Monday, August 31, 2015

Abolish caste-based quota, says RSS ideologue

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

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

Whistle-blower Sanjiv Chaturvedi conferred Magsaysay award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 30, 2015


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

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Govt claims to have no record of foreign bribery cases

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

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

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Union Health Ministry lackadaisical towards corruption: Parliamentary panel

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

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


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

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

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

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

Monday, August 17, 2015

Facebook Senior Alternative

For those of my generation who do not and cannot comprehend why Facebook exists: 
I am trying to make friends outside of Facebook while applying the same principles. Therefore, every day I walk down the street and tell passersby what I have eaten, how I feel at the moment, what I have done the night before, what I will do later, and with whom.
I give them pictures of my family, my dog, and of me gardening, taking things apart in the garage, watering the lawn, standing in front of landmarks, driving around town, having lunch, and doing what anybody and everybody does every day.
I also listen to their conversations, give them the "thumbs up" and tell them I like them.
And it works just like Facebook. I already have four people following me:
two police officers, a private investigator, and a psychiatrist.

Sent by Prakash Bhartia

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Lack of transparency leads to low credibility, says Dr Subhash Chandra

Posted on August 12, 2015 from Maharashtra ι Report #21802

Can Dawood Ibrahim start a television news channel in India? "Not too difficult," says Dr Subhash Chandra, chairman of Essel Group, which runs over 70 TV channels under the Zee umbrella and dna. Worse, if the fugitive on the run already funds a media enterprise in India surreptitiously, do we have a system in place to detect and counter it?
Dr Chandra nods in the negative. The man, who runs a media behemoth that expanded to over 170 countries across the globe over three decades, has now called for "proper regulatory framework" to create stricter entry checks and "stringent rules" to expose the corporate veil of news channels and get to the bottom of their funding.
The quest for transparency and the need for a rule book stemmed from an expedition that he took along with a clutch of Zee group editors two months ago, to the villages, the heart of India. "I took my editors to see what is liked and disliked by the rural folk. Instead of appointing a research agency, I said, let's go and find out ourselves."
It turned out to be an eye-opener. "A villager in Meerut told us on our face that you (all news channels in the country) are all sold out. After a brief discussion, the same person also told us that you are our last hope. Yes, contrasting views."
The lack of transparency related to news media ownership has begun to nibble on their credibility. For example, he points fingers at a couple of news channels in the Hindi heartland – one 'owned' by a practicing chartered accountant, another clandestinely managed by the wife of an ex-service man from UP.
In India, one can run a television channel for Rs 10-15 crore a year. "What if a real estate player thinks it is just the cost of keeping a PR consultant and starts a new channel?"
"Unfortunately, our system doesn't go even one layer beyond what the owner has submitted as part of his application. I will not be surprised if the money trail ends at Dawood Ibrahim," says Dr Chandra.
Undoubtedly, it compromises the national security.
Media is a soft power which in a large democracy like India creates public opinion so that the other pillars of the society such as the executive, legislature, judiciary and even business, do not use the democracy for their own gains. "TV being a mass medium has a far deeper penetration, reaching even the remote rural areas of the country. Hence it has a far greater impact on the society."
He avers that before issuing new license to news media organisations, there should be a rigorous scrutiny the way the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) scruitinises before issuing any license in the financial services sector. "RBI applies fit-and-proper criteria by which they go to the ultimate source of funding," he says.
While the total number of news channels across Asia, barring India, does not add up to 150, India is the only country which has got a massive 368 TV news channels across several languages while another bouquet of 100 channels awaits license from the government. What is unblemished about them is that several of them are profusely bleeding.
"Why are they still in the business if they continue to bleed?"
India's rules prevent political parties and religious groups from running news channels. But there are many who illegally operate channels. "If you ask them, they will tell you they aren't. They are funding it, and some of their associates are running it," he says, stressing the importance of going behind the corporate façade.
Then comes the issue of security clearance. "Even the security clearance is subject to misuse in a way." In January 2015, the Cabinet issued a notification that the security clearances of shareholders, apart from the directors, are also required.
Dr Chandra is quick to clarify that his endeavour is not to target a Sun TV, which is currently embroiled in controversy, or any other media company. "In Sun TV's case, the home ministry and I&B ministry are singing different tunes."
All these raise concerns over the lack of transparency in the system.
Zee, which is preparing the groundwork for its English news channel, hopes to garner support from the industry.
"I wanted to trigger a debate. I am happy that the industry has begun to talk. Someone had to bell the cat. I have done that," adding that "We are open to the scrutiny."
So, what is his next big move?
He has been planning to launch an international news network, in English, for global audiences with an India point of view. "If you watch BBC closely, you will realize that there is some British angle in most news items that they disseminate. CNN is having an overtly American point of view. They do not even shy away from criticising those who are against the US interests. Al Jazeera, which comes from a Middle-East country, gives a middle-eastern point of view in its programming. Don't know if we can reach their levels, but will surely attempt it."
He refuses to divulge the capex plans for the new news network, adding with a smile: "It will be huge investment."
Is there any concern over Netflix, YouTube and the growing video streaming that may disrupt the cable and TV channels?
"No. It, in fact, throws up a huge opportunity to have another window for consuming content, though 3G or 4G," he says.
Recently, Zee Group launched an initiative - Ditto TV, where one can watch live streaming of Zee TV serials, episodes, videos & shows for free. Similarly, it also launched an app - Zee Family (an IPTV service that gives viewers instant and unlimited access to a wide variety of Bollywood and region-specific content from the Zee suite of TV channels on their mobile devices).
"We are already talking to telecom companies. You will see more action soon," says Dr Chandra.

Friday, August 7, 2015


In a rare move involving cases against medical negligence, the Calcutta High Court imposed a cost against West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) yesterday for deliberate delay in filing response affidavit in the writ petition for cancellation of license of Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, disgraced physician who was held guilty for causing death of Anuradha Saha by the Supreme Court that also made him and some other doctors/AMRI hospital in Kolkata to pay the highest compensation in Indian medical history. The WBMC found nothing wrong with Dr. Mukherjee’s treatment and gave him a clean chit in 2002. However, after a historic legal fight by Anuradha’s husband and PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, Apex Court found Dr. Mukherjee as the main culprit doctor responsible for Anuradha’s death in 2009. The Apex Court also awarded Rs. 11.5 crore as compensation against Mukherjee and others in 2013. The Medical Council of India (MCI), highest medical regulatory body in India, also found Dr. Mukherjee guilty for medical negligence and directed WBMC to cancel his medical registration in 2011. Ironically, the 17 doctor-members who acquitted Dr. Mukherjee in 2002 were indicted for “criminal conspiracy” (IPC Section 120b) by the trial court and Calcutta High Court also dismissed the quashing petition filed by the WBMC members. Although the indicted WBMC doctors including then WBMC president, Dr. Ashok Chowdhury have filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, they are now waiting for criminal trial to begin for the first time in Indian medical history.
Dr. Saha filed the new writ petition after WBMC refused to cancel Dr. Mukherjee’s license even after MCI found him guilty for medical negligence and Calcutta High Court clearly declared that finding of the Apex Court must be binding on all state medical councils and MCI. Dr. Saha came from USA to argue this important matter before Calcutta High Court but the hearings were delayed due to a “boycott” call by the Calcutta High Court Bar. However, even after the court started functioning, WBMC were not able to file their response affidavit and sought more time when the case was heard on Wednesday. Dr. Saha, appearing in person, pressed the court to impose penalty against WBMC for their willful delay of the case only to harass Dr. Saha who had to wait coming all the way from his permanent place of residence in USA. The court agreed and imposed a cost of “100 gems” against the WBMC. The matter has been fixed for final hearing on August 17, 2015.

Another blow for Adani in Australia as bank ends adviser role

Indian mining giant Adani today suffered another jolt after Australia’s largest lender ended its role as financial adviser to the group’s controversy-hit 16 billion dollar coal mine project in Queensland, a day after the federal court revoked environmental approval for it.
“As part of Adani’s refocusing of the project on gaining the various outstanding approvals, the financial advisory mandate has ended,” a spokesperson for Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) said.
No further details were given by the bank on the circumstances of its withdrawal but sources said the environmental controversy surrounding Carmichael Mine project and its financial risk in the face of tumbling coal prices had been concerns, The Age reported.
The exit of CBA, Australia’s largest lender, comes on the heels of a court decision yesterday revoking the Australian government’s environmental approval for the coal mine, one of the world’s biggest under construction.
The court put development on hold due to a bureaucratic bungle involving yakka skink and ornamental snake.
Adani, which recently suspended work in a number of areas on the mine as it awaits government approval, said it was “inaccurate” to suggest CBA had walked away, insisting the group itself had terminated the mandate.
The company had done so “on the basis of its own concerns over ongoing delays to a now five-year long approvals process here in Australia”, a spokesperson for Adani said.
“In the event the Commonwealth approvals framework is not further undermined by activists seeking to exploit legal loopholes — thus enabling the project and the thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment it would bring to be delivered — Adani would happily work with the bank in future,” the firm’s spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, Australian Greens welcomed the Commonwealth Bank’s decision to end its ties with Adani. “Not only is it environmentally irresponsible to back Galilee Basin coal, it doesn’t stack up economically,” Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens Deputy Leader and climate spokesperson, said.
“Eleven banks around the world have ruled out involvement in the Galilee Basin coal mines exporting through the Reef.
With the US, China, Europe and India increasingly embracing renewables and the coal price in structural decline, pouring money into this dying industry doesn’t make sense,” she said.
Environmental groups had challenged the government’s approval of the mine on the basis of the enormous amount of greenhouse gases it would create, its impact on vulnerable species and Adani’s “poor environmental record".
They also have protested against its impact on the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s most biodiverse marine areas, because of the coal would have to be shipped out of a nearby port, as well as the damage caused by climate change.
Unfortunately for Adani, Modi is not in Australia and could not influence them. However, I understand he has not given up hope. Modi should shortly be planning his trip to Australia to put in a word with the authorities there.

Sadhvi Prachi's remark an 'insult to Parliament': Congress

New Delhi, Aug. 7 (ANI): Taking strong exception to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sadhvi Prachi's 'terrorists' remarks, Congress leader Pramod Tiwari on Friday said the former's statement is an insult to the Parliament.

"I take strong objection to the statement of Sadhvi Prachi. This is an insult to the constitution, this is an insult of the democracy and this is an insult of the Parliament. Parliament is a place where we go for discussion, we make the law and if she is calling that 'terrorists are sitting there', then she is insulting the Parliament of India," Tiwari told ANI.

"I request the BJP to persuade and issue instruction to their fellow members...any statement should not come which creates any bitterness among the people," he added.

The controversial BJP leader had stirred another row by reportedly saying, "It is a big misfortune that in the Indian Parliament, we have one-two terrorists sitting there. I do not think there can be a bigger misfortune for India than this as they who, are disobeying the judgement of a court, because the court has proved that he (Yakub) is a terrorist. When the court has already proved so, those supporting the terrorist are terrorists themselves I believe." (ANI)

It is sad to note that Mr. Tewari takes strong exception to MPs being called terrorists. I wish he took equally strong exception when MPs who are cheats, robbers, extortionists, kidnappers, rapists and murderers enter problem.

what is Mr. Tewari, the Congress and BJP doing to prevent such MPs entering Parliament?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Ex-President Pratibha Patil will not leave her corrupt ways.

A request from former President Pratibha Patil’s office to clear fuel allowance of Rs 44,694 pending for the last seven months, and an official car for travelling outside Pune has put government officials in a fix. The Pune protocol department has forwarded the allowance claims.

Officials of the General administration department are awaiting instructions on whether the former president can seek fuel allowance and use the official car as well.

Highly placed state government officials said the centre had asked the state government to decide taking rules into account. “We have to yet take a decision whether the former president can claim allowance as well as demand an official car as per the President’s Emolument and Pension Act 1951 and rules under President’s Pension Rule 1962. The amount will be cleared after government issues instructions,” said a senior official of the general administration department.

The state received the bills worth Rs 44,694 from September 2014 to March 2015. The president is allowed 250 liters of fuel and salary to employ a driver, if a private vehicle is used, equivalent to government pay scale. This was what was opted earlier.

The last communication by the former president’s office to the MHA last month requested the government to provide an official vehicle whenever she travels outside Pune or attends official programmes in the city.

Government officials, on condition of anonymity, said there has been a trail of communication between Patil’s office and the home department. “Earlier, she rejected the official car and used her personal vehicle for which she stands to get fuel allowance and now she is demanding an official car as well. She can get only either. The state government will take a decision,” said the officials.

Patil’s office said they have been asked not to speak to the media. Senior officials from the home ministry said they have asked the state government to take a call.

I have remarked earlier on this President when you compare her with Dr. Abdul Kalam Azad. She has probably been the worst President India may have had and just imagine she was chosen over Dr. Azad by the Congress Party.

When Dr Azad entered Rashpatai Bhawan, he came with one suitcase and when he left, then too he left with one suitcase

In contrast look at at how Harry Trueman, the President of the USA during World War 11, lived after his retirement. The Original was posted in May 2012.

Harry Truman was a different kind of President. He probably made as many, or more important decisions regarding our nation's history as any of the other 42 Presidents preceding him. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.

The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence Missouri . His wife had inherited the house from her mother and father and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.

When he retired from office in 1952 his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an 'allowance' and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.

After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There was no Secret Service following them.

When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, You don't want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it's not for sale."

Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, "I don't consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, congressional or otherwise."

As president he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food.

Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices.

Good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, "My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference!

Monday, August 3, 2015


Since July 22, 2015, a fraction of the lawyers in Calcutta High Court who are backed by the ruling Trinomool Congress Party (TMC)have been boycotting a particular division bench presided by Justice Girish Chandra Gupta causing endless pain and suffering for the innocent justice-seekers in West Bengal. Dr. Kunal Saha, founding-president of PBT, came all the way from his permanent residence in USA to argue “in person” two matters related to his wife, Anuradha Saha’s wrongful death. The first case is against the unscrupulous West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC)that has still refused to cancel the license of Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, principal culprit doctor who was convicted by the Supreme Court and paid the highest compensation in Indian medical history for causing death of Anuradha Saha. The second case is against the equally unscrupulous Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government that chose Dr. Mukherjee in 2014 to received the prestigious Bangabibhusan award for contribution in medicine despite his conviction by the Apex Court for gross medical negligence.
Although Dr. Saha came from USA to argue “in person” on July 24, no one appeared for the accused parties due to the lawyers’ boycott of the court. Dr. Saha moved an urgent petition before the Supreme Court against this unlawful “boycott” by advocates and the endless misery that he and all innocent justice-seekers were subjected to from this ongoing disruption of the court proceedings. The Apex Court heard his SLP on an urgent basis on Friday (July 31) and directed that Calcutta High Court must hear his case, if necessary, by a different bench. The SC also gave “leave” to Dr. Saha to mention this before the Calcutta HC Chief Justice. However, in the meantime, the bench of Justice Gupta also heard Dr. Saha’s appeal on the same day that Apex Court took his case, that is 31st July, and fixed the matter for final hearing on Wednesday (Aug. 5) with a categorical direction that the case would be heard ex perte even if nobody appears on behalf of the respondents. The immoral and unlawful “boycott” by Kolkata advocates is likely to come under the scanner again on Monday (Aug. 3) when Dr. Saha would mention this before the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court 
The above is from PBT.
The original article may be read on

Sonia pulls up Agriculture Minister for 'outrageous' statement on farmer suicides

New Delhi, Aug. 3 (ANI): Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday said that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA Government's 'anti-farmer' policies has crippled farmers and also criticised Union Agriculture Minister Raja Mohan Singh for rubbing salt into their wounds by giving an outrageous answer to a question on farmer suicides. 

"The government's anti-farmer policies have crippled rural India. Farmers are up in arms against the amendments to the 2013 land acquisition law. While the government fails to increase MSP in the manner the UPA used to, the doors are now open to large-scale imports of wheat. Does Make in India not apply to our kisans? And to make matters worse, the Agriculture Minister rubs salt into their wounds by giving an outrageous answer to a question on farmer suicides," said Gandhi. 

"Rubber cultivators are facing great distress as are coconut, coffee and tea growers. Yet, the government is unmoved and top posts in some of these Boards have been vacant for many months," she added. 

The Congress president further said that the Narendra Modi Government has come down heavily on civil society organisations and social action groups.
"For reasons best known to it, the government has come down heavily on civil society organisations and social action groups. They are integral to our democracy and many serve as the moral conscience of our society. But this government has been quick to silence and muzzle any activism, any grassroots movement for mobilization. Thousands of NGOs are under threat by the draconian actions of the government. And there is clearly a strong element of vengeance in these actions against some NGOs who have been exposing the dark deeds of those in power," she said. 

"The manner in which the Ministry of Human Resource Development has been mortgaged to a certain ideology should be of concern to the entire country, particularly the youth whose future is being endangered by communalism and mediocrity in learning and culture. There is a systematic erosion of the autonomy and competence of institutions of higher education that have been built up so carefully over the decades," she added. 

Sonia also claimed that the 2014 survey conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development and UNICEF was kept under wraps as it showed Gujarat in poor light on various child nutrition and health indicators.
"Between November 2013 and May 2014 the Ministry of Women and Child Development and UNICEF conducted a rapid survey of child health. The survey has been kept under wraps. Why? First, because it showed that child malnutrition, though still unacceptably high did decline appreciably during the UPA decade of 2004 to 2014. But more important, it showed Gujarat in poor light on various child nutrition and health indicators," the Congress president said. 

"The state was well below the national average. So much for the Modi miracle. Or perhaps we should ask: is this the Modi model-benefit the few at the expense of the many leaving the vulnerable to fend for themselves," she said.
"For over four decades, the north-eastern states have enjoyed a special category status along with northern hill states when it comes to financial assistance from the Central government. And what has this government done? It has abolished the very concept of special category status which will prove detrimental to the economic interests of these eleven states," she added. (ANI)

Congress calls BJP 'timid, coward,' mocks PM Modi's 56-inch chest

New Delhi, Aug 3 (ANI): Congress leader Pramod Tiwari on Monday said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has always been 'timid' and 'coward' when it comes to terrorism and ceasefire violations.

"Where did the 56-inch chest go? Prime Minister Modi used to proudly say that if one head is decapitated, we'll behead 10 people. Where did his claims go, bravely saying that the day I'll become the Prime Minister, no harm will come to India? There has been more than 1,144 ceasefire violations at the border of India and our brave Prime Minister ji is sitting there silently and accepting gifts like mangoes and sarees," Tiwari told ANI.

"We just want to say that whether there is terrorism or ceasefire violation, Bharatiya Janata Party has always been timid and coward. They should follow the path of respected Indira ji's and show courage and patience," he added.
Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire yet again in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir Sunday night.

'Yesterday's agitators have suddenly become today's champions of discussions': Sonia

New Delhi, Aug. 3 (ANI): Taking a dig at the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA Government, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday said that yesterday's agitators in both the Houses have suddenly become today's champions of debate and discussion, over the ongoing logjam in the Parliament. 

"Today, we have to listen to sermons on parliamentary behaviour from those who not only defended but also advocated disruption as a legitimate tactic when we they were in the opposition. Yesterday's agitators in both the Houses have suddenly become today's champions of debate and discussion," said Gandhi, while addressing a party parliamentary meeting here today.
"Memories are short and therefore we need to remind our political adversaries who conveniently are suffering from selective amnesia. Has the BJP already forgotten that it is the author of the "resign-now-debate-later" principle of parliamentary practice which it has used on at least five different occasions since 1993?" she asked. 

"Let me say that we are not being aggressive just to match the BJP's aggression of the past. We have been forced to take our position because of the government's completely brazen attitude. Of course, we want both the Houses to function. Of course, we want legislation to be debated and adopted. But we are very clear that there can be no productive discussion and no meaningful proceedings as long as those responsible for gross wrong-doings remain in office," she added. 

She further said that the Congress' stand on the issue has been clear from day one which is the resignations of Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chauhan. 

"Our stand is straightforward and clear from day one: there is a mountain of incontrovertible evidence in the public domain for the Prime Minister to require the resignations of the External Affairs Minister and the two chief ministers," said the Congress president. 

"For too long, this government has used its numerical strength as a source of arrogance rather than responsibility. First, Parliament is by-passed and a spate of ordinances are issued and some re-issued as well. Bills don't get referred to Standing Committees. And now this numerical strength is being used to substitute investigation by mere discussion. This is unacceptable to us and we will do all that is necessary to hold this government accountable," she said. 

"Parliamentary majority does not give anyone a license to escape accountability. It is our Constitutional right and duty to raise our voices against the acts of omission and commission of the government," she added. (ANI)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Debit card users, beware the ‘transaction fee’


Are you in the habit of swiping your debit card whenever you make a purchase? If yes, how often have you ensured that the merchant establishment has not levied a fee on your debit card transactions?
Most people, it is learnt, are quite unaware of the banking regulator’s circular on this levy. While some establishments tell the customer they would be charging a 2 per cent fee on the transaction value if the settlement is made through card, others quietly collect the fee without informing the customer at the time of billing.
RBI circular
The Reserve Bank of India had in September 2013, issued a circular to the chiefs of all scheduled commercial banks (excluding Regional Rural Banks) and local area banks, in which it had categorically stated that “such fee is not justifiable and not permissible as per the bilateral agreement between the acquiring bank and the merchants”.
The regulator had advised banks to desist from such practice after taking note of instances of merchant establishments levying a fee for purchase of goods and services through debit card.
Almost two years have gone by, but the practice has not stopped. Taking objection to the levy, R Raju Srinivasan, a retired army officer, said, “I am shocked to note that merchant establishments are quite unaware of the RBI’s circular. So, I now carry a copy of the circular as the billing clerk in most establishments is either not informed or feigns ignorance when collecting the extra fee.”
Srinivasan, in fact, took up this issue with the Consumer Education and Protection Department of the RBI. The department in turn forwarded the complaint to his banker, ICICI Bank. Responding to Srinivasan’s complaint, the bank said it does not charge 2 per cent on debit card transactions. “You might have been asked to bear the ‘Merchant Discount Rate’ by the merchant, which is a fee the merchant pays to the acquiring bank (for providing the terminal – Point of Sale – to the merchant).
This is a fee the merchant has to bear and not the customer,” the bank clarified, adding, “We have taken up the matter with the said merchant and they have assured that they will not collect extra charges for debit card transactions.”
While a few like Srinivasan voice their objection, other users seem to be ignorant of this levy and banks intervene only when the issue is raised.
(This article was published on July 14, 2015)

The above is from Business line.
The original circular me be viewed at
While you are at it, you should also scrutinize offers made by banks to upgrade your debit cards and credit cards.
Last year my Relationship Manager in HDFC Bank made me upgrade my Credit Card from a plain card to a Regalia Card. He said there would be no fees for the card and if the bank charged a Fee, the card could be returned. You can imagine my shock when this year they charged me Rs 2850.00 for Renewal MEM Fee with ST.
I took it up with customer care who informed me that it was a Premium card with many facilities which I had no need. 
They advised me "In the rare event if you are still contemplating card discontinuance, we request you to forward us a duly signed letter along with your destroyed (diagonally cut) credit card to the following address to enable us do the needful."
I have returned the card as advised.