Thursday, November 24, 2016

11 ATMs in one day, yet no luck

Withdrawal of money from ATMs remained a challenge even a fortnight after the Prime Minister had announced the demonetisation drive as most of them were "out of cash" most of the time. Metro visited banks and ATMs on Wednesday to check the ground reality.

ATMs shut or empty

A 30m stretch of Raja SC Mullick Road, near the 8B bus stand in Jadavpur, has as many as eight ATMs on both sides. At 1.30pm, they were either closed or had a "NO CASH" board pasted at the gate
Several people were seen pausing for a couple of seconds in front of the ATMs before moving on. A queue formed in no time after a cash vehicle arrived in front of an ATM of the United Bank of India (UBI).

"This is the 11th ATM I am trying today. Most of them were closed, while only Rs 2,000 notes were coming out of two. What would I do with a Rs 2,000 note?" said Ishika Roy, an MA student at Calcutta University, who was standing in the queue in front of the UBI's cash dispensing machine.

Officials said the situation would take a while to stabilise. "The RBI has said it will still take some time for stability to return to ATM transactions because a huge amount of currency has gone out of the system and is being slowly replenished.... Currency will continue to be fed to the ATMs so customers will be able to withdraw money soon," said Partha Pratim Sengupta, chief general manager, State Bank of India, Calcutta.

Wedding woes

Subrata Sil, 70, was hosting the wedding reception of his son on Wednesday. Over the past few days, he had been visiting the Jodhpur Park branch of the Bank of India almost daily to withdraw money for making myriad payments related to the reception.

On Wednesday, too, he was at the bank. "I fell short of cash by a few thousands. So I am here again. The limit on the withdrawal is forcing me to visit the bank multiple times," said Sil, who has retired from the same bank.
The Lake Gardens resident had reached the bank at 2.50pm and could withdraw the money at 3.40pm, hours before the reception was to start.

Lok Pal lash for anti-graft champ

New Delhi, Nov. 23: The Supreme Court today chided the Centre for dragging its feet on constituting the Lok Pal, sending a stinging reminder just when the Narendra Modi government was preening itself from its perch on the anti-corruption high horse.

The court referred to the government's repeated promises to "cleanse corruption" and pointed out that it had done nothing to set up the graft-fighting ombudsman despite the enabling legislation coming into force from January 2014.
The rebuke coincided with the Modi government's high-decibel demonetisation drive, the stated objective of which is to combat corruption. Barring some exemptions, the Lok Pal can look into corruption charges against the Prime Minister, too.

The attorney-general, representing the Centre, told the court that Parliament needed time to pass an amendment -- in the process drawing fresh attention to the fact that the Lok Sabha does not have a leader of Opposition now.

No party in Opposition has the minimum required number of 55 MPs to bag the post in the lower House. Although suggestions have been put forward that as a goodwill gesture, the government should offer the post to the leader of the single largest party (Mallikarjun Kharge of the Congress which has 42 MPs), little headway has been made.

"We will not allow a situation when an institution like the Lok Pal is becoming redundant or obliterated. When you say the government is committed to cleanse corruption, then this (the Lok Pal) is the step in the right direction," said a three-judge bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice L. Nageswara Rao.

"Why should there be a feeling the government is dragging its feet... as they say after a great struggle, great andolan (agitation) the act was brought in," the bench told attorney-general Mukul Rohatgi, referring to Anna Hazare's campaign when the UPA was in power.

Rohatgi repeatedly contended that Parliament needed time to pass the amendment for including the leader of the single largest party in the selection process.

The selection committee should have the Prime Minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, leader of Opposition, Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court judge, besides an eminent person.

However, since the present Lok Sabha does not have a recognised leader of Opposition, the Centre today said it intended to incorporate changes to the act to enable even the leader of the single largest party to be part of the selection process.
The court said the NDA government, which constantly talks about reforms in various sectors, should not have any hesitation in expediting the process even if it required an ordinance.

The attorney-general opposed any move by the court to interpret the Lok Pal Act in such a manner to accommodate the leader of the single largest party in the selection process, instead of waiting for Parliament to amend the act.
But, senior counsel Shanti Bhushan, appearing for Common Cause, the NGO that filed the petition, said that if the government was serious about the issue, it could bring in an ordinance.

The court pointed out that when similar amendments have been cleared for making the leader of the single largest party part of the selection committee for picking the chiefs of the CBI, Central Vigilance Commission and the Central Information Commission, there is no reason why the government should have any problem in extending the logic to the Lok Pal Act.

It was for Parliament to decide on amending the provision, which it will do, the attorney-general said, without specifying any time limit.
But the Chief Justice said: "It is not Parliament. It is a government policy. When you are doing reforms internal and external, you need to do something on this also."

Organised loot, legalised plunder: Manmohan on demonetisation chaos - Act NOW, Modi urged (In the long run we are all dead)

New Delhi, Nov.24 (Agencies): Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday castigated the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Rajya Sabha over the way demonetisation has been implemented, and said the disruption would hurt the economy.

”My own feeling is that the national income, that is the GDP of the country, can decline by about two percentage points as a result of what has been done. This is an under-estimate and not an over-estimate,” Singh told the House as Modi, present briefly in the after noon session, listened.

After Modi’s surprise November 8 announcement cancelling all 1000- and 500-rupee notes, accounting for 86 per cent of the currency in circulation, the cash-based economy has been thrown into turmoil, hitting farmers, traders and workers in the unorganised sector the most after the government admitted that not enough notes had been printed to replace the old currency, and that cash dispensing machines were not ready to accept the first 2000-rupee notes.
Singh termed the post-demonetisation chaos a “monumental management failure” and a case of “organised loot and legalised plunder.”

Singh, an economist by training who was a governor of the Reserve Bank of India and later the finance minister who reformed the economy in the Nineties, said he hoped Modi would find a practical, pragmatic ways to help the 90 per cent of the population that exists in the informal sector.

Agriculture, unorganised sectors and small industry have also been hit hard by the disruption, and people were losing faith in the currency and banking system, Singh said.
He said the cooperative banking system, which serves large numbers of people in the rural areas, is non-functional, has been prevented from handling them.

“All these measures convinced me that the way the scheme has been implemented, it's a monumental management failure. And in fact, it is a case of organised loot and legalised plunder,” he said.
Earlier, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad had requested Chairman Hamid Ansari and Leader of the House Arun Jaitley, the finance minister, that the Question Hour should not be taken up as the Prime Minister was present in the House and the debate be taken up.

The government accepted Azad's request readily, with Jaitley saying that the debate should start immediately and Modi will certainly participate in it.

Participating in the resumed debate, Singh said it is important to take note of the grievances of the ordinary people who have suffered as a result of this imposition on the country “overnight” by the Prime Minister.
Modi, in the chaotic days following demonetisation, had urged the people to wait for 50 days, pointing out that his attack on black money and corruption would be good for the country in the long run.

Singh, pointing out that 50 days may be too long a wait for the poor, quoted the economist John Maynard Keynes: “In the long run, we are all dead.”
”Well 50 days is a short period, but for those who are poor and deprived sections of the community even 50 days of torture can bring about disastrous effect. And that's why about 60 to 65 people have lost their lives. Maybe more.”
The government, to tackle what it claims is a shortage of new currency notes, has set daily and weekly limits on how much of their own money people can draw from their own bank accounts.

Singh said he would like Modi to name the countries where people deposit their money in banks but are not allowed to withdraw it.
“This alone I think is enough to condemn what has been done in the name of greater growth,” Singh said.

Regular Demonetisation of Paper Money is a Stupid Idea

Thu, 17 Nov 2016
On November 8, 2016, Modi announced the decision of the government to demonetise notes of Rs 500 an Rs 1,000. Several economists have made suggestions since then on what the prime minister Narendra Modi, should be doing next to tackle the huge amount of black money in the country

One suggestion has been made by Soumya Kanti Ghosh, the group chief economic adviser of the State Bank of India (SBI), the largest bank in the country. In a column in the Business Standard titled Demonetisation and Note Burning and dated November 15, 2016, Ghosh wrote: "We suggest that this demonetisation may be carried out over periodic intervals with the surprise element and the government makes its intention clear on that. In such an eventuality, people will be discouraged to hold cash." 

What Ghosh is essentially saying here is that the government should carry out regular demonetisation of currency in the years to come. This basically means that the government should regularly make old currency useless and introduce new currency. He also suggests that the government retain the surprise element of the move like it did this time around. 

This means that one fine evening (or morning or afternoon for that matter), the prime minister should suddenly announce to the nation, like he did this time around, that the high-denomination notes are basically useless now and new ones will be introduced. Ghosh hopes that by doing this people will be discouraged from holding on to cash. In the process the economy will move from being an "informal economy to a more formal economy". In simpler terms, it means that the black portion of the economy will come down. 

This I think is a stupid suggestion. Allow me to explain. 

Paper money doesn't have any value on its own, like various other forms of money like gold or silver, have had over the years. The Rs 10 note is not very different from the demonetised Rs 500 note except for the colour of the ink and the amount of paper used, to make it. The difference in the value of the notes is clearly not Rs 490. A Rs 10 note has a purchasing power of Rs 10 because the government deems it so. And so was true for the Rs 500 note, before it was demonetised. 

So what is paper money? It is primarily a token deemed to have a certain value by the government and which everyone accepts and is used to carry out transactions in the everyday economy. 

Without enough paper money in the economy, people can't carry out transactions and the economy comes to a standstill. This is what is happening right now all-across the country. Mobile phone sales have collapsed. People aren't buying two-wheelers. Restaurants are deserted. And normal taxis are not getting enough business. The farming economy has slowed down tremendously. Daily wage workers like plumbers and electricians are not getting enough work. For more examples, you can open any newspaper and there will be enough stories there. Generally, business is slow. 

This isn't surprising given that close to 86 per cent of the currency by value has been rendered useless by the demonetisation move. Of course, this wouldn't have mattered if Indians were used to transacting through debit cards, credit cards, net banking, wallets and so on. The show would have gone on. 

But that has not happened. India is a country where a bulk of transactions are still carried out in cash. An estimate made by the Fletcher School at the Tufts University in the United States, said that in 2012, in India, 86.6 per cent of the transactions by value were carried out in cash. While this figure would have come down since then, it would still be at a very high level. In comparison, card transactions stood at 4.1 per cent of the total transactions. The electronic transactions stood at 6.8 per cent. Another research paper titled The Cost of Cash in India points out that "the ratio of currency to GDP in India (12.2%) is higher than countries such as Russia (11.9%), Brazil (4.1%), and Mexico (5.7%)".We can be prude about the matter and say that people should move away from cash, but societal habits are not easy to change. Given this, high importance of cash in our lives, it isn't surprising that business in all kinds of markets has come down substantially. There isn't enough token or paper money going around for people to carry out these transactions. 

The only way to tackle this is to put out enough new money into the financial system in order to replace the old money. This will ensure that people will go back to carrying out transactions and businesses will go back to being normal again. But this is easier said than done. 

Economist Saumitra Chaudhuri writing in The Economic Times said that "the timeline to replace the existing stock of 1,658 crore pieces of Rs 500 notes will run into May 2017." He arrives at this number taking into account the printing capacity of the existing mints. This basically tells us that the implementation of the demonetisation move wasn't really thought through. As usual we have managed to screw up on the implementation bit. And this has created problems in the everyday economy. 

The basic hope of Ghosh of SBI is that with frequent demonetisation people will get on to other more formal mechanisms of paying than cash. That is likely to take place. But what will also happen is that more amount of black money will now quickly move into gold. There is nothing stopping that from happening. 

And the thing is that India produces almost next to no gold. We import almost all of the gold that we consume. This has its share of repercussions on the balance of payments and the rupee dollar exchange rate. 

But there is a bigger worry. All paper money essentially works on faith. This faith leads people to believe, that a piece of paper with some ink, digits and promises on it, is basically money. It is this faith which leads people to believe that a Rs 10 note has a purchasing power of Rs 10 and a Rs 100 note has a purchasing power of Rs 100, though essentially there isn't much difference between the notes. 

This faith is what basically keeps paper money going as money. I know for sure that when I use rupees to pay for goods or services, they will be accepted by others. And this is what keeps the economy going. If this faith breaks down, paper money breaks down. People move on to other forms of paper money or simply gold. 

Let's look at some evidence of what regular demonetisation does to an economy. One country which has gone through regular demonetisation of a large scale is Myanmar (or Burma as it is more commonly known as in India).

As the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco points out in a document titled Burma-Paving the Road to a Modern Banking System: "After the 1962 coup, the government installed a socialist economic system and nationalized all banks, including foreign banks. Subsequently, three major demonetizations occurred in 1964, 1985, and 1987. In the latest 1987 demonetization, the Ne Win military regime effectively declared about 75 percent of the cash in circulation illegal and eliminated three banknote denominations without exchange or compensation. The demonetization eroded most of the populace's savings and resulted in widespread protests and the 1988 coup. Demonetization coupled with rampant inflation in the 1990s has led to the retainment of little faith in the storage value of the kyat. As a result, the economy is partly dollarized." 

While, the Indian demonetisation is nowhere as extreme as the ones in Burma, but the part in italics in the above paragraph is what is important. Regular demonetisation has led to people having little faith in the Burmese currency kyat. Hence, people prefer to deal in dollars rather than the local currency. 

This is something recounted by a writer on the National Public Radio website: "[In 1987]... the country's leader created new bills overnight in denominations that were multiples of nine - his lucky number... So people started to sock away their extra money in U.S. currency. And when your life savings is a few U.S. $100 bills, you want to keep them pristine." 

Regular demonetisation can lead to people losing faith in the country's currency and moving on to dollars. And that is something no Indian government would want. Other than losing control on the monetary policy, it is going to have other repercussions as well. In the Indian case, more and more people will simply move to gold, given our love for the yellow metal. 

Once this is considered, the suggestion from the chief economic adviser of the country's largest bank, seems rather silly. The only possible explanation for it perhaps lies in the fact that he was perhaps trying to please his political bosses.

The above is from Vivek Paul'sDairy, in Equitymaster.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ten questions Modi really should have asked in his demonetisation survey

In an apparent attempt to control the fall-out of his decision a fortnight ago to demonetise 86% of currency notes in circulation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday launched a survey of the public mood through his official phone app.

The problem, as many social media users pointed out, is that the ten questions Modi put to potential respondents have little room for candid feedback. Instead, they seemed designed to elicit answers that the government wishes to hear.
Questions include “Do you think that black money exists in India?” and “Do you think the evil of corruption and black money needs to be fought and eliminated?”
If Modi was aiming to garner genuine feedback, here are ten questions he should have asked.
How much time did you spend at the bank or ATM to get your money from your account?

Did you get the amount you needed? If yes, after how many attempts?

What do you think the problems you faced indicate?
a) This was an inevitable consequence of the government’s resolve to fight black money.
b) This was inevitable problem in a country of 1.25 billion people.
c) There was a complete lack of planning on the party of the government.
Do you think that since Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, terrorists have been starved of the currency they need to carry out their operations?
Do you support the decision to issue Rs 2,000 notes, when higher currency notes are thought to be friendly to corruption and make it easier to hoard black money?
The new Rs 2,000 note does not possess any additional security feature. Do you think it will be counterfeited and used by the terrorists?
What do you think the primary motive for this move was? 
a) Financial
b) It was a strike against corruption
c) Political

Did the time you sacrificed at the bank or ATMs and the problems you are facing were in national interest or are you paying the price for someone else’s blunder?

Do you think the stories of people dying and suffering in the aftermath of demonetisation are fake and politically motivated?
10 Do you think the decision to ban the notes and the way in which the policy was implemented are separate issues and there can be two different, diametrically opposite opinions, about them?
The above is from Scroll in


Human rights commission asks state to initiate action against 3 doctors for being 'negligent'.
Eight years after a couple from Bhiwandi lost their baby during delivery at the Thane Civil Hospital, the state human rights commission has now asked the Maharashtra government to initiate disciplinary action against three doctors for being “negligent”.

It is, however, a case of justice delayed, justice denied. One of the three civic doctors named in the commission’s report has already fled the country.

The human rights commission order, which was received by the couple, Haresh and Preeti Patil, three days ago, terms their ordeal as “one of the worst cases of medical negligence in the country”, and directs the state to pay the couple a Rs 5-lakh compensation with 12% interest per annum from the time of filing the complaint.

The report names gynaecologists Dr Anuradha Nandpurkar -- in whose care Preeti was admitted after she went into labour – and Dr S Shinde, besides Dr (Mrs) Nagarkar, the then in-charge of the labour ward at the Thane Civil Hospital.

The police complaint filed by the couple said that Preeti went into labour on April 30, 2008, and was rushed to the Thane Civil Hospital where Dr Nandpurkar advised delivery by a Caesarean section. The complaint said that Preeti, then aged just 19, was left unattended for the next four hours, as Nandpurkar allegedly went off to attend to patients at her private clinic.

“In the meantime, the baby got stuck during labour and choked to death. Nandapurkar rushed back to the hospital but it was too late. My wife is fortunate to have survived the ordeal,” Haresh Patil said in his complaint.

After the complaint was filed at the Thane Nagar Police Station and a post-mortem was conducted at JJ Hospital, the state government formed a committee to probe the matter, but nothing came of it. The couple were helped by an NGO called Madat, which hired advocate Anuradha Pardeshi to argue the case before the state human rights commission.

“The case dragged on as there was nobody to head the commission for some time. The hearing restarted only two years ago,” said Shashi Agarwal from the NGO. In its order, the commission has also made several recommendations, such as training staff at government and civic-run hospitals to handle such emergencies, and filling up vacant posts.

Advocate Pardeshi called the commission’s order a “landmark judgment”. “Hopefully now, we will see a massive change in the way patients are treated at government and civicrun centres,” she said.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Did Modi receive over Rs 55 crore from the Sahara Group as the chief minister of Gujarat?

At 8 pm on 8 November 2016, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to a live broadcast on Doordarshan to make the historic announcement that the government was demonetising notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, emphasising his commitment to ridding India of the “evils of corruption” and black money, at least five central agencies or commissions in New Delhi were sitting on a tranche of documents that allegedly indicated that Modi had accepted bribes in excess of Rs 55 crore, or eight million dollars. It is unclear from the documents, whether there were 13 separate transactions that involved Modi and came to a total of Rs 55.2 crore or nine transactions totalling Rs 40.1 crore. In the documents, there appears to be a repetition of four specific transactions, which took place between 30 October 2013 and 29 November 2013 and have been accounted for under two separate headings.
The documents, which have been doing the rounds in New Delhi for the last few months, suggest that Modi—along with a number of important politicians—was paid large amounts of cash by individuals associated with Subrata Roy, the founder-chairman of the Sahara India Group, during his tenure as the chief minister of Gujarat. These documents also suggest that the recipients of such favours included, among others: Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh; Raman Singh, the chief minister of Chhattisgarh; Shaina NC, the treasurer for the Bharatiya Janata party in Maharashtra and; Sheila Dikshit, the former chief minister of Delhi.
On 17 November, The Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) and The Caravan e-mailed and wrote letters to Modi, Chouhan, Singh, Shaina N C and Dikshit, seeking their responses to the information contained in the documents—which the income tax department seized during a raid it conducted on various premises of the Sahara India Group in the national capital region on 22 November 2014. At the time of publication, no responses had been received. These responses will be published as and when they come in.
The documents that were seized during the raids are said to have been signed by Ankita Pandey, deputy director, Income Tax (Investigation) and counter-signed by other government officials along with a representative from the Sahara India Group. When I spoke to Pandey over the phone on 3 November, she said she was on a long leave. She added that she was not authorised to speak to the media and could, therefore, neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of the documents. These documents are currently in the possession of at least a dozen journalists and a similar number of senior government officials, who were sent scanned or photocopied versions of the papers.
The documents form a part of an Interim Application (IA) that has been filed by the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Common Cause, in its pending petition challenging the appointment of Kosaraju Veerayya Chowdary, the chief vigilance commissioner of India since June 2015. The organisation filed this IA on 15 November 2016. It is being represented by the lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who had earlier written letters to nine individuals, attaching copies of some the documents that had been seized during the raid on the Sahara India Group. Bhushan sent these letters, with detailed annexures, in the course of the last week of October.
Bhushan wrote to two retired judges of the Supreme Court of India, Justices M B Shah and Arijit Pasayat, who comprise the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money instituted by the Supreme Court; the director, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI); the director, Enforcement Directorate (ED); the chairman, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), which administers the working of the Income Tax Department; the member (Investigation) of the CBDT; the chairperson, Income Tax Settlement Commission (ITSC); K V Chowdary the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) and two Vigilance Commissioners Tejendra Mohan Bhasin and Shri Rajiv. (Incidentally, Chowdary was holding key positions in the CBDT and the Department of Revenue when raids were conducted on the premises of the Aditya V Birla group in October 2013, and on the Sahara India Group in November 2014. He is the first officer from the Indian Revenue Service to hold the post of the CVC. It has traditionally been held by an officer from the Indian Administrative Service.)
In his letters, Bhushan asked each of these offices why various law-enforcing agencies of the government had not initiated action against those whose names feature in the documents and have allegedly acquired assets disproportionate to known sources of income. He claimed that different wings of the government were sitting tight on important documents indicating “bribery” and “corruption” even as the accused persons and firms were attempting to strike conciliatory agreements with the tax authorities through the Settlement Commission. (The objective behind establishing the Settlement Commission was to “create a channel whereby tax disputes can be settled expeditiously and in a spirit of conciliation rather than prolonging them through [an] adversarial attitude.”)
Reminiscent of Jain Hawala Diaries
These documents bear an uncanny resemblance to the infamous Jain Hawala dairies that were found two decades ago. In 1996, these dairies, which came into the possession of the CBI, indicated those associated with businessperson Surinder Kumar Jain and his brother had made payments to a host of important political personalities such as L K Advani, Madhavarao Scindia, Balram Jakhar, V C Shukla, Madan Lal Khurana, P Shiv Shankar and Arif Mohammed Khan, among others. While a lower court had ordered the CBI to frame charges against these politicians, the higher courts ruled that the diary entries did not qualify as “admissible evidence.” The Supreme Court, however, ruled that whenever any record indicating illegal payments to public functionaries is recovered by any government agency, a thorough and independent investigation must be undertaken. Legally, the income tax department and the CBI, who have not conducted any investigations on the documents that were seized at the raids at the offices of the Sahara India Group and the AV Birla group of companies yet, have gone against the Supreme Court instructive. Although any investigation into the documents filed by Common Cause may well go the way of the Jain Hawala dairies, there are certain important differences. While the documents include the names of just about every important politician in India, cutting across party lines, often with figures written or typed next to them in Hindi and English, the records relating to the alleged payments made to Modi, Chouhan, Raman Singh, Dikshit and Shaina N C are distinct. In the case of these five individuals, specific dates, amounts and persons who apparently delivered the cash have been mentioned.
‘Explosive’ Documents
I first learnt about the existence of these documents on 28 July 2016 from the member of parliament and well-known lawyer Ram Jethmalani, who was expelled from the BJP in May 2013. During an informal conversation that followed a panel discussion at the India International Centre in Delhi, Jethmalani told me—in the presence of around half-a-dozen individuals (including a Rajya Sabha MP from the BJP)—that the documents that had been seized by income tax officials from the offices of the Sahara India Group were “explosive” as they suggested that Modi had received huge cash payments. I repeatedly asked the 93-year-old lawyer if he would show me the documents but he was non-committal. A number of phone calls to him over the next few weeks elicited no response.
More than two months later, a source close to a politician slipped a brown-paper envelope containing a bundle of photocopied documents under the door of my residence in the national capital region. As I made inquiries with my sources in the government and among my fellow journalists, I realised that at least twenty individuals known to me had access to these papers. Some of them offered me documents that I did not possess at that time. I asked them why they had not filed reports based on the documents. A few of them said they were not sure of the authenticity of the papers. I asked them if they had tried to ascertain the veracity of the documents from the persons named in them. They said they would.
A senior journalist alleged that the government had prepared a “cover-up” plan, according to which it would claim that a disgruntled employee from the Sahara India group had manufactured these documents in an effort to blackmail his boss, Subrata Roy. Roy—in relation to another case filed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)—has had to spend two years in Tihar Jail on the orders of the Supreme Court for allegedly defrauding investors and failing to deposit funds to obtain bail. (He was let out of jail on parole in May after his mother passed away. The regulator still insists that the company needs to repay Rs 47,000 crore, nearly 6 billion dollars) Meanwhile, the bunch of papers with me started getting thicker.
I subsequently discovered, that on 28 June, Jethmalani had writted to Satyendar Jain, minister in the government of the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi. Jethmalani had attached the documents recovered from the raid and a copy of an official letter that the income tax officer Ankita Pandey had signed in December 2015, with a request to verify whether the signatures on the two sets of papers belonged to the same person. On 1 July, Anurag Sharma, assistant director (Documents), Regional Forensic Science Laboratory, Government of the NCT of Delhi, wrote to G Sudhakar, the secretary to Jain, stating that the signatures on the two documents "appear to be written by one and the same person.”
After documents are seized by income tax officials during a raid, these are examined and evaluated by a different officer who then prepares a detailed “appraisal report” outlining the possible future course of action. According to a report by Ritu Sarin and Pragya Kaushika, published in the Indian Express on 16 November, a voluminous appraisal report running into “thousands of pages” on the papers pertaining to Sahara has been prepared and is being looked into by an assessment officer.
Political Payouts
A day earlier, on 15 November, the Hindu had carried a report by Josy Joseph titled “Bhushan Seeks Investigation into ‘Political Payouts'” but without the names of Modi or other prominent politicians. Subsequently, Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi dropped a bombshell on the floor of the Delhi Assembly. Kejriwal disclosed the contents of a document that had been seized during the search and seizure raid by the income tax department on the premises of the Aditya V Birla Group of companies on 15 October 2013. The document contains an entry which states “Gujarat CM - 25 cr (12 done - rest?).”
Although BJP spokespersons promptly denied the implications of the contents of the document seized from the premises of the Birla group of companies, Modi had not issued any formal denial at the time that this story was being published. The documents annexed in the Common Cause PIL include handwritten transcripts of interrogation sessions with A V Birla group executive Shubhendu Amitabh, during which he claimed that the references to the “Gujarat CM” were “personal jottings” made by him and referred to a caustic soda manufacturing company called Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals.
What do the three excel sheets—which are possibly just a minuscule part of the entirety of the documents that were seized—allegedly indicate? The log sheets show cash receipts aggregating Rs 115 crore over a period of 10 months between May 2013 and March 2014—the months leading up to the 2014 general elections.
In the case of Shaina N C, the alleged payments total Rs 5 crore between 10 September 2013 and 28 January 2014. These payments were apparently made by one “Uday ji.” In a separate sheet, there is a somewhat cryptic entry stating that “help” was being sought from her to ask “A. General to withdrawal (close) Bombay case.”
The former chief minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit, allegedly received Rs 1 crore on 23 September 2013 from one “Jaiswal.”
The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Chouhan allegedly received Rs 10 crore between 29 September 2013 and 1 October 2013 in two instalments from one “Neeraj Vashisht,” while his counterpart in Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh, apparently received Rs 4 crore as a single one-off payment on 1 October from “Nand ji.”
The instances of alleged payments to “CM Gujrat” totalling Rs 15.1 crore were made between 30 October 2013 and 29 November 2013 in four instalments by one “Jaiswal ji.” Then, eight payments were allegedly made in Ahmedabad between 30 October 2013 and 22 February 2014 to “Ahmadabad Modi ji” by “Jaiswal ji” totalling Rs 35.1 crore and another apparent payment was made to “Ahmadabad Modi” on 28 January 2014 amounting to Rs 5 crore. Thus, the total alleged payments made to “CM Gujrat,” “Ahmadabad Modi ji” and “Ahmadabad Modi” add up to Rs 55.2 crore.
Will an independent investigation take place to ascertain the authenticity or otherwise of the implied or suggested payments detailed in the documents seized by the Income Tax Department?
This is not the end of the story.

Some of the documents seized by the Income Tax Department on 22 November 2014 at the Sahara India Group Offices in Delhi and Noida can be found below, and downloaded on this link.
Senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan wrote to the IT Settlement Commission on 8 November 2016 and the Central Vigilance Commission wrote to Bhushan on 4 November 2016. Both letters can be downloaded on this link.

Eminent economist and researcher Dr Abul Barkat estimates no Hindus will be left in the Country 30 Years from now

Nov 20, 2016: In his book "Political economy of reforming agriculture-land-water bodies in Bangladesh," the Dhaka University teacher mentions "the rate of exodus over the past 49 years points to that direction." The book was published on Saturday.

About 11.3 million Hindus left Bangladesh due to religious persecution and discrimination from 1964 to 2013, he said. Therefore, it means on an average 632 Hindus left the country each day and 230,612 annually, mentioned Dhaka Tribune.

Dr Barkat, from his 30-year-long research, has found that the exodus mostly took place after independence, during military governments.

The daily rate of migration was 705 before the Liberation War, while it was 512 during 1971-1981 and 438 during 1981-1991. The number increased to 767 persons each day during 1991-2001 while around 774 persons left the country during 2001-2012, mentions the book.

Delhi University teacher Prof Ajoy Roy said during the Pakistan regime, the government grabbed the properties of the Hindus describing them as enemy property and after independence, the same properties were taken by the government as vested property. Due to these two measures, 60 percent of the Hindus became landless, mentioned the book

The government has to ensure that the indigenous people would not be affected or harmed, said Dhaka University teacher Prof Farid Uddin Ahmed to Dhaka Tribune. "The government must ensure that the people do not think about leaving the country for once."

No accurate estimation of indigenous people

Discussing on another book of Prof Barkat "Political Economy of Unpeopling of Indigenous People: The case of Bangladesh," former NHRC chairman Prof Mizanur Rahman said that there was no precise estimation of the indigenous peoples living in the country and at least 22 indigenous groups had disappeared from the country.

Apart from this, Prof Mizanur also urged Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma alias Santu Larma to inform the indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts about the 1997 Peace Accord, mentioned Dhaka Tribune.

He added that the current attitude of the ruling party is not likely to solve the disputes through different reform programmes, rather they want to affect the process in a negative manner. "We need a people-oriented government. But the reality of state mechanism does not allow this to happen."

Santu Larma, who is chairman of the CHT Regional Council has claimed that about 50 indigenous groups were on the verge of extinction but what they wish is to live with dignity with the remaining indigenous groups.

Prof Mizanur said to Dhaka Tribune, although the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken stance in favour of the indigenous peoples, the ruling party leaders were involved in heinous activities against them

My family were one of the many families who left East Pakistan(now Bangladesh) in 1963-64 because of fear of the Muslims. Every time there were any riots here in India, there were repercussions in East Pakistan. Even now there is, but because the number of Hindus have reduced, the effect there is not that much.

As a refugee from EP, I should be supporting Modi in his pogrom. However, it is just because I was effected I cannot support him in this.
However, I will support him if he does the following.

1. Each person should be allowed to practise his religion but that does not give him the right to convert others to his religion in the name of religion.This applies equally to all - Hindus, Muslims and Christians.

2. People have left Hindusism because of persecution based on caste or other reasons. He should  remove those reasons so that people do not have to run for succour to other religions. Gharwapasi, or re-conversions should stop.

3. India is one Akhand Bharat as the BJP touts. Then there should be no reservations based on caste, creed, religion or language. Education should be free up to the Higher Secondary Level so that all children can be educated. Whenever, I see a child on the street, I feel very sad. I think, maybe we are losing an Einstein, Newton, J C Bose or C V Raman. No child of school going age should be out on the streets during school hours. If parents cannot provide the same, the children should be taken away from them and the father castrated so that he produces no more children. I know this is harsh, but then we have to do this if we are to control our population. After the Higher Secondary level, high aptitude & IQ children should be given scholarships to pursue the path which is most suitable to their aptitude.

4. Birth control should be compulsory for all Indians, irrespective of religion. Having more than two children should automatically disqualify a person from government jobs and other facilities. This should be applicable to the private sector also.

4. Uniform Personal Law should be introduced for all Indians. This will remove the tragedy the Muslim women suffer because of Triple Talaq and remove the incentive for Hindu males from converting to become Muslims to further their polygamous intentions.

5. Article 370 should be removed from Kashmir. As long as this remains, Kashmir can never be integrated into India. If Kashmiris can allow terrorists to come from Pakistan, they should have no problems, if Hindus settle in Kashmir. We should provide incentives to retired army jawans to settle in Kashmir so that the infiltration from across the border could stop. If necessary a pair of retired jawans should stay in each house along the border so that if any infiltrator comes, he is immediately noticed.
Houses should be modified at government expense so that the jawans could stay and the house owner should also get rent for the stay.

6. Regarding black money Modi has started all wrong. All politicians and government staff should be asked to submit a complete list of their assets and the assets of their spouse and children and this should be compared with their income Tax statement. Any other property which is theirs but not in their names should be confiscated. People giving reports on the benami properties of the above peoples should be suitably rewarded. In the second phase, businessmen and high networth employees should be asked to submit the same things as above. The different time period is so that these people come clean and declare their assets before the axe falls on them.

7. The people's representative should have a minimum educational qualification. If anyone is looking for a job, he is supposed to have a minimum qualification, why shouldn't the people's representative also have to follow the same rule. There should be no criminal cases against him. Our police and the government in power are in the habit of filing false cases against individuals who oppose them. We have a recent example of the police filing Attempt to Murder charges against people who have opposed Rajarhat Land Acquisition. On the other hand, the police file very light charges against the ruling party supporters so that they get bail immediately when actually they should be charged with non bailable sections of the penal code. The Supreme Court should see that such actions by the police is punished, irrespective of the party in power.

I think, the above covers, education, religion, corruption, population and Kashmir.
If he can work on the above lines, I am all for him.
Instead of wasting time on nonsensical items like cows and mandirs, if he attacks the above problems, India will be a much better place in future.
If however, Modi continues the way he is doing, I fear, India may break up.

Monday, November 21, 2016

View: Narendra Modi takes a great leap backwards. Mao would approve

In 1958, Chairman Mao ordered that that all sparrows over China should be put to death. It was hailed as a necessary step by a strong leader.Farmers were suffering because sparrows tended to eat their grain seeds. Thus began The Great Sparrow Campaign. A countless number of sparrows were indeed wiped out -but there were unintended consequences. Sparrows ate locusts, and once the balance in the ecosystem changed, locusts proliferated and destroyed China's crops. There was famine, hunger, starvation: no less than 45 million people died in the three years following Mao's orders.At the start, Mao exhorted them to bear with the inconvenience. But then the pain piled up. 

Mao's infamous Great Leap Forward included plenty of edicts besides the death warrant to sparrows.They all stemmed from the delusion that the leader of a country could redesign an entire society to conform to a master plan. The 20th century is full of cautionary tales that warn against such delusion, such as the communism of Mao and Stalin, and the fascism of Hitler.Yet, we do not learn. 

Narendra Modi's demonetisation of old 1000 and 500 rupee notes is one such folly, a blunder in every imaginable way. It doesn't achieve its intended purpose. And its unintended consequences could devastate the lives of the poor, and cripple our economy . 

Modi claims that this move is an attack against black money and corruption. This is not true, and here are four reasons why. One, as per a recent estimate, only 6% of black money is kept in the form of cash.Two, new 2000 and 500 rupee notes are on the way , and a black market for conversion from old to new is already thriving. Three, as various economists have pointed out, this attacks the stock and not the flow of black money . To strike at black money and corruption, you need to strike at their root causes. 

Corruption and black money are a consequence of big government, of one set of individuals having discretionary powers over the actions of others. If Modi was serious about tackling black money, he'd bring about institutional changes that would take us towards the minimum government he had promised in his 2014 campaign. Instead, government keeps getting bigger, controlling more and more of our lives. More government = more corruption. 

The fourth and most compelling reason is this: these aren't really high-denomination notes. Modi has probably not bought anything from a store in 15 years, so he imagines that the poor do not use these notes. Well, consider that the last time demonetisation took place in 1978, a 1,000 rupee note, in terms of purchasing power, could buy goods worth Rs 12,000 today . Rich people did hoard their black money with it, but the poor did not use them. A 500 rupee note today , by contrast, is the equivalent of a 50 rupee note in 1978. These notes constitute 85% of the money in circulation, as opposed to 0.6 in 1978. Over 90% of the transactions in India are cash transactions, and more than 90% of the cash in India is not black money . 

This is why the consequences of Modi's move are so severe. According to an RBI note from March this year, only 53% of Indians have bank accounts. How do you think the other 600 million store their savings? Over 300 million people have no government ID, and there are crores of people stuck without a way to convert their hard-earned cash. Even if they did have accounts, there are reports that the government will take six months to print enough replacement notes. Every day the death toll goes up, but rural suffering and anger cannot be captured by bare numbers. 

Apart from all the individual suffering, our economy is being eviscerated. Cash is integral to most of the economy . Farmers are unable to sell perishable produce, to buy grains for the new harvest or to pay labourers. Transporters are unable to transport goods across distances. Commerce has shut down in many places, with small businesses going bust. In some places, the barter system is back, as if we've gone centuries back in time. 

Even if implementation was perfect, this would be a historic blunder because social engineering never works, and carries moral costs because of its unintended consequences. When people have to queue up to withdraw their own money , on which limits are placed, it is an attack on property rights that is more out of the Communist handbook than any right-wing philosophy . Indeed, Burkean conservatives and Hayekian libertarians alike would be aghast at Modi's actions, as he propels India towards the Soviet Union so admired by Nehru, with its state oppression, artificial shortages and infamous queues. But Chairman Mao would approve.