Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Black Money kept abroad

The list of Indians who are holding bank accounts  in foreign countries is becoming curiouser by the day. On 28th October, the Supreme Court hollered that the government should give the list to the court positively on 29th. The Finance Minister in a fit of bravado claimed that the government had already handed over the list to SIT which is monitored by the Supreme Court itself. Following questions arise:

1) Why could the court not obtain the list from SIT itself?

2) If the names had already been shared with the SIT, why did the government hesitate to share it with the Court?

Who is fooling whom? When the list was handed over to the court in a sealed cover on 29th October, the court did not even open the cover and chose to hand it over to SIT for necessary action !

Arun Jaitley had claimed that some names in the list would embarrass the Congress party. P.Chidambaram in a show of self-declared righteousness says that he neither asked the officials to show him the list nor was he shown, when he was the Finance Minister. Is this a sign of integrity, abdication or histrionics? Only time will tell.

In the meanwhile, the irrepressible Subramanian Swamy is confident that the Gandhis figure in the list.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tesco and the Indian government

Tesco, Britain's largest supermarket chain, is caught up in an accounting scandal. Its profit has been overstated by around $420 million by an age-old trick of advanced booking of income and delayed recognition of expenditure. The company's CEO, Philip Clarke and Chairman, Sir Richard Broadbent have been forced to quit. Company's share has shed nearly 50% of its market value so far this year.

Credit rating agencies have warned of a probable downward movement in rating of the company's securities. The normally infallible investor, Warren Buffett has regretted Berkshire Hathaway's investment in Tesco.

Indian government had adopted this accounting trick during 2013-14 in order to 'contain' fiscal deficit. Cash system of accounting facilitated this manipulation. It remains to be seen whether the new government will persist with this pernicious practice.

Richard Broadbent will be remembered for a long time for his infamous and injudicious response when he was asked how he was not aware of what was going on in his company: "Things are always unnoticed until they are noticed". How come Manmohan Singh never said this?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Rapid Action Government

Narendra Modi is changing the complexion of the government. The government's image is changing from that of an insensitive behemoth to that of an agile force.

The government has taken steps to amalgamate the scam-scarred NSEL with its parent, FTIL. Expectedly, FTIL and its shareholders including foreign institutions are up in arms against this swift move (the UPA government was dithering over NSEL's shenanigans). The process of re-allocation of coal mines on a transparent basis has started in right earnest inviting the inevitable protests from antediluvian communists. Floods in AP and J&K have evoked prompt response from the government. Civil servants at the centre are being reshuffled to make bureaucracy more responsive.

We seem to have woken up from a decade of slumber.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

BJP's volte-face on black money

It is shocking that Modi's government has adopted the UPA's argument regarding divulging details of black money stashed abroad. This amounts to going back on an assurance given to the public on the basis of which NDA came back to power.

BJP, hailed as a party with a difference, is only a carbon copy of the Congress party. As time rolls on, we are likely to witness scams and scandals reminiscent of UPA days. The Modi magic also has a shelf-life.

Modi's decision to continue the ailing Arun Jaitley as the cabinet minister in charge of two crucial ministries is not reflective of good governance. This is not to underestimate Jaitley's capacity or credibility both of which are high. Even a healthy person will find the combined demands of two crucial ministries to be taxing. Modi seems to be trading off principled politics for pragmatic economics. He was not voted to power for making this dubious choice.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Strange justice

Karnataka High Court refused to entertain the bail applications of Jayalalithaa et al keeping in view an earlier observation of the Supreme Court that corruption amounts to violation of human rights. The Supreme Court in its superior wisdom has chosen to ignore its own pronouncements and ordered bail for the four convicts.

Since all four have been granted bail, there are no special considerations like health conditions, gender, age etc. In case such treatment is not extended to various other convicts who have appealed or are in the process of appealing against their convictions, judiciary will be guilty of discrimination.

We have reached a piquant situation where every convict can remain out of jail till the Supreme Court disposes of their appeals. There is only one caveat. Can all these convicts (of whom some are innocent) afford the cost of dilatory and expensive litigation?

So there is bound to be one course of justice to those who can afford to pay the likes of Ram Jethmalani and Fali Nariman and another course for those who cannot. Nothing can be a more offensive travesty of justice.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Modi's false prediction

The Prime Minister confidently claimed before the elections that the Congress party would not bag even 10 seats in either Maharashtra or Haryana. All exit polls indicate that the Congress will get more than 10 seats in both these states.

Why did Modi mislead the nation? The answer is simple. He had hoped that Rahul Gandhi would campaign actively. Smart strategist that he is, Rahulji desisted from active canvassing and thus brightened his party's chances.

Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have reduced the Indian National Congress into Indian Notional Congress. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Who is saying what?

It is amazing that Shashi Tharoor could say this:

"Earlier during his speech at the function at the DG Vaishnav College, he said students awaited hard roads as challenges ahead in their lives.
"But you should believe in yourself, you should believe in the truth. I have been on those hard roads and that was the only way I was able to cope as well," he said."
Is this hallucination or chicanery?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sunanda Pushkar's death : Emerging picture

Details emerge over time. Cover-ups and obfuscations give way to evidence and clarity. But the process may take an excruciatingly long time. In the mean time, the main actors may even have died. The mystery relating to Sunanda Pushkar's unnatural death (it would have been called a gruesome murder but for the high-profile minister's involvement) is undergoing such a meandering process.

Had she been married to a commoner, such a nasty event would not have occurred. If it had happened, the cruel inhuman husband would have been arrested straightaway. But ministers seem to be immune from criminal investigations for spousal cruelty and uxoricide.

Sunanda Pushkar's relatives are now beginning to gather strength to speak the truth. Her cousin, Ashok Kumar, has voiced the most sensible and straightforward concern about the husband's obvious involvement. He has attributed Sunanda's son Shiv's so-called clean-chit to the minister to mortal fear.

The needle of suspicion matter-of-factly has right from the beginning pointed to one person and he has been allowed so far to walk free, travel abroad and curry favour with the new ruling establishment for ten months. Yet, the law continues to be otiose. National Commission for Women and various women's organisations should hang their heads in shame for letting down a murdered woman so shabbily.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Involving unclean minds in 'Clean India' campaign

Shashi Tharoor is one of the nine persons chosen by Narendra Modi to initiate the Swachh Bharat campaign. It is unfortunate that a misogynist Casanova who divorced twice and most likely murdered a third wife is enlisted for this national purpose.

Ever since Modi became the prime minister, the shameless Tharoor has been getting closer to him possibly to stave off criminal proceedings relating to Sunanda's death. Tharoor should not be allowed to continue mocking at justice to his departed spouse.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Manmohan Singh's autobiography

It is reported that the former prime minister has decided to author a book about himself to set history straight. One wonders whether he has obtained permission from Sonia Gandhi to express his views.

If he wants to write the truth, he cannot but offend Sonia. If he desires, as usual, not to displease her, he cannot be truthful. It will be interesting to see the route he takes.

One hopes that the book will be in the form of a mea culpa. In case he turns economical with truth, his already low credibility will further get eroded.

Updated on 22nd Oct:

Manmohan Singh is reported to have denied any thought about an autobiography. Very surprising that an 'economist' is shy of communicating.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Supreme Court, Al Gore and Jayalalithaa's conviction

The Special Judge, John Michael Cunha has quoted the Supreme Court and Al Gore while finding Jayalalithaa guilty:

"Regarding corruption, the Hon’ble Supreme Court
in the case of Niranjan Hemachal Sashittal vs. State of
Maharashtra, 2013 (4) S.C.C. 642 has held as under:

“It can be stated without any fear of
contradiction that, corruption is not be judged by
degree, for corruption mothers disorder, destroys
societal will to progress, accelerates undeserved
ambitions, kills the conscience, jettisons the
glory of institutions, parayses the economic
health of a country, corrodes the sence of civility
and mars the marrows of the Governance”.

Al Gore, in his book “Assault on Reason” (Paper
Book Edition 2013, pages 72, 73) writes:

“If political and economic freedoms have been
siblings in the history of liberty, it is incestuous
coupling of wealth and power that poses the
dreadliest threat to democracy. If wealth could
be easily exchanged for power, then, the
concentration of either could double the
corrupting potential of both. Freedoms helix then
spirals downward toward unhealthy
combinations of concentrated political and
economic power”.

Heady Mix of power and Wealth is the bottom line
of this case. Huge accumulation of wealth by accused
in a short span of five years is a telling example of how
power would lead to concentration of unlawful wealth
posing veritable danger to democratic structure. "

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Types of Justice

Jayalalithaa's imprisonment has activated many discussions on what justice is about. Has she not done enough good to the public to merit condonation of corruption relating to early nineties? Are n't there other politicians who have been even more corrupt and yet not facing any punishment now?

Both are logical and ethical questions. The first question draws our attention to concepts of 'gross' and 'net' justice. Netting of good deeds from bad deeds is not a law of nature. Consequences of both good and bad actions need to be enjoyed and suffered separately. Nature believes in and ensures "Gross Settlement" though not on Real Time basis. RTGS is not in vogue here.

The second question addresses 'absolute' and 'relative' justice. We are able to experience justice in individual cases but are unable to make a meaningful, satisfying comparison of 'rewards' and 'punishments' faced by one vis-a-vis another person for similar turpitude. This is because the consequences may be spread over different time periods for different persons. Nature is unerring in punishing the errant.

Jaya's padhuka

The Hindu reports:

""'Since he is now a Chief Minister, he should not visit the jail, and that he should focus on administration'

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who has been convicted in the disproportionate assets case, on Tuesday refused to meet the newly sworn-in Chief Minister O Panneersevalm, when he went to meet her at the Central Jail in Parappana Agrahara, where she is lodged since September 27.
A prison official said: “Ms. Jayalalithaa conveyed the message through prison staff that as he was the Chief Minister he should not visit the jail, and that he should focus on administration…. This message was conveyed to him by the prison staff.” "

When Bharata went to forest to meet his brother Lord Rama during Rama's exile, the latter advised him to concentrate on administration instead of spending time with Him. Bharata pleaded with Rama atleast to give him His 'padhuka' so that he would administer Ayodya under the aegis of Lord's padhuka.
Similarly, if Panneerselvam had requested Jayalalithaa for her 'padhuka', she would have asked him, " Of 750 pairs of footwear, which one do you want?" Panneerselvam would have been flummoxed. I hasten to add that this conversation is only imaginary, the former chief minister's response only hypothetical and therefore does not warrant a defamation suit.