Sunday, 18 March 2018

Manmohan Singh is the biggest success in PM's office!

Statistics can often be stranger than fiction.
  • How shall we define ‘political success’? By the fact of ‘re-election to the office’.
  • The ‘biggest’ political success can be defined as re-election to office by the ‘largest increase in mandate’.
If a politician gets re-elected with the largest increase in his mandate, that should, incontrovertibly, allow him to claim the mantle of 'being the most successful'.

Who can claim to be India’s most successful prime minister?
  1. Jawaharlal Nehru - Although he got re-elected more than once, he did not appreciably increase his (already awesome) mandate over his respective previous tenures.
  2. Indira Gandhi - She got re-elected after she cut short her tenure in 1971, but added only 36% (from 259 in 1967 to 352 seats) to her previous mandate.
  3. Atal Bihari Vajpayee - He got re-elected in 1999, but the BJP’s numbers in parliament hardly budged.
  4. Manmohan Singh - He got re-elected in 2009 by increasing his previous mandate of 2004 by a gravity-defying 45% (from 141 to 206 seats).
Manmohan Singh, widely described as India’s weakest prime minister, but who, on cold quantitative statistics, can justifiably claim to be the biggest success in that office! 

The spectacular Lok Sabha polls of 2009
  • Congress swept urban areas. (7 out of 7 in Delhi and 5 out the 5 it contested in Mumbai)
  • With 21 seats, Congress was the second-largest party in Uttar Pradesh after SP(23) and ahead of BSP(20) and more than double of BJP’s tally of 10. 
  • Both the contending alliances, UPA and BJP, had declared prime ministerial candidates – Manmohan Singh and LK Advani .
  • The communists collapsed from 59 seats to 24.
  • Obvious analyses for the Congress’ amazing re-election in 2009 was (i) the three continuous years of 9% -plus GDP growth, (ii) farm loan waiver just before the voting and (iii) people simply loved Manmohan Singh’s act of political defiance over the Indo-U.S. Nuclear Deal. They saw in him a status quo defying politician who could herald change on a massive scale.
  • Very few understood, or cared, about the nuclear nuance. What they latched on to was Singh’s ability to stand up to blackmail in the pursuit of modernity and change.
  • In July 2008 left coalition partners saw red over the Indo-U.S. Nuclear Agreement, and withdrew support in parliament, pushing the government into a minority. He sought a vote of confidence in parliament for his minority government. Some deft political management saw the Congress get new allies on board supported the government. When the vote was counted Singh had won 275-256. His beaming face and exultant V wave became Singh’s political signature for the 2009 polls; across the country, he was feted as ‘Singh is King’.
  • Congress misread its mandate and harked back to the stasis of garibi hatao (poverty) politics, handing a neat walk-over to Narendra Modi in 2014, who instinctively understood the political message of 2009 better than the victors themselves.
We will vote you in, provided you can deliver real and discontinuous change to us. We were promised this in 2009, and again in 2014. But we were let down by both Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi. So for 2019, please go to your drawing boards and figure it out!

Reticent Urjit Patel turn eloquent

RBI Governor Urjit Patel's silence on demonetization made him an easy target for critics. Almost all public statements on demonetization were made by economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das giving rise to the impression that government had sidelined RBI and usurped its policy role, confining it to mere execution. But the Nirav Modi-PNB scam has forced Patel to shun reticence and speak out on several contentious issues without mincing words. 
  • Patel rejected accusations that the regulator’s laxity was to blame for the Rs.13,000-crore fraud at state-owned Punjab National Bank, suggesting that laws need to be changed to ensure punitive action can be taken in time and effectively putting the onus on the government. 
  • He made a pitch for withdrawal of legal immunity from RBI regulations that PSB's enjoy, saying it had led to considerable emaciation of RBI powers over corporate governance. 
  • Patel made an indirect case for privatisation or reducing the role of state-owned lenders. He said the government should decide what to do with public sector banks if it wanted to optimise the use of taxpayer money.
  • He asserted that Banking Regulatory Powers in India are NOT Ownership Neutral. He then went on to read out chapter and verse, the list of clauses and sub-clauses from the legal landscape to underline the helplessness of RBI when it came to regulating public sector banks, which account for nearly 70% of Indian banking.
  • Making this worse is the persistence of delays, of criminal investigation and judicial process. The Governor points out that “RBI data on banking frauds suggests that only a handful of cases over the past five years have had closure, and cases of substantive economic significance remain open. As a result, the overall enforcement mechanism is not perceived to be a major deterrent to frauds relative to economic gains from fraud.”
  • Nearly nine months later – after two rounds of selection meetings – the Deputy Governor’s post is yet vacant.
  • RBI is faced with constraints. It cannot act to remove directors or the management of public sector banks. But does it need the ultimate power to prevent malfeasance? The RBI is empowered to give directions where it is in the public interest. How often has that been deployed? Has the power of inspection been utilised? A call for more power is not a credible demand when existing provisions have not been leveraged.
  • RBI said: “The risks arising from the potential malicious use of the SWIFT infrastructure” has been a risk factor and it had “confidentially cautioned and alerted banks” on three occasions since August 2016 and added, “Banks have, however, been at varying levels in implementation of such measures.” But RBI never cautioned savers about these risks in the banking systems.
  • He said, “If we need to face the brickbats and be the Neelakantha consuming this poison, we will do so as our duty. We will persist with our endeavours and get better with each trial and tribulation along the way." He went on to saying that promoters and banks should seek to be on the side of the devas (the gods) rather than asuras (the demons) in this amrit manthan. 
Despite his image of a reticent, submissive man, Patel withstood pressures from various sides after demonetisation, stuck to a low-inflation regime, didn't lap up the proposal to create a bad bank and opposed farm debt waivers, calling them moral hazards posing inflation risk and undermining an honest credit culture. With his robust defence of the central bank and castigation of public sector banks, Patel has buried the image of a central banker of few words. And with his mythological references, he has shown he can find eloquence when required. 

Responsibility shared by two persons is not 50% each. It is 10% each.

While Bank's proper management rests with the owners (MoF in case PSB's), Urjit Patel, RBI Governor can't resort to offensive in the blame game initiated by Arun Jaitley by invoking mythological comparisons and absolve of its regulatory failures.

Had Urjit Patel shown same courage in 2016, the harebrained demonetization wouldn't have happened and nation would have been spared of its consequences borne mostly by lower class people. These discussions, reasons and advises will be engaging our time and leads to nowhere. While the loot may never get recovered, what is important is elimination of recurrence of such events in future. Urjit Patel must know his responsibility as institutional head never to allow government interference beyond a point and preserve institution's independence and integrity at all costs. Government as owner of PSB's is solely responsible for their proper functioning and the regulatory rules governing PSB's and private banks must be same. RBI's regulatory role in preserving depositors & lenders interests and integrity of banking system can not be compromised.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

TDP moves no confidence motion in LS

Minutes after pulling out from NDA, Mr. Chandrababu Naidu TDP supremo changed his strategy of supporting the YSRCP’s no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government in the Lok Sabha and directed his party MPs to take the initiative and move it. Apparently the TDP wanted not to be seen allying with corrupt YSRCP and wanted to project itself taking head-on with BJP, which any way is considerably weakened as indicated by a series of bye poll reversals in northern states. 
  • While YSRCP's motion didn't attract many of the opposition parties despite its lobbying, Naidu's no confidence motion was supported instantly by 16 opposition parties - Congress, NCP, TMC, YSRCP, SP, RJD, AAP, CPM, CPI, RSP, JD(S), JMM, AIMIM, Kerala Congress, NC, IUML all with about 150 LS members. 
  • TRS adopted 'wait & watch' policy. TRS says it supports the demand for special category status for AP but will not support the no-confidence motion in the LS against the NDA government describing the move as a "political gimmick", which is untenable.
  • NDA enjoys majority in Lok Sabha and runs no risk of being toppled by this no confidence moved by TDP. The Modi-BJP led NDA government still has a comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha well above the current halfway mark of 270. 
  • But the motion has the potential to embarrass BJP as the issue of granting special-category status to AP will be debated at length by various leaders. The issue will hog headlines for several days and will impact the BJP's image and it will become a traitors party as the Parliament Acts and promises are not fulfilled. 
  • It will encourage other NDA allies to raise contentious regional issues and increase disaffection within the alliance. Less than an year before the the next Lok Sabha elections, allies turning hostile will be bad optics for the NDA. It will also impact PM Modi's image of a leader that has confidence of several regional parties. 
  • Faced with embarrassing electoral reversals in the bye polls in northern states, and no better position in western & central states and strong regional parties in east and south, BJP's prospects of getting even 100 seats in 2019 general elections appears dim.
  • The Shiv Sena predicted that the BJP’s tally will come down by 100-110 seats in the 2019 general elections. The two victories by the SP in UP have created panic in the BJP at a time when they were busy celebrating the party’s victory in a small state like Tripura.
  • With all major opposition parties rallying with TDP's motion and none of the allies are comfortable with Modi's autocratic style of working, BJP is likely to have tough time overcoming this situation.
  • BJP employed cheap trick of using AIADMK & TRS stalling and adjourning LS to avoid discussion on no confidence on Fri, 16th March. Even budget was passed on 14th March without discussion and all 21 amendments adopted within 30 minutes. In the mean time, BJP approached Shiv Sena for truce, which earlier snapped ties with NDA.
  • As the passage of the Finance Bill is completed, there is a possibility that the LS will be adjourned sine die thus thwarting no confidence motion. That would be absolute timidity on the part of Modi to avoid facing issues in Parliament which any way he has done so far.
  • At present TDP has 16 LS seats and in next LS it is likely to have 20-22. In the event of BJP falling short of majority in 2019, Modi needs to depend on trusted allies and till yesterday TDP was considered a most trusted ally of BJP.

In AP Congress was buried 20 feet below ground with their highhanded and unjust bifurcation of AP in 2014. Now in 2018, BJP got buried 30 feet below the ground for their cheating the people of AP by not implementing provisions of AP Reorganization Act, not granting Special Category Status to AP and denying financial support for 19+ items and in the process insulting people of AP. BJP cadres are dumb faced and are scared of facing people of AP, despite their leadership ordering them to explain that they have done everything. So far, opposition parties were in disarray and now Modi's arrogance had provided opportunity to unite form alliance(s) to defeat BJP in the forthcoming elections. Even UP's recent bye election debacle, has not taught Modi any lesson. Instead of mending his ways and do the right thing, he preferred to kneel down before Shiv Sena for support. Modi's arrogance may end up in isolation of BJP in NDA and many trusted allies are likely to exit. Even though unlikely, if for any reason no confidence motion wins, mid term elections are a certainty paving the way for formation of non-BJP government in Delhi.

Friday, 16 March 2018

No one can harm you but yourself

Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Jawaharlal Nehru and Gandhiji
The best advice I ever had came from one of the greatest souls the world has ever known -- Mahatma Gandhi -- on a sunny afternoon a decade ago.

Most people pass through a period of anguish when their belief in humanity is at a low ebb. I was in such a period. My husband had recently died. My deep sorrow over his loss was followed by the humiliating realization that in the eyes of Indian law I had no individual existence. Along with other Indian women I had participated for years with men in the national struggle for freedom, working and suffering side by side with them until it had finally been achieved-yet in law we women were still recognized only through our relationship to men. Now as a widow without a son, I was not entitled to any share of the family property, nor were my two daughters. I resented this galling position. I was bitter towards those members of my family who supported this antiquated law.

At this time I went to pay my respect to Gandhiji and say goodbye before leaving for America to take part in a conference. After our talk he asked, "Have you made your peace with your relatives?"

I was amazed that he would takes sides against me. "I have not quarrelled with anyone," I replied, "but I refuse to have anything to do with those who take advantage of an outworn law to create a difficult and humiliating situation for me."

Gandhiji looked out of the window for a moment. Then he turned to me and smiled, and said, "You will go and say goodbye because courtesy and decency demand this. In India, we still attach importance to these things."

"No," I declared, "not even to please you will I go to those who wish to harm me."

"No one can harm you except yourself," he said, still smiling. "I see enough bitterness in your heart to cause you injury unless you check it."

I remained silent, and he continued: "You are going to a new country because you are unhappy and want to escape. Can you escape from yourself? Will you find happiness outside when there is bitterness in your heart? Think it over. Be a little humble. You have lost a loved one-that is sorrow enough. Must you inflict further injury on yourself because you lack courage to cleanse your own heart?"

His words would not leave me. They gave me no peace. After some days of severe struggle with myself, I finally telephoned my brother-in-law. I would like to see him and the family, I said, before leaving.

I hadn't been with them five minutes before I sensed that my visit had brought a feeling of relief to everyone. I told them of my plans and asked for their good wishes before starting on this new stage of my life. The effect on me was miraculous. I felt as if a great burden had been lifted and I was free to be myself.

This small gesture was the beginning of a significant change in me. A year and a half later I was in New York, leader of the Indian delegation to the United Nations. Important to us was India's complaint regarding the treatment of people of Indian origin in the Union of South Africa. Harsh things were said by both sides. I resented the manner in which my opponents made personal attacks harmful to India's prestige and to mine. I struck back with the same sharp weapons. Then, after a distressing duel of words, I suddenly thought of Gandhiji. Would he approve? To him, means were as important as the end -- in the long run, perhaps more important. What if we succeeded in getting our resolution passed by questionable tactics that injured our self-respect?

Before going to bed that night I resolved that, come what may, no word of mine would be lightly used in the UN. From then on, I lifted the debate back to where it belonged, refusing to retaliate to personal attacks or to score a cheap point. Our opponents met us on the new level and from then on we argued the case on its merits.

Before leaving the committee room on the last day, I went up and spoke to the leader of the opposing delegation. "I have come to ask you to forgive me if I have hurt you by any word or action in this debate."

He shook my hand warmly and said, "I have no complaint."

It was good to feel right with him, but even better to feel right with myself. 

To retain a sense of proportion is as important as being able to keep one's heart free from hatred. For all of us, no matter what our work, the advice Gandhiji gave me is meaningful: "No one can harm you but yourself."

Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Jawaharlal Nehru's sister, wrote this article in 1955 when she was the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. She passed away in 1990.
This story first appeared in January 1956

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Modi insult Advani, a national shame

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Tripura on Friday March 09, 2018 to take part in the oath-taking ceremony of Biplab Deb, who was has been sworn as the state's new chief minister. Narendra Modi and several other senior BJP leaders including LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, party president Amit Shah had participated in the swearing-in ceremony of Biplab Deb as Tripura Chief Minister. As greeted by everyone on the stage, PM Modi responded to them individually. However, when LK Advani greeted him, PM Modi snubbed him without responding to his greetings. The video of Modi snubbing Advani has received flak from netizens who rebuked Modi's head-strong attitude. Many Twitterati recalled how Modi had traveled with Advani as his assistant carrying Advani's microphone.
  • Had Modi intended to really insult and humiliate LKAdvani, he would not have invited him in the first place.
  • It was Advani who made Modi, not even an MLA, chief minister of Gujarat. How Modi manipulated Advani to pull down Keshubhai Patel is all together a different story.
  • BJP won only two Lok Sabha seats in the elections of 1984, in the aftermath of assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1983 and in the resultant sympathy wave BJP was washed away. 
  • It was Advani's Rath Yatra of 1990 that helped BJP win 120 seats in 1991 general elections. Later in 1996 elections BJP won 161 seats and in 1998 midterm elections it won 182 seats to form NDA govt headed by AB Vajpayee.
  • Riding on the popularity after Rath Yatra, in 1996 he could have got chance to become PM but he got his senior Vajpayee's name for leadership. He was rightful claimant for the position for building the party but gave up. Vajpayee was only a face of the party, Advani was brain and real organisation man.
  • In 2002, when PM AB Vajpayee had prepared the ground for removal of Modi, seen as presiding over the worst communal riots the country, it was Advani who saved the day for Modi. Vajpayee, who had asserted that Modi should adhere to “raj dharma”, bowed to Advani's pressure.
It is clear the future of all parties lies temporarily in coalitions. Coalitions demand consensus, adjustments, the fine art of political management and statesmanship. It is clear that Mr. Modi is not a carrier of such values. It is also clear that the BJP is a graceless party.

Once you get past charm, good looks, intelligence and sense of humour, 

it is modesty that stands out.

Culture of a person, society or the country
is the way they treat their women, disabled, aged and weaker sections.

Pranaam ka parinaam Aashirwaad ... Mahabharat

Modi insults Advani at BJP CM swearing in ceremony at Agartala 

It is a matter of national shame that our prime minister, Narendra Modi, is a manner less and culture less person who insults 90 year old man, LK Advani, who was also Modi's mentor and protector until yesterday on a public platform at Agartala. India's future is unsafe in the hands of this culture-less and ill educated person thy name Narendra Modi.

Monday, 12 March 2018

How BJP won in Tripura?

In an interview in early January, when asked if the BJP could challenge and replace the CPM in Tripura, the state’s longest serving chief minister, Manik Sarkar, laughed. “Challenge? Replace? You go and ask the people. And you will know the answer.” On March 3, 2018, the people of Tripura answered, bringing to an end 25 years of uninterrupted CPM rule in the state and the 20-year-old reign of Sarkar.

Government employees were unhappy because they were still on fourth pay commission salaries. The BJP promised them a hike, committing to implement the Seventh Pay Commission and that worked overwhelmingly in the BJP’s favour. Young students were unhappy because they felt Tripura was missing out on modernity and jobs or because they felt the CPM cadre were getting all the jobs that were available. The BJP presented itself an alternative which would bring vikas (development).

"Chief Minister Manik Sarkar can’t use use a smart phone. He refused to meet CEOs of top IT companies that we mobilised during the 2015 Tripura conclave just before Agartala became India's third gateway", says Saumen Sarkar, Vice President, Bank of America (IT solutions), who hails from Tripura. Sarkar organised the one-day brainstorming session, that is, the Tripura Conclave, and his efforts to mobilise several top IT majors went to waste when the state government did not play ball.

Sarkar’s biggest asset was his clean image and projection of austerity which didn't help in this elections. For Sarkar it has been a cruel good-bye, for the state has shifted to his most bitter ideological rival.

It would be preposterous to treat the results in the recent assembly elections in the three North Eastern states—Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura—as a barometer for the Lok Sabha elections 2019 in these states. In Nagaland (12 seats) and Meghalaya (2 seats), the BJP can only hope to be an ally of the winners. Before the results were declared on March 3, 2018, it would have been difficult for many to believe that the BJP would win 12 seats in the staunchly Christian Nagaland. 
  • In Tripura BJP won 35 seats, BJP's ally IPFT won 8 seats and CPM 16 seats. Congress lost in all seats.
  • Nearly 44 candidates in the BJP list in Tripura were ex-Congressmen. 
  • The saffron party inflicted a humiliating defeat on the Left Front which had never faced such a situation even when it had lost power in 1988.
  • The fact that the BJP has got a majority on its own means it would not concede to its ally IPFT’s demand for a separate state ‘Twipraland’.
  • The 2019 result will therefore depend on how secure the uneasy partnership between the BJP and the Indigenous People’s Front Tripura remains. 
  • Poor farmers live in fear of the revival of a tribal insurgency and credit CM Manik Sarkar for tackling it in the last decade.
  • The BJP’s clean sweep in Agartala also proves that middle-class Bengalis, fed up with the lack of job creation by previous governments, also voted decisively against the Left.
  • The BJP has its eye firmly on the 25 Lok Sabha seats from the north-eastern States and that its ambitions are grounded.
  • Manik Sarkar was fighting a grossly unequal fight. On one side was the CM standing alone  with no money backing him, and on the other side was the “world’s largest” party the BJP, with plenty of money power and which is ruling the Centre. When CPM is refusing to have an electoral understanding with the Congress, how can it win against the BJP?
  • BJP deployed 52 union ministers in Tripura during the campaign. The aim was to boost confidence of the cadre who were up against arch rivals, Left.
  • The role of the RSS is important in this victory. Some senior workers were sent to BJP to work in Tripura since two years. Sunil Deodhar was the incharge of BJP in Tripura. The amounts of money spent by BJP is mind boggling too.
  • The Congress’ vote share dropped from 36.5% in 2013 to 1.8% now. The BJP’s vote share rose from 1.5% to 43.0%. CPM vote share dwindled from 48% to 42.7% votes. The sheen of the BJP's spectacular win was at the cost of Congress rather than the Left. The BJP managed to swallow up the entire opposition space rather than making any drastic inroads into the traditional Left vote base.

Unless different parties with varied ideologies chalk out a common programme, they can't seriously and effectively challenge the BJP.