Category Archives: Economics

GIBV Congratualtes Shri Narendra Modi and Voters of India

   NaMo              Mission-2014GIBV Logo

    

  Global Indians for Bharat Vikas

12 Pendleton Place, Edison, NJ 08820, USA http://www.gibv.org, <m2014.gibv@gmail.com>, 570-884-GIBV

India: Basement, Meera Manan Arcade, Parimal Garden, Amdavad-380006, 079-2640-7771

May 18, 2014

Global Indian for Bharat Vikas (GIBV) is very happy to congratulate Shri Narendra Modi on leading BJP and NDA a to unprecedented and historical victory in the recently concluded national elections of India.

This election has far reaching consequences for India and the world. After 30 long years, era of coalition politics has come to an end. A stable government where BJP has clear majority will be able to take critical decisions without succumbing to pressures from small regional parties with narrow interests. India has huge potential for development. It has rich natural resources and largest population of people under age 35. Shri Narendra Modi is capable of unleashing this potential and harnessing energy of the youth and employing it for all round progress.

Another salient point of this election is end of dynastic rule of Nehru-Gandhi family. Congress, led by this family forever has been reduced to a paltry 44 seats, failing the minimum threshold to qualify for leader of opposition in the Loksabha. Most of its ministers and seasoned members have lost spectacularly. Shri Modi had promised Congress Mukta Bharat and the process has begun. Congress has failed to win a single seat in seven states and has not been able to cross double digit in any state. Disintegration of Congress is now only a matter of time.

From BJP’s tally in UP and Bihar, it is clear that people have voted crossing barriers of caste and religion and in favor of development and stability. Decimation of BSP and SP in their bastion points to the beginning of the end of caste driven politics. As a matter of fact thousands of migrant workers and employees of major corporations in Gujarat who hail from UP, Bihar and Odisha and have experienced benefits of Gujarat model firsthand became brand ambassador for Shri Narendra Modi in their respective states.

Shri Narendra Modi deserves praise for conceiving, planning and executing a superb campaign using all the tools available, be it the social media or Chai Pe Charcha. He has led from the front and enthused millions of volunteers across the globe to work for a clear majority for BJP and a formidable tally for NDA. He has turned every obstacle, every insult thrown at him into a formidable weapon, be it Chaiwala or Jehar ki Kheti (poison farming) or Nichee jati (lower caste.)

Under Shri Narendra Modi’s leadership, we look forward to a time when India will lead the world, not as a superpower but as a cultural Guru, where age old and time tested ethos of Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam (The whole universe is a family) and Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah (May all be happy) will lead to an era of cooperation instead of conflict and nations would compete to provide better living conditions to their citizens instead of stockpiling weapons in a game of one-upmanship.

Congratulations are also in order to the voters of India. They voted in big numbers. They voted judiciously and decisively. They voted for better future. This exhibits maturity of Indian electorate.

We at Global Indians for Bharat Vikas, a USA based international organization interested in the long term development of India with a Nationalist government at the helm are proud to have 1000+ volunteers across the globe who helped Shri Modi’s campaign in different ways. We will continue to help a government headed by Shri Narendra Modi by providing critical input on issues of importance to the nation.

We wish Narendrabhai Modi grand success as he sets out to tackle seemingly insurmountable problems of a weak economy, all pervading corruption, stagnant job market, instability, terrorism, etc. We feel proud that a giant of a Man , a visionary and a nationalist is going to be sworn in as the Prime Minister of India within a few days. Indeed, Better Days are Ahead.

Dr. Mahesh Mehta               Gaurang G. Vaishnav                       Anjlee Pandya

President                                 National Convener                           Secretary, India   operations

Boston., MA                             Edison, NJ                                     Amdavad, Gujarat

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Its time to go Mr Prime Minister- Avay Shukla in Hill Post

 

A Very Powerful Indictment of Congress and Manmohan Singh- a must read for all

http://hillpost.in/2013/08/its-time-to-go-mr-prime-minister/95491/

 

Dear Prime Minister,

In Hindu tradition and culture the concept of renunciation has always been valued more than the idea of acquisition, and even though you may not accept this for fear of offending your party’s minority vote bank, let me allay your fears by reminding you that this is something preached by the Abrahamic religions also.

I would, therefore, urge you to seriously consider this option in your own interest as well as in the larger interest of this unfortunate country.

 

The government headed by you has already taken the country back to 1990 in sheer economic terms, and in terms of other social and public values we have reached the nadir of the Dark Ages. 

 

The country had great hopes from you when it voted you to power in 2004, and even higher expectations when it renewed your mandate in 2009 after your sterling display of vision and courage in the nuclear deal. But you only flattered to deceive, and for reasons which are now becoming obvious, relinquished any pretense of leadership or governance.

A big ship needs a strong hand at the rudder-your hand- but you have handed it over to a motley crew of rank opportunists and faceless lascars who can only run it aground.

You were never a politician- a positive for most of the voters – and the two qualities that made us repose our trust in you were your honesty and your acknowledged status as an eminent economist. Today, both lie in tatters- you have betrayed our trust, not substantially but wholly, and therefore you must go.

Time to go Mr Prime Minister

Time to go Mr Prime Minister

Honesty is not divisible, and for those who exercise power there can be no nuances between personal honesty and public honesty. A person who allows others to loot cannot be honest. A Manager who does not raise his voice when illegalities are being committed by his subordinates cannot be honest.

 

A law maker who protects criminals cannot be honest. And a Prime Minister who does all this simply to remain in power cannot be honest. Your honesty has already cost the country dearly, Mr. Prime Minister, and we cannot sustain this cost any longer. 

 

Your reputation as an economist may still follow you to Harvard or to the LSE after your retirement, but in this country its devaluation is proportionate to the devaluation of the Indian rupee. Where did you lose the plot?

You had everything going for you when you took over in 2004– an economy growing at 8-9%, a Current Account SURPLUS of US$ 10.56 billion, Foreign Exchange reserves in excess of US$ 400 billion, a comfortable net INFLOW of Foreign Direct Investment.

After nine years of your being at the helm, the growth rate is down to between 5% and 6% and falling, the Current Account has gone into a DEFICIT of US$ 20 billion and increasing, Foreign Exchange reserves are down to seven months’ import and depleting, the Fiscal Deficit is going to hit 6%, Foreign Exchange reserves are down to US $ 200 billions (with repayments of US$ 150 due before March 2014), there is a net OUTFLOW of FDI funds to the tune of almost US$ 7-10 billions every month.

The Rupee has reached an exchange rate of 65 to the dollar. Nobody believes Mr. Chidambaram anymore, the RBI Governor can only hyper-ventilate, and you, of course, continue to maintain your sphinx-like silence.

In the meantime inflation continues unabated, jobs are being lost by the millions ( unemployment actually rose by 2% between July 2011 and June 2012), Indian industry prefers to take its money abroad, infrastructure projects languish somewhere between Messers Jaiswal, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and a litre of cooking oil now costs more than two litres of beer! (Can you imagine, Mr. Prime Minister, what a field day Marie Antoinette would have had with this?!).

And this is at the precise time when the rest of the world is coming out of its downturn! No, sir, you and your band of forty thieves have been so busy with your petty politicking, with ensuring the survival of a particular dynasty, securing the financial well being of future generations of your party colleagues and allies, dividing communities and classes, that you have had no time for planning and taking decisions.

The only decisions you HAVE taken boggle the mind. We are already spending 75000 crores every year on our Public Distribution System: every single survey indicates that at least 40% of this, or 30000 crores is siphoned off by politicians, bureaucrats and middle-men. And now your govt. is determined to pour another 50000 crores into this bottomless pit through the Food Security Act! What for?

The BPL( Below Poverty Line) families and the Antyodaya (poorest of the poor) families are already covered under the existing PDS-the FSA will make no difference to them. Govt.’s own figures state that only 27% of our population is now below the poverty line; why then do you want to bring 67% of the population under the FSA, and spend a whopping 50000 crore on people who do not deserve this largesse?

And that too at a time when you have no money for infrastructure development or health and education( in both of which we now lag behind even Sri Lanka and Bangladesh!). Is it worth destroying a country just so your motley crew can win another election? Is this honesty, Mr. Prime Minister?

Had it been only the economic downturn we could perhaps have been more generous. For economics, as we all know, is not only a dismal science, it is also an uncertain one: as they say, even if one were to lay down all economists end to end, we still wouldn’t reach a conclusion!

After all, if Mr. Amartya Sen and Mr. Bhagwati cannot agree on what is good for India we can hardly expect you to have the answer. No sir, the economics is only a part of the mess: let me recount what the others are.

You have systematically sought to destroy every fibre of the democratic fabric of this nation. Constitutional authorities have been attacked publicly by your minions and sought to be humiliated at every turn: remember the diatribes against Vinod Rai and the Central Information Commissioner?

Statutory authorities like the CBI and the office of the Attorney General have been subverted and made to fall in line, your party’s line. Your oath of office demanded that you protect them, but you remained mute, as is your wont.

You have even done the unthinkable: set the Intelligence Bureau against the CBI, ensuring for ever that our premier intelligence agency will never cooperate with our premier criminal investigating agency- every terrorist, insurgent and crooks of all assorted types must be lining up outside Teksons to buy ” thank you” cards for you!

Such is your hubris that you have shown contempt for the orders of the Supreme Court even. The Court’s judgments, instead of being respected and seen as a matter for serious contemplation, are publicly criticised and sought to be by-passed by the collation of a consensus of those affected by the judgments (!) and a brute legislative majority.

So criminals can continue in Parliament. Merit will find no place in the selection of Doctors (at the senior most, Professor, level) even in Super specialty disciplines; minorities will get reservations in government jobs even though the Constitution forbids it.

This lack of respect for the final arbiter of the Constitution and the law is not only breeding a competitive defiance of the Court among other political parties but is also setting the stage for a show down with the judiciary a-la Pakistan and other banana republics.

You behave as if the Opposition is not part of the democratic process, that it is a nuisance that is best ignored; consequently, all communication between the two has now snapped, and the nation is a helpless witness to a Parliament that resembles a rugby locker room in both language and action and is in a permanent state of adjournment.

All parties are to blame for this, of course, but it is your party which laid down the rules of engagement. By refusing to walk the extra mile to accommodate even the legitimate demands of the Opposition, and by sabotaging time and again the Committees of Parliament, you have eviscerated this vital organ of democracy which under you has become as vestigious and irrelevant as your appendix.

Practically no legislative work has been done in the last two years: there are 116 bills pending in both Houses, of which 19 and 21 relate to financial and educational reforms, respectively, two of the areas that need immediate attention.

But your lack of concern is matched only by your shocking sense of priorities: instead of trying to push these bills, you have instead chosen to concentrate your fading energies on two other amendments that can only make politics murkier and more criminalised: removing the disqualification of convicted legislators, and exempting political parties from the RTI Act!

Perhaps the biggest price for your incompetence and your colleagues’ venality is being paid by our defense forces: all three are many years behind in terms of armaments and weaponry ( because another ” honest” Minister, Mr. Antony, will neither effect purchases from abroad nor allow FDI in defense production) and their very capacity to defend the country has been seriously eroded.

Who will defend our borders in such a scenario, Mr. Prime Minister- the lethal barbs of Mr. Manish Tewari, or the boomerangs of Mr. Digvijay Singh or the IEDs of Mr. Mani Shankar Iyer? Even worse, you have demoralized our armed forces by the constant interference of your Ministry and completely taken away their operational and tactical independence.

A succession of retired Army commanders have said so in recent times and the pusillanimous approach of our troops in response to violations of the LOC testify to this. (Of course, these same Army Commanders who have suddenly found their conscience and their voice also need to explain why they didn’t defend their operational independence more vigorously when they were enjoying the perks of their office!).

Under you we have become a whining nation- we whine when Pakistani troops shoot our soldiers, we whine when Chinese troops camp on our territory for weeks on end, we whine when Italian marines shoot our sailors, we whine when the Sri Lanka navy arrests our fishermen, we whine when our ex-President is frisked at an American airport.

Under you a once-proud nation is being kicked around by even a Maldives or a Bhutan. What in God’s name have you done to our image?

In communal terms we have always been a fractured society. But true leaders have in the past tried to bridge these fissures. To you, however, will go the dubious credit of widening and deepening these cracks between communities and castes.

In order to survive, your party has countenanced the retrograde decisions of allies that can only raise the confrontational pitch: earmarking of state budgets for a religious minority, reservations in jobs for the same community (which goes against the express provisions of our Constitution), reservations in promotions (which has been struck down by the courts), setting up of a central Commission to review the (criminal) cases of suspects of one community only.

It is your party which has put communalism at the center of the campaign for next year’s election, not the BJP or Mr. Modi. The former has consciously downplayed the Ram Mandir issue, and Modi had made it clear that development was going to be his plank. But this did not suit you since your party couldn’t possibly debate him on this plank, what with your miserable record of the last five years.

So you deliberately inserted the communal element, as did your allies, by harping only on the 2002 Gujarat riots. To his credit, Mr. Modi has so far not agreed to stoop so low, and I do not think your strategy will work.

But you have in the process vitiated the atmosphere for a long time to come, reopened old wounds that were beginning to heal, and provided a legitimate space for hot heads on both sides of the divide.

How much damage to the country is one Parliamentary seat worth, Mr. Prime Minister? How many more Partitions will you recreate to satisfy your party’s lust for power?

Your opportunistic creation of Telangana has sown the seeds of disputes and blood-letting in all parts of the country that will sorely test the federal integrity of our country for many years to come. There are twenty one more statehood specters waiting in the wings and by the time they are exorcised we may have ceased to exist as one nation.

Do I need to refer to the endemic corruption that your government has been indulging in these last ten years? And to your pathetic attempts to distance yourself from them, even though it is gradually becoming clearer with each passing day that you were aware of what was happening and did nothing to stop it? Why?

The quality of honesty, like that of mercy, cannot be strained: one cannot be honest and yet knowingly allow dishonesty on one’s watch.

Even worse, your increasing brazenness in the face of evidence against you boggles the mind: the Minister who doctored the Coalgate report has been made Special Envoy to Japan, a Minister whose nephew sold posts in The Railways for crores has not even been named in the charge sheet, the Minister on whose watch files relating to YOUR period of the coal scam have gone missing continues to bestride Shastri Bhavan like a colossus.

Who is this Faustian devil you have sold your soul to, Mr. Prime Minister?

Your deafening silence on all these matters-you have spoken in both houses of Parliament only fifty times in ten years-defies logic and conventional wisdom. And that leads me to speculate whether we are underestimating you.

Is there, after all, a method in your madness? Could it be that you are reconciled to losing the next elections and are therefore deliberately implementing a scorched earth policy?

That you will leave behind as a legacy for the next government an India that is bankrupt, ungovernable, riven by caste and communal conflicts, all its institutions destroyed?

An India that will soon be on its knees, begging for your party- the lone horseman riding in from the sunset, in Mr. Rahul Gandhi’s words, don’t forget-to take over the reins again, and save the country from perdition? But I forget, you never speak- so we’ll never know till the horseman is upon us.

Mr. Prime Minister, your party has stripped this country like a cloud of locusts. You have sown every type of poisonous seed known to your ilk and we shall be reaping the bitter harvest for many years hence. You have engendered an atmosphere of uncertainty,venality, indecision, communalism, opportunism, criminalisation and defiance of constitutional and statutory institutions which cannot be allowed to continue, for that way lies certain disaster.

Elections are nine months’ hence but we cannot allow this conception to come to full term: the seed sown by you can only destroy this country and must be aborted. The time has come for you to go, Mr. Prime Minister, and to go immediately.

Call for elections now, end the uncertainty, let us get on with our lives, give this country a chance to redeem itself. Do one last service to this nation, sir- stand not upon the order of your going, but go!

 

 

With best wishes,

your’s sincerely,

A VOTING STATISTIC

The author retired from the Indian Administrative Service in December 2010. He is a keen environmentalist and loves the mountains- he has made them his home.

While we were silent- A Must Read Indictment of UPA and Ourselves by Pratap Bhanu Mehta

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/while-we-were-silent/1140199/0

 

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’

express@expressindia.com

======== =======================================================================

Some additions to the above:

 

Anshul • 2 days ago

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.

 

NaMo-P2G2 • 2 days ago

last but not least – Congress ruined India, But we did not speak out. After all we are Indians.

 

Vijay

Just one point… WE DID SPEAK OUT but the FIREWALL called MEDIA, BLOCKED it out, and let their own PAID/TWISTED logic spread…

 

 

 

 

My Shopping Experience in Karnavati (Ahmedabad)’s Famous Manekchawk area

(This was written on 11/11/12)

I went shopping in Manek Chawk, Tran Darwaja (three gates) area of Karnavati (Ahmedabad) today. In American parlance this would be called downtown.

It was a veritable sea of humanity and vehicles of all shape and color. Traffic was so intense that pedestrians were vying for a foothold along with scooters, motor bikes, bicycles, rickshaws, cars, tempos and everything else on four wheels. There were shouting match a galore and nilly willy I got in an argument with a motor bike driver who found fault with us hapless pedestrians; when he kept telling me to move to the side, when there was really no side to move to, I had to ask him, if he wanted me to walk over his and other drivers’ heads or would he be rather satisfied by driving over all of us. At times I thought, no matter how much I tried to be careful, a wheel was going to run over my foot. Fact that this is Deepawali time, did not help the matters.

I was told to watch my wallet and there were signs all over the place not to put one’s purse or wallet in the shopping bag. I had divided my few thousand rupees in two pant pockets and was constantly on guard; however, if one would have been able to take it from my pocket in that dense crowd where it was hard to even know where your limbs were, he/she would have well deserved it!
Traafic-ManekchawkIn a sense it was a microcosm of what Bharat is all about. Intense struggle and competition to stay afloat and survival of the fittest. No niceties here, no “thank you” or “excuse me” here. It was sheer sense of self preservation.Another aspect was the varieties of products available. For those who do not know Karnavati or Manek Chawk area, this is mostly, on the road vendors markets competing with super crowded, small stores.
IMG_3287
You can buy clothes, shoes, artificial and real jewelry, Gold, fire crackers, sweets, decoration items, books, stationery, utensils, fast food, construction items, vegetables, fruits, medicines, flowers, perfumes, furniture- you name it and it is there. These markets spread over less than 0.5 square miles caters to all economic strata, except the super rich or snobs. Amongst all these, there are Mandirs as well as Masjids too and cows find their own way!
IMG_3290
It was interesting to see a hawker shouting sale of a Rs. 80 items for Rs. 60 and exhorting this as the last day of the sale. I have no doubts that were I to go there tomorrow, he would be still repeating that same, last day of sale pitch!Similarly a footpath vendor from whom I bought artificial flowers claimed that it was his “Boni”, meaning it was the first sale of the day while he had already sold to two customers in front and ahead of me! This is Karnavati and this is Bharat- as the song goes, I love my India.IMG_3298Another interesting facet of this “free” enterprise is that a majority of vendors and shopkeepers are Muslims but the buyers are mostly Hindus. As a matter of fact this area is known to be a Muslim fortress for ages. Same people who kill each other during riots, do the business amicably in peaceful times. It is a human paradox.
IMG_3299Observing all these in a span of two hours, I felt that someone should do a Ph.D. on the dynamics of Manek Chawk and Tran Darwaja market. It would surely bring out interesting and hidden facts of this at least, 500 years old market.
At he end of the day, looking to the total traffic indiscipline and chaos, I felt that Bharat could not be a super power in true sense of the word, no matter how affluent it becomes. But then again perhaps, its vitality remains rooted in chaos and not the orderliness of the West to which I am accustomed after spending better part of my life outside Bharat.

UPA boat rocks, averts capsize- FDI in Retail Sector Sandhya Jain

http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=2476

Sandhya Jain

Pioneer, 25 September 2012

 

India’s freshly-minted millionaire club lost a whopping 18% of its membership as the economic slowdown coincided with the exposure of multiple scams that tripped the gravy train of our crony capitalists. Most citizens would be shocked to learn that despite the global financial crisis ruining millions worldwide, the number of high net-worth individuals in India rose from 84,000 in 2008-09 to 126,700 by 2010 in the halcyon UPA years.

 

India’s top 100 richest are collectively worth $276 billion, whereas China’s total just $170 billion; also, India’s richest three surpass China’s top 24 billionaires. Amidst a manufacturing slump, economic slowdown and rising unemployment, one wonders how such staggering wealth accumulated in the hands of a chosen few.

 

As the Supreme Court noted while dealing with Coal-gate, the well-connected in the UPA regime have benefitted unduly from privatisation of public assets. Should the Hon’ble Court take a broader view, it may discern a link between the earlier privatisation of electricity distribution in several cities, which enabled private firms to make massive profits at public expense while taking over public assets for free, and the subsequent allotment of captive coal mines to the same and similar crony firms for sale of power at commercial rates!

 

The cussed refusal of some firms to redress customer grievances is now upsetting the Delhi chief minister, who thrust electricity privatisation on the capital and championed steeper tariffs without public audit or justification, because state elections are due. It is pertinent that when the British Raj delegated power to Indians, it first gave them charge of municipal services. Surely we must ask if regimes that cannot handle schools, sanitation, water and electric supply are at all legitimate.

 

Coalmine squatting by private capitalists stunted the growth of the power sector and the economy and denied mines to Coal India Ltd., forcing it to lay off over four lakh skilled workers, ruining their families. CIL is now likely to supervise extraction at the cancelled coal blocks. Government must expedite clearances needed by CIL for its own mines, and scuttle the mischief of subsidizing imported coal for private players.

 

Last week, the UPA imposed FDI in multi-brand retail, causing Trinamool Congress to quit the Government, and serenading the unpredictable UP stalwarts Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati for survival. Perhaps the Rs. 60 cr spent by Wal-Mart on lobbying in India, as per its disclosure to the US Senate, impacted the decision.

 

Yet the centre cannot claim that state governments can decide whether or not to allow FDI in their respective states. As several opposition members have argued, under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPAs) that India has signed, it will have to offer national treatment to investors. This means states will have to permit big retail, or face court cases.

 

News reports suggest Wal-Mart may come to India within 12 to 18 months. It is notable that its chief Michael Duke may soon be charged under America’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for hundreds of illegal bribes paid by its Mexico division from September 2005 to May 2006, and the subsequent cover-up by successive executives. ANew York Times report says Wal-Mart captured nearly 50 per cent of Mexico’s retail market in 10 years in this manner.

 

Currently, India’s retail market is estimated at around $400 billion, with over 12 million retailers employing 40 million people. Wal-Mart has a matching turnover of approx. $420 billion, but employs just 2.1 million people. This means 38 million people (families) plus related ancillary traders face disaster.

 

Executives at Amul, India’s largest dairy cooperative, say FDI will hurt both farmers and retailers. Citing the International Farm Comparison Network, Managing Director R.S. Sodhi says milk producers in America received only 38 per cent share of the consumer’s dollar spent on milk; UK milk producers got 36 per cent. But Indian milk producers get over 70 per cent of the consumer’s rupee; those linked to cooperatives get over 80 per cent.

 

Worldwide, foreign retail hurts local shopkeepers, farmers and consumers. Farm incomes decline because big retail creates a formidable chain of middlemen – quality controller, certification agency, packaging consultant, who cut into the profits. Consumers are wooed with cheaper rates, but prices rise once the local competition is driven out.

 

FDI in multi-brand retail does not create backend infrastructure like cold storages to save food grains from rotting. FDI is already allowed in storage, but no investment has been made, even by Indian brands. The Planning Commission has noted that lack of capital forces farmers to ignore cold storage facilities even where they are available, mainly because of high rentals.

 

The transport of goods from farm to mandi and local markets or processing centres is critical to retail trade. The road transport sector handles nearly 73 per cent of the goods traded and contributes nearly 5 per cent of the GDP. It is an unorganized sector managed with small capital; roughly 18 crore population directly or indirectly depends on it. Big retail always monopolizes transportation of goods and could crush this entire sector.

 

Then, over 70% of the revenue of big retail stores derives from non-food items; the nature of sourcing and pricing of these items deserves wider study. Also, the UPA has totally ignored the fact that in recent years small retailers have vastly improved their shops and customer services.

 

In food processing, big retail forces farmers to alter crop selection. Thus, to service potato chip companies, farmers may skip the Dal season, which indirectly affects the prices of Dal, cereals and vegetables. Big buyers often force farmers to reduce prices, face contract cancellation on grounds of ‘quality’, face last minute changes in contracts, and so on. Then, over 90% of India’s farmers have less than 2 hectares of land; 79% are landless or own less than 1 hectare. Large corporates do not like doing business with small producers; they focus on few large farmers and compel the others to submit to a larger contractor or sell the land and quit.

 

With FDI in retail notified, fresh dangers loom in the form of increased foreign ownership of Indian public sector banks (currently capped at 20 percent); FDI in pensions, insurance, and so on. The very aspects of the Indian economy that gave confidence to the middle class and the poor are set to be undermined.

 

The author is Editor, www.vijayvaani.com

http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=2476

Washington Post does what no Paid Media in Bharat could/Would do- PMO Whines and gets Rebuttal

Truth is out. Manmohan Singh, i.e., MMS is a spineless politician, covering up for his corrupt ministers and serving as a  hand-maiden of Madam Supremo.  Bharatiya media in the pay of Congress would not dare to write this, so here is an American journalist who tells it all. Do not forget to read PMO’s whining letter to Washington Post and a rejoinder by the newspaper.

 

India’s ‘silent’ prime minister becomes a tragic figure

Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images – Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s second term in office has been damaged by corruption scandals and policy paralysis.

By , Published: September 4

NEW DELHI — India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh helped set his country on the path to modernity, prosperity and power, but critics say the shy, soft-spoken 79-year-old is in danger of going down in history as a failure.

The architect of India’s economic reforms, Singh was a major force behind his country’s rapprochement with the United States and is a respected figure on the world stage. President Obama’s aides used to boast of his tremendous rapport and friendship with Singh.

But the image of the scrupulously honorable, humble and intellectual technocrat has slowly given way to a completely different one: a dithering, ineffectual bureaucrat presiding over a deeply corrupt government.

Every day for the past two weeks, India’s Parliament has been adjourned as the opposition bays for Singh’s resignation over allegations of waste and corruption in the allocation of coal-mining concessions.

The story of Singh’s dramatic fall from grace in his second term in office and the slow but steady tarnishing of his reputation has played out in parallel with his country’s decline on his watch. As India’s economy has slowed and as itsreputation for rampant corruption has reasserted itself, the idea that the country was on an inexorable road to becoming a global power has increasingly come into question.

“More and more, he has become a tragic figure in our history,” said political historian Ramachandra Guha, describing a man fatally handicapped by his “timidity, complacency and intellectual dishonesty.”

The irony is that Singh’s greatest selling points — his incorruptibility and economic experience — are the mirror image of his government’s greatest failings.

Under Singh, economic reforms have stalled, growth has slowed sharply and therupee has collapsed. But just as damaging to his reputation is the accusation that he looked the other way and remained silent as his cabinet colleagues filled their own pockets.

In the process, he transformed himself from an object of respect to one of ridicule and endured the worst period in his life, said Sanjaya Baru, Singh’s media adviser during his first term.

Attendees at meetings and conferences were jokingly urged to put their phones into “Manmohan Singh mode,” while one joke cited a dentist urging the seated prime minister, “At least in my clinic, please open your mouth.”

Singh finally did open his mouth last week, to rebut criticism from the government auditor that the national treasury had been cheated of billions of dollars after coal-mining concessions were granted to private companies for a pittance — including during a five-year period when Singh doubled as coal minister.

Singh denied that there was “any impropriety,” but he was drowned out by catcalls when he attempted to address Parliament on the issue. His brief statement to the media afterward appeared to do little to change the impression of a man whose aloofness from the rough-and-tumble of Indian politics has been transformed from an asset into a liability.

“It has been my general practice not to respond to motivated criticism directed personally at me,” he said. “My general attitude has been, ‘My silence is better than a thousand answers; it keeps intact the honor of innumerable questions.’ ”

 

Singh probably will survive calls for his resignation, but the scandal represents a new low in a reputation that has been sinking for more than a year.

‘I have to do my duty’

Singh was born in 1932 into a small-time trader’s family in a village in what is now Pakistan, walking miles to school every day and studying by the light of a kerosene lamp. The family moved to India shortly before partition of the subcontinent in 1947, and Singh pleaded with his father to be allowed to continue with his studies rather than join the dry-fruit trade.

A series of scholarships allowed Singh to continue those studies first at Cambridge and then at Oxford, where he completed a PhD. Marriage was arranged with Gursharan Kaur in 1958; they have three daughters.

A successful career in the bureaucracy followed, but it was in 1991 that Singh was thrust into the spotlight as finance minister amid a financial crisis.

With little choice, Singh introduced a series of policies that freed the Indian economy from suffocating state control and unleashed the dynamism of its private sector.

More than a decade later, in 2004, Singh again found himself on center stage, becoming in his own words an “accidental prime minister.”

The Congress party led by Italian-born Sonia Gandhi had surprised many people by winning national elections that year, but she sprang an even bigger surprise by renouncing the top job and handing it to Singh.

In him she saw not only the perfect figure­head for her government but also a man of unquestioning loyalty, party insiders say, someone she could both trust and control.

“I’m a small person put in this big chair,” Singh told broadcaster Charlie Rose in 2006. “I have to do my duty, whatever task is allotted of me.”

From the start, it was clear that Sonia Gandhi held the real reins of power. The Gandhi family has ruled India for most of its post-
independence history and enjoys an almost cultlike status within the Congress party. Sonia’s word was destined to remain law.

But Singh made his mark during his first term in office, standing up to opposition from his coalition partners and from within his own party to push through a civil nuclear cooperation deal with the United States in 2008, a landmark agreement that ended India’s nuclear isolation after its weapons tests in 1974 and 1998.

It was a moment that almost brought his government down, an issue over which he offered to resign. While no electricity has yet flowed from that pact, it marked a major step forward in India’s relations with the United States.

The Congress-led coalition went on to win a second term in 2009, in what many people saw as a mandate for Singh.

The 2009 election “was a victory for him, but he did not step up to claim it — maybe because he is too academic, maybe because he is too old,” said Tushar Poddar, managing director at Goldman Sachs in Mumbai. “That lack of leadership, that lack of boldness, lack of will — that really shocked us. That really shocked foreign investors.”

‘He suffers from doubts’

In a series of largely off-the-
record conversations, friends and colleagues painted a picture of a man who felt undermined by his own party and who sank into depression and self-pity.

His one attempt in 1999 to run for a parliamentary seat from a supposedly safe district in the capital, New Delhi, had ended in ignominious defeat. His failure to contest a parliamentary seat in 2009, making him the only Indian prime minister not to have done so, further undermined both his confidence, his friends and colleagues say, and his standing in the eyes of the party.

Congress, insiders say, never accepted that the 2009 election was a mandate for Singh and jealously resented the idea that he could be seen to be anywhere near as important as a Gandhi. Rahul, Sonia’s son, was being groomed to take over from Singh, and the prime minister needed to be cut down to size.

He soon was openly criticized by his own party over attempts to continue a peace process with Pakistan despite the 2008 attack on Mumbai by Pakistani militants.

Singh became even more quiet at his own cabinet meetings, to the point of not speaking up for the sort of economic changes many thought he ought to be championing.

“His gut instincts are very good, but sometimes he suffers from doubts about the political feasibility, about getting things done,” said Jagdish N. Bhagwati, a Columbia University professor who has been friends with Singh since their Cambridge days.

Singh will go down in history as India’s first Sikh prime minister and the country’s third-longest-serving premier, but also as someone who did not know when to retire, Guha said.

“He is obviously tired, listless, without energy,” he said. “At his time of life, it is not as though he is going to get a new burst of energy. Things are horribly out of control and can only get worse for him, for his party and for his government.”

Now See PMO’s whining and apt reply by Washington Post’s Journalist:

Posted at 02:38 PM ET, 09/05/2012

Indian prime minister’s office responds to Washington Post’s profile on Manmohan Singh

The office of India’s prime minister objected to The Washington Post’s front-page article, published Sept. 5, 2012, on Manmohan Singh’s evolution as a leader.

The following is a letter from the Prime Minister’s office:

Dear Simon,

We do not complain about criticism of the government which is a journalist’s right. But I am writing this letter for pointing out unethical and unprofessional conduct at your part.

I would like to put on record my complaint about your article which was published today on many counts:

— Despite all lines of conversations open, you never got in touch with us for our side of the story though you regularly talk to me about information from the PMO. This story thus becomes totally one sided.

— You have been telling the media here in India that your request for an interview was declined though the mail below says clearly that the interview was declined “till the Monsoon Session” of the Parliament which gets over in two days.

— When I rang you up to point this out, you said sorry twice though you tell the media here that you never apologised.

— Your website where we could have posted a reply is still not working, 11 hours after you said sorry the third time for its inaccessibility.

— The former Media Adviser to the PM Dr Sanjaya Baru has complained that you “rehashed and used” an 8 month old quote from an Indian Magazine.

We expected better from the correspondent of the Washington Post for fair and unbiased reporting.

Without going into your one sided assessment of the Prime Minister’s performance, as comment is free in journalism, I hope you will carry this communication in full in your paper and your website so your readers can judge for themselves what is the truth.

Sincerely

Pankaj Pachauri

Communications Adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office

New Delhi – India

Below is a response to the letter from Simon Denyer, author of the article and our India bureau chief:

Thanks for your comments. I wanted to respond point-by-point:

— I requested an interview with the PM on three occasions, and also with T.K.A Nair, Advisor to the Prime Minister, and with Pulok Chatterji, Principal Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office. Those requests were either ignored or declined.

— When I made my final request for an interview with the PM in July, I was told on July 30 “The PM has declined all interview requests till the Monsoon session is over.” At that stage the current session of parliament (known as the Monsoon session) of parliament had not even begun. There was no mention of the possibility of an interview afterwards. In any case my story touches on the fact that parliament has been adjourned every day throughout the current session by opposition calls for the PM to resign, which is a story I felt should be told, interview or not.

Indeed, we remain extremely interested in speaking to the prime minister.

— My apology was for the fact that the website was down and the PM’s office could not post a reply directly. As soon as the problem was fixed, I informed them. I stand by the story.

— I spoke to Dr Baru personally on the telephone during the reporting for the story. He confirmed that these sentiments were accurate.

Regards,

Simon Denyer

Hanging out with NaMo late into Friday night — Kanchan Gupta

2 Sept. 2012

Hanging out with NaMo late into Friday night  — Kanchan Gupta

Millions jammed the online highway to Narendra Modi’s Google+ Hangout hosted by Ajay Devgn. Nobody wanted to miss this show and none was disappointed as a real life Singham spoke to Youngistan
I wasn’t aware of a film called Singham till someone drew my attention to a caricature of the movie’s trailer that had been posted on YouTube and named ‘Manmohan Singham’. It was, to borrow an acronym from Youngistan’s lexicon, ‘ROTFL’ stuff. Much later I watched Ajay Devgn aka Singham robustly put down a mafia don-turned-politician. It was a whistle-and-clap movie but very cathartic nonetheless. No less striking was the ease with which Ajay Devgn had slipped into the role of a good cop out to cleanse the world of malcontent. There’s something touchingly sincere about him which came through in The Legend of Bhagat Singh too. He’s not an attention-grabber and, as I have learned in recent days, pretty well-informed on issues that many of his colleagues would possibly find utterly boring or to which they would at best pay lip service if it assured them space on Page 3. It’s not the flaky kind of understanding that makes Amir Khan popular among the chattering classes but a deeper appreciation of how things work in real life, for instance, governance issues.

It’s this insight that has made him look at Gujarat with a critical eye and come up with the assessment that Government works in this State because of the quality of leadership at the helm. His initial interest was limited to checking out Gujarat as an investment destination, but while doing that he realised what makes the State different from others. And from there began an engagement between him and Gujarat which resulted in Friday night’s Google+ Hangout with Chief Minister Narendra Modi that will be talked about and remembered for a long time for multiple reasons ranging from the Internet highway getting jammed by the traffic of millions of people trying to log in for the show (it’s a miracle that YouTube weathered the unexpected turnout so well) to the stunningly candid manner in which a popular leader spoke to young Indians at home and abroad (it’s amazing that a man who is demonised by our biased media as an arrogant, uncaring politician is, in real life, a caring and inspiring leader).

It would be facetious to suggest that the choice of Ajay Devgn as the host for the show was influenced by his popularity as an actor. I think it was his understanding of how the Gujarat Model of Governance works — to quote him, “clear policies” always help — that made him a perfect host for the show. That and his screen image of Singham — the fearless lion who never steps back — made him the right man for the job, although it must be admitted that he has a certain charisma which others lack in his fraternity. In a sense, there were two Singhams hanging out with Young Indians on Friday night: Modi is popularly referred to as “Gujaratka sher”. On Twitter, someone billed the event as “Singham meets Singham” on Friday afternoon. By the time Google’s staff began packing their equipment in Gandhinagar late Friday night, more than two million people who had keenly listened to what Modi had to say on a variety of issues agitating young minds were eager to hail him as “Bharat ka sher”.
Modi’s decision to use this barely tested new platform for a public discussion open to a global audience had captured the imagination of young Indians. Questions poured in by thousands but, given the time constraint, only a few could be answered. But that did not deter anybody from logging in to see the event live. It would seem everybody with a broadband connection was online watching the show on Modi’s YouTube channel. Headlines Today was clever enough to suspend its regular programmes and live telecast the Hangout. Other channels persisted with their late evening shows and came a cropper for that. If anybody were to disclose Friday evening’s TRPs, our news channels would look far worse than they usually do. No amount of tampering with TRP meters or their readings would make them look better.
What Modi did was simple. He bypassed mainstream media, especially the English language media, such as it is, and did his own thing. Since technology is no longer the preserve of big media there’s little that could be done to prevent it. And while doing so, as the transcript of his Hangout will show, he spoke on the future and not the past. There was a message in this: While large sections of the media which shares its agenda with Modi’s political opponents would have liked Friday night’s show to be dominated by the past, Youngistan looks at and thinks about the future. Modi addressed their concerns, leaving his critics to fret and fume. And that’s why he connected so well to the millions of eager listeners.
But technology can only do that much. It can connect a leader with the masses, it cannot make him or her appear credible in the eyes of the masses. Modi used technology to project his credibility, talking to (and not down to) those on the show as well as those watching the show. He talked about growth that would impact all lives, not a few. He spoke about the need to reform our education system not only by setting up better schools but by producing better teachers. He disagreed with the need to stop bright Indians from going abroad — for every bright Indian who leaves India for foreign shores, 10 others are born. He described young Indians as his, and the country’s pride. He reiterated his faith in the principle of equality of opportunity as opposed to equality of outcome. He talked about his favourite dish — khichri — with the same enchanting simplicity as while expressing surprise that ‘Modi Kurta’ had become a fashion statement even in Europe and America. He overawed his audience with statistics by casually mentioning numbers during the two-hour-long virtual conversation as minor details to illustrate the larger point he was constantly making: Good governance makes everything possible. And, not to forget, even in his unpractised humility that kept on surfacing again and again, he displayed the steely resolve and patience of a singham. Responding to a young Indian who lives and works in the US, Modi calmly said that he lives to see the day when Americans will stand in a long queue for a visa to visit a prosperous India, a powerful India.
For a man who has been tormented for a decade by slanderers who hold powerful positions in mainstream media and think nothing of twisting facts to fit into their perverted perceptions, a politician who has been unceasingly defamed by the Delhi-based commentariat that survives on scraps from the Congress high table, a visionary who has the foresight to identify challenges of the future and convert them into advantages but has not been acknowledged for pro-actively pursuing policies and programmes that none has even thought of, Modi is remarkably at peace with himself. As he repeatedly said at Friday night’s Hangout, his only concern is how best to serve Mother India. Everything else is inconsequential. In that assertion lies a message for every Indian.
(The author is a Delhi-based senior journalist.)

CAUSE TO CELEBRATE- Swapan Dasgupta on Gujarat after 2002 in Telegraph

– Peace and prosperity after bloodshed in Gujarat

Swapan Dasgupta

(The Telegraph, Friday, March 2, 2012)

 

It may sound callous, but there was something patently disgusting about the way the media and activists colluded to turn a grim 10th anniversary of the 2002 Gujarat riots into a celebration of victimhood. From star anchors rushing to Ahmedabad to hug victims to the overuse of the photograph of the unfortunate Qutubuddin Ansari pleading for his life, every tear-jerking potential was cynically exploited. What should have been a solemn occasion of remembrance, perhaps leading to a pledge to make sectarian violence a thing of the past, was, instead, turned into an all-too-familiar Indian tamasha, culminating in riotous television discussions.

The reason for this ugly turn of events should be obvious. Ten years after the arson attack on the Sabarmati Express in Godhra became the trigger for murderous violence throughout Gujarat, the issue of ‘justice’ has been transformed into a political blame game. The activists who have doggedly kept the issue alive, despite the apparent lack of responsiveness in Gujarat, have shifted their priorities markedly. The issue is no longer one of securing the punishment of the rioters and those responsible for inhuman conduct, but the political targeting of one man: the chief minister, Narendra Modi.

The unspoken assumption is that justice will be served if Modi can be prosecuted for personally facilitating the carnage. As an additional bonus, the framing of charges against Modi is calculated to ensure his exclusion from the political arena and consequently bring to an abrupt end any possibility of him being in the reckoning for the prime minister’s post. In short, if you can’t beat him, disqualify him.

Had Modi shown himself to be electorally vulnerable, the need to fight him judicially would have evaporated. A Modi defeat in either 2002 or 2007 would have prompted the self-satisfied conclusion that “Gujarat has redeemed itself”— in the same way as, it is proclaimed, Uttar Pradesh redeemed itself by rejecting the Bharatiya Janata Party after the demolition of the Babri shrine in 1992. However, the prospects of the clutch of activists moving on to the next available cause have dimmed following the realization that not only has Modi strengthened himself politically but that the Congress in Gujarat lacks the necessary qualities to mount an effective challenge. Consequently, the only way they see to fight Modi is to remove him from politics altogether.

There is another factor at work. Over the past 10 years, Modi has transformed Gujarat spectacularly. After winning the 2002 assembly elections in a communally surcharged environment, he has deftly shifted the political focus of Gujarat from sectarian identity issues to rapid economic development. Gujarat was always an economically vibrant state and entrepreneurship is deeply ingrained in the DNA of the average Gujarati. Modi has played the role of a great facilitator by creating an environment that is conducive to the double digit growth of the state’s gross domestic product. He has toned up the administration, improved the finances of the state exchequer, brought down corruption markedly and made every rupee expended on government-run schemes a factor in economic value addition. Modi has been the model rightwing administrator pursuing the mantra of minimal but effective governance. His election victory in 2007 wasn’t a consequence of Hindu-Muslim polarization; it was based on his ability to deliver good governance.

Secondly, Modi successfully shifted tack from Hindu pride to Gujarati pride. This meant that hoary grievances centred on sectarian hurt were subsumed by a common desire to take advantage of the dividends flowing from a prolonged period of high economic growth. The popular mentality of Gujarat has undergone a discernible shift in the past decade. In the 30 years since the Ahmedabad riots of 1969, which left nearly 650 people dead in just five days of mayhem, Gujarat had become a riot-prone state.

With its sharp communal polarization, Ahmedabad epitomized that trend. After the 1969 flare-up, there were riots in 1971, 1972 and 1973. Then, after a period of lull, rioting resumed in January 1982, March 1984, March to July 1985, January 1986, March 1986, July 1986, January 1987, February 1987, November 1987, April 1990, October 1990, November 1990, December 1990, January 1991, March 1991, April 1991, January 1992, July 1992, December 1992 and January 1993. This chronology, assembled by the political scientist based in the United States of America, Ashutosh Varshney, in his Ethnic Conflict and Civil Life (2002) tells a story of unending curfews, social insecurity and escalating hatred affecting the two communities. It was a story replicated throughout Gujarat, including the otherwise integrated city of Surat that witnessed fierce riots in 1993.

Since March 2002, Gujarat has been riot-free. Curfews have become a thing of a distant past. What has occasioned this exemplary transformation? The facile explanation, often proffered unthinkingly by secularists anxious to find fault with Modi, is that Muslims have been too cowed down by the sheer intensity of the post-Godhra majoritarian backlash. Such an explanation presumes that riots are invariably begun by a section of the Muslim community — a problematic proposition and not always empirically sustainable.

More compelling is the explanation that factors in the larger administrative and economic changes in Gujarat over the past decade. First, both the civil administration and the political leadership have internalized the lessons from their inability to control mob violence in 2002. The police have been given a free hand to operate without the interference of small-time politicians attached to the ruling party. There has been a crackdown against the illicit liquor trade and the underworld that gained its muscle power from its proceeds. At the helm, there is an unspoken understanding that another riot, with its attendant TV coverage, would extract an unacceptably high political cost. That is why there is special attention paid to curbing Hindu extremism — a phenomenon that will affect Modi most adversely.

The biggest change has, however, been at the societal level. Gujarat today is a society that is obsessively preoccupied with making money and taking advantage of the economic opportunities that have presented themselves. With the end of boredom, a happy present and an appealing future, the belief that riots are bad for dhanda has seeped into society. This is not to suggest that the bitterness of the past has been replaced by idyllic bonhomie between communities. Far from it. Sectarian conflict persists in cities such as Ahmedabad, and less so in Surat. But there is a distinction that Varshney makes between sectarian conflict and sectarian violence. One need not necessarily lead to the other if contained within the parameters of economics and politics. The Muslims of Gujarat don’t possess the political clout they enjoyed earlier under Congress rule. But this has been compensated for by growing levels of prosperity. Those who argue that the economic development of Gujarat has bypassed Muslims should look at the economic empowerment of communities such as the Bohras, Khojas and Memons.

To many, Gujarat’s obsession with economic betterment may seem an expression of denial for the larger societal involvement in the 2002 riots. This may be partially true, since Gujarati Hindus view the post-Godhra troubles as something they don’t want to be reminded of incessantly — a point which the state Congress has grudgingly acknowledged. But it doesn’t distract from Modi’s undeniable success in changing the agenda dramatically in 10 years to the point where hardened Hindutvawadis now regard him as an enemy of the cause.

The riots of 2002 were horrible. But the important thing to note is that 10 years after the butchery, Gujarat is basking in peace and unprecedented prosperity. Now, that is something to celebrate.


Scam and the Whistle-blower a book by Dr. Subramanian Swamy

Courtesy: The Pioneer
Scam and the Whistle-blower
July 30, 2011 9:21:57 PM

2G Spectrum Scam
Author: Subramanian Swamy
Publisher: Har-Anand
Price: Rs 595

Subramanian Swamy not only throws light into the 2G scam, but also provides some solutions to prevent a scam of this magnitude to happen again, says Rajesh Singh

Of the many politicians who have taken up the task to bring the perpetrators of the 2G scam to justice, Subramanian Swamy stands out for his doggedness and an almost missionary zeal. He did not stop at merely stirring the murky pot and pursuing the matter in the courts; Swamy has now written an exhaustive account of the scam. While the massive irregularities the Telecom Ministry indulged in during A Raja’s tenure as Union Telecom Ministry is now all in the public domain, and whatever is not known will be out in the course of the investigations, the book is relevant for two reasons: One, it is a valuable reference material for academics, commentators and students of contemporary subjects; and, two, it raises larger issues of governance in an increasingly industrialised nation, where narrow materialistic considerations threaten to outweigh the larger national good.

The author takes us into the frightening reality of how corrupt the country is perceived by international agencies and the general causes of the malaise. From fudged accounts of corporate entities to the generation and siphoning away of black money to the role of illicit funds in promoting terror activities, he gives us a quick take on the vast and seemingly unmanageable problem. Towards the end, Swamy suggests a national policy to counter it. This would involve the integration of “spiritual values and organisational leadership”. He lays emphasis on the incorporation of the “evolved youth” in the plan since that alone could create a “modern mindset”. But for that to happen, as he rightly points out, there will have to be a greater accountability in governance — something that the political class talks of a lot but does precious little to execute. What remains unsaid, therefore, is that such a national policy will not be forthcoming unless the people, especially the youth, compel the Government to respond.

The author has relied on a heap of material that has emerged through the investigations, including the various correspondences among Ministers and Government officials on the subject. Again, while they are all known, they help in maintaining the focus and keep the issue in perspective, highlighting the callousness of those in power in allowing the scam to take shape. The Comptroller and Auditor General’s observations, too, have been used extensively, and rightly so, because it is the CAG findings that officially set the ball rolling for a probe, involving the Central Vigilance Commission and the Central Bureau of Investigation. The latter had been rather reluctant in fully involving itself till the Supreme Court cracked the whip.

The large canvas of the scam included a number of personalities and institutions, and the author has done well to approach the issue in an uncluttered fashion. He has neatly categorised the important developments, such as those involving CAG, the Public Accounts Committee, the Radia tapes and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. He has also provided a chronology of the event dating from September 24, 2007, to January 25, 2008 — the time when the Telecom Ministry took the stand that no application under the Unified Access Services (UAS) would be accepted after October 10, 2007, to the questionable issuance of those licences. Swamy puts on record that then TRAI chief Nripendra Misra had said that the Ministry had never sought the authority’s views on grant of new licences. This is important since the Government has been saying that it had complied with TRAI guidelines. In fact, TRAI also took the position that its opinion should be sought even if the Telecom Ministry issued fresh licences under the existing policy. Misra had also warned the Government against what is now famously quoted as “cherry picking” of the recommendations the Authority had made on the matter of issuing licences.

A great deal of what the book contains will sound familiar to the regular readers of The Pioneer. The daily had been the first to break the 2G scam through a series of articles beginning 2008-end. For more than 18 months, The Pioneer continued to publish one informed expose after another, detailing the murky business of the 2G deal. The end result was that the authorities, compelled by the exposes and driven by the Supreme Court, had to take finally note and act.

There are many heroes in this tale. While Swamy is certainly one of them, he has been quick to acknowledge the others, particularly the whistle blower, Ashirvatham Achari, without whose cooperation the scam would have remained buried in the sands of time. The Pioneer correspondent J Gopikrishnan doggedly pursued the story, flinging aside temptations that were laid his way by those who wanted the matter forgotten. He is the other hero the author names.

While the probe is now on track and there is hope that the guilty will be eventually punished, the fact remains that a scam of this magnitude can happen again. The book provides some solutions to prevent that, but it is for the political class to wake up and recognise that. Meanwhile, we need more such whistle-blowers, news correspondents and activists.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/357131/Scam-and-the-Whistle-blower.html

India On Verge of Major Upheaval – Subramanian Swamy

India On Verge of Major Upheaval – Subramanian Swamy

INDIA JOURNAL – 08/04/2011
K.B.NAIRCERRITOS , CA – In a hard hitting speech Janata Party Leader, Dr Subramanian Swamy lashed out at the Congress administration and its role in the several corruption scandals which are rocking India and proclaimed that the country is on the verge of a major upheaval in which by the end of the year many in the present Government would find themselves out of power and behind bars. He made this statement at a public meeting organized by the Bhartiya Vichar Manch in the Sierra Room of the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts on July 31. He went on to state that the strong movement against corruption is gaining momentum and predicted it would lead to elections being called early next year.

Dr Swamy started his address following the screening of a short video titled “ India- Republic of Scams” which briefly outlines the state of affairs in India resulting from alleged large scale scams and urges people to get involved in saving the country from disaster. Against this background Dr Swamy broke down his speech into three broad headings starting with what is corruption, followed by how it negatively impacts the country and finally what is the solution to the problem.

In defining corruption as a crime when a public office is misused for private gain, Dr Swamy said he was not referring to the small sums of money which changes hands at lower administrative levels which he thinks is unpreventable. What he finds disturbing is the scale to which corruption has escalated depriving the Government of several million dollars of revenue and thereby seriously undermining the financial stability of the nation. He went into the details a couple of such cases where ministers had used their positions for their personal financial gain or their kith and kin. The first he touched on related to the construction of the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project which proposed to link the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Manar. Dr Swamy alleges the project was aggressively promoted with the intention of benefiting the companies of family and relatives of the then Shipping Minister through construction, shipping and dredging contracts related to the project.

The second was the most volatile and recent 2G scam over which controversy is still raging across the country. A significant part of his address was devoted to this subject in which after explaining its technical details he went on to describe how the then Telecommunications Minister A. Raja, by twisting the rules, masterminded the sale of spectrum to Swan and Unitech in which he had a stake, at throwaway prices on account of which the nation lost a staggering $ 40 billion in revenue.

This apart, he added the complex international financial transactions involved in the process would in itself pose immense security risks as anti national individuals and organizations had stakes in the foreign companies associated with the scheme, which in turn could be utilized to finance and support its own terrorist activities in India. Dr.Swamy named individuals who had connections to the gangster Dawood Ibrahim and the ISI.

Every time Dr Subramanian Swamy quoted how he had thwarted efforts by those in power to cover the scams by moving the Courts, he was met with thunderous applause from the audience.

Among the more serious ramifications of accumulation of such huge quantities of unaccounted wealth Dr Swamy stated was the lavish life style of those possessing them because of which there is an alarming shift from production of consumer goods for the average general public to the catering of luxury goods to the rich where the margins are far more attractive. Also inevitable is the skyrocketing prices of real estate and the illegal trade in food items and necessities resulting in inflation shooting to 16%. Another is the stashing of undeclared wealth in foreign banks which not only do not pay interest but charge a 2% service fee thus depriving the country of crores of rupees of revenue for its social programs. He also went on to explain procedures through which by the use of “participatory notes” the payment of Capital gains tax is cleverly avoided in transactions involving foreign currency.

In providing solutions to the colossal corruption problem Dr Swamy expressed the prevailing laws are sufficient but time consuming but in the short term he suggested the appointment of an independent prosecutor with sufficient powers to proceed legally against those who break the law so swift justice is arrived at. As an example he quoted the case of Bernie Madoff in the US who was convicted and incarcerated within 6 months whereas Ramalinga Raju’s case in the Satyam scandal is still pending mired in the Indian legal system for years. In the long term he called for a Renaissance of Indian traditional social values of Sanatan Dharma and by giving up the current trend of the relentless pursuit of making money ushered in by the hunger for material prosperity and globalization. He pointed out that money alone does not bring happiness as it proven by the fact that droves of wealthy individuals are arriving in India to find peace and purpose in their lives.

 

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