Monthly Archives: July 2013
Narendra Modi story a hoax – Times of India Clarifies
Bangalore, July 14: The manner in which the media has twisted Narendra Modi’s comments in a recent interview to Reuters are a good example of how Media creates controversies around Narendra Modi and then goes on milk those controversies for weeks to generate traffic, eyeballs and TRPs.
It now turns out that the Times of India report of 23rd June attributing claims to Narendra Modi was a false and mischevious report. The Times of India has now belatedly issued a lame clarification almost 3 weeks after the fact.
The Times of India clarification has appeared today as a small insert in an inner page in one of its local editions. In the clarification the Times of India admits to its mistake and also admits that its mistake created a huge controversy for Narendra Modi for no fault of Mr Modi.
The clarification also admits that all the exaggeration in that report was due to Times of India. The clarification makes it clear that neither did Narendra Modi, nor did the Gujarat Government have anything to do with the mischevious report.
It is shocking that the Times of India filed such an irresponsible report without checking with Narendra Modi or Government of Gujarat. It is also mischevious that the Times of India milked the controversy for so many weeks by allowing the Congress Party and other anti-Modi elements to take advantage of this report to write slanderous and defamatory columns as well as run a motivated campaign in Social Media.
This lame excuse by Times of India coming 3 weeks after the damage was done is a case of doing too little too late.
Pratap Bhanu Mehta : Thu Jul 11 2013, 04:26 hrs
A story of destructive governance and citizens who did not speak out
First, the UPA came for the roads sector. They destroyed contracting. They slowed down road construction. They left highways half built. We did not speak out. After all, the only reason the NDA could have started the golden quadrilateral is because they wanted to spread Hindutva.
Next, they came for the airline sector. They let Air India suck more money from taxpayers. They let bad regulation destroy the private sector. They let crony banking sustain bad bets. They ensured India would never be an aviation hub. We did not speak out. After all, flying is what birds do, not humans. Besides, aviation is bad for climate change.
Then they came for the power sector. They confused creation of mega capacities with actual generation. They had no rational pricing plans. They were arbitrary in the awarding of licences. They could not make up their mind whether they wanted to protect the environment or destroy it. We did not speak out. After all, the only power that matters is political. Electricity be damned.
Then they came for education. They promulgated the RTE after 100 per cent enrolment. They expanded capacity, but cut-offs still rose. They regulated in such a way that there was a glut in some subjects and a shortage in others. They confused university buildings with building universities. We did not speak out. After all our, our low quality education left us incapable of speaking out.
Then they came for industry. They turned the clock back in every way and waged open war. Ensure that regulations become more complex and uncertain. Ensure that input costs rise. Ensure crummy infrastructure. Promulgate a land scam policy known as SEZ and sell it as industrial policy. They encouraged FDI. But they forgot which one they wanted: outbound or inbound. But we did not speak out. After all, India is a rural country.
Then they came for employment. There was some growth. But they decided that the only good employment is that which has the hand of the state. So the NREGA’s expansion was seen as a sign of success, not failure. By its own logic, if more people need the NREGA, the economy has failed. But we did not speak out. After all, the more people we have dependent on government, the more we think it is a good government.
Then they came for agriculture. First, they create artificial shortages through irrigation scams. Then they have a myopic policy for technology adoption. Then they decide India shall remain largely a wheat and rice economy; we will have shortages for everything else. Then they price everything to produce perverse incentives. But we did not speak out. After all, why worry about food production when the government is giving you a legal right? Is there anything more reassuring than social policy designed by and for lawyers?
Then they came for institutions. They always had. This has been Congress DNA for four decades. They drew up a list of institutions that remained unscathed: Parliament, the IB, bureaucracy and you name it. They then went after those. They used institutions as instruments of their political design. They demoralised every single branch of government. But we did not speak out. After all, this was reform by stealth. Destroy government from within.
Then they came for inflation. They confused a GDP target of 10 per cent with an inflation target. Inflation will come down next quarter, we were told. Then they tried to buy us out. Inflation: no problem. Simply get the government to spend even more. Then they pretended inflation is a problem for the rich. Then they simply stopped talking about it. We did not speak out. After all, for some, inflation is just a number
Then they came for the telecom sector. They got greedy and milked it. They got arbitrary and retrospectively taxed it. But we did not speak out. After all, new communication can be a threat to government. Besides, we can always revert to fixed lines. More digging is good.
Then they came for financial stability. They produced a large deficit. They brought the current account deficit close to an unsustainable point. They nearly wrecked the banking sector. They created every macro-economic instability you can imagine, which makes investment difficult. But we did not speak out. After all, what would you rather have: macro economic stability or a free lunch?
Then they came for regulation. It was back to the 1970s. More arbitrary regulation is good. More rules are good. Uncertainty makes business more adept. The answer to every administrative problem is enacting a new law. Multiple regulators are good because they represent the diversity of India. We did not speak out. After all, just like the religious confuse piety with mere ritual, the virtuous confuse regulation with outcomes.
Then they came after freedom. They promulgated more restrictive rules for everything: freedom of expression, right to assembly and protest, foreign scholars. They used sedition laws. They kept the architecture of colonial laws intact. They said they stood against communal forces. But then they let Digvijaya Singh keep the communal pot boiling. They matched BJP’s communal politicisation of terrorism at every step and then some. We did not speak out. After all, if they are not Hindutva forces, they cannot be a threat to peace and liberty.
Then they came for virtue itself. They preached, from the very summit of power: avoid responsibility. It will always be someone else’s fault. They legitimised being corrupt: you are entitled to it if you are the party of the poor. They encouraged subterfuge to the point that members of the cabinet were subverting each other. They pretended that integrity is a word that does not mean anything. To independent thinkers, they said: why think when there is 10 Janpath? We did not speak out. After all, virtue and thinking can both be outsourced.
Then they came for the poor. They visited their houses and slept in their homes. They liked the experience so much they decided to become growth sceptics. Enact policies that keep India in poverty a little longer. But we did not speak out. After all, once the poor have been used as an argument, all else is immobilised.
Then they came for the citizens. They used the secularism blackmail to reduce our choices. If you are not with us you are evil they said. Then they infantilised us. You are not capable of exercising choices so we will make them for you. They acted as if we were so stupid that the three topmost leaders felt no need to justify themselves to us. But we did not speak out. After all we do have the vote.
The writer is president, Centre for Policy Research, Delhi, and a contributing editor for ‘The Indian Express’
Some additions to the above:
Then they came for states. They looked at all states in the country and found out that they have pockets where they got their maximum vote share. They liked retaining them so much that they decided to break them down just on the eve of elections to maximize their gain and minimize the gain of opposition. But we are not speaking out. After all, what was India but a loose amalgamation of over 600 princely states unified into one.
Then they came for national security. They looked at all borders and neighbors of the country and told themselves that non-alignment is just another name for inaction and chose to take no decisions at all. But we did not speak out. After all, who cares about national security when personal future is not secure without any dependence on government.
Vasanth Ramadurai •
On another side, perhaps I would add…
Then they came for those who decided to speak out. Lathis & water cannons were used on students who protested the brutal rape of a young girl. People who requested a LokPal Bill were hounded into silence. One corrupt minister replaced another in the cabinet – with utmost disregard for people’s faith in democracy. They mistook our patience as powerlessness. After all, they know a lot of us have a very short-term memory & they will prevail come 2014.
last but not least – Congress ruined India, But we did not speak out. After all we are Indians.
Just one point… WE DID SPEAK OUT but the FIREWALL called MEDIA, BLOCKED it out, and let their own PAID/TWISTED logic spread…
Ask policy planners in Uttarakhand the need for so many dams to be constructed in the State, and they will tell you the structures are necessary for power generation and prosperity. But the policy has backfired terribly
This March, I had the occasion to visit Srinagar, Garhwal. There I witnessed some of the immediate consequences of building cascades of dams for the pecuniary benefits of the State (read, local officials). When I argued, “Why were there so many dams? I was told that, if the Union Government does not go for dams and generate power, it would have to annually release Rs 10,000 crore to Rs 15,000 crore as Central assistance. The Union Government wants power and the State, hard cash; dams bring a win-win situation. But what about the rivers which, at some places, have started disappearing?
Projects currently underway were supposed to increase the hydro-power capacity of the State to 12,235MW. A total of 95 hydro-power projects were being built or planned on different rivers converging in the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi basin of Uttarakhand. Nobody really cared if environmentalists like former IIT professor GD Agrawal or before him Sunderlal Bahuguna were opposing the wild contagion of concrete infrastructures. They were labeled ‘anti-development’; ‘development’ being the new god of the Himalayas.
It is not that the officials were unaware that since 2005, when Tehri dam’s reservoir filled up, the flow of the Bhagirathi had reduced drastically. I then wrote a note: “When there will no more rivers to worship, no more jobs for the local population, people will have to migrate to the cities.” My friend Michel Danino’s book, The Lost River: On the Trail of the Sarasvati, is a mind-opener on the fate of the mythic Saraswati river. Taking into account the latest research in fields as different as satellite imagery, archeology, linguistics, paleontology or mythology, Danino has explained: “The Indian subcontinent was the scene of dramatic upheavals a few thousand years ago. The Northwest region entered an arid phase, and erosion coupled with tectonic events played havoc with river course. One of them (the Sarasvati) disappeared.” Now, humanity has progressed; it can build its own tectonic events!
After the June 16 torrential rains, we have not lost rivers (though the course of some have changed), but in several cases the wild construction of dams has triggered much more destruction, increasing the misery of the locals. A few days after the downpour, The Hindu reported: “The national highway between Dehradun and Srinagar [Garhwal] is currently broken at Byasi and Devprayag, with silt measuring upto 10 ft covering an enormous area, in Uttarakhand’s Pauri district. According to the residents of Shakti Vihar, an area in Srinagar, this disaster occurred on June 17 at around 3am when the Srinagar dam authorities lifted the dam gates.” A resident told the newspaper: “The rainfall on June 16 was so much that the water reached up to our knees, and to add to it, the dam authorities released water without a prior warning.” Did they panic? Enquiries, if any, will tell us. The water from upstream swept the debris lying around the dam construction site and deposited a huge amount of silt tens of kilometers downstream. The water level was three to four metres higher than any previous floods.
The question asked by each commentator was: Was it predictable? In 2009, after studying the hydro-electric projects in Uttarakhand, a State Audit of the Comptroller and Auditor-General explained: “With the creation of Uttarakhand in November 2000, its hydro-power potential was recognised as key to the development of the State. The Government chalked out an ambitious plan to harness its hydro-power potential through the concerted efforts of both the State and the private sector.” A State policy was formulated in October 2002; with the dams, the needs of the State but also those of the ‘starved northern grid’ could be taken care of. According to the CAG report, most of the projects faced problems associated with land acquisition, forest clearances and enhancement in project capacities. But did anybody read the report? Certainly not the planners and their contractors — they were too busy making money. Indeed, ‘dam is money’, whether in Uttarakhand, in Sikkim or in Arunachal Pradesh.
The CAG had warned: “The State’s policy on hydro-power projects was silent on the vital issue of maintaining downstream flow in the diversion reach, …physical verification of four out of five operational projects, showed that river-beds downstream had almost completely dried up.” A new Saraswati in the making! The Auditors also remarked: “Negligence of environmental concerns was obvious as the muck generated from excavation and construction activities, was being openly dumped into the rivers contributing to increase in the turbidity of water.” It has now happened on a large scale after the June 16 and 17 torrential rains.
ForThe Hindu article, a resident told the reporter: “Though residents were saved, cattle were killed under the silt. Quintals of fish that the river brought along are also rotting under the debris.” It appears that every person passing by the site could smell the rotten flesh. The CAG had concluded: “The individual and cumulative impact on the downstream river flow should be seriously considered to ensure that the projects do not result in disastrous impact on the environment.” Now, it is too late. Yet, it was supposed to be a win-win situation!
As information triggers through about the Himalayan devastation, news of the Vishnuprayag Hydro-electric Project was posted on the blog of two well-known environmentalists, Vimalbhai and Briharshraj Tadiyal. Remember, Vishnuprayag is one of the Panch Prayags (five confluences) of the Alaknanda river, and lies at the confluence of Alaknanda and Dhauliganga between Joshimath and Badrinath. It is located in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. According to legend, Rishi Narada had a vision of Vishnu while meditating there. Of course, all this is not real, it is only mythology. Concrete alone is real nowadays. The environmentalists wrote: “When the waters rose, dam authorities failed to open all the gates of the dam. Due to this, a two km long reservoir was formed upstream of the dam. Pressure from the water broke the dam and went on to wipe out the Lambagad village market.” In 2012 already, some shops in Lambagad had been washed away when water was released inadvertently by the dam authorities. This time, the deluge from the upper reaches of Alaknanda buried the 400 MW Vishnupyrag HEP. Will the Government of Uttarakhand continue with its dam policy? Will politicians and ‘developers’ resist getting rich quickly?
Tragically, the same situation is bound to happen, probably on a larger scale, in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. And what about the string of dams being built by the Chinese on the Yarlung Tsangpo (Siang/Brahmaputra) in Tibet? And if China constructs its purported mega-dam, where will the debris go? Will the situation be different on the Roof of the World than in Uttarakhand? It is probably worse due to the higher seismicity.
Has Mr Shivshankar Menon, the National Security Adviser, discussed the issue with his Chinese counterpart during their recent meeting in Beijing?”