Monday, June 25, 2012

Unsavoury tales of present ELECTION OF PRESIDENT

Unsavoury tales of present Election of President

Politics and morality are perhaps, at least in India, the two banks of a river which can never meet. The way the Congress did stitch support for its nominee for the post of President of India from a fragmented polity of UPA-II allies and those supporting it from outside lends credence to this feeling.
The only difference and saving grace this time has been that while Congress could road-roll its will in nominating the present incumbent in the Rashtrapati Bhawan (RB) ignoring merit and moral considerations, this time in the process of political maneuverability to stage political upmanship it could not afford to sidetrack merit.
Credit for this goes neither to the Congress nor to its supremo Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. This has rightly been claimed by Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav who has stated that his joining hands with Trinamul Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Ms Mamta Bannerjee and announcing a panel of 3 names – Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Dr. Manmohan Singh and Somnath Chatterjee — hastened the process to make Congress announce the name of Mr. Pranab Mukherjee.
Not first choice
Mr. Mukherjee was not Mrs. Gandhi's first choice. His name may have been propped up by some within the party, yet she never jumped at the idea. Important party functionaries, including spokesperson Mrs. Renuka Chaudhary, while accepting him to be the best candidate, had proferred the excuse that the party could not afford to 'spare' the UPA and party's 'troubleshooter' and 'firefighter'. Though he could not open up his heart, Mr. Mukherjee seemed reconciled to catching hold of his lifetime's second best ambition to move to  RB, his first choice being the post of PM having gone beyond his reach under the present circumstances.
Mrs. Sonia Gandhi toyed with the idea of having a pliant occupant of the RB who could read her mind and act accordingly. Having failed to move to 7, Race Course Road herself, her last wish remained to see her heir apparent to occupy the nation's top job of prime minister. She is quite near realizing her dream but she knows, there are many a slip between the cup and the lip.  She is alive to the reality that but for the then President Zail Singh deeply committed to her mother-in-law, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, her husband could never have been the prime minister. It was President Zail Singh who broke the fine precedent of swearing-in the No. 2 in the cabinet following the death in office of a prime minister. Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was in Kolkata when Mrs. Indira Gandhi was assassinated. Giani Zail Singh withheld the news of Mrs. Gandhi's death till Mr. Rajiv Gandhi landed in Delhi. He immediately sworn in Mr. Rajiv. Both Mr. Rajiv and Mr. Mukherjee had travelled together in plane from Kolkata and during the journey the latter had expressed the hope that as per the tradition and precedent he would be sworn in as the acting PM.
Later, the relations between Mr. Rajiv and President Zail Singh soured to such an extent that the former started having nightmares of his dismissal and did not prorogue the Parliament after the budget session of Parliament till a new incumbent had taken over in place of Mr. Zail Singh.  

As a report in the Times of India has indicated, the promise of support by each other's internecine foes – Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav and Ms Mayawati – to a common candidate has raised eyebrows. It is a gin animated by striking  a backroom deal. The report indicates that both had to fall in line because of the sword of Damocle of criminal cases of assets beyond known sources of income hanging over the heads of both. A promise of a go-slow or weakening of cases clinched the deal of support.  Otherwise, why is it that the dragon of these cases remains buried in silence under the debris of political maneuvers to be unearthed only in times of need and emergency?  RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav is similarly placed. During UP state assembly elections held just three months back the Congress and its heir apparent had been vigorously campaigning, though with little success, to end the ‘corrupt’ regime of Mayawati and a vow not to let the SP ‘goondaraj’ to usher in again. But in politics eating one’s own words is the staple food of our politicians. For them it is a matter of pride.


Fissures in NDA/UPA


Like last time, NDA ally Shiv Sena has taken a stand different from the alliance. At that time it supported incumbent President Smt. Pratibha Patil as she hailed from Maharashtra, this time too it chose to support UPA's candidate for election to the office of President.
JD(U) for consideration extraneous to the election of President took a stand different from the BJP-led NDA and decided to support Mr. Mukherjee although the NDA convener and JD(U) President Shri Sharad Yadav has stressed that the support is for Mr. Mukherjee and not for Congress and but for this, the alliance continues to be as strong as ever.
There is also media speculation that this casual friendship could be attempted to be cemented with the grant of a special economic package for Bihar. Shri Nitish Kumar had been agitating for it for the last over five years. His new found fondness for Mr. Mukherjee may ultimately, some media reports speculate, blossom into Congress bartering Shri Nitish Kumar's support with ultimate parting of ways with NDA to cozy up with the Congress-led UPA. For Congress it would be a coup de tat; it will bounce back to power with just four MLAs in a house of 243.
The candidature of Mr. Mukherjee has sowed seeds of discord not only in NDA; the UPA too does not remain unscathed. West Bengal Chief Minister, Sushri Mamta Banerjee, remains as defiant as ever and despite best efforts by Congress leadership and the presidential candidate who called her his "younger sister" has not so far been able to bring her round. But Congress has not lost hope. It is continuing with its efforts. As a last resort Congress could hold out a promise of a special economic package for West Bengal — a bait she may be unable not to swallow.
Me 'secular', you 'communal'
In politics everybody claims himself to be 'secular' and brands his opponent as 'communal'. The moment a 'communal' shifts sides, he becomes a 'secular' and vice versa. Mr. P. A. Sangma has been taken to be a 'secular' leader. But now that he has quit NCP and is contesting the election as an independent candidate supported by NDA allies BJP and Akali Dal have extended their support to him, no wonder if his opponents may now dub him as 'communal'.
Fingers have been raised about the involvement of Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, in Scorpene and other deals. Mr. Mukherjee's office rejected Team Anna's allegations as "unfair" and "self-seeking", reflecting lack of responsibility while claiming to represent high standards of ethical behaviour. 

Reiterating the need for an independent investigation into the allegations against him as a person aspiring to be the President "should be above board" the Team Anna retorted:  "A person aspiring to be the President of India should be above board. You would agree that a person facing so many serious charges would bring disrepute to the position of president if he were not absolved of all these charges before being appointed on that post. Therefore, we demand independent investigations into all these charges before you are considered for this position."
It is true that a complainant cannot assume to be the judge himself. But equally true is the fact that the accused too has no right to hand out a verdict of "not guilty" for himself. It is only through an impartial and independent inquiry that truth can come out and prevail. Suspicions will linger on till that is done. And once a person gets elected to the highest office, he earns immunity and however solid or flimsy the allegations may be, these get pushed below the carpet of this immunity.
In all fairness, a person should not enjoy immunity from prosecution for an offence which he/she committed not as a President or governor but in the performance of his duties earlier while holding some other public office. We have instances of diehard criminals getting elected as MLAs or MPs but still rubbing their heels in jails. An election should not bestow an immunity from prosecution of any individual, high or low.
The way allegations of bartering of support with favours in criminal cases pending against the likes of Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav, Sushri Mayawati, Lalu Prasad Yadav and the like, or with the special economic packages at public expense are a blot on the name of our democracy. This derails the EC effort to make every candidate contest from from an equal pedestal.
Unfortunately, it is also for the first time that the present incumbent and the present contestant for the office of President are faced with such allegations.
In comparison, Mr. Sangma may not have enjoyed that long an inning in politics as does Mr. Mukherjee, yet whichever public office Mr. Sangma held, including that of Speaker of Lok Sabha for a year and a half, he did leave an indelible imprint. On the contrary, Mr. Mukherjee's performance during UPA-II has not been that spectacular either as External Affairs Minister or later as Finance Minister. The country's economy and rupee witnessed a historic downslide. The prices and inflation were skyrocketing. The aam aadmi suffered the most. His election as President will, in a way, amount to putting premium on non-performance and inefficiency.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

An expose — Is NDTV free, fair and objective?

An expose
Is NDTV free, fair and objective?

It is a sad commentary on our media that it claims to be free, fair, fearless, impartial, objective and what not, but with just a very few exceptions it is only otherwise. A similar claim is made by NDTV and its CEO Prannoy Roy. But the facts repudiate its boast. Here are two instances.
In 2005-06 NDTV launched a relentless tirade against Baba Ramdev. It gave widespread coverage to Mrs. Brinda Karat's campaign against the Baba alleging that the medicines produced in his pharmacy contained human and animal bones. The NDTV organized many panel discussions to negate Baba's claim that certain chronic diseases could be treated with the pranayam-yoga promoted by him. Incidentally, Mrs. Karat is Mr. Prannoy Roy's sister-in-law.
On the basis of these allegations and samples produced by her, the then Congress government of Uttarakhand got the medicines tested through some trusted laboratories. The then Health Minister held a press conference in March 2006 and declared that government had got the medicines tested and "the samples of the Divya Yog Pharmacy (of Swami Ramdev) had been found free of human body parts or skull". But, surprisingly, the NDTV which had organized a campaign against Patanjali Yog medicines deliberately blacked out this news, thus denying this important information from its readers who had all along been fed with wrong information and allegations about medicines manufactured in Baba's pharmacy.
Immediately, this writer protested to Mr. Roy through e-mail and a letter by post regretting this withholding this vital information from NDTV viewers which amounted to a grave journalistic misconduct. He did have the courtesy neither to acknowledge the letter nor to correct the mistake NDTV had done. This act of NDTV was against the canons of media ethics which NDTV otherwise boasted to hold close to its chest.
Ultimately, this writer wrote to INDIA TODAY narrating the facts and NDTV conduct.   INDIA TODAY was kind enough to publish this as the first letter in its valuable columns. NDTV or Mr. Prannoy Roy did not respond even to the letter published in the Weekly.
The NDTV indulged in another similar outrage against its viewers on June 20. Before going for the last break during PRIME TIME panel discussion, the anchor Mr. Ravish Kumar declared that since many questions had been raised about 1984 anti-Sikh riots, he will put this matter for discussion after the break. But to the surprise of the viewers, no such discussion was taken up and the programme ended. This clearly amounts to cheating the viewers and is against media morals and ethics. This writer wrote to Mr. Roy protesting against this conduct. The NDTV has as yet to acknowledge the letter and regret this mistake during the programe. Obviously, the discussion was not taken up because of certain extraneous considerations during the break.
What else could one say about the boast of NDTV to be free, fair, fearless, objective and impartial?

 PS: If NDTV has to say anything, it could send its comments which will be                                                                                                                                           carried word by word.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Need to Read for We, the people

We, the People

JUNE 17, 2012

hindustantimes BRUNCH

  1. Back to The Basics
  2. Mind What You Eat

India Today (June 25 issue)



The Sunday Guardian (June 17)

Lokpal bill and a French proverb Article by Ram Jethmalani

Thank you for what, Mr. Chidambaram  Article by M. D. Nalapat

China's military march is on: Article by Monika Chansoria

The Economic Times on Sunday

`10,000 crore The President's House

Post-Pranab as President, No Policy Paralysis?  By Arati R. Jerath

An Advisory to the New Finance Minister  By Bibek Debroy

10 Reasons Why Sibal's IIT Formula Doesn't Work

Easy Trips ANDRETTA (Travel Guide)

The Sunday Express (June 17)

IDEA EXCHANGE : "I Consider Anna Hazare my best friend and a senior. No one is ahead of the other. We are together on this revolutionary path". BABA RAMDEV

Opinion: How Greece squandered its freedom by Nikos Constandaras

The Hindu (June 17)

Open Page: Is Science another of those fanatical religions?  By Professor BM Hegde

June 19, 2012

The Asian Age, June 19, 2012
Sudhir  Tailang cartoon "Here and There" on page 6
Siachinm deep freeze :  Article by S. Pattabhiraman (page 7)
The Statesman, June 19 
'India pressed for online censorship'  (Front page story)
THE HINDU, June 19
Politics after President Pranab: Article by Siddharth Varadarajan
For a Modern Finance Ministry:    Article by Shaji Vikraman
Greek Crisis, Spanish Fears:     Guest column by Bharat Wariavwala

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

MP Sachin sets a target for others to trail

MP Sachin sets a target for others to trail
Sachin Terndulkar is at the peak of his popularity. For some he is the ‘god of cricket’. He is a master blaster for the media. In love for him the media and his fans give him many names. Recently, he has risen on the horizon of national scene as a nominated Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha. He took oath as MP on June 4.
As the government was looking for a safe and suitable bungalow for him in New Delhi to suite his stature, and there were media reports that he was being made  Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi’s neighbour, the cricket maestro hit another maiden century in the game of parliamentary sport by refusing  a government bungalow in New Delhi. He found it an unnecessary burden on the people’s exchequer.
“I am not keen on blocking a government bungalow “, said Sachin, “because this would be a waste of taxpayer's money as I reside in Mumbai. It would be better if the bungalow is allotted to someone else who needs it more than me,” the cricketer said in a statement. “I would prefer to stay in a hotel in Delhi at my own expense when I am on official work. For me the honour of being nominated as a Rajya Sabha member matters most,” he said.   (}
This gentleman in cricket has hit another century of sorts by setting an example for many to emulate and yearn for. It is true that Sachin has during his long cricket career earned name, fame and riches. At the same time he is a philanthropist extending financial help to many individuals and institutions in many ways.
Sachin Tendulkar has certainly trailed a new path for many of his fellow travellers to follow. He is not the only person in public life rolling in riches. Out of about 800 MPs and more than 3000 MLAs in State assemblies, there are many rich persons having their own commercial and industrial houses which fetch them lakhs and crores monthly as income, In spite of that, all of them continue to crave for more and more pay, perks and privileges at public expense. None has set the example Sachin has done.
True, an overwhelming majority of our public representatives were neither born with silver spoons in their mouth nor were they lucky to earn fabulously rich incomes. Even if there are a hundred or more (or less) such individuals, they need to ponder over the example set by Sachin. The money thus saved could be utilised for projects that could wipe out hunger and want from the less privileged sections of society.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Topic Today: June 8, 2012

Pak CJ shows the way
India to learn a lot from Pak judicial system
By Amba Charan Vashishth
At a time when politicians, bureaucrats and judges are just bold to deny the charges against them but do everything to stall  inquiry into their conduct, it was a whiff of fresh air in the Indian sub-continent comprising India, Pakistan, Bangladesh when the Chief Justice of Pakistan Supreme Court, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, suo moto took cognizance of allegations against his son Arsalan Iftikhar who is alleged to have received ` 400 million from tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain to influence cases in the apex court.

Whenever charges of corruption or wrongdoings are hurled at our politicians, our eyes and ears go sick of reading and hearing the same stale, oft-repeated chorus of reaction of our politicians: the allegations are false, unfounded, politically motivated and aimed at character assassination. Some are more chivalrous to declare that they would prefer to be hung by the nearest lamppost or quit politics if found guilty. At the same time they would do all in their power — administrative, political clout and judicial avenues at their command — to stall any inquiry. They volunteer to pronounce a judicial verdict of their "innocence" without letting anybody peep into the allegations and evidence against them and without providing their accusers the opportunity to prove the case against them.
Not only did the Chief Justice immediately constitute a 3-member Bench headed by him but started the proceedings against him the next day. When his son appeared before the Bench in the Supreme Court, promising full justice and pointing a finger at his son Justice Chaudhry said: "He is just Arsalan and not my son as he faces the charge in the court."
On June 7, Justice Chaudhry recused himself from hearing the case and also indicated that he may enlarge the Bench hearing the case.
On the other hand, on this side of the border, hundreds of cases against politicians, bureaucrats and other influential people are hanging fire for decades without hearing giving accused the opportunity to declare that no court in the country has given a verdict of guilty.
In an unprecedented action, the Supreme Court of India on May 10, 2012 asked the government to inquire into allegations of corruption and misconduct levelled against former CJI and present NHRC chief K G Balakrishnan. It said "the competent" authority in the government would conduct a detailed inquiry into the complaint against him by Committee for Judicial Accountability. Even after a month nobody knows what has happened after that. Justice
Balakrishnan continues to occupy the exalted office.
Justice K G Balakrishnan
About two decades back the then Pak President had dissolved Punjab and other assemblies and dismissed the elected council of ministers. The aggrieved persons knocked the door of the court and the Supreme Court in about two months gave justice declaring the action as illegal and restored both the State assemblies and the council of ministers. We have yet to have similar instances in this country. Court verdicts in such cases come after years robbing the element of justice and reducing the same just to a piece of paper of academic d importance just for future reference. The much-quoted Kashvanand Bharati case concerning 
dissolution of Karnataka assembly is such a glaring 
Numerous other cases could be counted. Many are pending even now.
Needless to recall Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry is the same CJ of Pakistan Supreme Court who had refused to salute in obedience to the dictates of then Military Dictator General Musharraf and revolted to maintain the dignity and supremacy of the judiciary. It was this revolt which cost the General very dearly and ultimately in the 2007 elections led to his down fall.
Our salute to Justice Chaudhary! We need to learn a lot from the Pakistan example.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Today's topic
If "coal auction anti-poor", how are others pro-poor, Mr. Jaiswal?

When a person is charged with a criminal offence, the defendant is as aggressive to prove his innocence as is the prosecution to prove him guilty to get him the highest punishment provided under the law. The murder invents the plea that he killed his target in self-defence fearing that the latter may kill him. But both are not —and cannot be — right and the court finally gives its verdict of guilty or not guilty.
That is what the Manmohan Singh government seems to be doing having been cornered from all sides by the CAG indictment of its failure to auction coal blocks causing the Rs. 1052 crore loss to the State exchequer. Just as any accused must invent some alibi, Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, did not lag behind. If bidding was allowed, he has come out with the logic, it would promote commercial mining and would lead to a situation where power companies would ultimately end up selling electricity at exorbitant rates.
He went further: "If we have the coal and cannot use it, then what's the point in having it? We encourage private players so that the full potential can be exploited".
Earlier, the Ministry had come out with the argument that it was following the policy laid down in 1993 (when Congress government under late Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was ruling the country). Does it not imply that it is a status quo government which does not wish to have a relook at the old policies even if not in the interest of the nation?
As the heat on the 2G spectrum scam grew still unbearable, UPA government had claimed that it was following the policy laid by the then BJP-led NDA government in 2001. But the question arose: Why did the UPA found itself dutybound to follow a policy which had been framed by NDA? Since when did the UPA start promoting the NDA agenda?
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mr. Arun Jaitley was quick to ask: Will a sane person sell at 2001 prices his property in 2008? Even government would not allow it; It would ask the stamp duty to be levied at prices prevailing in 2008 and not in 2001 when it was acquired. The Income Tax Department would frown at such a dubious transaction.
To blunt the opposition attack, UPA even went in, in vain, for witch-hunting and tried to probe the case as back as 2000 when NDA was ruling.
Mr. Jaiswal is a very senior politician and seasoned person. He forgets that government has been calling for bid in almost every small and big case, like a cycle-stand, car parking, shops at bus stands, and even plots, houses, shops and other commercial sites. Does it then not cause harassment to the common man who has to pay through his nose for exorbitant rates charged by those who purchase such properties at such high prices?
Land, realty, home and other commercial site rates have risen very high only because government agencies have indulged in auction of such sites. The fact of the matter is that had the Delhi Development Authority and others not indulged in open auction of shops, houses and commercial sites, the prices would not have shot so high as to go beyond the reach of the common man.
It is also a fact that agencies like the DDA purchase land from the farmers at throw-away prices and make hefty profit when they sell the same to the common man at skyrocketing rates. In the process the common seller is the loser and the government agencies are the great gainers. It virtually amounts to government and government agencies exploiting the poor whose land is acquired by government.
Reality is that realty prices are so high that not to speak of metropolitan cities of Delhi, Bombay, Kolkata and Chennai, dreaming of having a home has become a day-dream for the aam aadmi even in a small town and even village.
Going by the same logic, will Mr. Jaiswal and UPA government stop auctioning of plots, houses and commercial establishments to ensure that these do not go beyond the reach of the common man? You cannot have one policy in allotment of coal blocks and just the opposite in other spheres.