Tuesday, February 20, 2018

How Many Billionaires Will Get Away While India’s ‘Chowkidar’ Looks On?

Has the Narendra Modi bubble burst? Was the spectacular Ponzi scheme run by Nirav Modi – in which an estimated fraud of Rs 11,400 crore was committed in connivance with officials of the Punjab National Bank – the final jab in his much-vaunted anti-corruption campaign?
Narendra Modi was the self-proclaimed “chowkidar (guard)” of the public’s money on his campaign run as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and had promised to “end the loot of public money”. Yet, even after Nirav Modi  and his family including his wife, younger brother Neeshal Modi and uncle Mehul Choksi left the country, he managed a photograph with the prime minister in Davos. The PMO had also not acted on a whistleblower letter with extensive details about the shenanigans of the Choksi-Modi duo, which was sent in 2016.
Interestingly, the Central Bureau of Investigation only registered a case against Nirav Modi on January 29, the day after the Davos summit ended. Was this a coincidence? Nirav had left the country on January 1. His wife left the country on January 6; Mehul Choksi left on January 4.
Nirav Modi’s picture with the CEO delegation posing with the prime minister was tweeted by both the Ministry of External Affairs and PMO Twitter handles. The MEA chose to go with a glowing header: “Together we can! PM narendramodi with Indian CEOs present at the WorldEconomicForum working hand-in-hand towards a brighter future for the country.”
The government launched a high-decibel damage control exercise, with ministers claiming that Nirav Modi was not a part of the PMO delegation but just snuck into the picture. This claim does not wash, as nobody can casually access the Indian prime minister and accost him, either in India or abroad.
The Special Protection Group (SPG) which guards the prime minister around the clock keeps the area immediately around him “sanitised”, and only those who have been security cleared and whose identity has been established are allowed anywhere near. In any case, for a staged photo-op where even the chairs were laid in advance, it was impossible for Nirav Modi to just photobomb. Interestingly, his uncle Choksi attended a jewellers event at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg, where the prime minister referred to him as “Mehul bhai.
The above is from The Wire

Monday, February 19, 2018

Cabby builds hospital with savings, donations

BARUIPUR: In his dull grey uniform, Saidul Laskar looks no different from any other taxi driver criss-crossing the city in a rusty Ambassador. But unlike his colleagues, Laskar is a man with a mission. For the last 12 years, he has been raising funds to build a hospital at Punri village — a small hamlet nearly 55km from Kolkata, where he lives.

The 55-year-old, who has been painstakingly collecting funds, often in the form of donations from his passengers, finally realized his dream on Saturday: Marufa Smriti Welfare Foundation — the hospital named after his late sister who had died without treatment — was thrown open. It will serve people from at least 100 neighbouring villages.

The hospital was inaugurated by Shrishti Ghosh, a 23-year-old mechanical engineer from Kalikapur who donated her first month’s salary for this noble mission.

“One day, she and her mother boarded my cab from South City and I asked for a don-ation from her like I do from all my passengers. She gave Rs 100 and took my number. In June last year, she came to my hospital and gave me Rs 25,000 — her first month’s salary. In Srishti I find my sister,” Laskar said.

“I joined an MNC in Chennai in February last year. So I couldn’t come but I kept my salary for the hospital. In June, when I was transferred to Kolkata, I went to him and gave him the money. When he can do such a big thing it is our responsibility to support him,” Srishti said.

The hospital’s outdoor department started functioning from Saturday with six beds. It will have 30 beds within the next six months, said Laskar. “There is no hospital in the area and this will be of great help to the the people here. They have donated money and I have started constructing the third floor which will have 20 beds. The first floor will be for the outdoor patients and the second floor will have pathological labs. An organisation has donated an X-Ray machine and an ECG machine,” said Laskar who has so far spent Rs 36 lakh to build the three-storied hospital.

It was the death of his 17-year-old sister in 2004 that made him pledge to build a hospital. Laskar couldn’t afford to get her treated for a chest infection that led to her death. Laskar vowed to make sure that none in his village would die like his sister.

"I wanted to build a hospital which will provide treatment at an affordable cost," Saidul said. But building a hospital was not easy and Saidul had to work hard to gather enough funds to begin construction work.

“Initially, I needed R s 3 lakh to buy the 2 bigha land I had chosen for building the hospital. But I had no money and my wife gave me all her ornaments which I sold to collect the money for the land,” Saidul said.

“He told me that he wanted to build a hospital and asked for my ornaments. We had a long discussion and he patiently convinced me. For nine long years, he has been saving every penny and I knew that he will be successful,” Saidul's wife Shamima said.

Saidul is negotiating with a nursing training school that has promised to train local girls who will work as nurses at the hospital. “Saidul’s effort is a huge one and we want to help him,” said optometrist Joy Chowdhury who will handle the eye department of the hospital said.

“Building a hospital is a huge task and it needs at least 2 to 3 crore to fulfil the basic requirement of a hospital. I am member of an NGO- ‘Banchbo’ and we have come forward to give him support. Intially we have started the Outdoor Patient Departmentand we will start the indoor soon. If we work together I think this is possible,” said Dhiresh Chowdhury who is in charge of the orthopaedic department said.

My Experiment with Diabetes

India is the diabetes capital of the world and as per the latest WHO report there are more than 50 million people in India having Type-2 diabetes. I too joined the pack in the year 2008.
Like many other diseases, diabetes is a hereditary disease and I was expecting to inherit it as my father and all my uncles on my father's side had it. However, they were all fortunate as they did not reach the stage when they had to take insulin injections.
My father discovered he had it when he was around 40. I got it when I was 50 probably because I did not smoke and led a regulated life with controlled diet after my angioplast procedure in 2000.
This heart problem has also been inherited from my father's side as he and his brothers died of heart disease.
Ever since discovering I had diabetes, I have always checked my fasting blood sugar every Sunday morning with an Accuchek instrument to keep it in control.
Initially, my medicines werelight and my fasting blood sugar with medicines was in the range 90-100.
However, as years passed, the range went higher, first 100-110 and then 110-120.
However, when it started going in the range 120-130, I got worried and the doctor prescribed a combined dose of two medicines in Janumet XRCP. This has Metformin Hydrochloride and Sitagliptin Phosphate.This brought down my sugar again to the range 110-120. 
However, in the last 3 months, the sugar level again mounted and came in the range 130-140. This got me worried and when I consulted the doctor, he doubled the dose of Janumet XRCP. While, earlier I took one dose of two tablets at night, now he advised me to take one dose in the morning and one at night.
Now, these are expensive medicines. One strip of seven days tablet cost Rs 340/- Now doubling it would cost me Rs 680/- for one weeks supply. A months supply would cost me around Rs 3000.00
Necessity, as we all is the mother of invention although Mr. Doolittle, in My Fair Lady did talk of Mother being the invention of All necessities.
Just when I was getting worried, a relative of mine informed me of any Ayurvedic Medicine she was using in Gujarat which had reduced her fasting sugar from 175 to 120.
I immediately got two packs and started taking about a week ago,three times a day, before meals, together with Janumet XRCP which I took in the morning only after Breakfast.

Yesterday, in spite of taking reasonable quantity of sweets during the week, my fasting sugar came down to 110. I had earlier stopped taking sweets completely.
The medicine contains Bark of Neem, Karela, Vijaysar, Jambu, Bael, Harde, Gudmar and Methi seeds. These are all Ayurved medicines.
I wanted to share this news with all of you since I know many of you would be diabetes patients.
Since I am satisfied, I will be bringing a few more packs next week and if anyone having Type - 2 diabetes would like to try it out, I can combine the order and get additional quantities.Each pack of 200 gm costs Rs 120/-. Taking a spoonful, thrice a day should last around 15-20 days.

Dalit students in Himachal school told to sit outside, watch PM Modi’s ‘Pariksha par Charcha’

DALIT STUDENTS of a government high school in Kullu were reportedly made to sit separately outside, in a “place used for horses”, during the telecast of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Pariksha Par Charcha’ on Friday.

According to reports, the school in Kullu’s Chestha gram panchayat had made arrangements for students to watch Modi’s televised programme at the residence of the head of the school management committee.

In a complaint to Kullu Deputy Commissioner Yunus on Friday evening, some of the students alleged that a teacher, Mehar Chand, told them to sit outside the room where the television had been set up. “Dalit students were made to sit in a place used for keeping horses,” they said, adding that they were warned not to leave midway through the programme.

In their complaint, written in Hindi on a school notebook, the students alleged that they are also subjected to “caste discrimination during midday meals”. “Students belonging to Scheduled Caste category are made to sit separately. Even the headmaster does nothing… he also practices untouchability,” they said.

Following a purported video clip of the incident, a local organisation, Anusuchit Jati Kalyan Sangh, lodged a protest with the school headmaster, Rajan Bhardwaj, and deputy director, education, Kullu, Jagdish Pathania, on Saturday.

“The headmaster, Rajan Bhardwaj, has confirmed the incident and tendered an apology, assuring that this will not be allowed to happen again. But that’s not enough,” said a member of the organisation.

“This matter has come to my notice today. I have asked Secretary, Education to get a report and take stern action,” said State Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj. “I have also been told that Dalit students faced discrimination in the school earlier too, during midday meals. If these reports are true, we will not spare the guilty,” he said.

“The government will seek a report from the local administration and recommend suitable action,” said Secretary (Education) Arun Sharma.

Terming it as a “serious matter”, Deputy Commissioner Yunus said a magisterial probe has been ordered into the incident. “SDM Kullu, Sunny Sharma, will hold the magisterial inquiry. The report has been sought in the next two days,” he said. “Disciplinary action has already been initiated against the headmaster. If the incident is confirmed, criminal liability will be fixed,” he said.

An inquiry committee comprising deputy director (higher education), deputy director (elementary education), district project officer, ICDS, and the local SHO is scheduled to visit the school on Monday.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Should a Chowkidhar caught sleeping on duty be kicked out?

What does one to to a chowkidhar who sleeps of Duty?
Namo, claimed he considers himself a chowkidhar of the nation so that he could ensure that no hand tries to steal from our treasury.
Well, he has been caught sleeping.
Shouldn't he be kicked out as a chowkidhar?
Tripura and Karnataka should show the way.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Indian Embassy in Oman appeals to companies to send workers for PM Modi’s Mega event

One of the highlights of Prime Minister Modi three-nation trip to Palestine, Oman and UAE will be an address to the Indian expatriates in Oman. The mega community program organized by the Indian Embassy at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex is expected to draw a massive crowd. Indian media headlines have already informed us that “PM Narendra Modi to address record crowd of NRIs in Muscat on February 11.”
With Indians making up almost 20 percent of Oman’s population, one wouldn’t expect the attendance to such an event to be a problem. But it looks like the Indian Embassy is taking no chances. Apart from open online registration for the event via its website, the Embassy has issued appeals to large companies employing Indians to “spare their employees” for half a day to participate in the event.
In a letter addressed to companies employing a large Indian workforce, the Indian Embassy has specified the number of people they expect the company to send. This is not all. There is a further request that 80 percent of the number must be blue-collared workers. Optics are important and it seems that the audience composition has been carefully planned.
Companies have also been requested to arrange group transport for their workers to attend the event. How else would the blue-collared workers make it to the venue? Arrangements have been made to bring them in by bus loads. They get half a day off and the Embassy gets a captive audience to listen to the Prime Minister. It’s a win-win for all.

“The Embassy of India in Muscat has always been rendering full cooperation to your company and I request and hope to receive your full cooperation in arranging participation of your employees in the above Community Event” reads the letter from the Indian Ambassador in Oman. We are sure this little nudge for “cooperation” will go a long way in ensuring that a record crowd turns up to listen to the Prime Minister.

Alt News was sent a copy of the letter by the employee of a company in Oman. Alt News verified the contents with other Muscat based Indians who confirmed that their companies also got similar letters.
Even schools were not spared. All schools where Indian children studies were asked to give a holiday and the children were shepherded to Modi's functions.
Nirav Modi (circled red) and others with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Davos, Switzerland, on January 23, 2018. On Nirav’s left is SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar. Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted on Thursday: “Guide to looting India — by Nirav Modi. 1. Hug PM Modi 2. Be seen with him in Davos. Use that Clout to A. Steal Rs 12000 crore B. Slip out of the country like Mallya, while the Government looks the other way.” Rahul used the hashtag “#From1Modi2another”

New Delhi: The corruption cudgel with which Narendra Modi has bludgeoned his opponents threatened to swing the other way on Thursday as the Nirav Modi scandal threw up an arresting picture and a smoking-gun letter.
The photograph shows Nirav, Narendra Modi and a host of industrialists and chief executives in Davos. The photograph was taken on January 23, six days before Punjab National Bank (PNB) approached the CBI with a complaint that the celebrity diamantaire and associates had defrauded the state-run bank of Rs 280 crore.
Since then, the figure has ballooned past Rs 11,000 crore, making the scandal one of the largest in the country.
A family portrait at summits is commonplace. But Narendra Modi and the BJP - who have placed themselves at the pinnacle of propriety and hanged many a corruption accused even before courtroom trials - found it difficult to digest the fact that the Prime Minister was probably one of the last Indians to meet Nirav before the scam blew up.
As jokes began to fly about "NiMo" (Nirav Modi) and "NaMo" (Narendra Modi) as well as "Finding NiMo" (Nirav has left the country), the BJP scrambled to seek solace in the timeline, pointing out that when the picture was taken, there was no complaint against Nirav.
But the Congress made public a letter sent as far back as on July 26, 2016, to the Prime Minister's Office, alleging fraudulent activities involving thousands of crores of rupees by Mehul Choksi, the managing director of Gitanjali Gems, and its "various subsidiary/sister companies".
The letter, written by a purported franchisee of Gitanjali, alleged: "This company is involved in siphoning out of Rs 1000s of crores of Indian public money through various subsidiary companies floated in India and fictitious companies abroad."
The letter had attached a list of 31 banks that allegedly extended "huge" loans to the group with "meagre assets". It put the cumulative loan amount at Rs 9,872 crore.

The letter did not mention Nirav. But Choksi is the maternal uncle of Nirav and he once played mentor to the younger diamantaire.
Although Choksi has tried to distance himself from Nirav, PNB has directly linked the alleged activities of the uncle and the nephew. "There is clear connivance of group companies of Nirav Modi and Gitanjali Gems with our branch official and also apparently with officials of overseas branches of Indian banks," PNB said in a letter to 32 banks.
The letter to the PMO was written by S.V. Hari Prasad, based in Bangalore. In the documents attributed to Prasad and made public by the Congress, 42 purported cases filed against Choksi have been listed. One relates to a rent dispute between Prasad and Choksi.
Prasad, who got an acknowledgement from the PMO, later told The Telegraph that he approached the high office only after he failed to get a positive response from the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate. 
The Congress wondered how Nirav managed to leave India when the government and the PMO had been alerted to the fraud much in advance.
Recalling how Lalit Modi and Vijay Mallya escaped, Congress communications chief Randeep Surjewala said: "Why did the Prime Minister not take any action to protect the interests of the banking sector despite a written complaint having been received and acknowledged on July 26, 2016? Why were all the authorities, including the finance ministry, its financial intelligence units and all other authorities sleeping on their job?"
Surjewala added: "Had the PMO ordered an FIR at that time, the entire fraud would have been exposed much earlier and Nirav Modi would not have been able to escape."
He cited figures in the letter to suggest a still larger scam. "What the government has not told us is that there is also an exposure of Rs 9,872 crore of various banks with Gitanjali Gems. This is the biggest bank scam of independent India involving around Rs 30,000 crore. Banks other than PNB, like SBI, Axis, Union Bank, Allahabad Bank, Bank of Baroda, Canara, Andhra, ICICI, etc are affected."
Asked about the allegation that the scam had started in 2011 during the UPA regime, Surjewala said: "That is a diversionary tactic.... Is it not a fact that a letter of understanding (LoU) has to be encashed within 90 days? Did the Modi government come into being only 90 days ago? What were they doing for four years? The PNB complaint mentions that eight LoUs worth crores were issued between February 9 and February 14, 2017."
Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted: "Guide to looting India - by Nirav Modi. 1. Hug PM Modi 2. Be seen with him in Davos. Use that Clout to A. Steal Rs 12000 crore B. Slip out of the country like Mallya, while the Government looks the other way."
Rubbing salt into the wound, Rahul used the hashtag "#From1Modi2another".