Tuesday, August 27, 2013
The following has been sent by Arun Shroff. Feel really sad at the state of affairs in Darjeeling and Kurseong. During Ghising's agitation at least the schools were allowed to run. "The Telegraph" Hill Schools face pupil flight MITA MUKHERJEE AND VIVEK CHHETRI Aug. 24: The statehood agitation has prompted many parents to consider shifting their children out of the Darjeeling hills’ ICSE schools, signalling a fledgling trend that could affect livelihoods in the region if it catches on. Yesterday, the parents of 27 students met the authorities of Taurian World School, a five-year-old institution in Ranchi, seeking mid-session admission for their wards. The new-age school’s officials came to Calcutta for the meeting. “The parents of 27 children studying in various schools in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong have approached us for admission. We were encouraged by the tremendous response from the parents,” said Bhavik M. Anjaria, vice-president (education), Taurian World School. The authorities of Taurian, which follows the CBSE curriculum, have promised special coaching for each of the students from Darjeeling to smooth the switch from the ICSE syllabus. The academic year for both boards begins around March-April. The annual fee at the Ranchi school is about Rs 3 lakh while the most expensive hill schools charge about Rs 2 lakh, but sources said the parents did not express any reservations about the higher fees at yesterday’s meeting. “As a father, my primary concern is the safety and security of my son. So I think the Taurian World School would be a better option,” said Sudipto Dutta, father of a Class VII student of St Paul’s School, Darjeeling. Most of the transfer-seeking students are from St Paul’s School, one of the oldest public schools in the hills. Overall, some 10,000 boarders study in the hills’ 45-odd ICSE schools. All the hostels had emptied out about a month ago when the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha announced its indefinite strike. Although some of these schools plan to reopen in the first week of September, many parents are apprehensive. “My son’s school is supposed to reopen on September 2 but I’m reluctant to send him back. There is no guarantee that the situation in Darjeeling won’t become even more volatile in the coming days,” said Pramod Gupta, father of a Class VIII St Paul’s student. If more parents begin to think like Gupta, there could be a fallout on the local economy. “The people of Kurseong and Kalimpong towns, which do not have much tourist inflow (compared with Darjeeling), are heavily dependent on the schools for livelihood opportunities,” a hill educationist said. “Some of these schools lack boarding facilities, and many local families sustain themselves by running private hostels.” The educationist said the students and their parents also contribute to the local economy as customers of the cafeterias and shops around the schools. “If the student inflow dries up, it will have an impact on the local economy.” Aware of these implications, the Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee had in its August 18 meeting decided to keep educational institutions out of the strike’s ambit. However, with the arrest of Morcha leader Binay Tamang on August 22, the situation has once again turned fluid. The trend of students looking to leave is disturbing for the schools but Rev. Joy Haldar, the rector of St Paul’s School, did not complain. “The safety of the students is most important. We have to look into these issues from the parents’ point of view and not the school’s. For a school it’s a seat lost but for parents, the safety and security of their ward is more important,” he said. Darjeeling is one of the country’s earliest education hubs. Many of the schools came up when the British rulers chose various hill towns to set up schools to give their children a respite from the heat in the plains. The Sikkim king had in 1835 gifted to the British the mountain tracts that make up today’s Darjeeling subdivision. The Darjeeling hills’ schools boast alumni from countries such as America, France, Thailand, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. Former Bhutan and Nepal kings Jigme Singye Wangchuck and Gyanendra were students of St Joseph’s School. "The Times of India" Students of Hills schools stranded mid-session KOLKATA: They returned home in trainloads weeks back after trouble started brewing in the Hills. The students of schools in Darjeeling and Kurseong are looking for admission in other institutions now. Karan Agarwal had been a student of St Paul's School since Class I. He will take ICSE next year. Karan's studies have been seriously hampered after the school closed due to the agitation. "I don't know how I will complete the syllabus. This kind of break mid-session is very damaging," he said. Although Karan's father Anil is willing to send him back to St Paul's if things calm down, he is afraid that it won't. "If it continues, we will be left with little choice," he said. Neeraj Ladsaria, father of Davansh, a Class VIII student at the same school, is thinking of admitting him elsewhere. "We were very happy with his education in St Paul's. But in this unpredictable situation, I cannot risk my son's life," Ladsaria said, hoping that things settle down soon. "The situation has changed again after Benoy Tamang's arrest," he added. But where will these students get admitted mid-season? Clueless parents have contacted most city schools, only to be disappointed. "No school is ready to take them in mid-session," said Ladsaria. "A lot of money is involved too," said Shasanka Chatterjee, whose daughter Shreyoshi is a student at Dow Hill School in Kurseong. Most schools in Darjeeling and Kurseong charge Rs 2-3 lakh per year for a boarding student. "It's steep for middle-class families. It's not possible for us to get her admitted to another school and pay the fees again," he said. The present state of affairs has also worried school authorities in the Hills. "We will compensate for the losses by taking extra classes and possibly cutting vacations short. We are left with no other option," said a spokesperson of St Paul's. The sorry state of affairs has prompted schools in other states to come to the rescue. Ranchi-based Taurian World School has started conducting sessions in Kolkata, especially for students of Darjeeling schools. "We have the best of facilities and faculty in Ranchi. Weather is also comfortable throughout the year. And it is very safe in Ranchi. Of the 18 parents we talked to on Friday, 15 will come back for admission," said Bhavik Anjaria, vice-president of the school. For students like Rakshit Goenka, who joined a Darjeeling school just a year back, it will be difficult to cope with the new set of friends and environment once again. "We thought of giving him the best of education. But never did we imagine that it will become a nightmare," said his father Rohit.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
I've received many remarkable nature photographs over the years but this photo of a nesting Falcon is perhaps the most remarkable nature shot that I've ever seen. Nature is truly breath-taking! Sent by Arun Shroff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
AUSTRALIAN LETTER - I think the sender might have been upset! This is an actual letter sent to the DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) Immigration Minister. The Government tried desperately to censure the author, but got nowhere because every legal person who read it couldn’t stop laughing ! Dear Mr Minister, I'm in the process of renewing my passport, and still cannot believe this. How is it that K-Mart has my address and telephone number, and knows that I bought a television set and golf clubs and condoms from them back in 1997, and yet the Federal Government is still asking me where I was born and on what date ? For Christ sakes, do you guys do this by hand ? My birth date you have in my Medicare information, and it is on all the income tax forms I've filed for the past 40 years. It is also on my driver's licence, on the last eight passports I've ever had, on all those stupid customs declaration forms I've had to fill out before being allowed off planes over the past 30 years. It's also on all those insufferable census forms that I've filled out every 5 years since 1966. Also... would somebody please take note, once and for all, that my mother's name is Audrey, my father's name is Jack, and I'd be absolutely bloody astounded if that ever changed between now and when I drop dead !!! SHIT! What do you people do with all this information we keep having to provide? I apologize, Mr. Minister. But I'm really pissed off this morning. Between you and me, I've had enough of all this bullshit! You send the application to my house, then you ask me for my bloody address! What the hell is going on with your mob? Have you got a gang of mindless Neanderthal arseholes working there! And another thing, look at my damn picture. Do I look like Bin Laden? I can't even grow a beard for God's sakes. I just want to go to New Zealand and see my new granddaughter. (Yes, my son interbred with a Kiwi girl). And would someone please tell me, why would you give a shit whether or not I plan on visiting a farm in the next 15 days? In the unlikely event I ever got the urge to do something weird to a sheep or a horse, believe you me, I'd sure as hell not want to tell anyone! Well, I have to go now, 'cause I have to go to the other side of Sydney , and get another bloody copy of my birth certificate - and to part with another $80 for the privilege of accessing MY OWN INFORMATION! Would it be so complicated to have all the services in the same spot, to assist in the issuance of a new passport on the same day? Nooooo…that'd be too bloody easy and makes far too much sense. You would much prefer to have us running all over the bloody place like chickens with our heads cut off, and then having to find some 'high-society' wanker to confirm that it's really me in the goddamn photo! You know the photo... the one where we're not allowed to smile?...you bloody morons. Signed - An Irate Australian Citizen. P.S. Remember what I said above about the picture, and getting someone in 'high-society' to confirm that it's me? Well, my family has been in this country since before 1820! In 1856, one of my forefathers took up arms with Peter Lalor. (You do remember the Eureka Stockade!) I have also served in both the CMF and regular Army for something over 30 years (I went to Vietnam in 1967), and still have high security clearances. I'm also a personal friend of the president of the RSL....Lt General Peter Cosgrove sends me a Christmas card each year. However, your rules require that I have to get someone "important" to verify who I am; you know...someone like my doctor - WHO WAS BORN AND RAISED IN BLOODY PAKISTAN!...a country where they either assassinate or hang their ex-Prime Ministers - and are suspended from the Commonwealth and United Nations for not having the "right sort of government".. You are all pen-pushing paper-shuffling bloody idiots! Sent by Arun Shroff. I suppose the feeling express what most of us must have felt after a visit to our own passport office or for that matter any of the thousands of offices manned by corrupt officials.
Kolkata, Aug 24 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has delivered a stern message to her team - "perform or perish". In a review meeting of all the departments earlier this week, Banerjee pulled up the "non-performing" ministers and bureaucrats, asking them to deliver or face the music. The Trinamool supremo, who earlier in the month rubbed shoulders with top business honchos in a summit in Mumbai, made clear her displeasure over the handling of departments related to industry, information technology and infrastructure. Ever since coming to power in the state, Banerjee has been keen to shed the tag of anti-industry she earned after leading sustained and violent peasant movements against "forcible land acquisition" for industrial projects during the previous Left Front rule. Despite some high-profile business meets, the Banerjee regime has often been ridiculed by rival political parties for its "failure to attract big ticket investment". At the "successful" Mumbai meet, Banerjee had assured the Who's Who of the business world about the "advantages of investing in Bengal". But she was livid at the slow progress both in the IT as well as urban development fronts back home. "If you can't do it you are free to quit," Banerjee reportedly told one of the ministers concerned. Banerjee is said to have told two other ministers that if they could not do their work in time, she would herself "do the work". Among the departments which faced the chief minister's ire were information technology, PWD, environment, urban development, animal resources development, Paschimanchal Unnayan (West Zone Development) and law. The ministers and babus were hauled up for failing to coordinate properly with other departments and not managing to spend the allotted funds. Banerjee also ticked off the tourism department for non-implementation of some of her pet projects and for its inability to rope in private players. At the same time, departments like finance, housing and transport drew the chief minister's praise. The ministers and the bureaucrats, though, would be thanking their stars that the censure came behind closed doors. Banerjee has often reprimanded her administrative or personal staff during public functions. Not known for keeping her composure, Banerjee once publicly had said "you should be whipped" to her security guards who made her wait for her car to arrive. With a ministerial reshuffle said to be on the cards, Banerjee's ministers now seem to be on tenterhooks. In the past, there were instances when an "irked" chief minister shunted people out from key portfolios - be it former city police commissioner R K Pachnanda who was removed for his department's failure to "timely" nab the killers of a cop or Damayanti Sen who was shifted out the city police for going out of the way to solve the "fabricated" Park Street rape case. Sen, as the then joint commissioner, had cracked the rape of an Anglo-Indian lady which Banerjee had dubbed as "fabricated". Soon Sen was given the marching orders to take up her responsibility as the new DIG, (Training), and later DIG (Darjeeling Range). Even as Banerjee was busy confronting the "non-performers" a senior IPS officer has taken on the chief minister herself as well as other senior officials, accusing them of denying him promotion and launching a "criminal conspiracy" to humiliate and defame him. Additional Director General of Police (Provisioning) Nazrul Islam, who earlier had alleged "corrupt practices" during Banerjee's tenure as railways minister, has filed a police complaint against Banerjee, Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra, Home Secretary Basudeb Bannerjee, Director General of Police Naparajit Mukherjee and a few other senior officials. Nazrul Islam has become a big fish for Mamata and she is finding it difficult to swallow him. Her penchant for pleasing the Muslims which is advertised by the thousands of posters which grace all nook and corner of Kolkata showing Mamata offering Namaj with a headscarf on her head during any Muslim festival are for all to see. She cannot take any action on Nazrul for fear of displeasing the Muslims. I pity her. I suppose she is doing a balancing act by visiting the Kamakhya Temple at Gauhati but the Hindu's have seen through her act. She is taking on the non-performing ministers but who will take on a non-performing Chief Minister. The opposition CPM is equally bad and in total disarray. Only the Aam Aadmi Party can replace her and give a good government
Dear Prime Minister: In July 1991, as the Finance Minister in the Narasimha Rao government, you gave a long interview to the Economic Times justifying on why India needed to reform from the "license raj" days to a more open economy. That interview was, in many ways, a sort of admission of failure - without you or anyone in the Congress actually saying so - of the wealth destructive policies followed by successive Congress governments particularly under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. You and your colleagues in the then Dream Team were part of the "Cream Team" which had set India back by a few decades with myopic policies and acceptance of corruption. But, as the reforms of 1991 gripped our imagination, we were willing to forgive you for those past errors, even if they were unspoken. The one statement from you in those thousands of lines of rationale for a new way forward in the Economic Times interview which stuck in my head was "Investment is an act of faith". The reforms of 1991 unleashed a huge outpouring of "faith" in you and in your party to lead us forward. Much has happened since July 1991. From the great India Shining stories of your rivals in the BJP, to the Resurgent India and Incredible India battle cries of your own party, to the innumerable scams that have plagued India at the district, municipal, state, and federal level of government - across party lines. India has grown from being a closed economy to one where its citizens can travel anywhere in the world and undertake an enterprise anywhere in the world. The world, itself, has changed a lot and the monetary systems in the more open global financial markets have shown the immoral connectivity between big government and big financial firms. Your personal life has changed, too: you have found yourself in the seat of the Prime Minister of two consecutive governments. In a seat of leadership. In a position to convert the faith we had in you - an apolitical and intelligent person - into dreams of a better India. And, yet, as your handling of various scams and episodes over the past decade have shown you have fumbled and remained silent. You have taken the unabashed faith we had in you and converted it into a cynical distrust of you and your senior colleagues in the Administration. From being a symbol of honesty you are now seen as an incompetent and, possibly, dishonest man. It is possible that you may not have made any personal money in all the incidents of grand theft. However, an honest man retains his honesty not by being a silent spectator to a theft but, rather, by actively trying to catch the thieves he has witnessed perform a theft. So far we have seen you look the other way and not use the full power of the government machinery to bring the suspects to justice. In fact, to add insult to our intelligence, we see your cabinet colleagues tossing counter-allegations on the talk shows that thrive on this absurd situation. Under your leadership, the movement by Anna Hazare to cleanse the corruption in India (a movement of the kind that Mahatma Gandhi, whose endorsement of Nehru gave the Congress Party its power, would be proud of) was converted into a convoluted discussion on irrelevant subtleties. The harshest proof that any leader can have is when a nation's people no longer believe in their own currency. Having being the Governor of the respected Reserve Bank of India you will understand this. As a dream merchant, living off our faith, the key monetary indicators of your success (or failure) should be: Are Indians investing in IPOs and in the stock markets - an IPO is a great indicator of faith in the future and, at its extreme, borders on insanity; politely called "irrational exuberance" this unabashed faith in the ability to create something in the future out of nothing; Are Indians burying their cash in mattresses or putting it in safe bank deposits - if Indians are stashing their cash, it means they have no faith in the future and they are scared; their fear of "risk" is because their past experience has shown that they get no rewards for the risk they have taken. In fact, they have probably been slaughtered. Their rational reaction: have no faith and stay safe in bank deposits; Are Indians buying gold - a global currency - or the currency of our own nation, the Indian Rupee? Here, I will give you the benefit of a partial doubt. People buy gold either because they have no faith in their own currency or no faith in the world. The reason why Indians are buying gold is, therefore, difficult to pinpoint as a loss of faith only in you, your leadership, and your government. The hijacking of the global financial system and the ownership of policies of many central banks by a few large financial firms has resulted in a desire to own something besides a "fiat" or paper currency: gold and silver are seen as these alternatives. As an Indian, I am sure you have bought some gold for your family. As the Governor of the Res erve Bank of India, you must hav e been party to discussions and decisions on keeping gold as part of the RBI's global reserve currencies. So, you know that gold is not just a "useless metal", as branded by your Finance Minister. The timing of this letter to you - when the Indian Rupee is taking a whack - is part of the delusional process of governments. Governments listen when hit by crises - they rarely plan. Of the 3 indicators above, the data on the first two points (a dead IPO market and a surge in bank deposits) were apparent for any student of economics and finance looking for the first signs of trouble. For the first signs of a deflation of your historic "Investment is an act of faith" statement made in 1991. But your cabinet colleagues, your spokespersons on media, and the various "yes-men" in important positions of the administration were probably too busy trying to figure out the next "personal cash-extraction" scheme or "quick fix" to pretend all is fine in your kingdom. As long as the suited bankers of Wall Street firms kept the moolah flowing in for various equity portfolio products, bond funds, and infrastructure funds - and as long as the invites to speak at Davos and other hallowed destinations were alive - the local "lack of faith" indicators were ignored. Elections may be held in India, but lucrative post-retirement jobs are a function of visibility at these global conferences. After all, what can the poor Indian voter do? Even though the Supreme Court has recently ruled that a convicted person cannot stand for election, your party - along with the other political parties - is already finding ways to fight this absurd birth right that politicians seem to have to rape and plunder at will - and be elected to do it again. So, ignore the locals and let the foreigners cuddle you and make you feel good about India. Well, the foreign financial firms are, well, foreign with (rightfully) no loyalty to any country. They need to earn their next commission. They earned commissions from making their clients "buy India", now they will earn it from making their clients "sell India". Don't count on an invitation to be a key speaker at the next Davos. Discard your delusions. And now find a way to win back the "faith". With an annual savings pool of about USD 400 billion (at today's whacked rate of the Indian Rupee) and a gold hoard of an estimated USD 1 trillion sunk somewhere in the mattresses of most Indian homes, there is no shortage of money to get India back to its Resurgent or Shining days. Yes, we will shed the useless metal and we will be happy to take risks again and fund the dream merchants who launch IPOs. If you launch a "gold-for-gold" or "gold for INR equivalent of future gold price" Gold Bond scheme with a 6.5% per annum interest as your government did in November 1962 (and collected 16.3 tonnes of gold, valued at Rs 5 crore today), just after India lost a war with China, it will fail. In 1962 patriotism ran high and faith in the Congress government and politicians was at a peak. Today, patriotism is still strong - which is why any gold-for-gold scheme will fail: Indians love their country too much to entrust their hard earned wealth to a bunch of questionable, low-character hoodlums who hold positions of power. But, using the latent gold to actively drive the future growth of India - and stop this slide in the INR and loss of faith in India - is important. So, when your Finance Minister comes to you to sign off on a "gold-for-gold" scheme like the one you had in November 1962, March 1965, and October 1965 which he is probably designing as I write, tell him this: "Our citizens have lost the faith in us. We need to win it back. And we will do so by impounding the passports of every legislator and every political party officer and their extended family. Furthermore, we will impound the wealth of every legislator and their extended family and keep all these assets as collateral in this new gold-for-gold scheme. Their passports and their wealth will only be released when we have made good on our promise to the Indian citizen to return all their gold by the year 2020. And if we fail to return the gold, the assets of the legislators held in custody will be disposed off and - given that the average legislator has a lot of wealth - we will always have sizeable collateral to pay off the obligations to the Indian citizens. Only under such an act of faith from our side will the Indian citizen come forward to deposit their latent gold for us to convert it into USD, then sell that USD and buy INR to stem the slide of the INR. Oh, yes, that Anna fellow: tell him we have placed the CBI under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and they are free to work as they see fit to root out corruption. Furthermore, here is a list of investment banks and scoundrels who have duped investors in questionable IPOs - make sure they are blacklisted from any future IPO. And add their names to the list of people whose passports and wealth is being impounded. And, finally, tell the organisers at Davos that our passports are impounded so we will restrict our travel to Indian villages. And, no, we will not eat food at a villager's home to prove we qualify to be a Prime Minister." So, Mr. Prime Minister, if you still stand by your statement that "investment is an act of faith", win back the faith and India will respond with the investment. Otherwise, pray hard that your next visit to Washington, D.C. does not end up as an "Indian Super Power with a begging bowl in hand" cartoon in the western press. The above has come in my mail box in the weekly articles I receive from Equitymaster under the heading "The Honest Truth" by Ajit Dayal. I am sure this letter echoes the views of most of our countrymen.
Friday, August 23, 2013
New Delhi, Aug 23 (IANS) Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal Friday promised to enact a law that would let people frame their laws in Delhi if his party won the coming election. Kejriwal was addressing students at St. Stephens College in Delhi University. He urged them to oust the "corrupt" Congress government in the city in assembly election expected in November. "If my party wins, I will formulate a law like in the US where people make laws in Town Hall meetings, and mayors and bureaucrats then implement the law," Kejriwal said. A town meeting is a form of direct democratic rule, used primarily in the US - principally in New England - since the 17th century, where most or all members of a community come together to legislate policy and budgets for local government. Kejriwal attacked the Sheila Dikshit-led Congress government. "Around 25 legislators in Delhi face serious criminal charges like rape, sexual assault and kidnapping. So Delhi will not pass any legislation against such crimes because. if they do, a majority of them will go to jail," he added. He slammed the Delhi government over a host of issues, from power to water. Asked why he joined politics, Kejriwal said: "I have joined politics to clean the system, as dirty politics is the root of all the problems in the world." He said his party won't field people with criminal background. "Everything about our party is transparent. All the 70 candidates will be without any criminal charges. Two people from the same family will not be given ticket as we want to get rid of family politics," said Kejriwal.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
New Delhi, Aug 20 (IANS) Both houses of parliament were Tuesday disrupted over the missing files on the allocation of coal blocks, with the BJP contending it was an effort to "shield" Prime Minister Manmohan Singh while the government said it has set up a probe panel. "The CBI has asked for 157 documents of companies which had applied prior to June 2004 but have not been allocated coal blocks, apart from few other files and documents," Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said in a statement in the Rajya Sabha. "Since some documents could not be located in the coal ministry, I have constituted an inter-ministerial committee under the chairmanship of additional secretary (coal) on July 11 to look into the matter," he said. "I would like to assure the house that my ministry would leave no stone unturned in tracing and providing the documents sought by the CBI," he added, amidst sloganeering by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members. Jaiswal rejected allegations that files related to a family that was close to him were among the missing documents. "If these allegations are proven right, I am ready for any punishment," he asserted. His assurance could not pacify the BJP, which said it was an effort "to save the prime minister", who held the coal portfolio during the period under probe. During the period under review, a total of 204 coal blocks were allocated to state-run and private companies - 132 by the screening committee and 72 by the coal ministry. Out of that, licences for 40 blocks were cancelled. A preliminary inquiry to examine the irregularities in allocation of coal blocks during 2006-09 was registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on reference of the Central Vigilance Committee in June 2012. In the Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj alleged that the now untraceable documents carried names of Congress leaders. "The prime minister should come in the house and clarify on the missing files. These files contain the names of Congress leaders involved and the decisions taken in the allocation of coal blocks," she said. In the Rajya Sabha, her counterpart Arun Jaitley termed it as destruction of evidence in a case monitored by the Supreme Court and wondered why no FIR was lodged. "Files don't disappear, they are made to disappear. These files were the evidence of crime and now there is a possibility of culprits escaping." "This is a case of destruction of evidence of a case monitored by the Supreme Court. I want to know from the minister has any FIR been filed in the matter," asked Jaitley. The BJP targeted the Congress saying Jaiswal's statement about files prior to 2004 missing is misleading as the CBI had told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that files between 2006-07 were missing. "Congress stands exposed today and this is yet another effort to save the prime minister, who was the coal minister during the period," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters here. Stating his party should not be blamed for disrupting the houses, Javadekar did not guarantee the BJP will let the house function on Thursday. The Left too questioned the government on the issue. Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury said: "We have asked the prime minister to make a statement as he was the (then) coal minister." "Why is government not transparent in the matter... are they protecting anyone," he added. As I said in my earlier, right from the top to the bottom, they are all involved in corruption, whether it is the Prime Minister or the Coal Minister. And when they are pulled up by the Supreme Court and the CBI is told to enquire, files go missing. The best solution would be to sack all the people who are in charge of keeping the files and all their benefits withheld until the files are found other this business of files going missing will never stop.
That corruption rules the roost in India is a fact well known. The unraveling of umpteen scams in the recent past is ample testimony to this. Satyam, 2G, Commonwealth Games, Coalgate are just some of the examples in an ever growing list. There is so much apathy that the common man now accepts this as part of life seeing no way for the corruption to come to an end. And when the government talks about bringing down corruption, they seem like empty statements at best. The Coalgate scam is an example of how the government is indifferent to eliminating corruption. The scandal has once again come to the fore as the coal ministry has acknowledged that crucial files relating to the controversial allocation for the coal blocks have gone 'missing'. As reported in the Times of India, some of these documents deal with the financial aspects of the projects as well as the various applicants for these coal blocks. The latter especially was important because it would have given an idea of whether less deserving candidates were allotted blocks at the expense of more deserving ones. How can documents just disappear into thin air? No doubt the government is expected to provide an answer. But that is likely to remain largely unsatisfactory and one can safely say that the incidence of these files 'reappearing' remain remote. These instances clearly show that the desire to eliminate corruption just isn't there. Whether subsequent governments will be able to do anything different for the time being remains suspect. More importantly, can such an alarming trend find its way into Corporate India? What if just like the government, corrupt managements also find ways to do away with records that show them in an unsatisfactory light? It is something to ponder upon. Do you think that the government has any intention of curbing corruption in the country? The above is from the mail I receive from Equitymaster. Do you expect the present set of political parties will do anything to eradicate corruption when they are the cause of corruption and their interest lies in prolonging it for generations to come? It is like asking the devil to stop giving apples to eve. No! If we want to eradicate corruption from India, we have to throw out the present lot of political parties, lock, stock and barrel and usher in the new era of Aam Aadmi Party who are promising to do it and I believe them.
Monday, August 19, 2013
The Dream Team of Manmohan Singh, P. Chidambaram, and Montek Singh Ahluwalia have brought India within reach of a nightmare. The focus of this troika has wrongly been on: growth as a quantitative number, as opposed to growth as a legitimate market-driven means to uplift a majority of Indians; a call to revive the animal spirits, as opposed to building a fair and just society; and flashing statistics to prove their success, when all qualitative indicators of life in India have been heading south. The further shame is that the Dream Team got caught up in the folly of the BRIC reports authored by a team of dreamers from Goldman, Sachs. For all its marketing blitz, the BRIC report was an exercise in building a laughable xl sheet. A key finding: India was on its way to being a super power just because we had a young population. But the Dream Team, dined and wined by those who attended elite educational institutions as they did, began to believe this false prophecy. As part of the egoistic advertising of the India Dream, Incredible India, and Resurgent India (and, yes, the BJP had its India Shining moment of stupidity), the troika spent too much time with western investors and too little time touring the Indian landscape and addressing the problems within India. Marked to market The constant westward looking glances of this troika were akin to a puppy dog looking for someone to pat their back and fondle their neck. And, yet, they were not elected by the western investment banks and nor were they elected to represent the Indian super-rich. Their actions over the past few years have been far from building a just society: rather than punishing those responsible for some of the most outrageous scams and thefts in India's economic history, the Dream Team - and many politicians across the spectrum - have sought ways to defuse the seriousness of the theft. (Before the BJP jumps on this to make some political gain, they need to be reminded of the various scams that BJP politicians have been involved in. The difference between the BJP and the Congress is that the BJP still sends their children to local schools while the Congress has sent their heirs to study at the elite schools of the west. In the hallowed halls of these great western campuses, the young er turks have learnt the art of sophisticated theft from their class mates - many of whom have joined the Wall Street firms where they are given a platform to perfect it.) A series of speeches over the past one year gave a momentary pause to the disillusionment with the Great India Story. That circle is now complete: Goldman Sachs has pretty much disowned India (now classified as an "underweight") and the very audiences that the Dream Team tried to placate are dumping the Indian currency. Stock markets have behaved a lot better and foreign investors have not dumped Indian shares. Despite the sharp fall in the BSE-30 Index on August 16, the Indian stock markets are still 9.6% higher than where they were on August 1, 2012 - when Chidambaram came in as Finance Minister to replace Pranab Mukherjee, since demoted to the role of President. That relative calmness in the stock markets could change. The Finance Minister - and his weekly speeches - gave some reassurance to the jittery foreign investors. Speeches may help markets stay calm and may even help markets recover for a while (see Graph 2). Eventually, the ability to quote famous poets and philosophers needs to be followed up by action. Though there some action (the increase in the price of petrol and diesel), it was not enough. The issue of deflecting any action on corruption and protecting the rich at the cost of a broader good still seem to be the pet policies of this government. When measured in USD, the BSE-30 Index has slipped by -1.8% since Augus t 1, 2012 while the MSCI Emerging Markets has gained +3.4%. Within this obsession of a market meltdown, there is a need to recognise that there are other countries whose currency has been whacked. The shame is that India - given its domestic economic potential - could have been saved this comparison to Brazil, South Africa, Japan and Australia. A quick fix for immediate, broader growth So, how can the government revive growth - without surrendering the "capitalist path" and without enriching the crony Indian businessmen grovelling for favours at their doorsteps? The quick fix solution is to ask all government owned PSU banks to recall their loans to property developers when they fall due and not to roll them over. The act of rolling over the debt has given the property developers (most have some connection with some politicians) the ability to hold on to their stock of unsold property - and has led to a situation where they even have the shamelessness to increase prices! The objective of the capitalist developer is to (rightly) sell at the highest price. Of course, if this was indeed a free market, the money owed to the bank by the developer would have been called in by the ban k. To repay the bank loan the developer would have to sell the p roperty at whatever price he could get. This would ensure that property becomes affordable again. But we don't live in a capitalist society; we live in a crony-capitalist India. Those with connections get what they want - the rest have to bear the cost of passing on extra profits to the crony-capitalists. According to various news reports, there are some 4,00,000 residential apartments of various sizes and prices lying unsold across India. Assuming these were approximately 800 square feet in size and had an average price tag of Rs 3,000 per square foot, that would amount to a total of Rs 9,60,000 crore in stuck value. This is about 1% of India's GDP which, for now, is showing up in a PSU bank as a loan to developers and subsidising the developers desire to sell in the future at a higher price for a larger profit. This Rs. 9,60,000 crore also represents a potential pool of money that would start a multiplier effect. If the buyers -with down payments and mortgages - were allowed to buy properties and then start buying furniture, TVs, and household goods for these new homes...maybe another 0.5% of GDP could be added from the "extras" we buy when we purchase a new home. The Finance Minister has the power to tell the PSU banks not to renew loans to property developers or to property investors. "Unsold" properties will then be available for sale - at lower prices, because developers will be forced to sell at any price to raise the cash to repay the loans. From the banks' perspective, loans given to property developers will be repaid and loans given to individuals to buy homes will increase by a similar amount. While there will be no increase in bank loans (alas, the Dream Team will not have a rosy growth statistic to share at the next speech they give in a western country), the qualitative aspect of life will increase significantly. People who want homes will actually get a chance to own them - at affordable prices. Gold may, as the Finance Minister says, be a "useless metal" but property unsold is a larger burden on society. Gold is owned by millions as a protection against bad government and bad governance (and we are witnessing an era of that), property is being hoarded by a few hundred developers for their benefit - using the money from millions of depositors in PSU banks! A recovery in growth rates of India's GDP would attract foreign investors and strengthen the stock markets and the Indian Rupee. This time it would be different. Because the benefit of that growth in GDP is being felt by the buyers of property, not by the supra-normal profits gifted to the developers and their politician partners. The long run solutions remain the only true solutions The immediate order to PSU banks to shut off the capital to real estate developers will see a surge in local consumption and boost growth. But this is a one-off. The long term challenges for India are many. A few that need to be focused on are: 1. Minimising corruption in politics, in the bureaucracy, and in business; 2. Continue to find ways to subsidise the poor who cannot afford the basics (with corruption minimised, more money will flow to where it is needed); 3. Developing the villages and districts as alternate places to live to prevent urban migration; 4. Focus on public transportation, and not on private vehicles like cars (gold may be useless but it is worth something, though once you burn oil it is worth zero); 5. Give domestic retail investors the confidence to return to the Indian stock markets. India is not in a crisis. We have been lulled into following the questionable policies adopted by our central and state governments. The real issues have been brushed aside and our silence has allowed them to be brushed aside. Wearing an arm band and lighting a candle is not how policies are changed. Forcing the issues and confronting your elected representatives is what will start the long process of change. Until then be prepared to be whipsawed between surging and falling markets. The above is from the Honest Truth by Ajit Dayal of Equitymaster. His views match mine in many respects. You will note that his # 1 priority is Minimising corruption in politics, in the bureaucracy, and in business; The Aam Aadmi Party aims to eliminate it altogether or at least 65% as Anna had said.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
New Delhi, Aug 18 (IANS) Ashok Khemka, the IAS officer who hit the headlines last year over his challenging action concerning a land deal involving Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra, has said that cancellation of mutation of the Rs.58-crore deal between Vadra's company with realty giant DLF was not based on mere supposition and "the truth had to be established" through investigation. In an interview with Karan Thapar, telecast on CNN-IBN, Khemka justified his action of cancelling the mutation after he had been transferred from his post as director general (land holdings and consolidation) on Oct 11 last year. "I relinquished charge on Oct 15 and I had all the right to function as such till Oct 15. I had the right to use those powers. If my right was not there, the DLF or Robert Vadra's company could have approached the high court with these very facts and could have obtained a moral setting aside of the order," he said. "As long as you hold charge, you continue to do your duties. There is no personal interest here," he said. Khemka had conveyed to the Haryana government that the whole deal done by Vadra in the purchase, getting licence and sale of prime land, measuring 2.7 acres, in Shikohpur village in Gurgaon district was based on "false" documents, including a fictitious cheque, and was a "sham sale". The allegations were made in his reply to the Haryana government in May this year on the findings of a three-member committee of Haryana officials set up by the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government October last year on issues raised by him. Asked by Karan Thapar if he had acted on the basis of supposition, Khmeka said there was inference of wrongdoing. "It was not a supposition. It is a likely, possible inference with a high degree of probability," Khemka said. Answering another query, Khemka said at his level he did have powers for requisite investigation. "Truth is to be established in criminal investigation," he said. Khemka had said in his reply to the Haryana government that Vadra's land deal with DLF was a clear cut case of impropriety as Vadra bought the land for Rs.7.5 crore, procured a licence for a colony from the Hooda government and sold off the same land to DLF for Rs.58 crore. He alleged that Vadra's company Sky Light Hospitality made over Rs.42.6 crore from the deal. In his interview to Karan Thapar, Khemka, however, admitted that Sky Light Hospitality had mentioned in its agreement given to the state authorities for commercial licence that land that had been transferred to DLF five months earlier. "The collaboration agreement signed by both Sky Light hospitality and DLF admit that possession was handed over and taken over," Khemka said. He said that Sky Light Hospitality had given details of the land deal in the documents but they were not in the correct format. Khemka denied that he had acted with vendetta against Vadra. "Why should it be an act of vendetta. What did I have against the gentleman," he asked. Asked if it was a quasi-judicial procedure and the parties should have been heard before the cancellation of mutation, Khemka said he had the authority to take the decision. He said he had urged the state government for another inquiry. "(About his reply) This is a comment to the state government when they were probing whether licensing aspect was correct or not. I am giving my comments to the state government that the committee deliberately omitted these facts. And please hold another inquiry and, if I am wrong, you can pillory me. But you cannot pillory me in favour of an accused," he said. Khemka said he was certain he had done the right thing. "Absolutely, it was the right thing to do. If you have to take action, the morality should start at the top. It is very easy to take action with people who are downtrodden but it requires courage and guts to call a bluff a bluff when it happens at the top," Khemka said. No comments. I will ask our readers to decide for themselves whether any wrong was done by Vadra
Friday, August 16, 2013
THIS IS A FRIGHTENING STATISTIC, PROBABLY ONE OF THE MOST WORRISOME IN RECENT YEARS. 25% of the women in this country are on medication for mental illness. That's scary. It means 75% are running around untreated. HE MUST PAY Husband and wife had a tiff. Wife called up her mom and said, "He fought with me again, I am coming to live with you." Mom said, "No darling, he must pay for his mistake. I am coming to live with you. Today's Short Reading from the Bible... From Genesis: "And God promised men that good and obedient wives would be found in all corners of the earth." Then He made the earth round...and He laughed and laughed and laughed! Sent by Prakash Bhartia
Thursday, August 15, 2013
I have received a number of mails in my mailbox mentioning our 65th Independence Day. Should we be celebrating this Independence Day? I wonder and ask myself. Is it worth celebrating? We seem to have replaced one set of thugs with another set. The earlier ones looted and took away the wealth to the British Isles. The present sets keep the loot in the country and a few of them take it to Swiss banks. While earlier, criminals in Britain like Lord Clive were sent over to rule, now we have indigenous criminals like Kalamadi, Bansal, Raja, Lalu and a horde of others rule over us. What is the difference? Yes, earlier, foreigners were torturing us, now our own countrymen are torturing us. After 65 years, we are unable to give our country an honest government and people have resigned to their fate and accept that this will happen. It cannot change. But why should we accept? Why cannot it be changed? I have a sister living in Singapore and my own son has gone to USA with his family. My daughter-in-law is surprised with how smoothly people live their lives there and the level of honesty. It is not that they are 100% honest. We have had the President of USA, Nixon had to resign because of Watergate scam. In India scams are hi-lighted every fortnight and our shameless governments at both the centre and in the states brazen it out. Why? Because, they know that during elections they have to give a few freebies, send a few musclemen to threaten the voters and with just 20% votes they can be declared winners. Mamata Banerjee won a substantial number of seats in the last panchayat elections in West Bengal as she did not allow the opposition candidates to file their nomination papers. Is this the Independence for which our freedom fighters laid their lives? In today’s edition Times of India, three Freedom Fighters Sudhangsu Jivon Ganguly, Sudhindra Chandra Maitra and Benoyendra Mohan Banerjee have given their views on the state of our nation, 65 years after Independence which is not at all flattering. The Judiciary, the election commission, the CAG and Civil Society are doing their utmost to cleanse the system but the executive, made up of all political parties keep dragging their feet. They just do not want to give a clean government to the nation. At present about 30 % of the elected representatives have criminal records. A day will soon come when that percentage may increase to 70% and we shall have people like Lalu Yadav, Suresh Kalamadi or A Raja becoming Prime Ministers of India. History is now giving all of us a chance to change all that. The Aam Aadmi Party gives you a one point agenda – to provide an honest government, If we save the money our country loses in graft, we could finance all our other expenses whether it be education, infrastructure, health and food and water. We have all tried the Congress, BJP and other parties at different points in our lives. Let us now give a chance to AAP to give us what they promise.
New Delhi, Aug 15 (IANS) As Prime Minister Manmohan named his predecessors in his independence day speech, BJP questioned why Lal Bahadur Shastri, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Morarji Desai were missed out. "Dr Manmohan Singh referred to four Prime Ministers who contributed to the making of India - all from Cong party," Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj said in a tweet. "He forgot even Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri there," the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha said. "The contribution of Shri Morarji Desai and Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been no less. This partisan approach does not go with the solemnity of this great occasion," she said. Party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman spoke similarly. "Surprised the Prime Minister skips mention of his immediate predecessor Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee while recalling most PMs before him," Sitharaman said on Twitter. Manmohan Singh, in his independence day speech recounted the achievements of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and P.V. Narsimha Rao. As per the Congress party, the list of Prime ministers of India is as follows: 1.J L Nehru,2. blank ,3. blank ,4. blank ,5. Indira Gandhi,6. blank , 7.blank ,8.Indira Gandhi,9. Rajeev Gandhi,10.blank ,11.blank ,12.blank ,13.blank ,14.blank,15.blank ,16.blank ,17. Manmohan Singh. Since Sonia Gandhi is the prompter, one cannot blame Manmohan Singh, the parrot. This time the prompter made a willful mistake by including one of the blanks, P V Narsimha Rao, because of the ongoing Telengana imbroglio. Or probably because Manmohan was the Finance Minister when Narsimha Rao was the Prime Minister - gratitude? For those who would like the names of the different blanked out Prime Ministers 12 in all, the list is below. 2. Gulzarilal Nanda. 3. Lal Bahadur Shastri 4. Gulzarilal Nanda 6. Morarji Desai 7. Charan Singh 10. V P Singh 11. Chandra Sekhar 12. P V Narsimha Rao 13. Atal Behari Vajpayee. 14. H D Dev Gowda 15. I K Gujral 16. Atal Behari Vajpayee By the way, Manmohan knows he is a stepney prime minister, keeping the throne warm while Prince Rahul grows of age and is willing to take over.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
New Delhi, Aug 14 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday expressed disappointment that legislatures looked more like "combat arenas" rather than fora that legislate and said the nation's institutions must be respected and the delicate balance between them maintained. "Institutions are a mirror of national character. Today we see widespread cynicism and disillusionment with the governance and functioning of institutions in our country. Our legislatures look more like combat arenas, rather than fora that legislate," the president said in his Independence Day speech, referring to frequent disruptions in the workings of parliament and state legislatures, combative behaviour on the part of lawmakers, including instances of demonstrative violence, and failure to pass laws that are their primary function. "Our constitution provides a delicate balance of power between various institutions of the state. This balance has to be maintained. We need a parliament that debates, discusses and decides. We need a judiciary that gives justice without delays," he said. "We need leadership that is committed to the nation and those values that made us a great civilization. We need a state that inspires confidence among people in its ability to surmount challenges before us. "We need a media and citizens who, even as they claim their rights, are equally committed to their responsibilities," he said. What a hypocrite our President is? He is the person who negotiated with the civil rights group led by Anna Hazare and assured them that Parliament would pass the Lok Pal bill as they wanted. But when it came to passing the bill he was in the forefront digging jokes and passing snide remarks at the group and the bill is jettisoned. What does civil society want? It wants the government and all its department to work honestly. Is it asking too much? No! But the government makes it appear as if we are asking for their lives. The second point is we want that criminals should not enter Parliament and the assemblies as they are the law making bodies. Is this asking for too much? No! But the President makes it appear that we are asking his party for the moon. The Supreme Court is trying to help them by freeing them from the clutches of these convicts. Instead our MPs, want to reverse the Supreme Court's judgement. Tell me Mr. President, why are you surprised at the events in Parliament? You shouldn't be for Parliament is made up of 30% criminals and the balance 70% support them. That means they are 100% criminals. And what can you expect of criminals - just noise - no productive work.
NEW DELHI: The AamAadmi Party does not have sufficient funds or space to carry out large scale advertising in Delhi. Therefore, it has turned to the aamaadmi to help them make their presence felt in the capital. From posters behind autos, the AAP is now looking to set up around two lakhhoardings across the city by the end of the month. The party's over 1.25 lakh volunteers will help in this exercise by purchasing these hoardings and then setting them up on their boundary walls and homes. The party is also focusing on door-to-door campaigning and plans to visit each house in the city at least thrice before the elections. "Our visibility may be low but our focus is on people-to-people contact. Every person should have met their respective candidates at least once before the election," said a source. "Most of the prime advertising space in the city has already been taken up by the current government which is advertising their achievements over the past 15 years. Secondly, we do not have the money to hire such places since we are dependent solely on donations. But where we lack on funds, we make up with our massive volunteer base. In the next 10 days or so, there will be at least one hoarding set up in homes of all our 1.25 lakh volunteers, especially in areas where candidates have been announced. We have got the posters and banners made and they will purchase these and set them up," said party chief Arvind Kejriwal. Sources said the idea came after the party spent a lot of money on a big hoarding that they set up at Mandawali's Shri Ram Chowk in east Delhi. A few days later, it was pulled down since a Congress function was to be held there. "After that we requested some residents to put up our posters in their homes and they were more than happy to do so," said a source. Several posters and hoardings are already visible in the city. Party sources claim that in Bawana, a few hundred banners and hoardings have already been put up. In Patparganj, around 200 have been sold to volunteers. "The bigger hoardings are being sponsored by the party but the smaller ones, which cost Rs 200 on an average, are being bought by the volunteers to be set up at their houses. Around 200 have already been put up and by the end of the month we are expecting 1,000 to be up," said Nitin Tyagi, an AAP volunteer. We are seeing above how the AAP is going about campaigning with its limited resources. They have chosen the "Broom" as its election symbol as they propose to cleanse the entire corrupt set up that has been installed by the Congress, BJP and other existing political parties. It has to work this way because they have taken a conscious decision of not approaching businessmen to finance their campaign for it would then have to acquiesce to the favours asked by these businessmen later on quid pro quo. Hence we are asking the common man to contribute, whatever is in his means. If you live near or in Delhi, please join their election campaign.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Few Attitude and Managerial lessons.....Enjoy. Look at life through the wind-shield, not the rear-view mirror. There was this robbery in Guangzhou , the robber shouted to everyone: "All don't move, money belongs to the state, life belongs to you". Everyone in the bank laid down quietly. This is called "Mind Changing Concept --> Changing the conventional way of thinking". -------------------------------------------------- One lady lay on the table provocatively, the robber shouted at her "Please be civilised! This is a robbery and not a rape!" This is called "Being Professional --> Focus only on what you are trained to do!" ------------------------------------------------- When the robbers got back, the younger robber (MBA trained) told the older robber (who is only primary school educated), "Big bro, let's count how much we got". The older robber rebutted and said, "You very stupid, so much money, how to count, tonight TV will tell us how much we robbed from the bank!" This is called "Experience --> nowadays experience is more important than paper qualifications!" ------------------------------------------------- After the robbers left, the bank manager told the bank supervisor to call the police quickly. The supervisor says "Wait, wait wait, let's put the 5 million RMB we embezzled into the amount the robbers robbed". This is called "Swim with the tide --> converting an unfavorable situation to your advantage!" ------------------------------------------------- The supervisor says "It will be good if there is a robbery every month". This is called "Killing Boredom --> Happiness is most important." ------------------------------------------------- The next day, TV news reported that 100 million RMB was taken from the bank. The robbers counted and counted and recounted, but they could only 20 million RMB. The robbers were very angry and complained "We risked our lives and only took 20 million RMB, the bank manager took 80 million RMB with a snap of his fingers. It looks like it is better to be educated to be a thief!" This is called "Knowledge is worth as much as gold !" ------------------------------------------------- The bank manager was smiling and happy because his loss in the CINOPEC shares are now covered by this robbery. This is called "Seizing the opportunity --> daring to take risks!" ------------------------------------------------- Something like this happens in natural disasters. I wonder if anyone has calculated the money that has been pilfered by the Uttarkand government after the flashfloods in the hills? Sent by Arun Shroff
New Delhi, Aug.13 (ANI):The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Yadav's plea for seeking the transfer of the trial court judge hearing the case against him in the fodder scam in Jharkhand. A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam, which had on July 9 restrained the trial court from passing the judgement in fodder scam case, gave its order on Lalu's plea. Lalu Prasad had in his petition alleged that trial court judge P K Singh was biased against him as he is a relative of P K Shahi, Education Minister in the Nitish Kumar Government in Bihar, "who is his (Yadav's) biggest political enemy". Yadav had approached the apex court after the Jharkhand High Court had on July 1 dismissed his plea to transfer the case to another special CBI court from that of Special CBI Judge PK Singh. The case pertains to alleged fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa Treasury in the 1990s. The FIR was lodged by Bihar government in February 1996 but the case was transferred to CBI a month later. CBI had investigated the scam for a year and the charge sheet was filed in 1997. The charges were framed in 2000 following which the Special CBI court commenced trial against Lalu Prasad and 44 other accused. RJD's plea had faced stiff opposition from JD-U leader Rajiv Ranjan who submitted that it would be a 'travesty of justice' if the judge is transferred at the far end of the trial. He submitted that it would give a wrong impression to the entire country if the judge is transferred and raised a question on RJD supremo's petition seeking transfer of the judge who has been hearing the case since 2011. (ANI) Here is a living example of how politicians delay their trials so that they are not convicted. This case pertains to the fodder scam which occurred in the 1990s and in 2013, the main accused wants the case to be tried by a new judge so that the whole process will be repeated and it will take another 20 years. In the mean time, Lalu Yadav's wife was made the Chief Minister of Bihar and Lalu Yadav Yadav had become the Railway Minister. Our MPs have become shameless. Gone are the days when Lal Bahadur Shastri resigned accepting responsibility for a railway accident. Nowadays, ministers loot the telecom department, allow their nephews to loot the railways and yet they stick to their chairs like leeches unless pulled out by the Supreme Court. Members of Parliament should be purer than Caesar's wife and if they give an excuse of false cases being filed against them, then they are to blamed for making the police a tool to be manipulated as they wish. It gives one more urgent reason to bring about police reforms so that the party in power cannot misuse the police. If we accept the Supreme Courts views of declaring convicted/jailed candidates ineligible to fight elections then it would be in their own interest to expedite their cases instead of delaying them. We the people of India fully support the Supreme Court.
Monday, August 12, 2013
New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) The central government Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking the review of its verdict holding that lawmakers would stand unseated upon their conviction in certain criminal cases. The apex court July 10 declared unconstitutional the provision of the Representation of the People Act (subsection 4 of Section 8) that allowed elected representatives to continue as members of the elected bodies even after conviction in criminal cases and had three months' time to move the higher court to get a stay on their conviction. The review petition said the judgment ought not to have been passed by the two-judge bench as the validity of Section 8(4) of the act was upheld by the constitution bench of the apex court. The constitution bench of the apex court held that "once elections have been held and a house has come into existence, and if a member of the house is convicted and sentenced, such a situation needs to be dealt with on a different footing", said the government's petition. The apex court bench of Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya in their July 10 judgment held that "parliament thus does not have the power under Articles 102(1)(e) and 191(1)(e) of the constitution to make different laws for a person to be disqualified for being chosen as a member and for a person to be disqualified for continuing as a member of parliament or the state legislature." The court said its verdict would be effective prospectively only and would not have any bearing on the existing lawmakers who have been convicted or whose appeals were pending. The constitution bench, review petition said had further held that "the stress is not merely on the rights of an individual to contest an election or to continue as a member of a House, but the very existence and continuity of a House democratically constituted." The review petition said the two-judge bench should not have proceeded to hear and determine the issues that arose in the interpretation of a provision of the constitution. The government said sub-section 4 of section 8 of the act was inserted not to confer any advantage on existing lawmakers but to protect the house and legislature. The intentions of our MPs are not honest. ADR have brought out the details of what percentage of our MPs and MLAs are corrupt and have been convicted. With each subsequent elections the percentage of criminals in parliament are increasing. Instead of discussing with civil society, the election commission and the judiciary how to prevent criminals from becoming legislators, they want to undo the good work of the Supreme Court. If they are so sure that the people approve what they are doing, let us have a referendum. Let the people decide whether they approve the Supreme Court's decision of the MPs action.
Are we in a state of economy as dire as 1991? This is a question that domestic investors, corporate and FIIs are constantly pressurizing the Indian government to answer. If not to soothe nerves, FM Chidambaram is expected to list out some measures to allay fears of further fall in the value of rupee. The government, in all likelihood, is going to stress that it is on top of things. Further it may even take measures to boost inflow of dollars. This may include dedicated non-resident deposit schemes, bond issues by PSUs, measures to attract sovereign wealth funds etc. It may be recalled that in 1991 the government issued India Development Bonds through SBI. The bonds had raised a substantial US$ 1.6 bn. Again in 1998, it launched the Resurgent India bonds after the US sanctions on India in the aftermath of nuclear tests. Some such measures cannot be ruled out this time as well. Moreover rules for Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) could be in the offing to solicit foreign investment in India's real estate sector. Thus, the government's 'all is well' message may not be entirely true. However, one could expect some serious measures to arrest the rupee depreciation and trade deficit crisis. The above is from The mails I receive from Equitymaster. The author asks how the Indian government should tackle the decline. They are already tackling it by: 1) Negating the decision of the CIC that political parties should come under RTI. 2) Negating the decision of the Supreme Court that MPs and MLAs who are convicted should not be allowed to fight elections and if any MP or MLA is convicted after becoming an MP and MLA, he should be disqualified. During Anna's agitation, when Om Puri had calle all MPs crooks we all thought he had gove overboard and he should not have made such a sweeping statement. But now, after seeing the way all the MPs of all political parties have ganged up to nullify the above decisions, we cannot but agree with Om Puri. Irrespective of party affiliations, I call all MPs crooks. And no amount of speeches by Chidambaram is going to convince people that India will improve. It is just going to get worse for there is no honesty - from top to bottom. If they were interested in bringing about honesty in the working of the government, they should work with the Judiciary to see how criminals could be prevented from entering parliament. But no! They are interested in nullifying the judgement and honest bureaucrats like Durga in UP, Khemka in Haryana. Other honest officers have been transferred in Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. Everywhere it is the same. Our MPs and MLAs do not want to give up their right to loot the country. We are reaching a stage where a bloody revolution may be necessary just like the Maoists are doing because when civil society want to bring about change peacefully, they are just fooled. WE saw how Anna was fooled with the Lok Pal Bill
Friday, August 9, 2013
Student Peter Wong sent me a news cutting about a 78-year-old woman who beat up her 84-year-old husband. "A witness told police the woman admitted assaulting her husband, including kicking him three times in the groin, because he had an affair 35 years ago," said the report from the Associated Press. Peter asked: "Isn't 35 years rather a long time to wait to kick somebody?" It may seem like it, Peter, but clearly you haven't had much experience with women. They have astonishing powers of recall, far greater than humans. Married men will know what I mean. Watching TV, you make an innocuous comment, such as: "Madonna looks good for 50, don't you think?" There will be a moment of silence as the wife clicks back through her 5,000-terabyte memory dump. Then she will say: "Ah, but you said 13 years ago, on the way back from the supermarket on a rainy Tuesday afternoon, at 4.27 pm, that you thought her bottom was bigger than mine." The only correct answer is to nod vigorously and agree with her. (Actually, this is the only response to everything your wife says.) "Yes, honey, you're quite right, I did say that, and it's STILL TRUE." Peter, here's some advice. Never, never dispute anything your woman claims to remember, even if it is patently obvious that she has imagined the whole thing. A buddy of mine was once asked something like this by his girlfriend: "Do you still love me as much as you did at 10.34 am on the second Wednesday of our first trekking holiday in Nepal?" He replied: "It must have been someone else. I've never been to Nepal." WRONG ANSWER! Within days, he had been kicked out. The correct answer would have been: "Yes darling. I can't remember ever going to Nepal, so perhaps the two of us visited it in a previous life." Her eyes will fill with tears as she is deeply moved by your high level of spirituality and self-awareness. She will then agree to ANY command you give her. Why can't men remember the promises they made a year or two ago, or even, let's face it, earlier the same day? I once asked a top doctor this question (actually, he was a trainee hospital orderly, more or less the same thing) and he explained it in medical terms. Men only have a small amount of blood, not enough to power multiple organs at once. Any man approached by an attractive woman will say extremely stupid things because the blood has fled from his brain to supercharge other parts of his body. Factor in men's limited memory capacity and you begin to understand the challenges of being male. In fact, the only way men can function at all is to auto-delete irrelevant data such as "the toilet roll needs changing" or "I am married" to ensure there is enough memory capacity for the really important stuff, such as who scored the winning goal in the 1978 football World Cup semifinals. Ladies: you may now kick your husbands.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
When I was a young boy ,my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember the polished, old case fastened to the Wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it. Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person. Her name was "Information Please" and there was nothing she did not know. Information Please could supply anyone's number and the correct time. My personal experience with the genie-in-a-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer, the pain was terrible, but there seemed no point in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy. I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear. "Information, please" I said into the mouthpiece just above my head. A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear. "Information." "I hurt my finger..." I wailed into the phone, the tears came readily enough now that I had an audience. "Isn't your mother home?" came the question. "Nobody's home but me," I blubbered. "Are you bleeding?" the voice asked. No,"I replied. "I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts." "Can you open the icebox?" she asked. I said I could. "Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your finger," said the voice.. After that, I called "Information Please" for everything.. I asked her for help with my geography, and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts. Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary, died. I called, Information Please," and told her the sad story. She listened, and then said things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was not consoled. I asked her, "Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?" She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, " Wayne , always remember that there are other worlds to sing in." Somehow I felt better. Another day I was on the telephone, "Information Please." Information," said in the now familiar voice. "How do I spell fix?" I asked. All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest . When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston . I missed my friend very much. "Information Please" belonged in that old wooden box back home and I Somehow never thought of trying the shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me. Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy. A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle . I had about a half-hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, "Information Please." Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well. Information." I hadn't planned this, but I heard myself saying, "Could you please tell me how to spell fix?" There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, "I guess your finger must have healed by now." I laughed, "So it's really you," I said. "I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time?" "I wonder," she said, "if you know how much your call meant to me. I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls." I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister. "Please do," she said. "Just ask for Sally." Three months later I was back in Seattle . A different voice answered, "Information." I asked for Sally. "Are you a friend?" she said. "Yes, a very old friend," I answered. "I'm sorry to have to tell you this," she said. "Sally had been working part time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago." Before I could hang up, she said, "Wait a minute, did you say your name was Wayne ?" "Yes," I answered. "Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called. Let me read it to you." The note said, "Tell him there are other worlds to sing in. He'll know what I mean." I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant. Never underestimate the impression you may make on others.. Whose life have you touched today? Why not pass this on? I just did.... Lifting you on eagle's wings. May you find the joy and peace you long for. Life is a journey... NOT a guided tour. Sent by Arun Shroff
New Delhi, Aug 7 (ANI): The Election Commission of India (ECI) has asked all states and Union Territories to implement the judgement of the Supreme Court on conviction of sitting MLAs and MPs, and devise a proper mechanism to track cases of their conviction. The Election Commission has in a letter addressed to Chief Secretaries of the states also sought a monthly status report about the cases of conviction of sitting members of parliament or state legislature. The poll body has cited the apex court judgement whereby the protection against immediate disqualification from membership enjoyed by sitting members on conviction and sentence to imprisonment or fine will no longer be available. The Election Commission said that it is necessary to have a system in place so that cases of conviction of sitting members of parliament and state legislature are immediately communicated to the speaker or chairman of the house concerned and to the commission. The Chief Electoral officers of all states have also been asked to pursue the matter with states in monitoring the case of conviction of sitting members. The Election Commission said if any sitting Member of Parliament or State Legislature is convicted or sentenced to imprisonment and fine after the date of this judgment he or she will be disqualified from membership forthwith and his or her seat will become vacant. (ANI) Do you think our CORRUPT political parties will allow this to happen? They are now working overtime to nullify the judgement of the Supreme Court. It is now up to the youth to start a movement with Anna and AAP to force these politicians to accept this judgement. The political parties claim that the judgement is not workable as the government in power can lodge false FIRs to disqualify a prospective candidate. The why don't they remove this possibility by making the police work independently and not jump like dogs through a hulla-hoop through the beck and call. Make the police independent and there will be no false FIRs and if such an false FIR is lodged, the concerned police officers should be dismissed.
Chennai, Aug 7 (IANS) Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu Wednesday hit out at the government over the transfer of Tuticorin District Collector Ashish Kumar after a team of officials carried out a survey on beach sand quarrying. In a statement issued here, Leader of Opposition Vijayakanth, of the DMDK, said: "While the government has the power to transfer its officials, it should however be in people's interest." According to him, the transfer is condemnable and the centre should take appropriate action so that the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officials can perform their functions impartially. According to PMK leader S.Ramadoss, the first priority of the government is to prevent the plunder of state's natural resources. He urged the state government to revoke Kumar's transfer order. Ashish Kumar has been transferred and posted to act as deputy secretary, social welfare and nutritious meals department and M.Ravikumar, district collector, Ariyalur, will replace him at Tuticorin. Chief Secretary Sheela Balakrishnan was not available for comments on the transfer despite several efforts by IANS. Officials of Tuticorin district administration inspected the sand quarries in Vaippar and Vembar villages in Tuticorin district Tuesday on complaints that a mining company with a permission to mine in four hectares has been mining in 30 hectares. "On the basis of complaints from fishing community, we inspected the mining areas in Vaippar village. The leasee has been given permission to mine in four hectares. On inspection we found the mining was carried out in 30 hectares," Ashish Kumar told IANS over phone. "Around 230,000 tonnes of beach sand minerals have been quarried in Vaippar village without permission from the government. We have sent the report to the government and action will be taken," he said. "We have not quantified the quantum of loss to the government," he added. He said the violations by the leasee in two other villages in the district was not much. "After mining they have to fill up the pits which they have not done. The environmental norms have been violated," he added. The suspension of Uttar Pradesh cadre IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal, who took on the sand mafia in Noida district, had raised a public outcry. The state government said she was suspended for ordering the demolition of a mosque wall, and this could have led to communal tensions. Why is it that political parties object to the transfer of honest, upright officers only when they are in the opposition? Why is it that they go about doing the same thing when they are in power. I would suggest that a central authority be set up which will go into all transfers and postings. This will put a stop to all the underhand dealing done during T & P which generates quite a pile of black money and is one off the reasons of corruption as the person who pays the money would want to recover it many fold.
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
New Delhi, Aug 5 (IANS) Activists Monday opposed the proposed amendments to the Right to Information Act exempting political parties from its purview. At a press conference here, the activists condemned "the hasty and opaque manner in which the government and parties are moving amendments to the RTI Act, which will provide blanket exemptions to political parties from the transparency regime of the country". The cabinet cleared amendments to the RTI Act, which will be introduced during the ongoing monsoon session of parliament. The move to amend the act was a reaction to a Central Information Commission order which declared six political parties to be public authorities under the RTI Act. "Public pressure had prevented amendments being brought in as an ordinance," RTI activist Aruna Roy said. She stated that it was unacceptable that political parties were not initiating any public discussion on this issue and were moving amendments in a unilateral manner. She added: "Political parties need to be empowered for a functional democracy but empowerment does not mean that they are non-transparent and unaccountable." She referred to the lack of public consultation on this issue by parties as a "trivialization of democracy". Journalist Vinod Mehta said that accountability of the political process is not an ordinary battle, "this goes to the core of what we are trying to do in the country- more openness, more transparency". He stated that if one were to observe the current debate, it was all about parties trying to protect their vested interests and fight to keep their veil of secrecy. Civil society activist Harsh Mander said "every institution was happy to see transparency everywhere but in their own institution". "Use of parliamentary power to address an issue which affects parties is a clear conflict of interest," he said. The activists have also written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opposing the proposed amendments to the RTI Act. I fully support the activists on the above issue and would like Anna and AAP and others who are fighting corruption to take up the cause. You saw how these corrupt political parties led by our present President scuttled the bill of Lokpal bill. They are out again at their old tricks.
I have been asking all our readers to support AAP. However, besides it fight against corruption, we should know its views on various matters. As and when Arvind Kejriwal sends his views on various topics,I shall let you know. Below you may read his views on business. Radheshyam Dear Radheshyam Sharma, Hindi Translation can be seen when you click this link I am often asked –“Are you a leftist, socialist or a capitalist?” Friends, we are not wedded to any ideology. We are common people. We have our problems. We want solutions. If we find solution to any problem in the Left, we are happy to borrow it from there. If we find solution in Capitalism, we are happy to take it from there. But we firmly believe that government has no business to be in business. Government should leave business to the citizens of this country. I personally belong to a business family. Other than my father, most of the other members of my family are in business. I am aware of the kind of problems faced by a businessman. There are two types of businessmen. The first category consists of those businessmen who openly subvert and milk the system to their advantage. For instance those businessmen who buy spectrum for Rs 1500 crores today and sell it at Rs 6000 crores a week later, we don’t call it business. This is open loot. The second category consists of those businessmen who constantly struggle against the system and are successful despite all obstacles created by the system. Whereas the former category of businessmen would like to maintain status quo, the latter category wants India to become corruption-free. The first category of businessmen are less than 1%. Majority of the businessmen in our country want to do business honestly. A businessman creates wealth and provides employment. Out of his profits, he pays taxes, runs his family and does charity. He ought to be honored for that. However, the system treats him as a thief and a dacoit. For instance, in Dellhi, the whole system of VAT has deliberately been kept complex. It is extremely difficult to comply with it. So traders are forced to pay bribes. AAP would simplify these systems. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) would create a business environment where people can do business honestly. AAP would remove all legal and administrative obstacles that exist today in doing honest business. Rather than act as an obstacle, AAP would create an environment that encourages and facilitates business. Why does it happen that a person faces so much problem when he tries to start a business in India but he does so well when he goes to the US? Indians abroad are doing so well. Actually, Indians are first class people who are victims of third class governance in our own country. AAP would like to change all this. After having implemented an honest system, those who subvert the system would be strictly dealt with. If you have any ideas, feel free to write to me. With best regards, Arvind Kejriwal
Monday, August 5, 2013
New Delhi /Jaisalmer, Aug 4 (ANI): In the recent transfer of Jaisalmer IPS officer for reopening the history sheet against of a local Congress MLA Saleh Mohammad's father, Gazi Fakir, Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday said that the posting of officers should be only considered on the basis of their eligibility and not as per political whims and fancies. "The good and eligible officers should get a feeling of both safety as well as respect; then only a state can function properly. It shouldn't be so that if the political leaders are happy then even a spoilt officer can continue in the office and if the political leaders are not happy then an eligible officer is also fired," BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said. Meanwhile, SP Pankaj Chodhary said in Jaisalmer on Sunday that a government may issue transfer orders at any time and these have to be followed. "In the process of transfer and posting, the government decides which officer to keep where. When the government sent me here accordingly I joined here as SP. But two days back I got an order from the government that I have to join somewhere else. I am ready for that. There could be many theories and reasons behind it but I don't want to know them," Choudhury said. However, favouring the transfer of Pankaj Choudhury, Abdullah Fakir, brother of Congress MLA Saleh Mohammad, termed it as a political move. He said that the file has been re-opened intentionally to defame him and the Congress party as the elections is round the corner. "The history sheet case which has been opened is because of some political strategy as the elections are near and it's done to defame us. I say that the federal government should get the issue investigated. The government should also tell the rules and regulations for opening a history sheet," Abdullah said. According to reports, Choudhary, who was serving as the Jaisalmer Superintendent of Police (SP), was reportedly transferred to a non-field post within 48 hours after he reopened the history-sheet of a local Congress MLA Saleh Mohammad's father, Gazi Fakir. The traders and residents in Jaisalmer have called for a shutdown on Sunday to protest against Choudhary's transfer. Reports state that Ghazi Fakir has been involved in cross-border smuggling and other anti-social activities on the India-Pakistan border since two decades. Fakir had a history sheet opened against him for the first time on July 31, 1965 but that file went missing in 1984. The history sheet was reopened after six years in 1990 but it was closed in May 2011 by an ASP-rank official when he had been holding charge as SP. (ANI) Transfers and postings are one of the main sources of corruption in the government. Depending upon the ability of any post generating kickbacks for the officer, they are sold by the higher officer. It is also used by the government to punish officers who are honest. Time and again we have seen honest officers who do their duty shunted to posts which may be called punishment posts. The classic example was the shifting of Kiran Bedi who dared to tow away Indira Gandhi's car. There have been hundreds of such cases and only a few gain prominence because the opposition has vested interests and the media high light them. The SC should do something to stop this malaise too.
Friday, August 2, 2013
Panaji, Aug 2 (IANS) Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi took a dig at the "high command" culture in political parties, saying the current system will never allow the best politicians to surface. The former railways minister was speaking Friday at a conference organised by the Independent Power Producers' Association of India in Panaji. "Look at the US. Their best-educated professionals go into public life. It is thanks to the primaries which they have there. It's not like one party high command who says 'this guy has to get the ticket'," Trivedi said. Indian politicians should take a cue from the American electioneering culture, Trivedi said. He pointed out that despite the 2008 slanging matches between Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the party's primaries, they had a perfect working relationship when Clinton was Secretary of State under President Obama. The Indian political system, Trivedi said, would not allow for such space because of the 'mai-baap' phenomenon. "The mai-baap syndrome has to go," he said, adding that funding for elections comes from "unacceptable forms of society". The more I listen to Dinesh Trivedi, the more I admire the man. The TNC would have been a much better party if Mamta had encouraged Trivedi instead of people like Mukul Roy and his likes. But then, I wonder, if Mamta will give a party ticket to Dinesh Trivedi in the 2014 MP elections. I doubt it, for Trivedi is too independent minded for the liking of Mamata Banerjee. Mamta prefers doormats on whom she can wipe her foot and kick them around.