Saturday, May 2, 2015

An Arun says what the other won't - Shourie levels 'directionless' charge at Modi govt, says Big Three making it 'worse'

New Delhi, May 1: Arun Shourie has fired a volley of shots across Narendra Modi's bows days before the government's first anniversary
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Shourie, who was Atal Bihari Vajpayee's blue-eyed boy as a disinvestment minister in his government, alleged that Modi's economic policy was "directionless", investments had not picked up and the "Make in India" concept would not take off unless labour reforms were ushered in, and debunked as "hyperbole" the claim of a projected 10 per cent growth rate.

Modi's monogrammed suit and "silence" on minority concerns also drew criticism

The economist-turned-editor-turned-author spoke his mind in an interview with Karan Thapar on the news channel, Headlines Today.

Shourie claimed that the triumvirate of Modi, Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley had "offended" the Opposition and "frightened" party members.

The view was endorsed, albeit silently, by BJP officials who privately said their lips were sealed ever since Shah became the party president. "We were dying to speak out after we lost the Delhi elections. The fear of Shah forced us to keep mum," a party official said.

Shourie charged the trio with creating problems, attempting to resolve them and in the process "making things worse and worse".

He had not opened his mouth in all these months, despite his proven penchant for verbally shredding the BJP leadership. Shourie does not hold a position in the BJP.

However, during interviews in the immediate aftermath of the BJP's electoral triumph, he had given an impression that he looked forward to working directly in the government or in an allied structure.

Nobody in the BJP could tell for sure what Modi thought of Shourie. But it is perceived that even if Modi wished to induct Shourie, others "at the top" reportedly advised him about the pitfalls of taking in an outspoken person who might be a handful to handle
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BJP insiders fear that while they can fend off similar charges levelled by the Opposition, Shourie's diatribes could not be dismissed airily, especially because he "still inspires awe in certain opinion-makers".
Shourie's articulation also coincides with murmurs among a section of industrialists that the Modi government has not done much on the reforms front.

While Shourie conceded foreign policy was Prime Minister Modi's "great success", he critiqued him for a "lack of clarity and even contradictions" on Pakistan and for "marginalising" foreign minister Sushma Swaraj.

Shourie added that the pin-striped, monogrammed suit Modi wore during President Barack Obama's visit in January was "inexplicable", "incomprehensible" and a "critical mistake".
He was as disapproving of Modi's "silence" on concerns among the min
orities over conversions and stressed that when a former high-ranking police officer like Julio Ribeiro "speaks in anguish, you have to listen".
The retired IPS officer had written in The Indian Express in March that "I feel threatened, not wanted, reduced to a stranger in my own country".

Shourie was not the government's only internal or quasi-internal baiter.

The BJP national executive member and RSS favourite, Subramanian Swamy, warned that unless Modi ordered a probe into the acquisition of SpiceJet airlines by Ajay Singh, a party sympathiser, he would move court "very soon".
"I will continue bombarding the Prime Minister with letters until he acts," Swamy told The Telegraph.

His contention was that the deal between Singh, who was SpiceJet's original promoter in 2004, and the Marans of the DMK political family who had bought the airline in 2010 was opaque.

Swamy's principal charges were that the share transaction was clinched at "arbitrarily low and dud prices" and if the idea was to resurrect the "ailing" SpiceJet and protect its assets, Air India could have taken it over.

Swamy had threatened to legally challenge Modi's commitment to buy the Rafale combat aircraft from France. "There is no need for me to do that because my original objection was against the purchase of 126 planes. That didn't happen. He (the Prime Minister) went to sign but didn't," he said.

To compound the government's discomfiture, Ram Jethmalani released a half-page advertorial in a Delhi paper on April 28, titled, "My frustration about repatriation of black money and contempt for this unpardonable betrayal".

Jethmalani, expelled by the BJP in 2013 for attacking Nitin Gadkari who then helmed the party, fired off 12 questions at Jaitley, insinuating, among other suggestions, that the finance minister had "more than normal cordial relations with (P) Chidambaram" and, therefore, never faulted his predecessor for not recovering black money.

Asked about the bombardment of the veterans, BJP spokesperson and media cell chief Srikant Sharma said: "For the past 10 years, we lived with such attacks and fought them back too."

Sharpshooters like Jethmalani do not have a political constituency but their torment quotient had been proved earlier.
Ironically, Jethmalani's multiple-question tactic is something the BJP is all too familiar with - but from the non-business end of the gun. In the 1980s at the height of the Bofors scandal, Jethmalani used to serve up a daily dose of 10 questions for Rajiv Gandhi in The Indian Express, the newspaper that was edited by Shourie then.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Purti Group (Read Nitin Gadkari) firm violated norms for subsidy from Centre: CAG report

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Published on:May 1, 2015 2:44 am
A CAG report tabled in Lok Sabha on Thursday has flagged non-compliance by Purti Sakhar Karkhana Limited (PSKL) — a bagasse based co-generation project of the Purti Group in which Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari was once a board member — of conditions for interest subsidy extended to it by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
According to the CAG report on “Financing of Renewable Energy Projects by Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA)”, in the case of PSKL, the ministry sanctioned Rs 1.92 crore as interest subsidy. Against this, the ministry released Rs 1.37 crore in June 2004 to IREDA on net present value-basis for disbursement to the borrower, PSKL.
The audit found that the borrower did not comply with the conditions for interest subsidy that stipulated the renewable energy project was to operate for a minimum of 10 years after its completion. The project, which was to be commissioned in February 2004, but finally commissioned in March 2007, in June 2009 over to 100 per cent coal-based operation as against up to 25 per cent allowed in the subsidy scheme.
Moreover, though the loan became a non-performing asset in March 2007, the actual benefit from the subsidy amounting to Rs 1.66 crore — including an interest subsidy of Rs 1.17 crore and accrued interest of Rs 49 lakh thereon — was passed on till December 2009. Unutilised interest subsidy of Rs 22 lakh was refunded to the ministry in August 2010.
The CAG found: “The borrower settled its outstanding dues by way of OTS (one-time settlement) in December 2009 for an amount of Rs 71.35 crore against Rs 84.12 crore, but IREDA did not initiate any action for recovery of the interest subsidy of Rs 1.66 crore. Thus, though the borrower violated the terms and conditions for subsidy schemes, IREDA continued giving subsidy.”
According to the CAG report, the IREDA management stated in April 2014 that PSKL settled the account with it and paid the entire loan outstanding as per OTS sanction, and that the implementation of the project was delayed due to various reasons.
On the use of coal for operation of the plant, the management stated that the same needs to be seen on the entire fuel mix used during entire period and not at a particular point of time.
The IREDA management stated that the subsidy of Rs 1.17 crore was passed on to PSKL till the time it settled the dues, and for the remaining period of the loan, the subsidy that was not passed on to PSKL was refunded to the ministry.
As per the national auditor, IREDA further stated that any account becoming an NPA does not necessarily require that the interest subsidy will not be passed. In this case, PSKL paid its dues as per OTS norms. The subsidy was passed up to the quarter ending September 2009.
IREDA also stated that the project had been commissioned and not abandoned requiring the interest subsidy to be recalled.
“The reply of the management may be seen in the context that avoiding default on repayment by the borrower and limited deviation from renewable energy sources (up to 25 per cent) were important components of the scheme, and as such, IREDA cannot change/interpret specific conditions for grant of subsidy of GOI schemes. Further, the OTS proposal was sanctioned on the ground that the project was no longer an RE (renewable energy) project,” the CAG stated.
Purti Group could not be reached for comment.

Green goals for the Delhi aam aadmi

ASEEM SHRIVASTAVA
After earning global recognition for improved air quality only a decade ago, Delhi has now won the unenviable distinction of having the most polluted air among major cities of the world. No resident is immune to its effects; even Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was treated for chronic respiratory illness.

Recent media reports on Delhi’s foul air have elicited a flurry of advice, but structural problems cannot have individual solutions. They must be tackled institutionally, by rules that set new parameters for consumer and corporate behaviour. Consider one instance. Children, whose young bodies and brains are especially susceptible to harm from dirty air, play outside. You cannot put air purifiers outdoors. Imagine schoolchildren running in playgrounds wearing pollution masks. This is not the stuff of science fiction — it may become reality unless the government takes steps to clean the air.

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences reports a four-fold increase in respiratory ailments such as asthma, since 2007. Gains in air quality from 1998 to 2004, when court judgments ordered conversion of buses and three-wheelers to CNG, have been more than offset by rising emissions from other sources in the last decade, including cars and trucks, power plants, industry, brick kilns, diesel generators, construction, road dust, and open burning of wastes.  Apart from their overall contribution, vehicular emissions are especially important by virtue of their role in the city’s worst pollution exposure levels along its major roadways.

Seven measures

The power of Delhi’s new Aam Aadmi Party government to tackle these is limited, but by no means non-existent. The government cannot on its own upgrade the nation’s fuel standards to Bharat V and VI norms in line with global benchmarks, nor ensure timely completion of bypass roads in neighbouring States. However, there are seven measures that are within its reach, if it finds the political will to act.

First, the new government can move quickly to ensure accurate, real-time reporting of pollution levels in the city. The public has the right to know the facts about the air it breathes.

Second, emergency measures such as closing schools should be implemented whenever pollution levels cross a hazardous threshold. This will not only protect the most vulnerable — children — but also raise public awareness about the problem.

Third, particulate-quality pollution masks should be supplied free of charge to all traffic police, sanitation workers, rickshaw-pullers, auto-rickshaw drivers, construction workers and others who are disproportionately exposed to ambient air pollution on arterial roads, where pollution routinely soars off the charts.

Fourth, Delhi can set stringent emissions standards for trucks entering the city. Those that fail to comply can be required to transfer their loads to trucks that do. This will be inconvenient and costly, but less costly than more deterioration in public health. And it will prompt the trucking industry and manufacturers to get their own environmental houses in order.

Fifth, the misguided national subsidy on diesel — a subsidy intended to benefit the poor and is instead well-harvested by wealthy automobile owners — should be offset in Delhi by an equivalent tax. The Centre for Science and Environment cites World Bank data showing that particulate emissions from diesel engines are 6-10 times higher than for petrol engines.

Sixth, the government should begin a fundamental reorientation of transport infrastructure investment that moves away from private automobiles and towards pedestrians, bicycles and e-rickshaws as well as buses (including state-of-the art bus rapid transit like the successful system in Bogota, the capital of Colombia) and light rail. In a big city, there is really no such thing as private transportation. There are private vehicles, but they can only move on public infrastructure. Public policy should serve people, not cars.

The revenue question

This will cost money. Where will it come from? This brings us to our final measure. Like the Singapore government, Delhi should cap the number of private automobile licenses. As in Singapore, these should be auctioned at the price set by demand, and be valid for a fixed time span (10 years in Singapore). In Singapore, the current auction price is about U.S. $6,000.

Part of the revenue should be returned to all the residents of Delhi in equal payments to every woman, man and child — a transfer from the one per cent who will pay the auction price to the aam aadmi . The other part should be used to fund the green urban infrastructure that truly befits a “world city.”

How much money would this cap and auction bring in? Today, roughly 2.9 million automobiles are registered in Delhi, although the actual number on the roads may be half that much, since the official data include vehicles no longer in circulation, or being used away from the city. If left unchecked, the number will grow rapidly, with projections for 2020 as high as 3.5-4.2 million. Such growth would prove disastrous not only for air quality, especially near arterial roads, but also for traffic congestion. Already cars in Delhi crawl at speeds of less than 4 kilometres per hour 24 per cent of the time they're on the road, and less than 15 km per hour for 40 per cent of the time.

If Delhi caps the number of license plates in 2020 at, say, the current circulating level of around 1.5 million, and auctions them off, these might fetch Rs. 12 lakh (U.S.$20,000) apiece, about one-third of their current Singapore price. Total revenue would come to $30 billion. Over a 10-year license life, this is $3 billion or Rs. 18,000 crore per year. If the cap is ratcheted down over time to 5,00,000 cars, and this pushes the auction price to Rs. 36 lakh (the Singapore level), the amount of revenue would be the same.
If two-thirds of this revenue were returned to Delhi’s residents, this would amount to Rs. 4,800 per person per year, or Rs. 24,000 per year for a family of five, for a projected 2020 population of 25 million — enough to win strong backing from the public. Payments could be made directly into electronic accounts keyed to the new Aadhaar IDs. If the other third, Rs. 6,000 crore per year, were devoted to infrastructure, this would increase the city’s transportation budget by about 150 per cent, accelerating development of alternative transportation that must accompany less reliance on the automobile.

Delhi residents would reap a triple benefit: cleaner air, quicker and safer transportation, and, for all except license-plate buyers, more money in their pockets. The measures recommended above are eminently feasible, given AAP’s handsome mandate. If the new government can achieve these goals, everyone in the capital will be healthier, and Mr. Kejriwal himself will be wheezing and coughing less at his next electoral joust. He might even get re-elected. The costs of failure will be high, not only for the Chief Minister and his party, but for the citizens of Delhi, too.

(Aseem Shrivastava is the co-author of Churning the Earth: The Making of Global India (2012) and James K. Boyce is Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

NATIONAL CONSUMER FORUM (NCDRC) AWARDS RS. 1.1 CRORE AGAINST APOLLO HOSPITAL FOR MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE

   
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), highest consumer court in India, passed a historic judgment granting an award of Rs. 1.1 crore (Rs. 1 crore compensation plus Rs. 10 lakh as “punitive damage”) against the Apollo Hospital in New Delhi for wrongful delivery of a child causing permanent damage in his brain in a botched up medical procedure in 1999 (see the entire judgment below). 
This historic compensation was allowed on the basis of Anuradha Saha decision by the Supreme Court in 2013 in which the Apex Court awarded a total of more than Rs. 11.5 crore as compensation and held that compensation involving “medical negligence” cannot be calculated using the straight-jacket formula of “multiplier” method that had been the norm until then. Apart from Anuradha Saha’s case, this is the second highest compensation in Indian medical history against a top hospital like Apollo. Following the principles set in Anuradha Saha case, NCDRC has directed Apollo Hospital to pay Rs. 80 lakh and the main accused doctor, Dr. Sohini Verma, to pay Rs. 20 lakh. 
The “punitive” or exemplary damage of Rs. 10 lakh is also significant in context of Indian medical practice because “punitive” damages are awarded (mostly in Western countries) against an act of social significance and thus, all future cases of “medical negligence” where the doctor/hospital is found guilty, “punitive” damages should be awarded by the state and district consumer forums. 
This historic judgment by the National Consumer Forum will undoubtedly bring a ray of hope for the thousands of hapless victims of medical negligence who have been waiting for their day of justice. It will also send a strong signal to the negligent doctors and hospitals in India.

Monday, April 27, 2015

'Judiciary, CBI can't afford to be imperfect': Jaitley

New Delhi, Apr. 27 (ANI): Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said the judiciary and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were two institutions which cannot afford to be imperfect.

"Nobody is expected to be perfect, but if there are two institutions which we cannot afford to be imperfect, one is the judiciary and the
second is the CBI," Jaitley said during the 16th D.P. Kohli Memorial lecture on 'Economic Challenges' here.
"Any Investigative agency's responsibility is huge, its discretion is also very large," he added.

Jaitley further described fiscal year 1991 as a defining moment for India, which marked a process where the country decided to unleash energies of its citizens rather than restricting them.
"India decided to discard a politics which wanted to distribute existing resources and even distribute poverty rather than generate wealth," he added.

The Finance Minister, however, said that the year 2014 had brought significant changes for the nation.
"After 30 years we had a clear mandate and a government with virtually a single party majority was voted into power," Jaitley added. (ANI)

By implication, does it mean that the political class can afford to be corrupt.
Regarding both the judiciary and the CBI, it is again the political class which is a bad influence on them.
The powers at the centre, uses the CBI to do its hatchet job and act according to its dictates.
The political class too tries to instal a committed judiciary. 
We have seen lately how the judges who have given favourable judgement for Modi and Amit Shah have been rewarded.
A lawyer who held their briefs has been promoted to the Supreme Court and a Supreme Court Chief Justice who gave a favourable decision has been made Governor in Kerala and the same judge has been made chariman of NHRC so that Modi's strangling of Human Rights in India is not questioned just as they were not questioned in Gujarat.
And Mr. Jailtley talks of "imperfect judiciary" 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

PM Modi's metro ride emphasizes on use of public transport

New Delhi, Apr. 25 (ANI): Minister of State for Environment and Forests Prakash Javadekar on Saturday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sent out a message to the people across the country to use public transport more often by travelling in the Delhi Metro.
"Today the Prime Minister led by example. The world is discussing climate change and the Prime Minister is saying that Indian lifestyle is environmental friendly. He wants people to practice relying on public transport more, people should opt out using private vehicles, use cycles on some occasions. He is giving new ideas of how we can rekindle our life which is environment friendly. This emphasizes the need to use public transport more and that is a big message," Javadekar said.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said that Prime Minister Modi's actions show that he is connected to common people.
"Modi ji rose to the stature of Prime Minister but he started his life as a common man. He is always concerned with the feelings, requirements and other things associated with the common man. His style of politics is such that he is always concerned about the life of common man," he said.
Prime Minister Modi earlier in the day travelled from the Dhaula Kuan to the Dwarka Sector 21 on the Airport Express Line of the Delhi Metro. He was accompanied by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. (ANI)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sikh Taxi Driver Responds to Racism Like a Hero