Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dilip Bobb's 'Ten Commandments'

The columnist, Dilip Bobb has authored the following ten commandments. It is a pity that these Gandhis, Aiyars and Singhs will never change their despicable attitude :

"1. I am thy God, thou shalt have no other gods but me, no images or likenesses unless it’s someone with the same hallowed name, and what is a more hallowed name in India than Gandhi? For any clarifications or assurances, thou shalt approach Mani Shankar Aiyar or Digvijaya Singh.
2. Thou shalt suspend all those who blaspheme against our leaders, for they are people who bear false witness. The Congress Bible contains no such word as “joker”. In Ephesians chapter 5 verse 4, it merely says ‘let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving’. So I say to all followers, thanks for being so forgiving.
3. Thou shalt not accept resignations, offer resignations, or demand resignations, for mine is the kingdom and the power to reject resignations, even if that resignation is mine own. All others shalt be resigned to their fate. I repeat a famous proverb, ‘If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…’. I say unto you, keep your head, also known as the party president.
4. Thy shalt honour the Holy Trinity, the Mother, Son and Holy Ghost (a.k.a Priyanka), for they are the wind beneath your wings, the honey in the beehive, the escape velocity behind women, children, Dalits and the minorities and marginalised, even if they are the ones who have left us all marginalised.
5. Reject all the false prophets who are spreading falsehoods about our future and writing our epitaph in lengthy op-ed newspaper columns and television debates. Our future is assured under the leadership of the Son who sacrificed so much in the noonday sun, and still emerged smiling happily in the face of defeat, and in front of TV cameras.
6. When in doubt, fall back on the Bible, for it oft contains all the answers, hidden in parables. In Corinthians, chapter 6, it says: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body.” Cast aside your confusion and seek solace in its hidden meaning, basically the translation is we need to stick together or we sink together.
7. Thou shall not covet thy neighbour’s house in Lutyens Delhi, nor his official car, or his designation. There is only one house, 24 Akbar Road. In other words, resist the devil’s temptation to sing a different tune and join the enemy camp in search of rewards, as did Rao Inderjit Singh.
8. Thou salt do some serious self-examination and self searching, so as not to invite the government’s ire, and ensure that in the case of Mr Vadra, there is no searching or screening.
9. Thou shalt make a request to me to guide the party, and I shall, in turn, thank you for reposing your faith in me, your president for life, or until the Son grows up.
10. Thou shalt remember the tenth commandment and repeat it every morning along with the Lady’s Prayer — Achhe Din Aane Wale Hain."

Friday, May 30, 2014

Attention: IDBI Bank's demat clients

We had earlier posted the following cautionary information titled "IDBI Bank: Is it reliable as a DEPOSITORY PARTICIPANT?"

"Many customers who have their demat accounts (for shares) with IDBI Bank are in a state of shock. The December 2013 statements sent by the DP disclose lots of transactions which were not authorised by the customers.

When the matter was reported to IDBI Bank, the bank silently despatched another statement without calling it the corrected statement and without offering any apology or owning their mistake. It is now anybody's guess what went wrong where.

Those customers who have not verified their statements may do so early."

Since then there have been a few more occurrences which only aggravate clients' fears. For example, the bank has issued a Demat Statement of Account from 01-Apr-2014 to 30-Apr-2014 to a client who has not transacted any business during this month. Under the column "Securities in which no transactions took place", no security is mentioned. This obviously means either there is no security in the account or there have been transactions in all securities, both of which are wrong in the instant case.

When the matter was raised with the bank, the bank replied as follows:
".As there was no transaction for the month of April 2014,the details are showing as NIL under the heading "securities in which no transaction took place ". What a superb oxymoron!

Either the bank does not know what it is doing or there is a smart alec fraudster.

As if to confuse us further, the bank also adds, "As there was a technical fault on the part of printing vendor,the previous statement (December 2013) was showing the wrong values with incorrect heading and the same was rectified by the Bank."

Whereas the client was referring to the statement relating to the month of April, the bank refers to December 2013. It is difficult not to conclude that IDBI Bank's demat department is in a deep mess. It is hoped that RBI and SEBI will look into this and protect the bank's clients.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Karn and Kumbhkarn

Manmohan Singh is a combination of Mahabharat's Karn and Ramayan's Kumbhkarn. Like Karn, MMS is ever beholden to his well-wisher, Sonia Gandhi. Like Kumbhkarn, MMS slept for half of UPA regime.

But neither epic character was as selfish as Manmohan Singh. In addition, they were communicative.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Grudging acceptance of reality

Grand Old Party has at last deigned to accept that Narendra Modi has campaigned better than its leaders. Jairam Ramesh, one of the chief strategists for Congress, has admitted this.

" "He has changed the nature of campaigning in India. It would be unwise to deny the change he has brought about in the nature of campaigning in India. We were not prepared for it," Ramesh told TOI, in a rare confession that the Gujarat strongman had rewritten the rules of electoral engagement. 

The UPA's rural development minister said blaming individuals serves no purpose as the scale of defeat suggests that Congress was a non-starter. "We were out-campaigned, out-manoeuvred, out-funded and out-spent by Modi," he said."

The former minister could have truthfully admitted, "Our UPA government out-scammed all earlier governments. This was seen through by the voters. They voted us out."

Scams and family domination are the twin evils of Congress. The earlier the party realises this, the better for them. Instead it is trying to tighten the family's grip by roping in Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

Milind Deora has attempted to speak out the truth. The High Command is not pleased. It is pleasantly surprising that Milind Deora has not been made to disown his statement or to clarify that he has been misunderstood by the media. 

According to Indian Express, "In the first open criticism from within the Congress after the party’s crushing electoral defeat, former union minister Milind Deora said on Wednesday that Rahul Gandhi’s advisers did not have their “ears to the ground” and those with “no electoral experience” were “calling the shots”, but added that “the people who take the advice also have to bear responsibility”.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Life's uncertainties

The Hindu carried the following report on May 23, 1964. Within 4 days, alas! he was no more. Who can predict life and death?

From the archives (dated May 23, 1964)

My lifetime not ending so soon: Nehru
“My lifetime is not ending so very soon” — this is how Mr. Nehru reacted to a correspondent’s question whether it would not be in the interests of good Government that he solved the problem of succession “in your lifetime in a democratic manner.” The 200-odd correspondents, who packed the Press conference room at Vigyan Bhavan, loudly cheered Mr. Nehru’s remark breaking a convention. The correspondent had prefaced his question with Mr. Nehru’s statement in a television interview that he was not grooming Mrs. Indira Gandhi for the post of Prime Minister. Mr. Nehru smiled and said: That is a leading question.
Correspondent: But this is on everybody’s lips.
Mr. Nehru: My lifetime is not ending so very soon…
A correspondent asked Mr. Nehru whether he had given thought to the suggestion that in view of the great strain he was having he should retire and function as an adviser.
Mr. Nehru: Well, yes, whenever such suggestions are made I give some thought to them.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Why did Congress lose?

It is now clear who is responsible for the Congress debacle. It is not Sonia or Rahul . The Royalty can do no wrong.

It is not Modi. After all, he was a chai-wallah and therefore not fit to become prime minister which post is reserved for the Gandhis and those obsequious to the Gandhis.

It is not the voters. Has not the Congress taken care of them through scam after scam?

Dentsu India, an outfit of a Japanese ad agency is the culprit. The Congress has squarely blamed them for not communicating the "achievements of the Congress" to the people. If the achievement had been communicated, the party would have romped home because Indians as inventors of 'zero' are always attracted by zero.

The party paid Rs.600 crore to the agency. Is it Rs.100 crore for ad services, Rs.200 crore for owning responsibility for the rout of Congress and Rs.300 crore to be paid back to the family?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Contemporary Hinduism

Following article is by Prof.Vamsee Juluri in Huff Post.

"Narendra Modi's victory needs to be understood beyond the two commonly heard positions we have heard these past few months leading up to the election. Critics of Mr. Modi's saw his rise as the march of Hindu nationalist fascism and the inevitable death of secularism in India. Supporters of Mr. Modi saw his rise as a sign of hope for India after years of corruption in high places, general ineptitude, and a sickening sense of venality in civic and public life.
But India's vote for Mr. Modi needs to be understood beyond these two ideas. Even if Mr. Modi ran on a campaign of universal good governance rather than divisive anti-secular rhetoric, and even if his critics now assume that his victory means an end to something noble in India, the truth is that both positions only tiptoe around what his victory means from a modern, civilizational Hindu point of view today.
The mandate that Mr. Modi has won, in other words, is not just for either good governance, or for dismantling secularism, but for embodying a new, emerging idea of what it means to be Hindu, and Indian, in the world today. It is very different from thinking of it as a mandate for Hindu nationalism of the kind we witnessed in the late 1980s and 1990s.
This mandate, simply put, is about Hinduism even more than Hindu nationalism, or secularism. It might sound paradoxical, but by running on a promise of universal good, rather than on divisive identity-rhetoric, Mr. Modi has re-established a very Hindu way of looking at the world. This is important to recognize, because the anointed secular position against Mr. Modi, though seemingly a good thing--for secularism is a good thing in my view -- has very little intellectual, emotional, or moral purchase in large sections of India's young today. We need to recognize that, and to respect that.
Young people in India today, growing up in a rapidly globalizing cultural environment, aspiring perhaps to study or work in other countries, generally disposed favorably towards the United States and the West, and also, for the most part, accustomed to diverse, multi-religious coexistence in India and therefore not inherently hateful to other communities, find a tremendous contradiction between how they see themselves and how they are represented in the global discourse. Young Hindus see themselves as part of a great civilizational heritage, and value it not just for its ancient glory, but also because they see its spirituality as being the core of their civilizational ethic of coexistence and respect for all religions. If Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and so many different kind of Hindus divided by language, custom, caste and history still share a land and history so deeply, they know it is not simply because of India's secular constitution, but because of Hinduism's ancient legacy of respecting all faiths. There is a new sense of wanting to be Indian, and Hindu, in India's young that is very different from the simplistic Hindu nationalist rhetoric we saw two decades ago.
Unfortunately, even if Hindus have moved on for the most part from the extremism and jingoistic pride of that period, the secular commentary has not. In fact, it has only become worse, if such a thing was possible. It should come as no surprise to anyone therefore that the numerous earnest and passionate appeals to Indian voters to reject Mr. Modi that populated the august pages of The Guardian, The New York Times, and The Economist in recent months probably had very little meaning for voters in India. To know why, it is worth recalling what else these publications had to say about Hindus, Hinduism, and India in the last few years, before they took up their outraged positions on behalf of India's supposedly vanishing secularism.
The Economist once described a holy Hindu deity, the Shiva Lingam at Amarnath, as a "penis-shaped lump of ice."
The Guardian once lampooned the passing of a revered Hindu guru, who probably did more to uphold India's secular, multi-religious fabric than any intellectual or activist ever did, and derided his teachings as simplistic "peace, love and vegetarianism."
The New York Times published a spate of op-ed pieces after the 2008 Pakistani terrorist attacks blaming India and Hindu nationalism. Not to mention its serious advocacy for a Hinduism "expert" who compares ancient Hindus to Nazis in her book and unilateral exclusion of dissenting opinion.
With this sort of a track record, why would take anyone take them seriously on Narendra Modi either?
The fact is that what might have been a fair, principled position of secularist critique against Hindu extremism has long ago lost all integrity in the eyes of most reasonable Hindus. They may not care for the sort of ultra-nationalism and minority-abusing that some Hindutva leaders did, but they do care about their religion, their nation, and their place in the world.
They do not see secularism being advocated against Modi, but only Hinduphobia.
Had Mr. Modi run on a really divisive platform, the situation would have indeed been different. But fact is that he did not.
Perhaps the time has truly come for a better conversation now about India, and the future of religion, and nationalism. We need a better notion of secularism than the profoundly orientalistic Hinduphobia we have seen so far. We also need a better notion of Hindu nationalism to enter the debate than the 19th century ideologies that have dominated its parties for a long time. At least on the latter, Mr. Modi has marked a distinct change from the past.
Whether Prime Minister Modi is truly different from the Chief Minister who allegedly allowed a terrible riot to run wild in 2002 is of course a question that leaves many restless. The Indian electorate has clearly spoken in his favor. If there was really an inexcusable level of culpability, then surely votes too would not mean any lessening of it. But we do have to consider one thing, which people in India probably have and those of us who only read about India through largely Hinduphobic publications have not. For a few days in 2002, the allegation holds, a government failed in its responsibility to protect its citizens, and for this lapse punishments were indeed made. We are however not satisfied with those who paid for these crimes, and somehow sought the head, so to speak, of one man more than any other. Whether it was for what he really did, or whether he only became a symbol for all our fears, is perhaps not ever going to be known for sure.
But also consider another situation about a government failing in its responsibility -- not for a few days, but for several years, really, as militants indirectly under its funding spread death and devastation on multiple occasions. The people of India have not once blamed the governments of the United States or the United Kingdom though they tolerated, if not ignored altogether, the brazen support of terrorism that was taking place through regimes under their patronage. Yet, these very governments have in the past sought to singularly condemn a democratically elected leader who has, as he has said, successfully prevented a single riot from ever taking place again under his watch.
Nothing can and will erase the pain of those who suffered in Gujarat in 2002, Hindu and Muslim. Nothing can and will erase the pain of all those who suffered at the hands of terrorists and their bombs and bullets in India in the last two decades. But one thing the Indian electorate has done decisively now is to reject those whose politics have rested on the divisive and ugly identity-claims that underlie that sort of violence. India has rejected both pseudo-secularism, and jingoistic Hindu extremism. It has accepted a plank of good governance for all, which for young Hindus could also mean a repudiation of brazen, racist Hinduphobia, and for others might prove a reassurance eventually that India's secular constitution will not be threatened, and may even be strengthened by recognizing the civilizational roots on which that country's many religions rest.
This election was not really about choosing between secularism and religious extremism as it was made out to be. The choice was perhaps seen by people in India more accurately as one between Hinduphobia and an India for everyone.
And India has chosen."

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Family matters

Congress has won only two seats in the state of U.P. Mother and son.

Samajwadi Party has won only 5 seats, all being relatives of Mulayam Singh Yadav : M S Yadav himself has won in two seats viz. Azamgarh and Mainpuri, Dimple Yadav in Kannauj, Akshay Yadav in Firozabad and Dharmendra Yadav in Badaun.

Family still matters. Family's till matters.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

What a fall !

“Ten years ago, when I was entrusted with this responsibility, I entered upon it with diligence as my tool, truth as my beacon and a prayer that I might always do the right thing,” Manmohan Singh said in his statement. (This statement alone entitles Singh to a Nobel Prize in Literature as the best of any fiction ever written.)

Ten years later, he leaves the post recognised as the most indiligent prime minister we ever had, and doing the only thing he did right in the last five years, that is retiring from the post. His beacon of truth deserted him when he defended ministers like Raja and ranis like Sonia Gandhi. 

At least now, would Manmohan Singh stand by his professed ideals and inform the nation why he acted the way he did especially in the last five years?

Election Results: A minimal analysis

 Decimation of the Congress to the extent that they will not even be recognised as the principal opposition party was totally unexpected and unexpectable. Congress prospered whenever the opposition votes got split so long as it retained atleast a critical mass of supporters. In this election, the critical mass atrophied for various reasons. Pervasive and ever-expanding corruption made a critical mass of this critical mass of supporters apply their mind and move away from Congress. They were expected to migrate, if at all, towards a plurality of non-BJP parties. It appears that these migrants felt so much let down that they chose to vote for the principal opposition in order to cause maximum damage to Congress. Congress was perhaps hoping that an ex-Congressman, however dejected, would never ally with BJP.

Dalits are now another disappointment for Congress in all states and for Mayawati's BSP in U P. In U P, they have en masse voted for BJP. Modi used his OBC  card very effectively. The Hindu dalits expressed their anger against both SP of Mulayam Singh for supporting Muslims, and BSP. 

Urban-rural divide has not been relevant as the GOP is decimated everywhere. One wonders whether even Modi could have foreseen this landslide in his favour, his public posturing notwithstanding. Nation's mood is upbeat. But how long?

Takeaways from 2014 elections

General elections in India are the largest democratic exercise anywhere in the world. (This is despite what the erudite B.R.Ambedkar said about Indian democracy: "Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic.") These are more sophisticated than American presidential elections where in the year 2000, hanging / dimpled / pregnant chads created doubts about the legitimacy of Republican victory. Indian general elections use electronic voting machines and therefore delays in counting are rare.

The exercise that just got over have thrown up many lessons.

1) Contrary to general belief, dalits do not necessarily vote for the party that claims to espouse their cause. The Bahujan Samaj Party led by Mayawati did not get even one seat in the elections.

2) Pseudo secularism is passe. Voters are not convinced by the argument that Modi despite ensuring absence of communal riots in Gujarat post 2002 is not secular.

3) Voters are against family-based politics. Fate of Congress and DMK are indicative. Vestiges of influence of the Gandhi family remain in Rae Bareli and Amethi only. They are becoming fragile there also.

4) Assistance to the poor is recognised and rewarded. 'Amma Unavagam' ( inexpensive restaurants promoted by the AIADMK government for the poor) has fetched 37 out of 39 seats for AIADMK.

5) Unbecoming behaviour of even otherwise popular leaders is getting punished. Shashi Tharoor almost lost the election in Thiruvananthapuram this time. He polled 2.97 lac votes versus 2.82 lac votes for BJP's Rajagopal and CPI's 2.49 lac votes (Dr. Bennet Abraham). In 2009, Tharoor had won by a margin of 99,998 votes.

6) Congress is losing its reputation as a national party. It has failed to win even a single seat in 7 states.

7) Corrupt candidates can still win. Yeddyurappa in Shimoga and Ashok Chavan in Nanded are examples.

8) Politics is different from corporate management. Nandan Nilekani and V.Balakrishnan do not have people's support which is a requirement for political success.

9) Success in Delhi does not guarantee victory in other places. Arvind Kejriwal and his party, AAP need to learn this simple truth.

10) Politics is more complicated and demanding than psephology. Else why did Yogendra Yadav lose in Gurgaon?

11) Father's reputation cannot help the daughter for life. Meira Kumar, d / o Jagjivan Ram lost in Sasaram.

12) Politics is just not cricket. Md.Azharuddin and Md.Kaif lost in Tonk and Phulpur respectively. Of course, they chose to contest for a losing party.

13) People's patience for exploitative politics is waning. Rabri Devi lost in Saran. Karti Chidambaram came a poor fourth in Sivaganga. Chidambaram's fiat to banks to keep on opening branches in Sivaganga failed to win popular support.

14) Intellectual arrogance is inconsistent with politics. Mani Shankar Aiyer had the fourth position in his home town, Mayiladuthurai.

15) Arun Jaitley was a noticeable loser in Amritsar. He might have lost for one of two reasons. He is perhaps not fit for street politics. Or was there a conspiracy within BJP against him? He was originally a part of the "Delhi gang". He subsequently moved over to Modi's side. His admonition of senior leaders that they should accept the party's decision on their constituencies soured his relationship with leaders including Advani and Sushma Swaraj.

Friday, May 16, 2014

2014 Elections: A laudable landmark

After failing miserably to predict the results correctly for general elections in 2004 and 2009, the exit polls of 2014 have done creditably in their assessment. If anything, they have underestimated the rout that the Congress party would face. Sonia Gandhi has expressed an inane opinion, "Congress did not get support of the people". If she had expected the people to support Congress, it would have meant that she grossly misunderstood the mood of the people.

Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have won their respective seats. This is in a way strange because the Gandhis are responsible for the Congress debacle nation-wide. The Grand Old Party lost miserably because of pervasive corruption that probably originated and terminated in the Gandhi family and the party's pathological obsession with denigration of Narendra Modi. Modi has exhibited a Vaali-like quality that made him stronger with every attempt of the Congress to malign him. In the Ramayana epic, Vaali was gifted with the boon that he would acquire half the power of any opponent, a boon that made it impossible for anyone to defeat him. Rama had to kill him from behind in order not to activate the latter's boon.

People rejoice in Congress' sorrow because its leaders like Kapil Sibal, Mani Shankar Aiyer and Salman Khurshid personified nothing but arrogance. It is fitting that all these leaders lost. Victory of Shashi Tharoor is a disgrace to Thiruvananthapuram.

The once-redoubtable DMK has bitten dust and drawn a blank. Defeat of A.Raja of telecom infame is surprising because of his personal popularity in Nilgiris. Dayanidhi Maran has lost in Chennai Central. People aware of his nefarious role in looting departmental wealth are bound to rejoice. The ever-smart Karunanidhi has congratulated Modi on his remarkable performance.

One statistic that stands out in this election is that the Congress won fewer seats in the country than the BJP won in Uttar Pradesh alone. BJP needs to be smart enough to understand what corruption and arrogance can do to a party.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Rahul Gandhi's secular leadership

Rahul Gandhi has rated himself the most secular leader. It is high time the Congress denied the following report that appeared in The Hindu on 14th May:

A cleric who could have redeemed Congress

As the Congress leadership tries hard to shift the blame for its widely predicted electoral debacle from him, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi would perhaps sit down at some point and mull over what went wrong. He may then remember a man he had met about 30 months ago. More recently, even Priyanka Gandhi Vadra met this man during her campaign in Rae Bareli. But by then, it was too late; Syed Babar Ashraf could do nothing to salvage the situation for the Congress.
But 30 months ago, he says, he could have made a difference.
Mr. Ashraf is a prominent Muslim cleric; he is the general secretary of the All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB), an umbrella organisation of different sects of Sufi Muslims.
In the past few years, Mr. Ashraf has been fighting against what he calls the “Wahhabi takeover” of Muslim affairs in India. He says the concerns of Indian Muslims have been hijacked by the extremist Wahhabi elements with the help of the political patronage offered to them by successive governments.
“The Indian state remains oblivious to how Muslim institutions like the Waqf Board have become the biggest tools to promote Wahhabism,” Mr. Ashraf says. “They forget how Wahhabism alone is responsible for extremism all over the world.”
Mr. Ashraf alleges that these elements are funded by Saudi petrodollars and hence owe their allegiance to their foreign masters. “The Wahhabis have snatched away the identity of Indian Islam. The reins of the Muslim affairs have been given to these people who have no connection with 90 per cent of Muslims,” he says.
Mr. Ashraf cites the example of Delhi where, according to him, 250 out of 254 mosques propagating Sufi Islam have been usurped by the Wahhabis. “They call us idolaters, but have no qualms about getting their salaries from donations that our mosques get,” he says.
Mr. Ashraf believes that the spread of Wahhabism is a major threat to peace in India. “We are fighting it, but we do not have any political support,” he says.
Mr. Ashraf says he had met Rahul Gandhi to apprise him of the “dangerous virus of Wahhabism.”
“Rahul Gandhi asked me to support him, but I told him that was not possible until he paid heed to our concerns,” says Mr. Ashraf.
Mr. Ashraf alleges that the Wahhabi extremists have seized Muslim properties and are using them to spread hatred. “Suppose we had an old well near a mosque that was originally meant to quench the thirst of passers-by. But then a Wahhabi will take over and try and build a wall around it,” he says.
Didn’t something similar happen in Meerut on May 10?
Rahul met him 30 months ago: Syed Babar Ashraf could have made a difference then

Rahul Gandhi's leadership quality

Rahul Gandhi stayed away from Manmohan Singh's farewell party. The reason given by the party initially was that its vice president was tired after his "hectic campaign" during the election. When it came to be known that the tired leader had gone abroad, it was clarified that he had thanked and taken permission from the prime minister!

Rahul Gandhi is known to visit a south American country frequently. These visits are shrouded in mystery. Why should the plebeians know where the patrician has gone? Would he deign to be in the country when the election results are announced tomorrow? If he stays back in his foreign sojourn, the Congress party would sing paeans in praise of his sacrifice. If he is back, his "sense of responsibility" will receive due attention from the slavish party.

He is unlikely to lose his Lok Sabha seat though he had preferred to abstain from parliamentary discussions during his 'decade-long' membership. Yet another illustration of supreme sacrifice from an incomparable leader!

During his 'effective' campaign, he had warned the nation that 22,000 persons would be killed if Modi becomes prime minister. A remarkable prediction that only a leader of transcendental quality can come up with!

Rahulji, the country needs you. Please come back immediately.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Governance in banks

The first two paragraphs in the report of the committee to review governance of bank boards in India excellently capture the state of governance today.

"1. The financial position of public sector banks is fragile, partly masked by regulatory forbearance. Forbearance delays, but does not extinguish, the recognition of this fragility. Capital is significantly eroded with the proportion of stressed assets rising rapidly. The Report projects, under different scenarios, the capital requirements till March 2018 in order that provisions are prudent, there is adequate balance sheet growth to support the needs of the economy, and capital is in line with the more demanding requirements of Basel 3.

2. It is unclear that the boards of most of these banks have the required sense of purpose, in terms of their focus on business strategy and risk management, in being able to provide oversight to steer the banks through their present difficult position. The boards are disempowered, and the selection process for directors is increasingly compromised. Board governance is consequently weak."

Need we say more?

P.Chidambaram had insisted that public sector banks declare interim dividends before the end of March, 2014 in order to keep fiscal deficit at lower levels. Punjab National Bank declared 100% interim dividend. When the  audited financials were announced yesterday, it was clarified that the bank's performance did not permit any more dividend. What if the financials had suffered a little more and consequently even the interim paid was not justified?

Exuberance over exit polls

Exit polls 2014 create a lot of excitement in view of nation's angst over the Modi-wave. These polls unanimously project BJP as the largest single party. The most conservative poll credits NDA with 249 seats. The lotus party is now uncontrollably optimistic and has taken it for granted that the NDA is forming the new government.

The Congress party seems reconciled to defeat and is hoping that its performance will be better than what the pollsters have suggested. Exit polls went horribly wrong in 2009 and also 2014. A hattrick of sorts may or may not be on the anvil. Loss for Congress will be welcomed by people who have become weary of countless scams under the watchless eyes of Manmohan Singh.

It is reported that Pranab Mukherjee had 'strategic discussions' with Sonia Gandhi yesterday. Is not the President expected to be apolitical? Sonia Gandhi has been instrumental in subverting ethics in all possible ways.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Raghuram Rajan

Being young has its own disadvantages. One tends to be abrasive and is easily provoked.

"I determine the monetary policy. I say what it is. The government can fire me, but the government doesn't set the monetary policy. So, in that sense, am I independent! Well, I am happy to talk to the government. I am happy to listen to the government but ultimately the interest rate that is set is set by me," Raghuram Rajan said at St. Gallen Symposium in Switzerland.

Independence has to be exercised and not asserted. What the RBI Governor went on to add is disturbing:

"We (RBI) control the monetary policy. In India, what happens is when we want to do something big, we go, tell the government this is what we want to do and the government is usually supportive.... We talk to each other," he said.

Major announcements like revision in Repo rate are required to be kept as confidential as budget measures like tax rates. If RBI is truly independent, the finance ministry should not become privy to RBI's major moves before they become public just like even the RBI Governor will not be told budget measures in advance. Violation of this requirement facilitates insider trading. For example, if a particular bank gets tipped off about changes in Repo rates or SLR by the finance ministry, it gets an unfair advantage over other banks.

"Timid men can dwarf high office"

Narendra Modi, the saviour or the destroyer of the nation depending on one's political proclivities, was denied permission to conduct a rally in a particular place in Varanasi. Modi is a contestant in Varanasi. So, denying him the right to hold rallies is non-democratic. The Election Commission was expected to protect the contestant's rights. On the contrary, the EC supported the denial of permission. In the process, the Commission proved itself to be derelict and thereby demeaned itself.

What makes EC's dereliction even more palpable and anti-democratic was the ease with which Rahul Gandhi and Kejriwal were allowed to conduct rallies in the same place. In case Modi loses in this constituency, EC will be administered some bitter medicine by the judiciary.

Arun Jaitley's comment that timid pen can dwarf high office is a justified understatement. It is interesting to note that the same constitutional post can be occupied by both dauntless Seshan and spineless Sampath.

Ashok Malik has the following to say in Economic Times:

Narendra Modi denied permission to hold Varanasi rally: Was EC justified in standing by DM?

By Ashok Malik

This is a polite newspaper. It does not allow use of unparliamentary language and of a three-letter word beginning with l and ending with e. As such, one must resort to a euphemism to ask if the district magistrate (DM) of Varanasi district and the returning officer of the Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency has been economical with the truth. Establishing that point is key to understanding whether the BJP was justified in protesting against the di .. 

Friday, May 09, 2014

Watches made in Mirzapur

Rahul Gandhi desires to make India the manufacturing hub of the world. He told the electorate in Mirzapur, a town in Uttar Pradesh that one day the American President will be asked, "Bhaiya, what is the time now?" The President would notice that his watch says, "Made in Mirzapur". Rahul Gandhi did not comment whether the President would know from his watch what the time was.

We should thank the elections for giving us an opportunity to understand Rahul Gandhi's desires.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

AirAsia's entry or exit?

The following news item appeared in The Hindu BusinessLine on 8th May. Is the newspaper being prophetic? The picture is revealing.

AirAsia India gets flying licence

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  • Ready for take-off Mittu Chandilya, Chief Executive Officer of Air Asia
India, outside the DGCA’s office in New Delhi, on Wednesday. KAMAL NARANG
    Ready for take-off Mittu Chandilya, Chief Executive Officer of Air Asia India, outside the DGCA’s office in New Delhi, on Wednesday. KAMAL NARANG
AirAsia India hopes to start operations in the next one or two months, Chief Executive Officer Mittu Chandilya said on Wednesday, minutes after the airline got a permit to launch a low-cost domestic airline.
But all those hoping for ₹1 fares when the airline takes to the skies may be in for a disappointment as AirAsia India has no immediate plans to launch such fares. “I believe our fares are low enough that we do not have to resort to such gimmicks,” Chandilya said.
The airline, which currently has one aircraft in its fleet, plans to begin operations with three planes and ramp up to around 11 by the end of the calendar year. “The exact number of aircraft will depend on when we launch,” he said.
While declining to go into operational details, Chandilya indicated that the airline may fly on some routes on which no domestic airline flies right now.
Declining to term the seven months or so that it took to get a permit as a delay, Chandilya told newspersons that AirAsia was better off than the last airline, which was given a permit after one-and-a-half years.
Terming the allegations that AirAsia India was run by foreigners as “ridiculous”, Chandilya pointed out that there was no foreigner in the company.
On how AirAsia India’s prospects will be impacted given that Tata Sons is in the low-cost and full-service segments with different partners, , Chandilya said it was a “coincidence” that Tata Sons was a partner in both ventures.
AirAsia India is a three-way joint venture between Kuala Lumpur-based low-cost airline AirAsia, Tata Sons and Arun Bhatia of Telestra Tradeplace. The project involves a foreign direct investment of about ₹81 crore.

Ready for take-off Mittu Chandilya, Chief Executive Officer of Air Asia
India, outside the DGCA’s office in New Delhi, on Wednesday. KAMAL NARANG
(This article was published on May 7, 2014)