 

All victims of medical negligence and conscientious citizens are invited to join this public rally to make our voice heard for a better healthcare delivery system in the future. 

PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, will also join this public rally coming from USA. 

Please contact PBT head office at 9143650171/9831983670/9836706952 for more information.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Foreign Funding: ADR writes to MHA and ECI, urges them to implement Delhi High Court’s ruling against Congress and BJP on FCRA violation.

New Delhi: Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR)  has written letters (attached) to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Election Commission (ECI) urging them to implement and comply with the directions of the Delhi High Court and  take action against two national parties BJP and Congress as ‘contemplated by law’ within a specified period of six months.   
ADR, in its letters has specifically highlighted Para 73 of the Delhi High Court’s order, which states;

“73. For the reasons extensively highlighted in the preceding paragraphs, we have no hesitation in arriving at the view that prima-facie the acts of the respondents inter-se, as highlighted in the present petition, clearly fall foul of the ban imposed under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976 as the donations accepted by the political parties from Sterlite and Sesa accrue from ‘Foreign Sources’ within the meaning of law.”
The Delhi High Court in its judgment dated 28th March, 2014 had found both Congress and BJP prima facie guilty of accepting foreign funds and violating the provisions of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976.  Against the High Court’s order, Congress and BJP had separately filed Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) in the Supreme Court on 26 June, 2014, and 26 August, 2014 respectively, and consequently the matter became sub judice.  The SLPs in the Supreme Court were “dismissed as withdrawn” on November 29, 2016.
In view of the fact that now the Delhi HC order of March 28, 2014 has attained finality and it has been re-affirmed in a way, it is imperative that ECI, as a constitutional body and MHA as an administering authority under FCRA should act and take action against these two national parties for violating the FCRA within a specified time as directed by the High Court. 
Section 23(1) of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976 calls for a penal action for the contravention of any provision of the act. The relevant Section reads as follows;

“whoever accepts, or assists any person, political party or organisation in accepting any foreign contribution or any currency from a foreign source, in contravention of any provision of this Act or any rule made thereunder, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both.”

ECI being the Constitutional authority to conduct free and fair elections in the country, it has the powers to either suspend or withdraw the recognition of a political party under Section 16 (A)(b) of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968. The relevant Section reads as follows;

“to follow or carry out the lawful directions and instructions of the Commission given from time to time with a view to furthering the conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections or safeguarding the interests of the general public and the electorate in particular, the Commission may, after taking into account all the available facts and circumstances of the case and after giving the party reasonable opportunity of showing cause in relation to the action proposed to be taken against it, either suspend, subject to such terms as the Commission may deem appropriate, or withdraw the recognition of such party as the National Party or, as the case may be, the State Party.”

ADR in its letter, addressed to MHA, has also stated that if “action as contemplated by law” is not taken within a reasonable time, the inescapable conclusion will be that the verdict of the Hon’ble Delhi HC is not being complied with wilfully, and there will be no option but to initiate proceedings for contempt of court against the MHA.

Thanks; Regards

Prof Trilochan Sastry 
IIM Bangalore 
Founder Member,
+91 94483 53285 
Prof Jagdeep Chhokar
IIM Ahmedabad (Retd.)
Founder Member,
+91 99996 20944 
Maj.Gen. Anil Verma (Retd.)
+91 88264 79910, 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Demonetisation: The Biggest Failed Economic Experiment in Indian History?

Soon, it will be a month since we heard the term demonetization after a gap of thirty eight years. The intent was to target black money. And to check terrorist funding. So far so good. 

But the planning and execution has certainly left a lot to be desired. As we wrote recently, of the Rs 15.4 trillion of black money in circulation before the move, Rs 15 trillion is likely to return to the banking system. The much-hyped revolution could at last turn out to be much ado about nothing... 

Until you take note of the casualties. 

Namely: money, time, and resources 

Printing new currency...people in queues rather than at work...loss of lives and livelihoods...abandoned projects - a lot has been sacrificed for the failing experiment. 

The biggest blow has been to the rural economy and the small players in the unorganised sector. The informal sector runs mostly on cash and accounts for 48% of India's total output and 80% of employment. 

The GDP growth rate comes next. And we believe that the pain will be worse and more prolonged than predicted. The move could even delay the implementation of GST. Low deposit rates for savers are already a reality. 

One can gauge the government's confidence by the turn the narrative has taken in last one month - from demonetisation to a cashless economy

Parts of India have indeed been rendered cashless... and helpless. And the elephant in the room is political funding that happens mostly in cash and is unaccounted. 

Meanwhile, a new twist emerges... 

Thanks to the latest amnesty scheme, the crooked will be allowed to come clean if they declare their unaccounted income and pay a penalty of 50%...and then keep the other 50%. If they had the sense to invest this unaccounted income in assets, even better. The honest taxpayer is made to look like a fool. 

From threats of tax plus 200% penalty on deposits, Jan dhan account holders who helped convert black money into white for a 'cut 'are now being openly encouraged by Mr Modi (as suggested by his speech in 'Parivartan' rally in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh). Those who weren't a part of this laundering scheme must be wondering how they can get in on the action. 

No one is asking what happened to the pre-election claims of bringing back black money stashed abroad. Nor is anybody asking what demonetization does to target black money stored not in cash but in assets such as real estate and gold. And how about preventing the creation of black money in the future?

    'It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.' - Mark Twain
Failed execution of demonetization could have long lasting impact on the lives of people and businesses. So far, the economic logic of the initiative has gone for a toss. We could go on counting the troubles. But that will not help you tread through the crisis.
    'Only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked.' - Warren Buffett
      The above is from Richa Agarwal of Equitymaster.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Take a pledge NOT to Donate to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) unless it makes donor list Public

Dear Mr. Arvind Kejriwal:
I am pained to see that the list of donations from Aam Aadmi Party’s website had been removed almost 6 months back.
Despite the presence of more than 1800 political parties in India, you and many others took a stand that the country needed a NEW political party to change the political culture in India. To bring ‘Vyastha parivartan’, AAP was launched with a self - proclaimed principle of Clean Money. 
Public funded Party: This is AAP's core principle. To create a corruption-free India, AAP stated that it would start with an absolute financial transparency. AAP pledged to itself and the public that it would be a purely public funded party and it would provide details of each penny donated to the public.
Removing the details of donations to the party is a serious violation of your own principle and the core value. It is a serious breach of trust between the party and its stakeholders (the donors, volunteers, patrons, and supporters).
If we deviate from showing details of political donations to our party, then what is left behind? AAP was created to do honest politics. Naturally, that starts with honest political funding and transparent accounting.
Arvind, lakhs of people have supported AAP because you set a high ideal for the party: Corruption-free India is not our mere demand; it is our insistence (भ्रष्टाचार मुक्त भारत हमारी मांग नहीं, हमारी जिद्द है).
How can AAP swear for removing corruption in India, when it cannot even show financial transparency to its own donors? A corruption –free AAP is the pre requisite before it promises a Corruption-free India to its fellow citizens!
Please Do not give Excuses for hiding Donors' List:
In your interview to Ankit Tyagi of Aaj Tak on November 07, 2016, when asked why AAP has removed the list of donations from its website, you replied that Central Government has started raiding our donors, thus we cannot show our donations.
People have donated and nurtured the party like patriots (desh bhakts) because it gave them to understand that AAP is not a mere political party, it is a 2nd war for independence (Aazadi ki doosri ladai). Its donors have donated like kranti-kaaris. People supported and donated to the party because they could feel a revolutionary zeal by slogans given by you like “Niklo bahr makanoon se, Jung lado baimaano se”.
How can AAP NOW betray them by hiding their financial contributions? 
The way the Aam Aadmi Party has masked the donations from the public, the way you have decided to give excuses for not providing details of donations, we feel pained and betrayed. We request truthfulness to be restored without any further delay.
Our specific requests are the following and we urge you to restore them ASAP:
1. The AAP website must put back details of all the donations (starting with Rupee 1 and above) at our website since inception of the party. This should be done ASAP and the donation list should be up-to-date.
2. To respect the principle of transparency and accountability, donations on AAP website must be searchable by name (example: If I search for Anil Kumar, all donations by all donors by this name must appear). The earlier practice of finding donation by receipt number makes the things cumbersome for the donors and public.
3. Annual Balance Sheets of AAP’s income and expenses are missing from its website after March 31, 2014. They must be put in public domain ASAP.
 4. The real details of 2 Crores (4 checks of Rs. 50 Lakh each) donated to be the party in April of 2014 (deposited in the AAP account in July 2014) are still missing. You had stated in an interview on February 2, 2015 with Barkha Dutt of NDTV that you would be the first person to order an inquiry into these dubious donations if we come to power. You are in power now and the public deserves the real answers.
 In order to press for financial transparency in AAP, I have made up my mind to be a part of this Satyagraha!
Our Satyagraha is very simple and straightforward:
I pledge NOT to donate to Aam Aadmi Party until it puts back all its donations on the party's official website. 
"No List: No Donation" is my Satyagraha (insistence for truth). 
i.e., If AAP does Not show its Donations, I take a Pledge NOT to Donate it anymore.
We also call it: चन्दा बंद सत्याग्रह
I hope my Satyagraha will help you see the high ideals for which the party was launched. 
Yours Sincerely!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Biz bleeds in cash wash

The cash-only roadside vendor isn’t the only one wallowing in the money mess. Businesses across the spectrum are feeling the pinch of the cash shortage in the buyer’s pocket, as Metrofound out

His shop stocks both old and new books, but business has been bad since demonetisation kicked in. Gupta has stopped accepting the old 500 and 1,000-rupee notes since distributors and publishers wouldn’t take them. “I don’t have time to stand in queues and deposit these notes in my account,” he said. 
Dates for the School Service Commission and several other examinations were announced last month, but College Street has yet to see the usual rush of customers looking for guide books and other reading material.“In normal circumstances, my daily sales at this time could have shot up to Rs 4,000. For the past week or two, it has been less than Rs 2,500,” said Gupta, who has never used e-wallets such as Paytm. 
Payments by cheque are not feasible for a small business like his. “How can I be sure a cheque issued by a customer I don’t know won’t bounce?”Gupta said.

Pratap Nag, partner in Bhim Nag, the landmark sweet shop in Bowbazar
Sweet shops small and large have been affected by demonetisation and even a Bhim Nag hasn’t been able to stem the tide. The shop stopped accepting old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on November 9 itself. Pratap declined to reveal his daily sales,  but did say that production of several popular items had been scaled down. “If we used to produce 4kg of a particular sandesh, we have reduced that to less than 2.5kg,” he said. 
The shop accepts cheques for bulk orders, but delivers only after payments are credited.

Sk Mohammed Nasiruddin, owner of a sports gear shop at the Bidhan Chandra Roy Market near Shahid Minar
Winter is normally peak season for Nasiruddin and other traders, but the early signs have been depressing.  “This time last year, my daily retail sales would be worth more than Rs 10,000 on an average. Over the past few weeks, that has come down to Rs 5,000-6,000,” Nasiruddin said. 
Last month, a young man had visited his shop to buy a pair of soccer boots priced Rs 600. He was carrying a Rs 2,000 note. Nasiruddin couldn’t sell the boots because he did not have enough change.

Zahid Hussain, manager of the iconic College Street Coffee House
Hussain said there had been a sharp dip in sales since November 8. Before the cash curbs kicked in, average daily sales would be worth around Rs 80,000. In the first two weeks after demonetisation, sales dropped to 50,000 before rising marginally.
“The government should have come out with a back-up plan before announcing the changes,” Hussain told Metro.

Two deaths as banks, ATMs run out of cash

Two men, aged 72 and 80, died on Friday while standing in bank queues at Habra in North 24-Parganas and Raidighi in South 24-Parganas.
Rabin Mukherjee, 72, who was waiting outside a SBI branch in Machhlandapur, Habra, since morning, complained of uneasiness around noon, police said.
He sat down and within moments started breathing heavily. He was taken to a nearby hospital. But he passed away before doctors could do anything, an officer of Habra police station said.
Around 2.30pm, some people of the area blocked the tracks leading to Machhlandapur station while another group blocked the road leading to Habra to protest Mukherjee's death.
Viswadeb Naskar, 80, collapsed while standing in a queue outside a United Bank of India branch in Raidighi in the afternoon.
Some witnesses said Naskar started trembling before he collapsed. He was declared dead at Raidighi hospital.
Metro travelled across the city to find that most banks and ATMs had run out of cash within hours of starting the day's operations.
HDFC Bank, Golpark
Sanjay Ghosh, 53, needed Rs 24,000. This is the second consecutive day that I had to return empty-handed, he said. "Mr Modi should stand in the queue to understand what we are going through."
Axis Bank, Gariahat
Many in the queue kept cursing under their breath as the queue barely moved around 2pm.
Sukalyan Ghorui of Elgin Road said the queue hadn't moved since 12.30pm. "I need to withdraw Rs 16,000."
When he stepped inside the bank around 3.30pm, he was told that he would get only Rs 2,000. But Lady Luck smiled on him as a customer deposited Rs 2 lakh. Mission accomplished, he stepped out of the bank at 6pm.
SBI, Jadavpur University
Getting Rs 24,000 wasn't an issue here. But the bank had placed a bar of Rs 5,000 for those with SBI accounts elsewhere.
Sector V
ATMs ran out of cash by afternoon. The kiosks had either downed shutters or had notices saying no cash.