Monday, August 31, 2015

Abolish caste-based quota, says RSS ideologue

Senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue M.G. Vaidya has argued that caste-based reservation given to the Scheduled Castes (SCs), the Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in government jobs and educational institutions should be done away with as caste is “no more relevant.”

Speaking to The Hindu in the context of the Patel community’s agitation for reservation in Gujarat, Mr. Vaidya said, “There is no need for caste-based reservation now, because no caste has remained backward. At the most, continue it [reservation] for the SCs and STs, but only for 10 years. Abolish it [caste-based reservation] completely after that.”
The senior RSS leader also trashed the claims of the Patel community in Gujarat and other “dominant communities” in other parts of the county for reservation.
“All the trade in Gujarat is controlled by the Patels. Do they really need reservation? In Maharashtra, Marathas are demanding reservation, whereas most of the Chief Ministers of the State have been Marathas. Jats and Gurjars are also pitching for reservation in other States. Are they really backwards? Even the governments entertain such demands to nourish vote banks,” he claimed.
Favouring the change of criteria for reservation from caste to economic status, Mr. Vaidya said that caste-based reservation has “strengthened” caste divisions rather than eradicating them.
“Concessions have become rights now. Does the son of a Chief Minister or a Collector need reservation,” asked the former spokesperson of the RSS.
Reservation based on economic criteria would benefit the poor and needy among Muslims, Christians, Marathas, Brahmins and other communities, he said.
Mr. Vaidya, however, agreed with Hardik Patel’s contention that either reservation should be given to everyone or it should be abolished altogether.
“He [Hardik] is right in this regard. People are backward these days not because of caste but because of economic conditions. If the criteria of reservation is changed from caste to economic status, then there won’t be permanent reservation. Caste-based reservation is making people remember their caste. How can you eradicate it [caste], if you are making them remember it since their birth?” asked Mr. Vaidya, whose son Manmohan Vaidya is the current chief spokesperson of the RSS.
The RSS ideologue also contended that atrocities against Dalits, at least in Maharashtra, did not take place because of caste hatred but because of land dispute and other reasons.
“What is the relevance of caste? I am a Brahmin but do I practise Purohit Yoga? Does my son do it? Only politicians need caste and have kept it relevant for vote bank politics. It is dangerous for the nation as it divides communities,” said Mr. Vaidya, while expressing concern over the current political situation in the country.

Whistle-blower Sanjiv Chaturvedi conferred Magsaysay award

Indian whistle-blower bureaucrat Sanjiv Chaturvedi, who was on Monday conferred with the Ramon Magsaysay award by the Philippines president, said it was a tribute to all honest and sincere civil servants fighting against corruption.

"Like many other developing countries of Asia, India too faces serious problems of corruption. There is no effective antidote to this problem. No amount of individual activism or non-governmental organisations can replace corruption despite being genuine," Chaturvedi said in his speech at the awards ceremony in Manila, capital of the Philippines.
Philippines President Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III presented the award to Chaturvedi.

Established in 1957, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is Asia's highest honour and is widely regarded as the region's equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
Apart from Chaturvedi, social worker Anshu Gupta was chosen for the award.
While Chaturvedi was chosen for exposing corruption in public office Gupta was selected for enterprising leadership.

During his stint in various departments such as environment, forest and healthcare, Chaturvedi said, he faced stiff resistance from some most powerful elements within the system on a range of issues, including illicit felling of trees, poaching of rare species, corruption, supply of dubious medicines and irregularities in government recruitment.

"However, I was able to bring these issues to a logical conclusion as the system of checks and balances established by constitution is still working in our country, with institutions such as parliamentary committees, judiciary and independent media provides support," said the 2002-batch Indian Forest Service officer.

Chaturvedi had exposed corruption in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi as its chief vigilance officer. He was removed from the post last year, two years before the completion of his tenure.

Chaturvedi also urged the young generation to put in best efforts for the eradication of corruption.
 
Other prominent Indians who have won the Ramon Magsaysay award are former police officer Kiran Bedi in 1994 and journalist P. Sainath in 2007.

US academics warn Silicon Valley of Narendra Modi's Digital India programme

Some well-known academics based in the US have written an open letter to top technology firms on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slated visit to Silicon Valley in September-end to promote the Digital India campaign, expressing their concern over “lack of safeguards about privacy of information, and its potential for abuse''.
The letter, signed by Wendy Doniger, Partha Chatterjee, Arjun Appadurai, Akeel Bilgrami, Ajantha Subramanian, ​and Meena Alexander ​Kamala Visweswaran, among 100 others and published in theEconomic and Political Weekly, said: “Indian entrepreneurial success also brings with it key responsibilities and obligations with regard to the forms of e-governance envisioned by 'Digital India'.
The letter, sent to Google, Adobe and Microsoft, among others, expresses concern that the Digital India project’s potential for increased transparency in bureaucratic dealings with people, “seems to ignore key questions raised in India by critics concerned about the collection of personal information and the near certainty that such digital systems will be used to enhance surveillance and repress the constitutionally-protected rights of citizens.”
“Those who live and work in Silicon Valley have a particular responsibility to demand that the government of India factor these critical concerns into its planning for digital futures,” it says, while acknowledging that Modi, as Prime Minister of a country that has contributed much to the growth and development of Silicon Valley industries, “has the right to visit the US, and to seek American business collaboration and partnerships with India''.
The group of academics also urged: “Those who lead Silicon Valley technology enterprises to be mindful of not violating their own codes of corporate responsibility when conducting business with a government which has, on several occasions already, demonstrated its disregard for human rights and civil liberties, as well as the autonomy of educational and cultural institutions.”
Citing examples, the letter mentions the Gujarat violence of 2002 when 1,000 died, “well-publicised episodes of censorship and harassment of those critical of his policies, bans and restrictions on non-governmental organisations leading to a constriction of the space of civic engagement,” adding that “academic freedom is also at risk: foreign scholars have been denied entry to India to attend international conferences, there has been interference with the governance of top Indian universities and academic institutions such as the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, the Indian Institutes of Technology and Nalanda University; as well as underqualified or incompetent key appointments made to the Indian Council of Historical Research, the Film and Television Institute of India, and the National Book Trust.”
(This article was published on August 29, 2015)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

WEST BENGAL MEDICAL COUNCIL HAS SUSPENDED LICENSE OF ONLY 3 DOCTORS IN LAST 4 YEARS

New information obtained (under RTI Act) by PBT shows that over the past 4 years since the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamul Congress (TMC) came to power, West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) has found only 3 doctors guilty for medical and/or ethical violation and suspended their medical registration for a period ranging between 3 months to 1 year. The news is only marginally better during the reign of the previous Left-front government that ruled West Bengal for more than 33 years until they were ousted in 2011. Information obtained shows that between 2000 and 2010, only 20 doctors were found guilty and lost their practicing licenses by the state medical council. Another striking information is the fact that the WBMC Registrar, Mr. D.K. Ghosh, has been working in the council since 1976, i.e. for almost 40 years. He was given several extensions by the government even after he crossed the mandatory retirement age long time ago – one wonders why. Was the WBMC Registrar performed incredibly well to protect the innocent patients or was he a good conduit to suppress corrupt activities inside the state medical council? It may be mentioned in this regard that all 17 doctor-members of the previous WBMC (under Left-front ruling) have been criminally indicted and facing serious charges under IPC Section 120b (criminal conspiracy) and Section 201 (screening offender) for shielding senior physician, Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, from justice for the wrongful death of Anuradha Saha.
The Mamata Banerjee came to power with boisterous claim that they would bring reform to the crumbling healthcare system in the state. But over the past four years, the medical delivery system in West Bengal has gone from bad to worse. Numerous allegations of corruption, nepotism and reckless behavior have surfaced in the recent months against the sitting WBMC president and a close ally of the chief minister, Dr. Nirmal Maji, who has continued to claim publicly that the medical council under his leadership has been performing a much better job than what had happened under the Left-front government. The information obtained by PBT paints an exactly opposite picture. Earlier this month, PBT also reported that MCI has ranked the WBMC worst in the country in proper disposal of complaints against doctors. It appears that the hapless patients of West Bengal have jumped from the frying pan to the fire by electing the Mamata Banerjee government.
The above is from the newsletter I received from PBT.
The original may be read at http://www.pbtindia.com/archives/2676?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=west-bengal-medical-council-has-suspended-license-of-3-doctors-in-last-4-years

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Govt claims to have no record of foreign bribery cases

Posted on August 26, 2015 from Delhi, National ι Report #25847

While the Narendra Modi government came to power with a roaring mandate that was billed as one against rampant corruption and scams in India under the previous UPA government, not much seems to have changed since the change of guard, says a news report published in India Today.
A series of RTI applications revealed while allegations of 'foreign bribery' have flown thick now and then, from Bofors scam to the latest AgustaWestland deal, the government either does not have a database of such cases or wants to keep the matter away from public glare.
As per the Anti-Bribery Convention of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), foreign bribery is defined as "to offer, promise or give any undue pecuniary or other advantage, whether directly or through intermediaries, to a foreign public official, for that official or for a third party, in order that the official acts or refrain from acting in relation to the performance of official duties, in order to obtain or retain business or other improper advantage in the conduct of international business".
The obfuscation of information started when the India arm of international anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International sought information on government investigations on allegations of bribery of public officials, foreign as well as Indian, between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2014. "All our efforts to find out the number of such investigations across India met with a dismal response. From the Ministry of Home Affairs to the CBI, no one seems to either have the knowledge of such cases or they firewalled the information for reasons best known to them," executive director of TI-India Ashutosh Kumar Mishra told Mail Today.
"We are planning to file a PIL soon. It is strange that such sensitive information can go missing in the superstructure of ministries and departments when the PM has time and again expressed his government's commitment to the cause of curbing corruption and bribery," Mishra added.
An OECD 2014 report also mentioned India as one of those countries whose public officials received bribes in the context of international business transactions.
As the tale of RTIs goes, TI filed an RTI with the MHA and in response the organisation was told that the MHA did not have any information on such cases as "the data is scattered among state governments/UT administrations and several public authorities."
Another RTI filed with the Ministry of Personnel which has under its aegis the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the nodal agency for such cases as per the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) convention, further complicated the matter. "While the DoPT must have information sought by us, it referred the query to the Central Vigilance Commission, Department of Revenue, Department of Expenditure, yet again to the Home Ministry and also to the CBI," said Mishra.
While the aforesaid Union ministries and departments returned 'NIL' as answer to the query, passing the buck in every instance, the CBI then referred the query to all its branches across India. The answers were expected to be sent directly to the policy division of the agency.
"While most CBI branches chose to hide behind the veil of the exemption from the RTI Act-2005 provided to the agency since 2011 vide a government notification and denied divulging the information, several other CBI branches said they did not have any information in this regard. We have RTI responses of all of them," Mishra said.
Published Originally in India Today

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Union Health Ministry lackadaisical towards corruption: Parliamentary panel

Posted on August 18, 2015 from JharkhandNational ι Report #23606
A Parliamentary panel has strongly deprecated the "non-serious" approach of the Union Health Ministry in tackling a "large" number of corruption cases at the AIIMS in New Delhi and recommended that the post of a regular Chief Vigilance Officer at the premier institute be restored, according to a report published originally in dna. The department-related Parliamentary Committee on Health and Family Welfare has also asked the Ministry to play a "proactive" role in ensuring expeditious investigations into all the corruption cases at AIIMS New Delhi and produce an up-to-date status note within three months.
"The committee is perturbed to note that despite unravelling of corruption cases at AIIMS at regular intervals, the Ministry has done away with the regular Chief Vigilance Officer's post at AIIMS and the role of the anti-graft officer at AIIMS has been assigned to a Joint secretary and CVO in the Health Ministry. Evidently the Ministry appears to be non-serious in the tackling of corruption at AIIMS. The committee therefore strongly deprecates the non-serious approach of the Ministry towards tackling such a large number of cases of corruption at AIIMS and recommends that the Ministry should quickly move towards appointing a regular CVO of unblemished credentials at AIIMS," the committee, chaired by Satish Chandra Misra, said.
The committee also said that it was needless to emphasise that the CVO is the only instrument available with the Ministry to monitor statutory compliance of various prescribed procedures and norms. Whistleblower Indian Forest Officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi came in spotlight after being removed from the post of the CVO, which acts as a distant arm of Central Vigilance Commission, last year at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for allegedly exposing corruption at the prestigious institute. He was recently named as one of the winners of Ramon Magsaysay Award for 2015.
"The committee also recommends the Ministry to play a proactive role in ensuring expeditious investigations into all the corruption cases at AIIMS and furnish within three months from the date of presentation of this report......an up-to-date status note detailing therein various stages of cases of investigation, involving corrupt practices and embezzlement of funds and steps taken to check occurrence of such cases in the future," the committee said.
The committee noted that myriad corruption cases are under investigations involving AIIMS officials and doctors which include disproportionate asset cases, procurement of computers and peripherals without following the purchase procedure, alleged financial irregularities in purchase of surgical gloves and medicines and others.
The cases also include construction of engineering works without approval of the statutory bodies, alleged tampering with selection list of operation theatre assistants, irregularities in appointment of officials under sports quota, massive irregular payment to contractors, irregularities in awarding work for development of ward and allied spaces for department of Pulmonary medicine and others.
Published originally in dna

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

MCI SEEKS ANOTHER ADJOURNMENT TO FILE RESPONSE IN PIL AGAINST MCI ELECTION RIGGING BY KETAN DESAI

   
A historic public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Supreme Court (SC) by PBT last November against Medical Council of India (MCI), Health Ministry and disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai seeking CBI investigation of the last MCI election for alleged rigging and manipulation by Dr. Desai and his cronies who are now occupying top positions in the present MCI. 

The Apex Court took cognizance and issued notices to all the respondents. But none of the respondents including MCI filed any response until now and instead sought repeated adjournments. When this case came for hearing before the bench headed by CJI, MCI sought another adjournment. 

Although the SC allowed further time of 4 weeks to file affidavit, it has also fixed the final hearing date of this important PIL on 4th November, 2015. 

One has to wonder why the MCI and Health Ministry are delaying this case against alleged connivance between MCI, Union of India and unscrupulous ex-MCI chief, Dr. Desai who is still free on bail facing criminal trial for serious charges of bribery and corruption.