Category Archives: Corruption & Accountability

Reliance is NOT reliable!

July 14,2014: The BJP’s Narendra Modi-led Central Government has decided to penalize Reliance Industries for producing less than targeted natural gas from KG-D6 block. The Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that Reliance India Limited (RIL) has been slapped with a new fine of  Rs.3,500 crore  ( USD 579 million). Interestingly, if you calculate such penalties in last 4 years for RIL, it stands at a towering amount of  Rs.14,300 crore (USD 2.376 billion). This has prompted Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to urge the government to simply shunt Reliance out. AAP’s argument is that RIL has committed so many defaults that there is a strong basis for the government to now scrap the contract. 

However, on the contrary, is not Modi government shielding Reliance?

In June of this year, Anti-Corruption Branch of Delhi issued notice asking if any penalty had been imposed for underproduction of gas. This question becomes much more relevant since a hearing in Delhi high court is due on 1st August on the basis of FIR lodged by AAP Government (in Delhi) in February,2014 against Reliance Industries.

The penalty that has been imposed today may  just be a PLOY of Modi Government to withdraw the FIR against Reliance Industries. It is time that the Modi acts tough against erring companies and sends a signal that his government means business. Acting soft on such matters gives an impression that Mr. Modi is not able to crush crony-capitalists. 

The press statement of Aam Aadmi Party in this regard can be accessed via this link.

 

White Money in Indian politics: When shall We see that?

Only 10 % of the total donations for all the major political parties in India are from known sources. In other words, 90 % donations are from unaccounted sources which means it is a  black money for the recipient. As you may know,a political party can choose NOT to disclose the name of the donor for a donation value of less than Rupees 20, 000. The political parties have been misusing this loophole to their advantage. A major exception is Aam Aadmi Party which documents a donation of even Rs one. This way, AAP voluntarily reveals 100 percent of its monetary donations and the names of donors.

Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) – an NGO- while analyzing the funding of political parties for the year 2012-13, noted that one of the most common source of income for the political parties is by selling “coupons”.  Well,  selling coupon is an easier way: Sell as many as you can under the value of Rupees 20,000 and no need to take pains to identify the buyer!! You may read further details in the news item by clicking here.

For the sake of records, Indian National Congress raised a bounty of Rupees 425 Crores during the fiscal year 2012, while BJP netted 324 Cr Rupees. I was surprised to see that Communist Party Marxist (CPM) was able to garner monetary donations to the tune of Rupees 126 Crores. Who would  donate for an outdated left ideology which Churchill rightly said “is a  philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery”. 

 

Discoms playing flirt

The Government companies make/generate electricity. In Delhi, the distribution or supply of electricity (power) was privatized long back. Such companies are called Discoms (Distributing Companies) and they distribute electricity to consumers and charge tariff for that. Ambanis-owned company BSES is one such example operating in Delhi.

Right in the beginning of its coming, Arvind Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party raised the issue of high price of electricity in Delhi.  For Assembly elections (held in December of 2013), AAP made it an electoral plank and promised that if voted to power, it would reduce the electricity prices by 50 %. One of the ways to reduce the prices, said AAP, would be to audit the Discoms because in AAP’s view, the latter were a den of corruption and crony-capitalism. So if that leakage is contained, it would automatically help reduce prices, argued AAP.

AAP came into power , Arvid Kejriwal became the Chief Minister of Delhi in December 2013. Kejriwal ordered auditing of Discoms in a matter of days after becoming Chief Minister. Unfortunately, AAP decided to quit the government on the moral issue of Jan Lokpal Bill after a mere 49 days duration.

The auditing of Discoms however continued but the latest reports show that the move is not taking us anywhere. As this news indicates,  the Comptroller and auditor general (CAG) Mr Shashi Kant Sharma in a scathing attack on Discoms said that the companies were not cooperating with the CAG to hand over the data and information.  He has written to LG Mr. Najeeb Jung (Delhi is under President’s Rule and LG runs the administration in such a situation) informing him that the 3 Discoms in Delhi were hampering the progress of auditing by not providing complete data and has requested the LG to intervene.

This is a sorry state of affairs. The Discoms are not above government, yet are less than willing to cooperate because of the nexus between politicians and corporate houses where they complement each others, often ignoring the interests of the public. In other words, crony-capitalism often benefits those sitting in the power-corridors and the private corporations. The LG must intervene at the earliest and direct the Discoms to fully cooperate with the powerful constitutional body of CAG. CAG must also exert pressure to bring the defaulting companies to the task. The people in Delhi deserve the quality supply of electricity at reduced prices.

 

 

Anna: Please do not miss a chance

Well known social and political crusader Mr. Anna Hazare has re-launched his campaign against corruption today on January 30, 2013. The campaign named Gantantra Abhiyaan has been launched form the famous Gandhi  maidan in Patna. Bihar is the birrthplace of Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan.
AnnaAs the readers might re-collect, Anna Hazare had started the campaign under the title “India Aganst Corruption” (IAC) with Arvind Kejriwal in 2010. The whole movement was focused on a one-point agenda: to secure the passage of Janlokpal Bill. The movement caught up to the fancy of the whole nation and singularly brought corruption into focus. It was no less than a revolution, it seemed as if each and every Indian was rallying behind Team Anna. But there was a miniscule class of Indians who was not impressed. Miniscule but powerful! Yes, I am referring to our Parliamentarians. These “brown sahebs” did everything to diffuse and dilute the situation. Thus, even today the Janlokpal Bill is waiting to see the light of the day in Parliament.

However, the IAC movement -frustrated by the unwilingness of the Parliamentarians to focus on the the reforms- got split, with Arvind Kejriwal esposing a direct political route. Even with the huge surge in the momentum of IAC movement, the whole phenomenon would be best labelled as fence-sitting! To grab the bull by horn, you have to get into the ring and that was what Kejriwal advocated: He and some of the core members walked away to form a political party now called Aam AAdmi Party.

Thus, Anna was left with IAC in September 2012. After a few weeks of debating the issues, Anna too relinquished the bannerof IAC (now IAC is a separate movement, headed by one gentleman Sarbajit Roy and his team) and decided to re-launch his agitation under his own NGO’s name.

Loksabha elections are hardly 14 months away (will take place sometime in April of 2014). Mr Anna Hazare might have experiences that such huge movements launched by civilc society organizations can serve only ONE purpose: they can create awareness and educate. But anti-corruption movements can not CHANGE the law (unless, we have a feature called INITIATIVE, where a bill can be initiated by the public and legislation has to take it up and pass it into a law, depending upon the provisons specified). Howver, Indian public does not have this privilege (by the way, Aam Aadmi Party supports this reform).

Thus, what the re-ignited movemnet of Shri Anna Hazare can do at the best:  Keep educating the public about enormous corruption that exists in our system. Nothing more! Mercifully, even an illitrate person understands that corruption is a deep-rooted virus in our system.

Whatever, Anna’s reservation might be about the direct politcial plunge. Here is a golden chance for Anna and for the nation. Since he started his movement from Patna, taking inspiration for LNJP, he should go for a direct political plunge. He should oversee the formation of a politcal front, of which AAP and like minded parties -whose key focus is on reforming the system- get together and defeat the suckers!

It will be a tactical move that has the potential to liberate India from fedudal political parties and usher a new era of politics. The new conglomerate can then go for reforms that would give our system   a new lease of life.

Afterall,  it is the poor policies that promotes corruption and inefficieny and malgovernacne.

Anna ji, the nation looks upto you for this transformational role! Please consider!

 

 

 

Corruption: the Major Issue for Elections

Corruption is the major issue for the upcoming LS elections, but it should not surprise the countrymen that political parties are just not talking about it. Instead, the national and regional political parties are busy aligning and re-aligning, shuffling and re-shuffling their stands! Purpose: How to increase the bargaining power so that in post-poll market, they will be able to raise the bar. Raise the bar for ideals, and principles! No, raise the bar for extracting maximum for the power-sharing.

The three fronts are emerging: i) BJP and its allies making NDA, ii) UPA now representing mainly Congress as all the allies have deserted it, and iii) Third Front: a conglomerate of various parties who do not believe in pre-poll alliance and are not ready to even guess until elections are over because they will weigh the possibilites after the results are out. Expect these self-serving parties to do the task of nation-building!

My fellow countrymen, leave your notions of party ideologies, shake the boxes of your affiliations! These are parasites who are sucking our blood, draining our (tax payers’) money and just busy politicking! Not to disparage the honest and sincere political leaders, I must say that unless the whole vision of what politics is all about, our democracy will remain in peril. We need elected leaders who commit to nation building by focusing on education, health, better public and civic administration, national security and integrity, social security for the all (particularly underprivileges masses), economic security, etc. We do not elected leaders who have come to understand that politics is all about indulging in populistic measures and making false promises!

The only solution for the short term:

1. Come out and vote on the day of voting!

2. Vote for candidates based upon the track-record, performance and profile. Do not be swayed by caste and party affiliations.

3. Destroy Regional Parties: Vote for candidates who can provide clean leadership. Throw these small regional parties out of the window as they are going to pollute the post-poll environment by extracting their flesh. These regional parties should not have any stake on the national issues! They were created to fulfill local aspirations and at national level, they will at the best create instability by producing a hung parliament!

Until political reforms are brought in so that the menace of cross over (dal badal) , unholy post-poll alliance is checked and pol parties are disciplined, these short term measures will at least give some relief to stabilize our democracy.