Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Arundhati Roy on Anna Hazare's movement

The captious critic, Arundhati Roy is playing her usual carping game once again. A pathological believer in monopolising people's attention, she is seething with impotent anger that she is unable to wean people away from Anna's campaign against corruption. She discovers that the movement is funded by the World Bank and the Ford Foundation! What an egregious thought!

If the campaign is really supported by the WB and the FF, we should indeed be thankful to them. Read the baseless allegations of Roy:

".....Jan Lokpal bill regressive, Anna used as prop: Arundhati Roy

By Indo Asian News Service
IANS – 16 hours ago...New Delhi, Aug 30 (IANS) The Jan Lokpal bill is a 'regressive piece of legislation' and Anna Hazare has been 'used as a prop by foreign-funded NGOs' to lead the anti-corruption movement, writer and activist Arundhati Roy has said.

In an interview to CNN IBN, Roy said she is glad that the civil society's Jan Lokpal bill did not go through in parliament.
'I am extremely glad that the Jan Lokpal bill did not go through parliament in its current form,' Roy said.

'I think the legislation is a dangerous piece of work. You used the real and legitimate anger of the people against corruption to push through this specific piece of legislation, which is very regressive according to me,' she added.

Alleging that activist Anna Hazare, who spearheaded the anti-corruption movement, was used just as a prop, Roy said: 'It was an NGO-driven movement by Kiran Bedi, (Arvind) Kejriwal and (Manish) Sisodia. Three of them run NGOs.'

'I wanted to indicate why these NGOs are participating to mediate in what the public policy should be. World Bank and Ford Foundation fund the anti-corruption campaigns. Anna Hazare was picked up and propped up as the saint for the masses. He was not the brain behind the movement,' she added.

Talking about the Jan Lokpal bill, Roy said that it attempts to create a form of 'parallel oligarchy'.

'The Jan Lokpal team, including the chairman, is to be selected by a pool of elite people and they are a pool of elite people. You have a bureaucracy which will have the policing power, the power to tap phones, prosecute, charge and judge from the prime minister to the bottom,' she said.
Roy also questioned the media for its 24X7 coverage of Hazare's 12-day fast. 'For a nation of one billion people, the media did not find anything else to report,' she said, adding that 'certain major TV channels campaigned for' the movement. 'That's a kind of corruption for me at first place'."

What an outlandish idea! Media's focus on an issue of national importance is called as corruption! However, there is one elemental truth in Roy's outburst. Anna is not the brain behind the movement. He is the soul.

Arundhati Roy has proved her credentials to become a minister. Manmohan Singh may take notice.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Supreme Court Judge's dangerous plea

Mr. Justice Markandey Katju, a judge of the apex court has in a lecture in Chennai pleaded, "You must create a situation where judges are not put under pressure to become corrupt". He was saying that the judges are not adequately paid for their work. If non-payment of adequate compensation is reason enough to be corrupt, most Indians will be so. Pleading for appropriate salaries is one thing. But to reason that otherwise corruption will become more endemic is sinister. Such an argument is not much different from the Maoists' justification that if the government resorts to violence, so would they. Some idealistic solutions are impractical. Governments would never be totally pacifist. Salaries of judges or for that matter any group of employees would never be high enough to preempt the greed for more.

Mani Shankar Aiyar's false argument

Writing in The Economic Times dated 28th August, M.S.Aiyar argues, "I don't quite know what Anna Hazare is doing at the Ramlila ground when he ought to be laying siege to Dalal Street and the CII headquarters. For, while some of the corruption can be traced to the venality of politicians, all of it leads straight to business houses."

Well, this is a convenient argument to deflect popular anger away from the government. But is this a valid argument? If crimes go unchecked in a particular town, we do not hold demonstration against the criminals. We only question the police / state why they are not taking any effective action. There is an implicit contract between the citizens and the elected representatives who form the government that the latter would keep criminals at bay. There is no agreement between the corporate sector and the citizens that the former would stay away from venal ways. Therefore even if Aiyar's assumption that corporates are the fountainhead of corruption is correct, his conclusion that we should question only the corporates and not the government is absurd.

However if Aiyar is sincere in his expression, we expect him to organise a dharna in front of Dalal Street. We may know how many people support him.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ensuring effectiveness of Lokpal

Institutions like CBI become a let-down when the investigating official is (a) corrupt or/and (b) politically or extraneously influenced or/and (c) indolent. It is too well known that CBI is politically influenced. These three vitiating factors can be avoided in Lokpal if and only if he/she is chosen with due care by an appropriate authority. If the selection is made unanimously by a committee consisting of the Chief Justice, Prime Minister and Leader of the opposition as should be done in the case of CVC, the Lokpal is unlikely to suffer from any of the triple infimities mentioned above. Unanimity in selection is essential in view of what unfolded in the case of P J Thomas. (It is interesting to note that the Supreme Court bypassed the question as to whether unanimity is a legal requirement in the PJT case.)What happens if the committee members are corrupt? That is a second order question which should await its day for solution. It is however

helpful to remember that the incorruptible Justice Kapadia is a black swan and that we have more, substantially more, Balakrishnans than Kapadias. Recently Karan Thapar interviewed Salman Kurshid. The latter came up with an astonishing revelation that the government (at that point of time) was averse to insisting on Lok Ayukthas for all states because it was difficult to identify so many honest people ! When Karan sarcastically questioned if it was really that difficult in a nation of a billion plus population, Salman cynically put him down saying it was perhaps difficult even to find enough honest members for the Lokpal itself.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Anna Hazare's movement

Arundhati Roy says, "While Anna's means may be Gandhian, his demands are certainly not" (The Hindu dated 22nd Aug.). There are many who believe that his goals are acceptable, but his means are not. Thus we have many citizens who support his methods. Similarly there are many (not necessarily the same people) who endorse his objectives. The crowds at Ramlila maidan in Delhi and Sunday's unprecedented march of more than a hundred thousand people in Mumbai give the lie to arrogant minister's claim that a mere five thousand odd people do not reflect popular opinion.

After Kapil Sibal made the extraordinary remark belittling the movement, a "referendum" was conducted in Chandni Chowk, Sibal's constituency. Nearly 90% voted for Anna Hazare's Jan Lokpal bill. The worthy minister again ridiculed  the referendum sarcastically commenting that the movement could have got 100% also. Various polls conducted by electronic media in different places revealed similar support for the anti-corruption drive. The minister is now observing "maunavrath".

Manmohan Singh who is normally too academically oriented to know the pulse of the people is now additionally advised by mendacious lawyers like Sibal. This certainly is not the way to lead the nation.

In the meantime, the unpopular government is trying all possible tricks to torpedo Anna's moves. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the least belligerent among the Congress spokespersons, has pleaded, "Give the Standing Committee a chance. Allow us to do our work." (How well they have done their work when such bills were earlier presented in the parliament !) Aruna Roy, a member of National Advisory Council which has the blessings of Sonia Gandhi, has joined a few others to come up with a last-minute red-herring proposal under the National Campaign for the right to Information (NCPRI). One of its brilliant recommendations is, "The prime minister should only be investigated if the full Bench of the Lokpal recommends such an investigation." This is again subject to another rider that a Full Bench of the Supreme Court has to concur with this recommendation. Have they omitted to say that the Full Bench should "unanimously" second the recommendation? In simple words, investigation against the prime minister is sought to be made a statistical impossibility.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Arvind Kejriwal vs Rahul Gandhi

Some mischievous elements who obviously do not have the interests of the nation in their mind are making a comparison between Rahul Gandhi and the Magsaysay Award winner Arvind Kejriwal. This is what they are saying:


Mechanical Engineer -IIT Kharagpur
Job :-Tata Steel
Former IRS resigned from the Govt job(posted IT Commisioner's office)
Social Activist:-
Man behind (Right to Information Act).
LokPal bill
Awards Various Ashoka Fellow, Civic Engagement.
2005: 'Satyendra Dubey Memorial Award', IIT Kanpur for his campaign for bringing transparency in Government
2006: Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership.
2006: CNN-IBN, 'Indian of the Year' in Public Service
2009: Distinguished Alumnus Award, IIT Kharagpur for Emergent Leadership.
2010: Policy Change Agent of the Year, Economic Times Corporate Excellence Award along with Aruna Roy.
Fighting against corruption
.............He left his job in IRS to fight against corruption.

Education- failed to secure passing grades in National Economic Planning and Policy graduated by any how
job: Got ancestral political power and running through it
Award: he is making awards not getting it
Fight against Indians sentiments
For him Terror attacks are common thing...
we should not be worried of that.....let it happen(since they have z class security)
he will never talk about Govt. policies....and planning....since he
is not intelligent enough to grasp that.(claimed to be most eligible to be PM)
Won't talk about black money and corruption.
will never talk in Parliament.
No political vision and goals for nation .
Trained well to fool poor villagers with safed kurta ..nd khadhi(doing same in UP and other places.)

Great Grandson OF Nehru,
Grandson of Indira Gandhi....
Son Of Rajiv gandhi....
FRom Gandhi Family.....
..............Claimed to be next PM of INDIA ..Future face of congress.

Rahul Gandhi's credentials

It looks all but certain that the Prince Charming will replace Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister. With a view to getting enlightened on the future Prime Minister's credentials, Ram Jethmalani has asked him the following questions:

"1. We have no objection to your mother's ambition to see you installed as India's Prime Minister. Obviously she did not entertain this ambition either for herself or any of her children in 1991. Are you prepared to take the nation into confidence and disclose the qualifications you have acquired since then to take into your hands the destiny of this complex and most populous and poverty stricken democracy?

2. Do you agree that the best available statesman in the country should fill that post? If yes, how have you convinced yourself that you are the one? We would not mind if your mother answers this question. We hope you will not turn to our dear friends Mani Shankar Aiyar or Abhishek Singhvi to ghost write the answers.

3. We are highly appreciative of the Election Commission which compels candidates for public office to disclose their material assets.

We wish they logically mandate the disclosure of intellectual assets as well. But if democracy is all about transparency, would you kindly let the nation know what academic qualifications you have acquired, when, how and from which institutions. It will help if you also tell the curious Indian nation what books you have read during the last five years; have you published any articles or any readable material on politics, economics, terrorism, war and peace? Is there any speech in Parliament, to the local Rotary Club or to a bunch of tiny toddlers with a single quotable quote that illumines or inspires and gives us some clue to your intellectual attainments? We know quite a few talented young men in the Congress party and naturally people would like to be satisfied that you are better endowed than them all. That your mother is Soniaji or your father was Rajivji is not enough evidence.

4. There have been oft-repeated charges of financial impropriety and worse against your family, including by the president of Janata Party, Subramanian Swamy, Swiss magazines and, most unusually in a book on the KGB. Why have you not responded?

If you plead ignorance of all the stuff mentioned in the questions you do not deserve to be India's Prime Minister any way.

Will the free press look into this serious business and make effective the People's Right to Know?"

Of course, let us not naively expect any answers to these questions.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Prime Minister takes no decisions

Anna Hazare wrote a letter to the PM seeking his intervention to be allowed to demonstrate against corruption. PM's reply is given below:

Here's the full text of the PM's letter:

"I have received your letter, carrying the date 14th August, 2011 and carefully read its contents.
Your grievance that the police has given you permission to protest and go on fast at JP Park only for three days needs to be addressed by the statutory authorities who have taken that decision. My Office does not in any way get involved in the decision making process. The terms and conditions on which you are entitled to carry on with your protest are decided by the statutory authorities concerned taking into account the prevailing circumstances and other relevant factors.

I would request you to address your grievances to the statutory authorities concerned.
We are all committed to the Constitution of India and to uphold it both in letter and spirit. "

The prime minister admits that "My office does not in any way get involved in the decision making process". Maybe he wants to refer to this particular issue of permitting anti-corruption fast. However the observation applies generally also. Many scams were allowed to occur because the prime minister is not in the habit of taking any decision. In the few instances where decisions were purportedly taken, decisions came from a "higher authority'.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Supreme Court's order on black money

We don't normally expect the judiciary to quote ,inter alia, Arthur Laffer, informational asymmetries, Washington Consensus, "Greed is good" philosophy, Gunnar Myrdal's "Soft state" concept, "Follow the money" principle, Prof.Rotberg  and that too in the same judgement. This is exactly what the Supreme Court has done in its order in the case filed by Ram Jethmalani raising issues relating to black money. The order is a logically reasoned and elegantly phrased magnum opus that deserves approbation.

On the contrary the Government has sought recall of the order. This shows the ethical deficit and abject poverty of social values among ministers and bureaucrats.

Many paragraphs in the order are worth quoting and are a delight to read. For example,

"15.In addition, it would also appear that in this miasmic cultural environment in which greed is extolled,
conspicuous consumption viewed as both necessary and socially valuable, and the wealthy viewed as demi-gods,
the agents of the State may have also succumbed to the notions of the neo-liberal paradigm that the role of the
State ought to only be an enabling one, and not exercise significant control. This attitude would have a significant
impact on exercise of discretion, especially in the context of regulating economic activities, including keeping an
account of the monies generated in various activities, both legal and illegal. Carried away by the ideology of
neo-liberalism, it is entirely possible that the agents of the State entrusted with the task of supervising the economic
and social activities may err more on the side of extreme caution, whereby signals of wrong doing may be ignored
even when they are strong. Instances of the powers that be ignoring publicly visible stock market scams, or turning
a blind eye to large scale illegal mining have become all too familiar, and may be readily cited. That such activities
are allowed to continue to occur, with weak, or non-existent, responses from the State may, at best, be
charitably ascribed to this broader culture of permissibility of all manner of private activities in search of ever more
lucre. Ethical compromises, by the elite - those who wield the powers of the state, and those who fatten themselves
in an ever more exploitative economic sphere- can be expected to thrive in an environment marked by such a
permissive attitude, of weakened laws, and of weakened law enforcement machineries and attitudes."

The detailed order is available in the following link:

Sunday, August 07, 2011

S&P impoverishes America

At last the Rubicon has been crossed. Standard & Poor's has downgraded the American sovereign long term rating from AAA to AA+ and as if to add insult to injury has placed the rating in negative watch ( sorry, it is not negative watch; it is negative outlook  :  corrected after seeing the comment below) which means further downgrading is not ruled out.  China which is rated two notches below i.e. AA- has advised the American government to give up its addiction to debt and to learn to live within means. China, a communist country wants America, a capitalist nation to trim its bloated "social welfare" expenses. It is difficult to come across a greater irony.

Has S&P jumped the gun in an attempt to undo the damage that resulted from its inability to foresee the subprime crisis? In case this interpretation is correct, we need to appreciate that two wrongs do not make a right.

Moody's and Fitch have not downgraded America for the present. Is S&P trying to prove its leadership among ratings companies once again?

Whatever be the reason for this epochal decision, members of American treasury and Congress have only betrayed their boorishness by criticising S&P for its weighty decision. At present India is rated BBB- and any downgrade will mean slippage into speculative zone with all its attendant negative consequences. You can trust our politicians to test that possibility any time soon.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Secrecy mistaken as privacy

Right to privacy is an inalienable right of every individual. Unfortunately privacy is often viewed synonymously with secrecy. Secrecy engenders suspicion. Privacy is sacrosanct whereas secrecy betrays paranoia and is very often an attempt to conceal one's detestable behaviour.

Sonia Gandhi is undergoing treatment for an undisclosed ailment in an undisclosed hospital, according to her confidants. The cloud of secrecy surrounding the announcement  makes one wonder whether she is really undergoing medical treatment or has gone abroad for some undisclosable purpose like operating secret bank accounts. It may be unchivalrous to think on these lines, but it would be gullible and anti-national not to think so.