Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Charges against Prime Minister

Prashant Bhushan has alleged, mostly based on reports of others including the CAG that some members of the Union Cabinet including the prime minister are prima facie corrupt. He has also criticised the recurring tendency of the government and ruling parties to use Manmohan Singh as a Shikandi to deflect criticism.

Calling Manmohan as Shikandi has attracted widespread criticism. But the comparison seems to be apt. Shikandi was used as a shield by Arjuna to escape from Bhishma's fury. (That Shikandi's gender was ambiguous is beside the point. Manmohan's integrity is equally ambiguous if we pay attention to the misdeeds of ministers protected by him till the very end of such ministers.)

Manmohan's emotional response that he will quit public life if charges against are proved borders on misdirecting bravado. If corruption charges are proved, law will take its own course. Unfortunately, law is not allowed to take its own course to facilitate proof or otherwise of the charges. Will there be an independent enquiry? Obviously no.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Corruption: Need for suo moto action by Supreme Court

Corruption has reached a crescendo in India. Political corruption is at its zenith. Political parties keep accusing one another of Himalayan scale corruption with a view to deflecting the charges against themselves. Blame whatever you will : our proverbial tolerance for any kind of misdemeanour, the humongous cost of our elections or labyrinthine and slow-moving judicial system; the consequence is undeniable. We are corrupting every part of our social system and setting a very bad example for the future generations.

How long can this misanthropic misadventure go on? Who will bell the cat? Some tireless do-gooders keep filing petitions against the corrupt ministers who are only too adept in subverting the judicial process. It is incumbent on the Supreme Court to save the nation by taking suo moto notice of this cancerous phenomenon, appoint a committee of honest people (before this fast-disappearing species actually vanishes) and bring to justice atleast some leaders fast enough to check the virulent social malady.

The government will be careful enough not to let honest people become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or chief of armed forces in future. It is now or never for the highest court of the land to save us.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Neutralising the parliament

We claim to be a parliamentary democracy. But how effective is the parliament? Only the other day when Rajya Sabha was scheduled to discuss the Maxix-Aircel issue and the alleged involvement of the present Home Minister, some DMK members ensured adjournment of the House by suddenly raising the unrelated issue of Tamilnadu Legislative Council. DMK is a member of the ruling coalition!

Discussion on any matter of national interest is systematically sabotaged by either the ruling or the opposition parties. Why should we fool ourselves by falsely claiming to be a parliamentary democracy?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Comical Congress

One may not support the Congress party politically. However, for its sense of humour the party deserves 100% marks.

The party has opposed P.A.Sangma's candidature for presidency since "he does not have the ethical stature required for the post". How can he match Pratibha Patel's ethical stature? Has he committed any fraud in any cooperative bank? Was his spouse ever involved in a murder case? Did he ever try to own the land belonging to the armed forces? Is he capable of lavish spending on foreign tours including a swarm of relatives and service personnel? Is he in the good books of Sonia Gandhi? How can he even think of occupying the Rashtrapathi Bhawan?

Manmohan Singh has acknowledged that the country is facing economic problems. He has gone one step further and discovered that "Life will not be interesting without problems"! I hope he does not want to make our life more interesting.

Cruel inequality

A recent study in England indicates:

l One child in five is on free school meals, but only one in 100 Oxbridge entrants is.

l Only 7 per cent of children attend private schools, but these schools provide 70 per cent of High Court judges and 54 per cent of FTSE 100 chief executives.

l One in five children from poorer homes achieves five good GCSEs, compared with three out of four from affluent homes.

The position is not much different in other countries. It is a colossal tragedy that governments are not making enough efforts to usher in more equality.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

More on J P Morgan Chase

Governance Metrics International (GMI) rates companies worldwide in two ways. One rating is called ESG Rating covering environmental, social and governance issues. The other rating is AGR Rating incorporating accounting and governance risks. GMI has rated J P Morgan Chase under 'F' for ESG Rating and 'Very Aggressive' for AGR Rating. GMI rates 4200 companies under ESG Rating and more than 18000 companies under AGR Rating.

The percentile scores are as under:

ESG Rating                                     Percentile Score

A (Superior)                                         96 - 100

B (Above Average)                            76 - 95

C (Average)                                         26 - 75

D (Below Average)                              6 - 25

F (Failing)                                              1 - 5

AGR Rating                                 Percentile Score

Conservative                                       86 - 100

Average                                               36 - 85

Aggressive                                         11 - 35

Very Aggressive                                  1 - 10

Evidently, GMI has had a creditable understanding of JP Morgan Chase especially when rest of the world was awe-struck and dumb-founded by JPM's "brilliance".

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Disappointment at Shareholders' Meeting

The annual meeting of shareholders of J.P.Morgan Chase was held within a week of Chairman cum CEO's admission of massive failure of Risk Management system. One therefore thought that the shareholders would hold the CEO accountable for this incredible lapse. But the meeting was a damp squib. The meeting was almost a breeze for Jamie Dimon! What is governance coming to ?

The shareholders also voted on a proposal to split the post of Chairman cum CEO. Sadly, even this proposal failed to muster majority support. If shareholders are suicidal, who can save them? They let arrogant CEOs last longer.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Do women make safer decisions?

The conventionally -  wise argue that the global economic crisis would not have happened if more women had headed financial institutions. This is an argument difficult to support or to contest in the absence of critical mass of women CXOs in the financial industry.

The JP Morgan Chase crisis probably disproves the hypothesis. Their Chief Investment Officer is Ms.Ina Drew who seems not to have sensed what was happening to the bank's derivatives portfolio. One swallow may not a summer make. At the same time, gender-based generalisations do not seem to make much sense.