Monday, December 28, 2015

Fits India to a T

Sometimes some statements made about other countries may apply to India also, probably even more appropriately. The Economist of Dec.19th observes as under with respect to Ukraine:

"1) "Efforts to tackle corruption are going less well. No prominent figures from previous regimes have been jailed.

2) No one has cleaned up the murky but lucrative system for claiming value-added tax rebates on exports. 'Some people are still claiming refunds for exporting air,' says Mr.Fiala."

The first para explains itself. The government of MMS was seething in corruption. Yet no minister has been brought to justice.

The export bills scam in Bank of Baroda, Delhi is perfectly defined by the second para.

The same issue of the magazine, in a different context, quotes Peter Drucker: "No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organised in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings." India as a nation does not seem to be organised in such a way. Can India survive?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

BJP in a fix

Kirti Azad has set the cat among the pigeons by questioning the goings-on in the Delhi and District Cricket Association which was under Arun Jaitley's presidentship for a long time. True to his name, the erstwhile cricketer considers himself a free bird to criticise the minister and thereby enhance his fame. It is strange that a party that promised corruption-muft rule had to suspend a parliamentarian from itself for raising issues of probity.

Arun Jaitley caused Ram Jethmalani's resignation from the Vajpayee government. Jethmalani's memory is too sharp to forget this and he is too this-worldly to forgive Jaitley. Karma bounces back sooner or later. Subramanian Swamy knows only too well that Jaitley is a buffer around Narendra Modi and that the latter is not convinced unless the former is convinced. Jaitley is an odd amalgam of arrogance and friendliness. He maintains a professional (he is an advocate of no mean repute) self-righteous and all-knowing exterior even as he deliberately and perhaps purposefully abstains from going after the corrupt. Swamy is not known to have any consideration for those aborting his moves.

Narendra Modi, perhaps egged on by Jaitley, has contemptuously sidelined the Margdarshak Mandal seniors like L.K.Advani. Advani continues to be bitter that Modi usurped primeministership which the former thought was his historically. It may be obvious to the bystander that the BJP under Advani could not have romped home in the 2014 elections. It is too difficult for the passionately attached (to power) to see the obvious. So leaders like Advani seize every opportunity to embarrass Modi and his present cronies.

K.P.S.Gill has accused Jaitley of misuse of power as DDCA President to further his daughter's legal-professional interest. In these circumstances, it will be befitting if Jaitley resigns his ministership and upholds probity in public life. His stature will get enhanced if an impartial enquiry gives him a clean chit. Any enquiry while he continues to be a minister may not appear to be fair. Though there are no allegations that Jaitley misused power for gathering pelf for self, his inability to ensure probity in DDCA is a grave enough charge that requires Jaitley to establish exculpatory evidence. Exercise of self-denial of ministership till his innocence is firmly established is expected of him.

Modi may find it difficult to find a suitable successor to Jaitley as Finance Minister though some may argue that Jaitley was not a good choice after all as FM. Such existential compulsions should not deter Modi from proving that he is not one to tolerate any deviation from the straight and lonely path. Will Jaitley and Modi rise to the occasion?

It is true that Sonia Gandhi continues as Congress President despite the bunch of inculpatory evidences against her in the National Herald case. But is she worthy of emulation ?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Impeachment or intolerance?

Justice Pardiwala, a judge of the Gujarat High Court, says in one of his judgments,

“If I am asked by anyone to name two things which have destroyed this country or rather have not allowed the country to progress in the right direction, then the same is, (i) Reservation and (ii) Corruption. It is very shameful for any citizen of this country to ask for reservation after 65 years of Independence. When our Constitution was framed, it was understood that reservation would remain for a period of 10 years, but unfortunately, it has continued even after 65 years of Independence.” 

This has stoked a huge controversy in the Rajya Sabha with many elders seeking impeachment of the judge. The judge subsequently withdrew this para from his judgment saying that this para was not essential for the decision in the judgment. The judge has obviously acted under coercion. Who would like to be impeached?

This behaviour of parliamentarians reeks of intolerance. Under the garb of concern for the underprivileged, our political leaders have only been feathering their own nests.

The judge had also pointed out “countrymen should rise and fight against corruption at all levels, rather than shedding blood and indulging in violence for reservation. Reservation has only played the role of an amoeboid monster sowing seeds of discord amongst the people.”

Has the judge exceeded his remit by uttering the truth?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Why Rahul Gandhi was a dropout from college

The mystery has now been clarified. Rumours that the college authorities had asked Rahul Gandhi to drop out of college in view of his poor performance have now been trashed.

Rahulji has clarified that the RSS prevented him from completing his studies. "That is the way the BJP government is functioning. The mischief came from PMO. 100% I have no doubt. We will not accept this. I will continue to question."

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Do Indians lack perceptiveness?

How perceptive are Indians? Not very. Ipsos MORI’s latest version of the Perils of Perception survey (2015)  highlights how wrong the public across 33 countries are about some key issues and features of the population in their country. The gap between perception and reality shown as 'Index of Ignorance' paints India in poor light. Among the countries surveyed, India exhibits the second largest 'perception - reality gap'. 

 The Ipsos 'Index of Ignorance' table
 1Mexico  Least accurate
 2 India
 3 Brazil
 4 Peru
 5 New Zealand
 6 Colombia
 7 Belgium
 8 South Africa
 9 Argentina
 10 Italy
 11 Russia
 12 Chile
 13 Great Britain
 14 Israel
 15 Australia
 16 Japan
 17 Canada
 18 Germany
 19 Netherlands
 20 Spain
 21 Norway
 22 France
 23 Sweden
 24 United States
 25 China
 26 Poland
 27 Ireland
 28 South Korea Most accurate 

Indians think 41% of us are obese / overweight whereas the reality is 30%
We think 21% of us are immigrants though only 0.4% is.
We opine that 33% of us are atheist / agnostic / non-religious, but the actual figure is as low as 0.1%
Average age of Indians is 27 whereas we think it is 49.
The most surprising finding is that we assume 60% of homes are connected to the net whereas in reality it is only 19%

What does all this mean? Is it an indication that we are very creative?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Relief for the unhappy

A report in The Telegraph dt.12 Dec. comes as a huge relief for the perennially perturbed. Worry does not kill or cause ill-health. It is ill-health that causes worry. So if you are usually grumpy, figure out if there is any underlying physiological or psychological cause. In case there is, go all out to cure the cause. If no such problem has been diagnosed, continue to be happy by being unhappy!

Being unhappy won't kill you, study finds

A study of one million women says poor health makes people unhappy - not the other way round

By Health Editor

Being unhappy or stressed does not increase the risk of ill-health and happy souls are no more likely to live longer, a major study has found.
The research on one million women, published in the Lancet, said the widespread belief that stress causes ill-health came from studies that had confused cause and effect.
The new study found that those in poor health were more likely to be unhappy – but that this was because of the illness they were suffering.
The 10 year project found no evidence that stress or unhappiness in themselves had any impact on mortality.
Study lead author Dr Bette Liu, of the University of New South Wales in Australia, said: "Illness makes you unhappy, but unhappiness itself doesn't make you ill.
"We found no direct effect of unhappiness or stress on mortality, even in a 10-year study of a million women."
The research, published in The Lancet, tracked the women over three years and then asked to rate their happiness.
Five out of six of the women surveyed said they were generally happy.
The women who were least happy were those who smoked, didn't do enough exercise and didn't live with a partner.
The strongest associations, however, were that the women who were already in poor health tended to say that they were unhappy, stressed, not in control, and not relaxed. This was true for overall mortality, for cancer mortality, and for heart disease mortality.
Researchers said other studies had that unhappiness decreased life-expectancy, when in fact it did not.
"It's good news for grumpy people because they don't have to add to their misery the fact that they might be killing themselves"
Professor Sir Richard Peto, Oxford University
However behaviours linked to unhappiness –such as smoking, bingeing on unhealthy foods, and lack of exercise – still increase the risk of an early death.
Co-author Professor Sir Richard Peto, of Oxford University, said: "It's good news for grumpy people because they don't have to add to their misery the fact that they might be killing themselves.
"If stress makes you do something that's destructive then that leads to problems. Of itself it's not damaging.”
The main analyses included 700 000 women, with an average age of 59 years, who were tracked during a decade, during which time 30 000 died.
After allowing for any differences already present in health and lifestyle, the overall death rate among those who were unhappy was the same as the death rate among those who were generally happy.
The study is so large that it rules out unhappiness being a direct cause of any material increase in overall mortality, in women, researchers said.
He said the study was important because people often blamed themselves for illness, thinking that a positive attitude could have saved them
"There are a lot of urban myths,” he said. “People need to know that getting ill is not your fault, but illness can make you unhappy.”
Previous studies which linked happiness and low stress to lower mortality had not allowed properly for the strong effect of ill health on unhappiness and on stress, researcher said.
Prof Peto said: "Of course people who are ill tend to be unhappier than those who are well, but the UK Million Women Study shows that happiness and unhappiness do not themselves have any direct effect on death rate."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Driverless car and liquorless bar

The Bombay High Court has not quashed the allegation that a person was killed and five were wounded. (I don't know why this allegation was not trashed by the Honourable Court.) What reinforces my faith in our judiciary is the legal finding that Salman Khan was possibly not drunk though he was returning from a bar and that the alleged vehicle which allegedly claimed a victim's life and wounded some was possibly driverless. It matters little that the actor was probably intoxicated and it matters even less that a person was killed because he was after all a poor person.

We normally hear about a victimless crime. This is possibly a criminalless crime. 

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Sonia Gandhi's golden opportunity

There is a school of thought that Sonia Gandhi denied herself the opportunity of becoming India's prime minister. In other words, she is supposed to have sacrificed what was within her reach. There are also people who say that she could not have become the prime minister and anyway MMS was only her proxy. That is, she gained authority without responsibility.

The Delhi High Court order in the National Herald case has given an opportunity to Sonia Gandhi to prove which view is correct. If she goes through the processes of law and gets investigated without demur, people will accept her bonafides. On the other hand, if she is bent on creating a ruckus, stalling the parliament and continuing her non-cooperation with the government, the contrary signal will be sent.

Till now, her reaction has been peevish. She says she has nothing to fear because "she is Indira Gandhi's daughter-in-law." She does not say that she has nothing to fear because she has committed no wrong.

National Herald case

Delhi High Court has refused to cancel the summons issued by the Trial Court to Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and others to appear before the Trial Court. The petition in the trial court filed by Subramanian Swamy alleges that the Gandhis have unlawfully enriched themselves by acquiring Associated Journals Ltd. by dubious means. Evidence seems to support Swamy's contention. Therefore Justice Sunil Gaur of the Delhi High Court rejected the petition of Gandhis.

Text of the order is available here:

It is a pity that the Gandhis have such a stranglehold over Congress that the party members respect them more than the party. Some extracts from the order:

"It has to be kept in mind that AJL was a Public Limited Company, which had immovable assets having
value of crores of rupees. It is matter of record that Congress Party had
assigned the huge debt of `90 crores to a Section 25 Company i.e. Young Indian on receiving a paltry amount of `50 lacs only. For this, the Congress Party owes an explanation to its supporters, donors, etc.."

"Considering the fact that AJL has sizeable assets of `2000 crores, it
needs to be explained by petitioners as to what was the need to assign the
huge debt of `90 crores when this debt could have been easily liquidated
by AJL from its sizeable assets. Even writing off such a huge debt by the
Congress Party can legitimately attract allegations of cheating, fraud, etc..
Petitioners had gone step further in conspiring to get this huge debt
assigned to a Special Purpose Vehicle i.e. Y.I. and thereafter, to hijack
AJL via Y.I.. Such grave allegations levelled against petitioners cannot
be brushed aside lightly by relying upon judicial precedents cited, to
conclude that the ingredients of the criminal offences alleged are lacking.
To say the least, to do so would be preposterous. Such a prima facie view
is being taken in view of the fact that the assignment of the huge debt by
Congress Party to Y.I. was for a paltry sum of `50 lacs. This is certainly
questionable and justifiably attracts the allegations of cheating,
misappropriation, criminal breach of trust, etc.. Such a view is being
taken as it needs to be explained before the trial court as to how the net
worth of AJL can be negative when it has assets worth crores of rupees. It
also crops up in the mind of a prudent person as to why interest free loan
was assigned and why it was not written off. In any case, writing off
such a huge debt by a legendry Political Party is indeed questionable.
Instead of adopting such a questionable course, what was done by the
Congress Party is more questionable. It also needs to be answered as to
why the genuine shareholders were marginalized in the Extraordinary
General Meeting, which was attended by just seven shareholders. Such a
questionable conduct of petitioners certainly invites allegations of
committing the offences for which petitioners have been summoned. Is it
not criminal misappropriation of Congress Party’s funds? This aspect
needs to be addressed after respondent-complainant is cross-examined at
the pre-charge stage. It also needs to be examined at pre-charge stage as
to whether lacs of citizens who had donated to the Congress Party felt
cheated by assignment of such a huge debt to Y.I. who was managed by
none others than petitioners, who were Office Bearers of Congress Party
as well as Directors of Y.I.. Not only this, the main persons, who were
instrumental in allegedly siphoning off political funds were the recipients
of the assignment of the huge debt by the Congress Party and they were
the same persons, who had clandestinely acquired the control of AJL. All
this smacks of criminality. What species of criminal offence is made out
is not required to be seen at this initial stage."

 "Upon reading the complaint as a whole,
it emerges that the transactions of the Congress Party with AJL via Y.I.
are not a mere commercial transactions as these transactions legitimately
attract the allegations of cheating, fraud, breach of trust,
misappropriation, etc. "

"This Court is of the considered view that the gravity of the
allegations levelled against petitioners has a fraudulent flavour involving
a national Political Party and so, serious imputations smacking of
criminality levelled against petitioners need to be properly looked into.
39. After having considered the entire case in its proper perspective,
this Court finds no hesitation to put it on record that the modus operandi
adopted by petitioners in taking control of AJL via Special Purpose
Vehicle i.e. Y.I., particularly, when the main persons in Congress Party,
AJL and Y.I. are the same, evidences a criminal intent. Whether it is
cheating, criminal misappropriation or criminal breach of trust is not
required to be spelt out at this nascent stage. In any case, by no stretch of
imagination, it can be said that no case for summoning petitioners as
accused in the complaint in question is made out. Questionable conduct
of petitioners needs to be properly examined at the charge stage to find
out the truth and so, these criminal proceedings cannot be thwarted at this
initial stage. Such a view is being formed on a bird’s eye view of the
whole case and the observations in the impugned order of there being a
prima facie case have to be read in the context of there being sufficient
grounds for summoning petitioners."

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Chennai city collapses

 Denied electricity, newspapers, milk and net connectivity for three days, I have learnt that we can live without them. One unintended benefit was that I could sleep more peacefully probably because TV and computer were not allowed to distract me from diurnal rhythms.

The tragedy that struck Chennai was immense. Reports are that the city faced such a mess last only in 1906. Torrential rains in 1906 and now are liberally compared. One wonders how such elaborate notes were maintained in 1906.

Collapse of the ICU system in MIOT Hospital was shocking. It is similar to the Fukushima nuclear power plant failure which was also caused and aggravated by sudden deluge of water in the generator location. There should always be a back-up (called as redundancy in risk management) for such crucial functions.

Government authorities obviously were not able to cope with the challenge. It was funny to hear the Chief Secretary claim that "We take pride in managing the unprecedented situation successfully under the able guidance of the Honourable Chief Minister". Perhaps he did not mean what he said.