Monday, April 30, 2012


Political parties are now becoming active in having a say on who would be the next president. Three names have started figuring prominently. Pranabda, Hamid Ansari and Abdul Kalam are all eminent citizens who can occupy the mainly ornamental and occasionally strategic post that our Presidency is. There is however no consensus among the political parties so far.

It is very likely that there will be a closely fought election before the new Rashtrapathi is in. Such an election likely will evoke a lot of mud-slinging and bitterness. Leaders of the Congress and BJP are unlikely to be mature enough to act more with patriotism than petty politicking.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

State of the Legislatures

Arvind Kejriwal writes:

Shri Mukul Pande


Rajya Sabha Secretariat

I have received the notices sent by you from Sri Rajniti Prasad and

Prof Ramkripal Yadav in which I am accused of insulting the


I unequivocally deny that I have insulted the parliament in either

speech or deed. I respect parliament immensely. I revere the

parliament immensely. I consider parliament as a temple of democracy.

For these reasons, I am immensely worried and pained that this temple

of democracy is insulted very often by the speech and deeds of a few

people who sit inside the parliament. Various facts and instances show

that parliament is insulted by a few people sitting inside the

parliament rather than by people outside. I respect the parliament,

many good parliamentarians, but find myself unable to respect a few


Recently, a movie called ‘Pan Singh Tomar” was released. A dialogue

from this film says rebels live in outback and dacoits live in

parliament. I watched this film three times. The audience clapped

whenever the hero uttered this dialogue. I was immensely pained each

time I listened to the ovation. Why is that when the hero referred to

dacoits in parliament, people felt that he was reflecting the

sentiments of the people of this nation. Its worth contemplating as to

what went wrong that the people of this nation have such an anger and

disdain towards people sitting in parliament? Who is responsible for

this impression about the parliament? The people of this nation or the

people sitting in parliament? The respect of parliamentarians is not

diminished by what is said about them. Their respect is commanded by

their conduct and behavior.

The present Lok Sabha has 162 parliamentarians on whom 522 criminal

issues are lodged. Out of these, 76 are heinous crimes. Murder cases

on 14, attempt to murder cases on 20, fraud charges on 11, kidnapping

charges on 13. In addition to these, there are many parliamentarians

on whom corruption charges are lodged. Ex; Shriyuts Suresh Kalmadi, A

Raja, Smt Kanimozhi, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav etc., If

Jan LokPal would have been in existence, then a few more would have

been charge sheeted. In this context please enlighten me weather the

presence of such people enhances the dignity of parliament or reduces

it? A few of the above are such that one would rather avoid inviting

them to their homes for marriages and festivals. Is not the parliament

insulted by the presence of such parliamentarians?

Why were such people given tickets? All parties pro-actively give

tickets to people with criminal backgrounds and each successive

election has seen an increase in them getting elected. In 2004

elections, 128 people in Lok Sabha were with criminal backgrounds. In

2009 elections their number went up to 162. By this progression, the

day is not far when the majority of the parliament will consist of

people with criminal background. Hence, we should not be surprised

when the audience gives an ovation to the hero who says dacoits are in


All parties are responsible for bringing the parliament to this. In

2009, Congress gave tickets to 117 people with criminal background,

out of which 44 got elected. BJP gave tickets to 116 people with

criminal background, out of which 44 got elected. Other parties too

have proactively given tickets to the tainted. The court has charge

sheeted a good many of them with heinous crimes. What was the

compulsion of these parties? Did not the parties insult the parliament

by giving them tickets? Should not the parties be punished for

insulting the parliament?

It is being said that presently, they are merely accused. Charges have

not been proved in court. The case is pending. My answer to this is

that these cases will never end. A single judgment takes more than

thirty years in this country to be pronounced. Why is our country’s

justice delivery mechanism so lethargic and procrastinating? The

parliamentarians were supposed to correct this anomaly. Why didn’t

they correct it in the last 65 years? Was it not done on purpose? Was

it because if it was corrected, swift justice delivery would have been

possible and most of such people would be incarcerated in jails? Is

not the doubt strengthened then that, till such time these people sit

in parliament, our justice delivery mechanism will not be reformed? Is

not the apprehension valid that till such time people like these are

in parliament, crime will not come down in our country? Please tell me

how can I respect parliamentarians like these?

Its correct that these people are merely charged at present. The

charges are not yet proven. Cases are pending. It is possible that

twenty years later, the courts may pronounce them innocent.

Alternatively, it is also possible that twenty years later, many of

these may be held guilty by the court. In such a scenario, isn’t this

a cause for immense worry that this nation’s laws were framed by

murderers, kidnappers and fraudsters? You say that I have insulted the

parliament. I respect the parliament immensely but can you explain to

me the rationale of respecting such parliamentarians.

There was a parliament in which Shri Lalbahadur Shastri resigned in

the wake of a single train accident. One feels the urge to submit

everything at the altar of such a parliament. But how can I respect a

parliament with the present composition?

On 29th December 2011, during the Lokpal Bill discussion, RJD

parliamentarian Shri Rajniti Prasad snatched the Bill from the hands

of the Hon’ble minister, tore it and threw it. Was not the parliament

insulted by this act? If we see parliament as a temple of democracy,

isn’t the presiding deity insulted by tearing the Gita in such a

temple? It was too much that not a single parliamentarian stood up to

protest this tearing of the Bill. The chairperson too was mute. Why

this speechlessness by those who swear by the parliament? This was not

the first such instance. Many bills have been torn in this temple of

democracy. But not one person has been punished ever. Don’t you think

that Shri Rajniti Prasad should be punished severely for tearing away

the Bill inside parliament? Such an exemplary punishment that no

parliamentarian dare ever to tear away any bill inside the parliament

in the future.

Rajya Sabha has many industrialist parliamentarians who have no

connection whatsoever to people or public service. A good many

industrialists enter the Rajya Sabha in the wake of their money-power

and tickets given by various parties. People like these misuse the

parliament to further their industry. Shri Vijay Mallya is the owner

of Kingfisher. It is not known that he has done any public service. He

is the member of the parliamentary standing committee on civil

aviation. He decides the civil aviation policy of this nation. So, it

is but natural that he will frame such policies that benefit

Kingfisher enormously. Isn’t this a direct misuse of parliament? Rajya

Sabha has a cluster of such parliamentarians who misuse the parliament

directly to further the cause of their respective industries. Isn’t

this misuse of parliament an insult to the parliament?

Cash for Questions in parliament came to light. This was a grave

insult to parliament. But such parliamentarians were merely sacked.

Giving or taking bribe is a criminal offence. Such people ought to

have been jailed when proven guilty. The fact that they were sacked

demonstrates that they were guilty. Why weren’t they jailed? Why were

they let off by mere sacking? For such a grave insult to the

parliament, if they were to be exemplarily punished, future

parliamentarians would not have dared to try insulting parliament

again. Since they were let off lightly, the 2008 open horse-trading of

parliamentarians was repeated. People saw buying and selling of

parliamentarians in the holy temple of democracy. The collective

conscience of the nation cried. Democracy wept. Parliament shed tears.

But the government survived. Not a single parliamentarian has been

punished till date. Was this not akin to treason? Isn’t trading of

parliamentarians considered as treason? How can I respect such


Microphones have been uprooted and thrown innumerable times in the

parliament. Chairs are hurled at each other. How can I respect such

parliamentarians? On one hand 8 Bills are passed without discussion in

17 minutes and on the other hand, there is daily disruption by

parliamentarians which results in parliamentary business being


The nation is struggling against corruption and price rise. Common man

is finding survival difficult. Farmers are committing suicides.

Whistleblowers against corruption are being murdered. People are

writhing. On these issues the parliament is either quiet or semantics

are delivered. These problems which have beset our nation for years

have not been addressed. As a thumb-rule, there is no unanimity in the

parliament on these issues. The issues linger on in standing

committees, people writhe in agony.

Oddly, on any issue regarding parliamentarians all parties unite. When

a parliamentarian among them Shri Sharad Pawar is slapped, (slapping

was wrong, should not have been slapped) all parliamentarians writhed.

All parties got united. All leaders denounced this for two hours.

Whenever there is an issue of increase of allowance to

parliamentarians, their comforts, perks, we see instant unanimity

among parties. All parties unite against the use of an idiom (Chor kii

daadhii me tinkaa). This tiny idiom hurt the parties so much that

parliament discussed this issue for hours. All these instances force

us to contemplate – aren’t a few parliamentarians more concerned about

their self-interests rather than the people?

Along with parliament, legislative assemblies too are temples of

democracy. In such a temple if some legislature and the child & women

development minister of that state watch porn publicly, please tell me

how can I respect such legislatures?

Its not that this parliament doesn’t have good parliamentarians. Many

good parliamentarians exist. And I respect them immensely. But the

voice of such good parliamentarians is drowned in the cacophony of the


I have raised a few fundamental questions on the notice received to my

statement. The same constitution that gives powers to parliamentarians

to enact laws gives the people the power to ask questions to the

parliamentarians. Questions are raised weather the parliament that is

comprised of so many criminally tainted parliamentarians can ever

enact an efficient law to end crime? If the parliament which is

comprised of so many people with corruption charges can ever enact a

good anti-corruption law. A law which, if enacted will create problems

for some parliamentarians? During the Jan Lokpal movement, the people

of this country came down to the streets demanding an effective law.

People have started asking questions when the government and the

parliament seemed reluctant to enact such a law. People have a

question whether Jan Lokpal Bill will be enacted?

All these make it clear that the parliament is insulted not by

me but continuously by a few people sitting inside. By those on whom

the people put their faith and future. I just stated the facts. I have

not stated anything wrong. I just raised the queries of the people. If

in the eyes of your law, I am guilty, I am ready to be punished under

such a law. If you find me guilty under your law, my request would be

to give me an opportunity to present myself in person to air my views.

With regards

Arvind Kejriwal

403, Girnar, Kaushambi

Gaziabad, Uttar Pradesh****

** **

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Misdemeanours in high places

"Bertie Ahern, a former prime minister of Ireland, was accused of lying about the source of large sums of money in his bank account by a tribunal investigating corruption. He quit his Fianna Fail party before it threw him out."

"Pal Schmitt resigned as president of Hungary, after Budapest’s Semmelweis University stripped him of his doctorate because of plagiarism. His resignation means that Viktor Orban, the prime minister, has lost a loyal ally who rubber-stamped all of the government’s new, and contentious, laws."

"The treasurer for Britain’s ruling Conservative Party resigned after being caught on video suggesting to journalists posing as lobbyists that they could buy access to David Cameron, the prime minister, and influence policy. Mr Cameron said the party would investigate, but the opposition Labour Party called for an inquiry that was more robust. "

It is evident that unbecoming behaviour at top political levels is a universal phenomenon. It goes unnoticed in a few countries. Even if noticed, it goes unpunished in some countries. India unfortunately is one among these few countries. Where accountability is not enforced, misbehaviour becomes common. Societies / economies pay the price for misdeeds of individuals.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

IIT Delhi's dubious distinction

It has often been debated whether institutions of higher learning like IITs and IIMs have failed in instilling ethical behaviour in their students. Though one may argue that brilliance has no correlation with morality, it disturbs us whenever we come across an IITian or IIMite who has achieved "success" by transcending acceptable standards of decency.

The names of Rajat Gupta and Ravi Rishi readily come to our mind. The former has allegedly abetted Raj Rajaratnam in scandalous insider deals. Ravi Rishi owns the UK-based $800 mn Vectra Group that is alleged to have adopted controversial methods to market Tatra army trucks to the Indian Army. Both Rajat Gupta and Ravi Rishi are 'distinguished alumni' of IIT Delhi.

IIT Delhi has ofcourse produced many engineers of unsullied reputation. This list includes Raghuram Rajan, Y C Deveshwar, M S Banga, Vinod Khosla, Rajendra S Pawar and Padmasree Warrior. But it is a cause for concern if the institute produces even one morally distorted apple.