Thursday, 17 August 2017

Modi, the greatest liar

  • Modi's claim of 56 lakh new IT payers is not necessarily the result of demonetization and more over 90% of new IT payers are in the  income range of Rs.2.50-Rs.2.70 lakhs/annum yielding revenue of just over Rs.100 crores. Where as demonetization costed the nation over Rs.1.50 lakh crores, at the least.
  • Modi announced Rs.80,000 crore Kashmir package in Nov 2015 and so far nothing has been spent in Kashmir except on army expenses. The voter response dwindling from 64% in 2014 elections to less than 7% in recent Srinagar bye poll (and 2% in re-poll in some parts) speaks volumes about Modi's failure in Kashmir so far.
  • Modi must realize that Kashmir problem is not just law & order problem which can be solved by army nor an economic package will buy peace there. But the solution lies in removing the alienation of people in Kashmir through political engagement and deliberation.
  • The fact that LS & RS with combined strength of 790 and 14.23% Muslim population their representation should have been 112. The present strength is just 23 (under 3%). 
  • As on date, BJP Muslim MP's in LS are NIL and in RS are just 2.
  • The appearance of schoolgirls on the streets to join the teenage boys to throw stones at the security forces shows that the familial and social norms are breaking down.
  • Even after SC ended armed forces immunity under AFSP Act in 2016 and to day in Kashmir every 8th household an able bodied male is missing (presumed killed by security forces in fake encounters) and every 5th household a woman is raped by security forces (mostly unreported due to social pressures), not a single case has been filed against the security personnel and how people of Kashmir will trust our law enforcers is a million dollar question. Today half of our military totaling 7.50 lakhs are on duty in Kashmir with a population of under 10 million and reported number foreign militants are less than 150.
  • Without initiating establishment of 'rule of law' and engaging people politically how Modi will resolve Kashmir issue and make it a 'paradise once again' is shallow and his speech a blatant lie. 
  • If nothing is done to resolve Kashmir's burning issue except application of brute military might which will not solve the problem and it is feared that in due course of time we may end up loosing Kashmir permanently.

Power is domination, control, and therefore any selective form of truth is a lie.
పామరజనొచితమగు ఫ్రల్లదనములు పలుకుటకు ప్రాఘ్నులంగీకరింపరు.

Modi with his oratory skills, rhetoric, hammering out selective truths and publicizing failures as successes is virtually destroying India economically & politically. First two years he spent time touring the world delivering mesmerizing speeches. In third year he unleashed war on people by quack advised demonetization which hurt the poor most and resulted in destruction of agriculture, construction and informal sector while stated objectives were elusive. Then he found GST which would project him as bold reformer and rolling out in its mangled form and hurriedly without sufficient preparation had impacted small businesses greatly. Both these must have costed nation about Rs.300,000 crores which will never be known. GST, a novel reform, is expected to impact economy for about two years and there after benefits starts accruing. But demonetization and GST has hidden agenda of destroying informal sector which provides employment to 90% Indians. On other hand Kashmir matters have reached to its worst. Relationships with neighbors have deteriorated and war with China appears imminent. GDP growth has slipped to 6.1% which would have been 8.5% had Modi done nothing. GDP less by 1% means loss of at least one million livelihoods. Millions of workers in unorganized sectors lost their livelihoods. Instead of giving promised 'minimum government & maximum governance' what we got from Modi is 'maximum government, minimum governance & inspector raj'. He did nothing to resolve banks NPA's and recapitalization resulting banking activity very low and parked their cash of Rs.2 lakh crores with RBI for just 6% pa. Despite low oil prices for three consecutive years, Indian economy is at its worst, a gift by senseless Modi. Anti cattle rules, stayed by SC, have destroyed cattle trade business, impacted $40 billion annual exports and loss of livelihoods to 4 million Muslims & Dalits. Lynching of Muslims by 'cow vigilante groups' has made out going Vice President, Hamid Ansari, declare 'minorities are insecure in India' first time after its independence 70 years ago. Finally, the Prime Minister is expected to be honest and truthful to Parliament and people of India but Modi avoids Parliament, hides facts, blasts selective truths and tells blatant lies. Height of his insanity is projecting failures as successes. His strategies got him electoral victories but destroyed the nation economically & politically with deteriorated relationships with neighbors. Strangely India is experiencing 'job less growth' and 'growth less job' situation. He is yet to accept and regret his misdeeds, which is unlikely. Where are we heading?

Jagan wants Chandrababu Naidu to be killed? Why?

  • Jagan is desperate to win Nandyal bye election otherwise his party (YSRCP) getting empty prior to 2019 elections is not ruled out.
  • Naidu is also desperate to win Nandyal bye poll, otherwise Jagan will project Nandyal victory for him as semifinal victory and 2019 victory is assured and countering caste based polarization becomes an uphill task for Naidu in 2019 elections.
  • With stakes high, both sides are spending money like water and entire state leadership is campaigning at Nandyal.
  • Rate of Rs.5,000 per vote is the 'talk of the town' and total expense over Rs.500 crores!
  • Jagan wanted Chandra Babu Naidu shot dead in his election speech for alleged electoral promises unfulfilled etc and repeating again after few days despite EC's asking him explanation indicates his impatience and reflects his fears that as long as Naidu is alive he can't ascend to the throne of CM.
  • Prashant Kishore's back room strategy is also a possibility. Controversies create more publicity without expense.
  • India’s political discourse has deteriorated to new lows during 2014 elections.
  • By calling for the killing of a rival, Jagan surpassed all the lows.
Jagan's outbursts will not fetch him any new votes but will surely  end up losing many neutral votes. By his killer instincts Jagan has more or less conceded defeat at Nandyal bye poll. The actual result is a matter of time.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Hamid Ansari, Vice President's speech at NLSIU convocation

Hamid Ansari, Vice-President's speech at the 25th annual convocation of the
National Law School of India University in Bengaluru on August 7, 2017

In his final address as vice-president, Hamid Ansari spoke at the 25th annual convocation of the National Law School of India University in Bengaluru. In his speech, he said the challenge was to reiterate and rejuvenate secularism's basic principles, including freedom of religion and tolerance. The function was presided over by Chief Justice of India, Jagdish Singh Khehar. 

Here is the full text of the speech Ansari gave on 6 August, 2017:

It is a privilege to be invited to this most prestigious of law schools in the country, more so for someone not formally lettered in the discipline of law. I thank the Director and the faculty for this honour.

The nebulous universe of law and legal procedures is well known to this audience and there is precariously little that I can say of relevance to them. And, for reasons of prudence and much else, I dare not repeat here either Mr. Bumble’s remark that ‘the law is an ass’ or the suggestion of a Shakespearean character who outrageously proposed in Henry VI to ‘kill all lawyers.’ Instead, my effort today would be to explore the practical implications that some constitutional principles, legal dicta and judicial pronouncements have for the lives of citizens.

An interest in political philosophy has been a lifelong pursuit. I recall John Locke’s dictum that ‘wherever law ends, tyranny begins.’ Also in my mind is John Rawl’s assertion that ‘justice is the first virtue of social institutions’ and that ‘in a just society the liberties of equal citizenship are taken as settled and the rights secured by justice and are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interest.’ To Rawls, the first task of political philosophy is its practical role to see, whether despite appearances on deeply disputed questions, some philosophical or moral grounds can be located to further social cooperation on a footing of mutual respect among citizens.

The Constitution of India and its Preamble is an embodiment of the ideals and principles that I hold dear.

The People of India gave themselves a Republic that is Sovereign, Socialist, Secular and Democratic and a constitutional system with its focus on Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. These have been embodied in a set of institutions and laws, conventions and practices.

Our founding fathers took cognizance of an existential reality. Ours is a plural society and a culture imbued with considerable doses of syncretism. Our population of 1.3 billion comprises of over 4,635 communities, 78 percent of whom are not only linguistic and cultural but social categories. Religious minorities constitute 19.4 percent of the total. The human diversities are both hierarchical and spatial.

It is this plurality that the Constitution endowed with a democratic polity and a secular state structure. Pluralism as a moral value seeks to ‘transpose social plurality to the level of politics, and to suggest arrangements which articulate plurality with a single political order in which all duly constituted groups and all individuals are actors on an equal footing, reflected in the uniformity of legal capacity. Pluralism in this modern sense presupposes citizenship.’

Citizenship as the basic unit is conceptualized as “national-civic rather than national-ethnic” ‘even as national identity remained a rather fragile construct, a complex and increasingly fraught ‘national-civic-plural-ethnic’ combinations.’ In the same vein, Indianness came to be defined not as a singular or exhaustive identity but as embodying the idea of layered Indianness, an accretion of identities.

'Modern democracy offers the prospect of the most inclusive politics of human history. By the same logic, there is a thrust for exclusion that is a byproduct of the need for cohesion in democratic societies; hence the resultant need for dealing with exclusion ‘creatively’ through sharing of identity space by ‘negotiating a commonly acceptable political identity between the different personal and group identities which want to/have to live in the polity.’ Democracy ‘has to be judged not just by the institutions that formally exist but by the extent to which different voices from diverse sections of the people can actually be heard.’ Its ‘raison d’etre is the recognition of the other.’

Secularism as a concept and as a political instrumentality has been debated extensively. A definitive pronouncement pertaining to it for purposes of statecraft in India was made by the Supreme Court in the Bommai case and bears reiteration:

‘Secularism has both positive and negative contents. The Constitution struck a balance between temporal parts confining it to the person professing a particular religious faith or belief and allows him to practice profess and propagate his religion, subject to public order, morality and health. The positive part of secularism has been entrusted to the State to regulate by law or by an executive order. The State is prohibited to patronise any particular religion as State religion and is enjoined to observe neutrality. The State strikes a balance to ensue an atmosphere of full faith and confidence among its people to realise full growth of personality and to make him a rational being on secular lines, to improve individual excellence, regional growth, progress and national integrity… Religious tolerance and fraternity are basic features and postulates of the Constitution as a scheme for national integration and sectional or religious unity. Programmes or principles evolved by political parties based on religion amount to recognizing religion as a part of the political governance which the Constitution expressly prohibits. It violates the basic features of the Constitution. Positive secularism negates such a policy and any action in furtherance thereof would be violative of the basic features of the Constitution.’

Despite its clarity, various attempts, judicial and political, have been made to dilute its import and to read new meaning into it. Credible critics have opined that the December 11, 1995 judgment of the Supreme Court Bench ‘are highly derogatory of the principle of secular democracy’ and that a larger Bench should reconsider them ‘and undo the great harm caused by them' This remains to be done; ‘instead, a regression of consciousness (has) set in’ and ‘the slide is now sought to be accelerated and is threatening to wipe out even the gains of the national movement summed up in sarvadharma sambhav.’

It has been observed, with much justice, that ‘the relationship between identity and inequality lies at the heart of secularism and democracy in India.’ The challenge today then is to reiterate and rejuvenate secularism’s basic principles: equality, freedom of religion and tolerance, and to emphasize that equality has to be substantive, that freedom of religion be re-infused with its collectivist dimensions, and that toleration should be reflective of the realities of Indian society and lead to acceptance.

Experience of almost seven decades sheds light on the extent of our success, and of limitations, on the actualizations of these values and objectives. The optimistic narrative is of deepening; the grim narrative of decline or crisis.

Three questions thus come to mind:
  • How has the inherent plurality of our polity reflected itself in the functioning of Indian democracy?
  • How has democracy contributed to the various dimensions of Indian pluralism?
  • How consistent are we in adherence to secularism?
Our democratic polity is pluralist because it recognizes and endorses this plurality in (a) its federal structure, (b) linguistic and religious rights to minorities, and (c) a set of individual rights. The first has sought to contain, with varying degrees of success, regional pressures, the second has ensured space for religious and linguistic minorities, and the third protects freedom of opinion and the right to dissent.

A question is often raised about national integration. Conceptually and practically, integration is not synonymous with assimilation or homogenization. Some years back, a political scientist had amplified the nuances:

‘In the semantics of functional politics the term national integration means, and ought to mean, cohesion and not fusion, unity and not uniformity, reconciliation and not merger, accommodation and not annihilation, synthesis and not dissolution, solidarity and not regimentation of the several discrete segments of the people constituting the larger political community…Obviously, then, Integration is not a process of conversion of diversities into a uniformity but a congruence of diversities leading to a unity in which both the varieties and similarities are maintained.’

How and to what extent has this worked in the case of Indian democracy with its ground reality of exclusions arising from stratification, heterogeneity and hierarchy that often ‘operate conjointly and create intersectionality’? 

Given the pervasive inequalities and social diversities, the choice of a system committed to political inclusiveness was itself ‘a leap of faith.’ The Constitution instituted universal adult suffrage and a system of representation on the First-Past-The-Post (Westminster) model. An underlying premise was the Rule of Law that is reflective of the desire of people ‘to make power accountable, governance just, and state ethical.’

Much earlier, Gandhi ji had predicted that democracy would be safeguarded if people ‘have a keen sense of independence, self respect and their oneness and should insist upon choosing as their representatives only persons as are good and true.’ This, when read alongside Ambedkar’s apprehension that absence of equality and fraternity could bring forth ‘a life of contradictions’ if the ideal of ‘one person, one vote, one value’ was not achieved, framed the challenge posed by democracy.

Any assessment of the functioning of our democracy has to be both procedural and substantive. On procedural count the system has developed roots with regularity of elections, efficacy of the electoral machinery, an ever increasing percentage of voter participation in the electoral process and the formal functioning of legislatures thus elected. The record gives cause for much satisfaction.

The score is less emphatic on the substantive aspects. Five of these bear closer scrutiny – (a) the gap between ‘equality before the law’ and ‘equal protection of the law’, (b) representativeness of the elected representative, (c) functioning of legislatures, (d) gender and diversity imbalance and (e) secularism in practice:
  • Equality before the law and equal protection of the law: ‘The effort to pursue equality has been made at two levels. At one level was the constitutional effort to change the very structure of social relations: practicing caste and untouchability was made illegal, and allowing religious considerations to influence state activity was not permitted. At the second level the effort was to bring about economic equality although in this endeavour the right to property and class inequality was not seriously curbed…Thus the reference to economic equality in the Constitution, in the courts or from political platforms remained basically rhetorical.’ 
  • Representativeness of the elected representative: In the 2014 general election, 61% of the elected MPs obtained less than 50% of the votes polled. This can be attributed in some measure to the First-Past-the-Post system in a fragmented polity and multiplicity of parties and contestants. The fact nevertheless remains that representation obtained on non-majority basis does impact on the overall approach in which politics of identity prevails over common interest.
  • Functioning of legislatures, accountability and responsiveness: The primary tasks of legislators are legislation, seeking accountability of the executive, articulation of grievances and discussion of matters of public concern. The three often overlap; all require sufficient time being made available. It is the latter that is now a matter of concern. The number of sittings of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha which stood at 137 and 100 respectively in 1953 declined to 49 and 52 in 2016. The paucity of time thus created results in shrinkage of space made available to each of these with resultant impact on quality and productivity and a corresponding lessening of executive’s accountability. According to one assessment some years back, ‘over 40 percent of the Bills were passed in Lok Sabha with less than one hour of debate. The situation is marginally better in the Rajya Sabha.’ Substantive debates on public policy issues are few and far in between. More recently, the efficacy of the Standing Committee mechanism has been dented by resort to tactics of evasion by critical witnesses. A study on 'Indian Parliament as an Instrument of Accountability' concluded that the institution is ‘increasingly becoming ineffective in providing surveillance of the executive branch of the government.
  • The picture with regard to the functioning of the Sate Assemblies is generally much worse.
  • Thus while public participation in the electoral exercise has noticeably improved, public satisfaction with the functioning of the elected bodies is breeding cynicism with the democratic process itself. It has also been argued that ‘the time has come to further commit ourselves to a deeper and more participatory and decentralized democracy - a democracy with greater congruence between people’s interests and public policy.’
  • Gender and diversity imbalance: Women MPs constituted 12.15% of the total in 2014. This compares unfavourably globally as well as within SAARC and is reflective of pervasive neo-patriarchal attitudes. The Women’s Reservation Bill of 2009 was passed by the Rajya Sabha, was not taken up in Lok Sabha, and lapsed when Parliament was dissolve before the 2014 general elections. It has not been resurrected. Much the same (for other reasons of perception and prejudice) holds for Minority representation. Muslims constitute 14.23 percent of the population of India. The total strength of the two Houses of Parliament is 790; the number of Muslim MPs stood at 49 in 1980, ranged between 30 and 35 in the 1999 to 2009 period, but declined to 23 in 2014.
  • An Expert Committee report to the Government some years back had urged the need for a Diversity Index to indentify ‘inequality traps’ which prevent the marginalized and work in favour of the dominant groups in society and result in unequal access to political power that in turn determines the nature and functioning of institutions and policies.
  • Secularism in actual practice: Experience shows that secularism has become a site for political and legal contestation. The difficulty lies in delineating, for purposes of public policy and practice, the line that separates them from religion. For this, religion per se, and each individual religion figuring in the discourse, has to be defined in terms of its stated tenets. The ‘way of life’ argument, used in philosophical texts and some judicial pronouncements, does not help the process of identifying common principles of equity in a multi-religious society in which religious majority is not synonymous with totality of the citizen body. Since a wall of separation is not possible under Indian conditions, the challenge is to develop and implement a formula for equidistance and minimum involvement. For this purpose, principles of faith need to be segregated from contours of culture since a conflation of the two obfuscates the boundaries of both and creates space to equivocalness. Furthermore, such an argument could be availed of by other faiths in the land since all claim a cultural sphere and a historical justification for it.
In life as in law, terminological inexactitude has its implications. In electoral terms, ‘majority’ is numerical majority as reflected in a particular exercise (e.g. election), does not have permanence and is generally time-specific; the same holds for ‘minority’. Both find reflection in value judgments. In socio-political terminology (e.g. demographic data) ‘majority’ and ‘minority’ are terms indicative of settled situations. These too bring forth value judgments. The question then is whether in regard to ‘citizenship’ under our Constitution with its explicit injunctions on rights and duties, any value judgments should emerge from expressions like ‘majority’ and ‘minority’ and the associated adjectives like ‘majoritarian’ and ‘majorityism’ and ‘minoritarian’and ‘minorityism’? Record shows that these have divisive implications and detract from the Preamble’s quest for ‘Fraternity’.

Within the same ambit, but distinct from it, is the constitutional principle of equality of status and opportunity, amplified through Articles 14, 15, and 16. This equality has to be substantive rather than merely formal and has to be given shape through requisite measures of affirmative action needed in each case so that the journey on the path to development has a common starting point. This would be an effective way of giving shape to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policy of Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikas.

It is here that the role of the judicial arm of the state comes into play and, as an acknowledged authority on the Constitution put it, ‘unless the Court strives in every possible way to assure that the Constitution, the law, applies fairly to all citizens, the Court cannot be said to have fulfilled its custodial responsibility.’

How then do we go about creating conditions and space for a more comprehensive realization of the twin objectives of pluralism and secularism and in weaving it into the fabric of a comprehensive actualization of the democratic objectives set forth in the Constitution?

The answer would seem to lie, firstly, in the negation of impediments to the accommodation of diversity institutionally and amongst citizens and, secondly, in the rejuvenation of the institutions and practices through which pluralism and secularism cease to be sites for politico-legal contestation in the functioning of Indian democracy. The two approaches are to be parallel, not sequential. Both necessitate avoidance of sophistry in discourse or induction of personal inclinations in State practice. A more diligent promotion of fraternity, and of our composite culture, in terms of Article 51A (e) and (f) is clearly required. It needs to be done in practice by leaders and followers.

A commonplace suggestion is advocacy of tolerance. Tolerance is a virtue. It is freedom from bigotry. It is also a pragmatic formula for the functioning of society without conflict between different religions, political ideologies, nationalities, ethnic groups, or other us-versus-them divisions.

Yet tolerance alone is not a strong enough foundation for building an inclusive and pluralistic society. It must be coupled with understanding and acceptance. We must, said Swami Vivekananda, ‘not only tolerate other religions, but positively embrace them, as truth is the basis of all religions.’

Acceptance goes a step beyond tolerance. Moving from tolerance to acceptance is a journey that starts within ourselves, within our own understanding and compassion for people who are different to us and from our recognition and acceptance of the ‘other’ that is the raison d’etre of democracy. The challenge is to look beyond the stereotypes and preconceptions that prevent us from accepting others. This makes continuous dialogue unavoidable. It has to become an essential national virtue to promote harmony transcending sectional diversities. The urgency of giving this a practical shape at national, state and local levels through various suggestions in the public domain is highlighted by enhanced apprehensions of insecurity amongst segments of our citizen body, particularly Dalits, Muslims and Christians.

The alternative, however unpalatable, also has to be visualized. There is evidence to suggest that we are a polity at war with itself in which the process of emotional integration has faltered and is in dire need of reinvigoration. On one plane is the question of our commitment to Rule of Law that seems to be under serious threat arising out of the noticeable decline in the efficacy of the institutions of the State, lapses into arbitrary decision-making and even ‘ochlocracy’ or mob rule, and the resultant public disillusionment; on another are questions of fragility and cohesion emanating from impulses that have shifted the political discourse from mere growth centric to vociferous demands for affirmative action and militant protest politics. ‘A culture of silence has yielded to protests’ The vocal distress in the farm sector in different States, the persistence of Naxalite insurgencies, the re-emergence of language related identity questions, seeming indifference to excesses pertaining to weaker sections of society, and the as yet unsettled claims of local nationalisms can no longer be ignored or brushed under the carpet. The political immobility in relation to Jammu and Kashmir is disconcerting. Alongside are questions about the functioning of what has been called our ‘asymmetrical federation’ and ‘the felt need for a wider, reinvigorated, perspective on the shape of the Union of India’ to overcome the crisis of ‘moral legitimacy’ in its different manifestations.

I have in the foregoing dwelt on two ‘isms’, two value systems, and the imperative need to invest them with greater commitment in word and deed so that the principles of the Constitution and the structure emanating from it are energized. Allow me now to refer to a third ‘ism’ that is foundational for the modern state, is not of recent origin, but much in vogue in an exaggerated manifestation. I refer here to Nationalism.

Scholars have dwelt on the evolution of the idea. The historical precondition of Indian identity was one element of it; so was regional and anti-colonial patriotism. By 1920s a form of pluralistic nationalism had answered the question of how to integrate within it the divergent aspirations of identities based on regional vernacular cultures and religious communities. A few years earlier, Rabindranath Tagore had expressed his views on the ‘idolatry of Nation’.

For many decades after independence, a pluralist view of nationalism and Indianness reflective of the widest possible circle of inclusiveness and a ‘salad bowl’ approach, characterized our thinking. More recently an alternate viewpoint of ‘purifying exclusivism’ has tended to intrude into and take over the political and cultural landscape. One manifestation of it is ‘an increasingly fragile national ego’ that threatens to rule out any dissent however innocent. Hyper-nationalism and the closing of the mind is also ‘a manifestation of insecurity about one’s place in the world.’

While ensuring external and domestic security is an essential duty of the state, there seems to be a trend towards sanctification of military might overlooking George Washington’s caution to his countrymen over two centuries earlier about ‘overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty.’

Citizenship does imply national obligations. It necessitates adherence to and affection for the nation in all its rich diversity. This is what nationalism means, and should mean, in a global community of nations. The Israeli scholar Yael Tamir has dwelt on this at some length. Liberal nationalism, she opines, ‘requires a state of mind characterized by tolerance and respect of diversity for members of one’s own group and for others;’ hence it is ‘polycentric by definition’ and ‘celebrates the particularity of culture with the universality of human rights, the social and cultural embeddedness of individuals together with their personal autonomy.’ On the other hand, ‘the version of nationalism that places cultural commitments at its core is usually perceived as the most conservative and illiberal form of nationalism. It promotes intolerance and arrogant patriotism’.

What are, or could be, the implications of the latter for pluralism and secularism? It is evident that both would be abridged since both require for their sustenance a climate of opinion and a state practice that eschews intolerance, distances itself from extremist and illiberal nationalism, subscribes in word and deed to the Constitution and its Preamble, and ensures that citizenship irrespective of caste, creed or ideological affiliation is the sole determinant of Indianness.

In our plural secular democracy, therefore, the ‘other’ is to be none other than the ‘self’. Any derogation from it would be detrimental to its core values.

Jai Hind.

Prize winning letter

Prize winning letter published in THE WEEK dated Aug 20, 2017

Gorakhpur tragedy

  • On Aug 12, 2017, as many as 30 children, mostly infants, lost their lives due to encephalitis in a span of 48 hours at BRD Medical College Hospital, Gorakhpur. The death toll in the last five days is said to be 63. 
  • Gorakhpur DM Rajeev Rautela said the cause of the deaths at the BRD Hospital was the disruption in the supply of liquid oxygen. Gorakhpur SP admitted that 21 children had died due to shortage of supply of liquid oxygen.
  • BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj lashed out at Yogi Adityanth government by saying “One or two deaths in different, but 30 deaths is genocide.”
  • UP’s health minister Siddharth Nath Singh said that no one died between 11:30 pm and 1:30 am on the night of Aug 10 in BRD Medical College Hospital when oxygen supply got disrupted. He further stated that deaths were not due to lack of oxygen but due to other causes. Daily footfall is about 4,000-5,000 patients in BRD and average daily death count is around 20 in BRD in August. This is to explain and not create a panic the way it is being created.  The Opposition said the government’s denial of any deaths due to oxygen shortage was a cover-up. 
  • Opposition said Siddharth Nath Singh should have resigned taking moral responsibility like his grandfather Lal Bahadur Shastri did as railways minister after a train accident. I have no issues in taking moral responsibility but I am not the relevant minister, Siddharth Nath Singh replied.
  • The Lucknow based firm Pushpa Sales, at the centre of the controversy over disruption of oxygen supply because of non-payment of dues, which had entered into an agreement with the hospital in 2014, had sent as many as 14 reminders to the administration since Feb 2017. The outstanding dues were about Rs.68 lakhs.
  • Even while claiming the disruption in oxygen supply is not the reason for the deaths, the police has raided the office of the oxygen supplier.
  • Suspended BRD Medical College principal, Rajeev Mishra, says he wrote his resignation prior to suspension taking responsibility of the deaths of innocent children.
  • Dr Kafeel Khan, who spent money from his own pocket, and transported twelve oxygen cylinders driving his own car from private nursing homes to BRD Medical College Hospital on August 10th night and saved lives of many children, when the supply of liquid oxygen allegedly stopped and became a hero on social media, has been removed from the post of nodal officer for the encephalitis ward without assigning any reason.
  • Confirming his removal from the post, Dr Khan said "It's a smear campaign against me. I was only trying to help the children. I did everything from getting in touch with oxygen firms to ensuring prompt help to patients." 
  • CM Yogi Adityanath said it is despicable if the deaths turned out to be caused due to oxygen shortage. He further that when there were already 52 cylinders in stock and Dr Kafeel Khan has not achieved much by bringing in 3 extra cylinders.
  • The Chief Minister went there on Aug 9, but none of the doctors or the administration informed him about any such issue of alleged lack of supply of oxygen.
  • Incidentally, Yogi Adityanath had been MP from Gorakhpur since 1998 and was very familiar with the problem of encephalitis. He has raised this issue in the past and demanded that it should be declared an epidemic. Adityanath as a parliamentarian has asked as many as 89 questions related to the health and family welfare ministry. Most of the victims are poor Dalits and Muslims.
  • Yogi Adityanath is chief culprit of these deaths, for not releasing the funds to hospital since he took over as CM 4+ months ago.
  • To live in denial is always the standard escape procedure of those in power. 
  • Modi on many occasions in the past has spoken about 'Stand Up India.' Whether anyone sings or does not sing the national anthem in a cinema theatre on 15 August is not a matter of life and death. But when 30 kids die in 48 hours for lack of oxygen at a government hospital in the 70th year of Independence it is indeed so.
The fact is that what has happened in Gorakhpur isn’t merely about oxygen cylinders and unpaid bills but it is a symptom of many deeper problems. The problems and solutions are not new. India’s abysmally low public spending on healthcare explains why the country’s healthcare system is in a shambles. Most state-run facilities are so poorly managed that they aren’t really an option. Private facilities may offer services, but there are serious quality issues when it comes to the poor and less informed. The lack of political will to fix the healthcare system unfortunately means that Gorakhpur-like crises will continue to happen with morbid frequency across the country. 

BJP never accepts their failures and responsibilities*, but will definitely teaches others about nationalism and patriotism. CM or at least the health minister should take responsibility, accept the failure, resign and get out, if they have an iota of morality. I am sure they will come out with a cosmic theory blaming predecessor and publicize in Goebbels fashion and make it believe by Indians. Their troll brigade will make every one shut up in social media. 
*Modi was CM of Gujarat during the period of Gujarat Riots 2002, that lasted for 2 months and over 2000 Muslims were massacred, their women raped, their properties destroyed and lakhs of Muslims displaced and he has neither taken responsibility for the riots nor regretted it. And Modi is yet to accept Demonetization 2016 as 'failed adventure' that had created havoc in Indian economy. And so on.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Social media greatly impacts society

Social media websites are some of the most popular haunts on the Internet. They have revolutionized the way people communicate and socialize on the web. Social media has tremendous impact on culture, business, politics, socialization with some negative effects such as cyber bullying and privacy.
  • Social websites have played an important role in many elections in many countries.
  • Companies are using social media to advertise their products, to enhance brand image and popularity which costs nothing.
  • Social networks offer the opportunity for people to re-connect with their old friends and acquaintances, make new friends, trade ideas, share content and pictures etc. 
  • Users can stay abreast of the latest global and local developments, and participate in campaigns and activities of their choice. 
  • Professionals use social media to enhance their career and business prospects. 
  • Students can collaborate with their peers to improve their academic proficiency and communication skills.
  • Social networks is the choice for the bloggers, article writers and content creators.
  • Social networking sites is to unite people for the achievement of some specific objective to bring the positive change in society.
  • There are a some downsides too to social networking. 
  • Many introverts and socially reclusive users place too much emphasis on virtual interaction, and ignore the real world outside. 
  • If you are not careful, unscrupulous people can target you for cyber bullying and harassment on social sites. School children, young girls, and women can fall prey to online attacks which can create tension and distress. 
  • Social media or network could lead to addiction. Spending countless hours on the social sites can divert the focus and attention from a particular task. It lowers the motivational level of the people, especially of the teenagers and students. 
  • Many companies have blocked social networks on their office internet as addicted employees can distract themselves on such sites, instead of focusing on work. 
  • Kids can be greatly affected by these social networking sites. Sometimes people share photos on social media that contains violence and sex, which can damage the behavior of kids and teenagers. 
  • What you post on the Net can come back to haunt you. 
  • Revealing personal information on social sites can make users vulnerable to crimes like identity theft, stalking, etc. 
  • Many companies perform a background check on the internet before hiring an employee. If a prospective employee has posted something embarrassing on social media, it can drastically affect their chances of getting the job. 
  • Our loved ones and friends may get to know if we post something undesirable on social networks.
  • Even with the tight security settings your personal information may leak on the social sites. Downloading your videos or pictures and copying your status is an easy task.
  • Social media has its above mentioned advantages and drawbacks. 
  • Anther disadvantage of social media is the low control of the integrity of posted information.
  • It is up to each user to use social sites wisely to enhance their professional and social life, and exercise caution to ensure they do not fall victim to online dangers.

Not disputing anything, it leans heavily in favor of the positives. Social media is greatly implicated in increased depression, feelings of isolation and loneliness, spreading of false information, creation of "echo chambers", break down of inter-personal communication skills, break down of intimate relationships and cause of broken friendships/ relationships. Social media  is a prime catalyst of social decay with unquantifiable negative impact.

Demonetization effect: RBI dividend to Govt halved

  • The RBI dividend  paid to the government is the lowest since 2011-12 (Rs 16,010 crore).
  • The RBI did not provide any reason for the decline in dividend. 
  • Economists said this indicated the cost incurred by the central bank in printing new notes as well as in sterilizing liquidity old currency notes that were scrapped returned to the banking system.
  • In the Union Budget for 2017-18, the government had accounted for a dividend of Rs 74,901 crore from the RBI and other nationalized banks. RBI’s share would be Rs 58,000 crore. 
  • RBI Governor Urjit Patel told a parliamentary panel that notes not returned remain the RBI’s liability and cannot be passed on to the government as dividend. 
  • The low actual dividends will exert pressure on the government and its fiscal deficit could increase from 3.2% of the GDP to 3.4% this year. 
  • At its peak, the excess liquidity parked by banks neared Rs 5 lakh crore, on which the central bank had to pay them 6% interest.  The average daily liquidity absorption continued to remain above Rs 2 lakh crore after demonetization was announced.
  • The appreciation of the rupee, 6% since Jan 2017, against the dollar depressed returns, in rupee terms, on the RBI’s foreign holdings.

Modi who highlights and bombards on media even smallest achievements are great, will never talk about such negatives. As Gujarat CM he neither owned up responsibility for massacre of over 2000 Muslims nor regretted it. So far, he has not talked about demonetization failure, its impacts and remedial measures taken for mitigating the problems it created to common people of India, especially in Parliament where he is duty bound to do so.

Growth may not be in 6.75-7.5% range: Economic Survey

  • GDP Growth during 2015-16 was 7.9%. GDP Growth during 2016-17 was 7.1% ... against anticipated 8.5% due to demonetization. 
  • GDP Growth during 2017-18 is projected to be 7.7%, but the Economic Survey has a pessimistic view on growth forecast with downward risk to the earlier estimated growth range of 6.75-7.5% GDP growth for 2017-18. Growth is expected to undershoot the earlier range.
  • CPI inflation to be below 4% by March this fiscal, which only indicates anemic condition of economy.
  • The challenges included are appreciation of the rupee, farm loan waivers, rising stress on balance sheets in power as well as telecom and transition issues arising from implementing the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
  • Fiscal slippages due to series of deflationary impulses that are weighing on an economy yet to gather its full momentum.
  • Farm loan waivers by states would touch Rs. 2.7 lakh crore and could cut economy demand by up to 0.7% of GDP.
  • Fiscal deficit will be 3.2% of GDP in 2017-18 as compared to 3.5% last fiscal.
  • Since February 2017, the rupee has appreciated by about 1.5%.
  • The bank NPA's rose from 9.2% in Sep 2016 to 9.5% in Mar 2017.
  • Reliance Jio’s entry with free voice and data has led to a brutal price war in the telecom industry, hurting revenue and profitability of incumbents amid ballooning debt, increasing the sector’s share of non-performing assets, which is a cause for worry, the Economic Survey said. Ironically, Reliance Jio was funded by same banks to the tune of Rs.1.80 lakh crores which has exposure in telecom sector to the tune of Rs. 5 lakh crores and their diminished EBITDA has lost its ability to service massive debt. 
  • A positive unintended consequence of demonetization is that about 5.4 lakh new tax payers* have joined the tax net post note ban, which probably could have been achieved even without note ban.
    *mostly between Rs.2.50 & Rs.3.00 lakhs taxable income with aggregate tax payment less than Rs.100 crores.

Even as the unintended consequences of  arrogant, audacious & attrocious demonetization of Modi are surfacing at regular intervals and estimated to normalize in about two years time, the hurriedly implemented mangled GST, with in six months of note ban, has created avoidable numerous troubles to trading, manufacturing and informal sectors disturbing supply chain of commodities is unpardonable another adventure by Modi for political and personal glorification gains rather than in public and national interest. Almost all segments of economy are suffering and the most prominent being loss of millions of jobs and distressed agriculture. For increasing speed of travel, if your car driver presses brakes instead of accelerator, again and again, what will you do? Simply change the driver. Right. Driver Modi must be replaced, if our nation needs to progress.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Venkaiah Naidu: Muslims in India are secure ?

  • In an interview to Rajya Sabha TV, the outgoing Vice-President Hamid Ansari bluntly remarked that “a sense of insecurity was creeping in among Muslims because of the vigilantism and intolerance”.
  • Instead of allaying Ansari’s fears, the BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, attacked him. by saying that Ansari had spent the last ten years “confined to the Constitution”. Modi seemed to be suggesting that the commitment to secularism that underlay many of Ansari’s speeches as vice president were somehow shallow, and that now, freed from the constraints of office, he could pursue his “core beliefs”. 
  • The Vice President elect, Venkaiah Naidu, was more direct. He said: “Some people are saying the minorities are insecure. It is a political propaganda. Compared to the entire world, the minorities are more safe and secure in India and they get their due”.
  • Ironically, both these reactions only reinforced Ansari’s fears. Instead of taking this opportunity to assure the Muslim community that the government would protect them from majoritarian onslaught, the BJP has taken the route of complete denial. By browbeating Ansari, the BJP has only proved his point.

Hyper-nationalism is a sign of insecurity, says Vice President Hamid Ansari

Modi attacks Hamid Ansari

While tolerance is a good virtue, it is not a sufficient virtue ... Hamid Ansari 
Democracy can become a tyranny if opposition parties are not allowed 
to criticise government policies ...Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Who ever is reading news papers will agree that Muslims are unsafe in India ever since Modi government issued orders banning cattle sales for slaughtering in the name of cow protection and cow vigilante groups started lynching attacking cattle transporters, mostly Muslims and no action by police or government. The response by Modi and Venkaiah Naidu are irresponsible, indecent, doesn't befit their positions and reconfirms their fears.

Read Hindustan or Lynchistan?

NPA's: Govt's all talk and no action

  • Infrastructure and capital-intensive industries are imperative for development but too difficult a responsibility for the private sector to shoulder because of long gestation period and low returns.
  • During financial year 2016-17, when demonetization disrupted banking activity, banking sector grew by just 1.7%, which was a 20-year low. 
  • Most of the banks involved in NPA's are public sector entities with the perception that the liabilities of these banks are backed by a sovereign guarantee, that has prevented a run on these banks.
  • The ratio of stressed assets to gross advances in the banking system has crossed the double-digit mark and few borrowers account for a large share of defaults. 
  • As banks are grappling with the defaults, they tried to retrieve themselves from this mess by lending more to potential defaulters or converting part of their debt into equity which did not work. On the other hand, the deficits on the balance sheets of these firms became even larger. When banks decide to make a case for liquidation to recover at least a part of their loans, the net assets were not even a fraction of the value of their exposure, especially since resources have often been diverted out of the firms concerned.
  • Bank NPAs are not a new issue, though the magnitude of the problem was revealed when Raghuram Rajan, the previous RBI Governor, imposed new guidelines on identifying NPAs. 
  • Given poor shape of public sector banks the price at which they could be privatized is likely to be indefensible.
  • The only way out is banks recapitalization by government and writing off NPAs and going forward diligently. Money lost once is generally irretrievable.
  • The new bankruptcy law, forces a settlement must be reached within 180 days. These 12 large defaulters account for around a quarter of NPAs and quick resolution of these NPAs even with a discount, that would reduce government's recapitalization requirements. Little is likely to be recovered from absconding individuals, like Vijay Mallya of Kingfisher Airlines. 
The reform-induced failure of the government to mobilize adequate resources, through taxation or borrowing, to finance capital expenditure is the root cause of the current bank's crisis. Private sector firms borrowed high value banks funds and invested in infrastructure and capital intensive projects with long gestation where the profits have been volatile and difficult to come by, and firms have found themselves unable to service their debts. Today almost all infra and public utility companies are in red. Restructuring of debt etc works rarely and generally postpones collapse of firms and banks. Most important problem is inflation of project costs, corruption and siphoning of funds by promoters. It is well known that promoters take back their investment, albeit illegally, even before project construction takes off.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Quit India Movement 1942: Remembering after 75 years.

  • The Quit India Movement was launched at the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee by Mahatma Gandhi on 8 August 1942, during World War II, demanding an end to British Rule of India.
  • The Cripps Mission had failed, and on 8 August 1942, Gandhi made a call to Do or Die in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay.
  • The All-India Congress Committee launched a mass protest demanding what Gandhi called "An Orderly British Withdrawal" from India. Even though it was wartime, the British were prepared to act. Almost the entire leadership of the INC was imprisoned without trial within hours of Gandhi's speech. Most spent the rest of the war in prison and out of contact with the masses. 
  • The British had the support of the Viceroy's Council (which had a majority of Indians), the Muslim League, the princely states, the Indian Imperial Police, the British Indian Army and the Indian Civil Service. Many Indian businessmen profiting from heavy wartime spending did not support Quit India Movement. Many students paid more attention to Subhas Chandra Bose, who was in exile and supporting the Axis Powers. 
  • The only outside support came from the Americans, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressured Prime Minister Winston Churchill to give in to some of the Indian demands. 
  • The Quit India campaign was effectively crushed. The British refused to grant immediate independence, saying it could happen only after the war had ended.
  • Quit India failed because of heavy-handed suppression, weak co-ordination and the lack of a clear-cut programme of action. However, the British government realized that India was ungovernable in the long run due to the cost of World War II, and the question for postwar became how to exit gracefully and peacefully.
  • At the outbreak of war, the Congress Party had passed a resolution during the Wardha meeting of the working-committee in September 1939, conditionally supporting the fight against fascism, but were rebuffed when they asked for independence in return. Gandhi had not supported this initiative, as he could not reconcile an endorsement for war.
  • At the height of the Battle of Britain, Gandhi had stated that he did not seek to raise an independent India from the ashes of Britain.
  • Cripps draft declaration of 22 March 1942 included terms like establishment of Dominion, establishment of a Constituent Assembly and right of the Provinces to make separate constitutions to be granted after the cessation of the Second World War. Congress felt this Declaration only offered India a promise to be fulfilled in future. Gandhi remarked "It is a post dated cheque on a crashing bank." There was growing realization of the incapacity of the British to defend India.
  • Several political groups active during the Indian Independence Movement were opposed to the Quit India Movement. These included the Muslim League, the Hindu Mahasabha, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Communist Party of India and the princely states.
  • The Indian nationalists knew that the United States strongly supported Indian independence. After Churchill threatened to resign if pushed too hard, the U.S. quietly supported him. The American operation annoyed both the British and the Indians.
  • In 1942, the RSS, under M.S. Golwalkar refused to join in the Quit India Movement. The Bombay government appreciated the RSS position. RSS, in turn, had assured the British authorities that "it had no intentions of offending against the orders of the Government".
  • The British, alarmed by the advance of the Japanese army to the India-Burma border, responded by imprisoning Gandhi. All the members of the Party's Working Committee (national leadership) were imprisoned as well. Later the Congress party was banned. Despite lack of direct leadership, large protests and demonstrations were held all over the country. Workers remained absent en masse and strikes were called. Not all demonstrations were peaceful, at some places bombs exploded, government buildings were set on fire, electricity was cut and transport and communication lines were severed.
  • Although the British released Gandhi on account of his health in 1944, Gandhi kept up the resistance, demanding the release of the Congress leadership.
  • By early 1944, India was mostly peaceful again, while the Congress leadership was still incarcerated. A sense that the movement had failed depressed many nationalists, while Jinnah and the Muslim League and Congress opponents like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Hindu Mahasabha sought to gain political mileage, criticizing Gandhi and the Congress Party.

RSS under Golwalkar, Communists etc opposed Gandhi's quit India movement and cooperated with British. Modi stating in Lok Sabha that "...everyone had worked for the common goal of Independence" is pale and a blatant lie. Modi & Co have no right to talk about Gandhi & independence movement which RSS etc opposed and cooperated British. The only exception was that RSS founder Hedgewar participated in the Civil Disobedience movement of 1930s in individual capacity without involving RSS fearing it could be construed as being anti-British. Sonia Gandhi stating “...there were people and organisations which had opposed the Quit India movement and had played no role in getting our country freedom” is factually correct and directly refers to RSS, BJP and Communists. Now Modi should have courage to talk to people of India - truth as truth. If not, he should avoid talking truth rather than than talking lies.

Gujarat RS Polls: Ahmed Patel wins & BJP exposed

Ahmed Patel’s victory is a severe setback to BJP president Amit Shah who pulled out all the stops to deny Sonia Gandhi’s close aide a fifth term in the Rajya Sabha. Congress representatives sent the EC a video recording of the two Congress MLAs stood sheepishly in front of Shah displaying their ballot papers, confirming that they had held up their end of the bargain*, the BJP leader had struck with them. BJP deployed all underhand methods ever known in politics, money power, muscle power, you name it, they have deployed it to ensure defeat of Patel, but in vain and BJP stands exposed of personal vendetta and political terror. But what they forgot was that if a party has issued a whip, the MLAs can show their vote to their authorized polling agent only. If it is shown to anyone else, the vote becomes invalid. In the end, it was Shah’s personal involvement in the operation that proved the BJP’s undoing with the EC invalidating the votes of two Congress defectors since they had showed their ballots to BJP president. The fact that six union ministers led by Arun Jaitley marched down to the Election Commission not once but twice to try and sway the outcome indicates shameless involvement of Modi. The Election Commission initially refused to entertain Congress complaint and left it to the state returning officer to take a call and decide but eventually decided to look at the video of the voting before taking any fresh decision. Kudos to Election Commission for sticking to 'rule of the law' fearlessly.

*The deal rumored as Rs.15 crores in cash, next assembly ticket and campaign expenses.

Treat people with respect on your way up because you will be meeting them 
on your way down ... a bitter  lesson learnt by Ahmed Patel

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

GST and KCR's outbursts

  • In November 2016, KCR was the first non-BJP/NDA chief minister to support Modi's demonetization move. Telangana was the first state to pass the GST legislation on Apr 16, 2017. TRS extended unconditional support to BJP's  Ramnath Kovind as NDA's Presidential nominee and Vice President candidate.
  • The dalliance between the ruling TRS and the BJP has practically ended with the completion of elections of the President and the vice-president. While the change in tone of KCR may appear at the outset to fight the GST, the battle between the Modi and TRS governments is about much more than what meets the eye. 
  • GST Council has already lowered GST rates on  public utility and infrastructure projects from 18% to 12% as requested by several states in its first meeting. The Telangana state government has been asking the Centre not to levy 12% GST on the public utility and infrastructure projects. Telangana wants these projects to be taxed at 5%. 
  • Under GST, the tax rate on cement, steel, and concrete — all key ingredients for the projects — has been reduced. This benefit will be pocketed by EPC contractors.
  • Due to GST @12% in place of VAT @5%, Telangana government will have to bear the additional burden of Rs.19,500 on all ongoing public utility and infrastructure projects which are worth Rs.2.30 lakh crores.
  • Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao declared Goods & Services Tax (GST) is a failure in several Nations. He made it clear success of GST in India depends on how well Centre handles the concerns.
  • Now the CM KCR decided to write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reduce 12% GST on the ongoing projects. Rao held that since the project estimates have been prepared keeping in view 5%  VAT, it is not possible to change them. He had "threatened" that the state government would engage in a "legal battle" in Supreme Court against the union government over the issue.

KCR walking extra miles to please Modi, devoid of merit and for unknown reasons, in matters of demonetization, GST, President & Vice President elections and expecting all he wants from Modi is not only naive but also stupidity. Modi is only a taker but never a giver. Ask Naveen Patnaik how much he got extra for Odisha from Modi, during past 3 years. Literally zero. The impacts of GST and its rates were well known in advance. Going forward states will become like municipalities of centre with very less freedom to mobilize funds. Centre will become extremely powerful with no direct responsibility of people welfare where as states will become extremely powerless and saddled with total responsibility of people's welfare. This is in contradiction of federal polity of our constitution. Ambedkar's fears of abuse of constitution without amending it are coming true in Modi's India.

Monday, 7 August 2017

IAS should be abolished. Why?

In India, no person from well to do family will aspire for job. They either continue family's existing businesses or start new enterprises. It is mostly middle & lower classes with meager disposable money look for jobs. IAS, without any doubt remains most preferred job ever since independence.
  • Around half a million youngsters across the country attempt the preliminary test of the Civil Services Examinations conducted by the UPSC every year. The final recruitment is for 1000 officers in Central and All-India Civil Services. Out of which 100 officers are for IAS.
  • Considering the difficulty levels of the exam, and the tiny proportion of applicants who make it as final recruits, the exam is considered one of India’s toughest. The ones who clear it are hailed as India’s brightest.
  • Hard work through a long period of slogging for the exam helps but sheer luck is not ruled out.
  • The recruitment system is a legacy of the colonial ICS that gave way to the IAS and over the years, the exam pattern was updated to make it more inclusive.
  • The bureaucracy in India continues to be a relic. It is an archaic system designed for a poor colonial state and definitely not for a modern democracy and a major economy. 
  • There have even been a few calls for the abolition of the IAS. There is no doubt that it needs urgent reforms. 
  • The exam is not designed to recruit for the specific needs of various services. It is a generalist selection for specialist roles.
  • Other than successful IAS candidates, for all others it was neither their first choice nor the line of career that they were best suited for. 
  • As a generalist service, the IAS offers a variety of work and powers than the other specialist services. Early in their careers, IAS officers are entrusted with administrative powers for the maintenance of law and order, revenue collection, implementing development works and social schemes and performing quasi-judicial functions in districts with huge perks & privileges, attractive for an average Indian youth.
  • The District Collector, post reserved exclusively for the IAS, is the Chief Executive of a district entrusted with immense responsibilities and commensurate powers. Collector for a district or Commissioner for a Municipal Corporation is similar to CM of a state and PM of the Union but without any accountability to the electorate and enjoys job security and promotions despite poor performance.
  • After a decade in the districts, IAS officers move into Secretariats, where they run the Ministries and Departments of the State and Union governments and it is the IAS, with its historical advantage in pay and promotions, that is able to monopolize the most senior roles.
  • A non-IAS officer can never become secretary of a department even after serving for full life time.
  • IAS leadership of the bureaucracy had always scuttled administrative reforms for lateral entry of domain experts that threatens their monopoly, so far. Non-specialist IAS officers have retarded the progress of  the nation, so far.
  • It is assumed that the common generalist exam looks for trainability so that any service-specific skills and knowledge required for the job can be imparted during training or picked while working.
  • The UPSC would do well to conduct separate exams for each service, with candidates having desired skills and interest in the job. This will have our youth entering, say, the Indian Police Service because they really want to become IPS officers, and not because they missed the IAS by a few marks.
  • A maturing democracy must further devolute powers to districts, cities and towns, strengthening elected representatives and reducing the discretionary powers of bureaucrats. The State government which doesn't want to lose its control over local bodies and IAS will fight tooth and nail to preserve its present powers. It is evident that any desirable administrative reform would not be possible because of the mere existence of the IAS. 

Power is thrilling only when misused especially for corruption. 
Otherwise it is a huge liability and burdensome.

Learning by working is a slow process and prone for errors and mistakes with depth of knowledge restricted. The fastest and easiest way to learn is through is university graduation, post graduation and doctorate courses. Today IAS officers are mostly jack of all trades and master of nothing and yet commands immense power on people & society. Their half knowledge is often disastrous. The minister and his secretary have no expertise and yet direct departments with specialists in performance of its duties. Very often IAS officers assist ministers indulging in corruption subverting rules, of course for a cut. Otherwise ministers have no knowledge of procedures and rules. During past twenty years private sector salaries are so high, some bright IAS officers are leaving govt to join corporates. Yet youth aspires for IAS because of power, perks and corruption money. In order for our country to progress as a nation, administrative reforms are a must; and for reforms IAS is stumbling blockade; hence IAS must be abolished even if it is disruptive. Otherwise we will be progressing rather slowly.

Modi keeps Indians live in denial

  • An Useful Idiot is “someone who supports one side of an ideological debate, but who is manipulated and held in contempt by the leaders of their faction or is unaware of the ultimate agenda driving the ideology to which they subscribe.”
  • Anyone can be wrong once. But to be wrong repeatedly, when all the facts are before you, when the stakes are so high, is unpardonable.
  • Many supporters of Modi did so assuming that the Hindutva movement would be kept in check while long-awaited economic reforms would happen. Many people on the ‘economic right’ walked into his camp. Modi got a resounding victory, and had the mandate he needed to carry out sweeping changes. He did nothing.
  • All the evident failings of Modi since 2014, briefly are: no reforms; a move leftwards to a command-and-control view of the economy; a continuation of most of the flawed schemes of the previous government with fancy name changes; maximum government, minimum governance; a rollout of GST, which they had earlier opposed, with so many slabs and exemptions; another inspector raj; demonetisation.
  • Modi mishandled Kashmir, with violence escalating. The social wing of the Hindutva Project that he clearly believes in is tearing Indian society apart. Quips about it being safer to be a cow than a woman have become a cliché.
  • Many who had supported Modi in 2014 now realised that their optimism was misplaced and the worst-case-scenario was unfolding. But many did not.
  • Demonetisation (or DeMon) was a litmus test that revealed which intellectuals cared about their principles, and which just wanted proximity to power. DeMon was the largest assault on property rights in the history of humanity. It led to people dying in queues, businesses shutting down, livelihoods being decimated. There was no way any of its goals could be achieved, and there was no way taking 86% of the money supply out of circulation would fail to devastate the economy. All this was evident from the start. Any economist who supported DeMon lacked either intelligence or integrity. There is no charitable explanation.
  • Modi is a master of optics, and controlled the narrative to actually make short-terms political gains from DeMon. But it was worrying and depressing that so many people who should know better continued in their steadfast support of him. Why did they do so? Here are few possible reasons why these Useful Idiots continued to stay Idiots. (1)These Useful Idiots, who can't win on their own tried to rationalize every action or inaction of Modi with rationalization. (2)The Patronage Economy swung into place after Modi came to power with legitimate ways of rewarding cronies i.e. Rajya Sabha seats, Padma Awards, sinecures at government institutions, and so on. (3)This government is vindictive, and it appears that it will remain in power for a long time. These Useful Idiots who had spent their lives on the periphery are now establishment intellectuals and there is no way that these idiots will lose that position and face Modi's wrath just for the sake of principles and truth. (4)These Useful Idiots never actually believed in anything. Once close to power, they discarded these principles; just as their masters will one day discard them. Modi and gang have consolidated their political capital, and no longer need these Useful Idiots.
  • Had crude oil prices remained flat, at May 2014 price of $108 per barrel, our GDP growth would have been lesser at 6.5% (instead of present 7.5%), a matter of serious concern.

Going by the history and attitude of Modi, it was unreasonable for Indians to expect Modi as a savior of the country which seemingly suffered under Congress regime. The fears are unfolding. It is saddening to note his failed schemes, deterioration of economy, joblessness, banks in peril, agriculture in distress, law & order in crisis, Kashmir burning, China border standoff with imminent danger of war and so on. Modi keeping people in denial that 'ache din' is coming is fast evaporating. The worst fear is that Modi might prove worse than Congress and its imminent return in 2019, with 20% minorities and 25% dalits en masse voting for Congress and BJP is saddled with disgruntled Hindu vote bank. When nothing had been done in three years, what can we expect in next one year, with fifth & final year focus totally on forthcoming general elections.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Cattle trade ban rules were not placed before Parliament

  • The cattle slaughter ban rules of 2017 notified, u/s 38A of the Prevention of Cruelty Act of 1960, on May 23, 2017 were never laid before the Parliament, which is mandatory for the government before implementing them. Modifications agreed upon by both Houses of the Parliament should be incorporated in the rules, prior to implementation.
  • The government bypassed the Parliament, suppressed the scrutiny of rules by the elected representatives of the people of the country and killed the parent Act. All this when over 70% of the country is affected by the livestock rules and billions of dollars of export trade came to standstill.
  • Central government informed Supreme court that it is re-considering the entire body of the livestock market rules and promised that the rules in present format would not be implemented. But these rules in the current form are nevertheless in operation.
  • Rules, once notified, are the law. Government cannot say they will not implement them. The rules will continue to operate until government repeal them or court issues an injunction order.

Managers do things right. Leaders do right things

When will Modi realize that India is not his fiefdom to do as he likes. His style of working resembles Nizams of early 20th century. He is oath bound to work with in the framework of constitution, statutes, rules and procedures. He is such an adamant person who will never roll back his wrong doings and bulldozes everyone in fascist manner. He must be sent to attend some training course to make him realize his duties, responsibilities, powers and procedures to be followed in a democratic country. Modi is neither a leader nor a manager but a destroyer.