Category Archives: Democracy & Governance

Ill effects of Not having a Chief Minister!

Delhi state has no Lokayukta (Ombudsman) at present. The vacancy has been lying vacant since the retirement of Justice Sarin several months back. Delhi has no elected government and hence the vacancy has not been filled up.  The Lieutenant Governor (LG)- since Delhi is under President rule- has no direct constitutional means to fill the vacancy.  In absence of a Lokayukta, a window of grievance redressal  and anti-corruption activism has been shut off for the citizens. It is apparent that common man continues to suffer in absence of a Lokayukta. A news paper has reported that the office of Lokayukta located near ITO has been languishing in absence of the a head.

Delhi state needs an elected government at the earliest. When Mr. Arvind Kejriwal left as Delhi Chief Minister in February, 2014, he had recommended dissolution of the legislative assembly so as to pave the way for fresh elections. However, the Lieutenant Governor did not accede to his advice and has kept the assembly in suspended animation. An assembly kept is suspended animation gives enough ammunition to play foul. The whole country has been witness to the vigorous and frenetic efforts made by BJP in last several months to try to cobble up a majority by enticing the sitting MLAs of the Congress party. In other words, horsetrading is an art that BJP has excelled in. So far, thanks to an activist player like Aam Aadmi party (AAP) that has upset BJP’s apple cart by exposing its misdeed to the public.

AAP on its part has intensified the efforts to demand elections as soon as possible. At the same time, it is asking a pertinent question: “Why is BJP running away from elections?” AAP is mobilizing public opinion on these issues. As a part of this movement, the party has planned a massive public rally at Jantar Mantar on coming Sunday,ie, August 3.

Lokayukta can play an important role in bringing transparency and accountability in the governmental departments , but, alas, the important constitutional office has been lost in the details of finding an elected government. The ill-effects of not having a Lokayukta adds another pound of burden on  the common man who is looking for respite!

It may be noted that Aam Aadmi Party believes that the existing channel of Lokayukta is not meaningful enough to curb corruption and has demanded  a more potent law called “Janlokpal Bill”.

 

 

 

 

 

Aadhaar Card has some real Aadhaar (basis)!

The issue of Aadhaar Card is back in news. There is a report in the newspapers that Nandan Nilekani, former Chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), recently met the Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Mr. Arun Jaitely and stressed upon the need to continue with the implementation of Aadhaar Card. As we know, the concept of Aadhaar cards was initiated by the UPA government and for that purpose; the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) was set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Mr. Nilekani was appointed as the first Chairperson of UIDAI. BJP had in its election campaigning opposed the UIDAI project. Per reports, the Prime Minister Mr. Modi has now shown inclination to continue with this project.

The system of allocating an Aadhaar Number (Card) has an immense value. Let every Indian be identified and allotted a number. Link it to financial account and Driving License and/or State-issued ID of the person. Then gradually scrap other means of IDs like ration card, PAN number and voter card. At the end, we shall be (in a few years, say) left with: 1. Aadhar Number and 2. A State -issued photo-identification card (eg: Driving License or Simply a Photo-ID). This would remove redundancy and bring uniformity in identifying a citizen.

USA has pretty much the same system (Social Security Number/SSN AND a state-issued DL/ID Card). A Social Security Number is a 9 digit number allotted to a person and carries until death. The concept of issuing a SSN was started in 1930s and has worked well for USA. The duo of SSN and a DL/State ID is a powerful tool to identify a person when it comes to financial accounts and dealings, admission to schools or colleges, employment (read taxes) and obviously background check (hence criminal background too). Thus, one may live in the costliest downtown of Manhattan (New York City) or the extreme border village in Alaska state ( literally touching the borders of Russia) or a remote village in the mountains of Montana state, everyone (who chooses to apply for) would have a SSN, and thus identifiable by the government.

In fact, Aadhaar Number is based upon the same concept of SSN. You get a number issued by the government and you keep it until the physical existence on earth!

Some activists have raised issues about the privacy rights and are opposing Aadhaar cards. I would say that their apprehensions are misplaced. No one should be forced to apply for an Aadhaar card and one is free to live in a vacuum.

The Aadhaar card system will work fine for us. Let us shed our doubts and take a firm path towards attaining a uniform system of identifying the citizens of the country.

They don’t pay back loan and live life Kingsize !

According to a report published in the Times of India on July 17,2014, the top 50 Non Performing assets (NPAs) in India owe over Rs. 53,000 Crores mainly to Public Sector Banks (PSBs). Some of these defaulters have been declared “willful defaulters”. If loan amounts are recovered from them, it can help PSBs in meeting their capital requirement and avoid selling their stake in joint ventures. Mr. Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines tops the chart of such defaulters. For years our government has been claiming that efforts are being made to recover the bad debts . It is time that Modi-led Federal Govt. takes some hard measures to get this money back into the system for nation’s development. Let us remember that due to soft-peddling of the government, the defaulters continue to dump their own failures on taxpayers’ shoulders. No business should be considered too big to fail, but if the government considers to bail out a failing company, then it must do so with a clear cut contractual obligation on the part of the company to return the money.

The readers might be thinking as to how much Kingfisher Airlines still owe to the banks? Well, it is a loan amount of 4,000 Crores that Kingfisher still has to repay to the banks. Is it okay to live life like Kingfisher even if you have defaulted on your monetary promise?

For the details of the news, please click here. 

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”. 

 

Real Test of Democracy

How should our elected representatives behave and work? Does winning an elected post entitle them to indulge in corruption and self-serving activities? It seems that some people join politics to serve the society , whereas others join to fill their coffers. The real test of democracy is how strongly it works at the grass root level. In Narnaul district, on the same day newspapers have reported two contrast news items about our elected Sarpanchs (village Heads). The Hindi daily Jagran reports on July 10, 09.

राष्ट्रपति से मिलने के लिए सरपंच के संग महिलाएं गईं:
नारनौल, जागरण संवाद केंद्र : राष्ट्रपति प्रतिभा पाटिल के बुलावे पर जिले के गाव कोथल खुर्द की महिला सरपंच रोशनी देवी शुक्रवार अपराह्न उपायुक्त ए. श्रीनिवास के साथ दिल्ली के लिए रवाना हुईं। उनके साथ उनकी मंडली की 18 महिलाएं भी गई हैं। राष्ट्रपति 11 जुलाई को इस जत्थे से भेंट करेंगी। 11 जुलाई को राष्ट्रपति से मुलाकात के बाद यह टीम शाम तक नारनौल पहुच जाएगी। मालूम हो कि गाव कौथल खुर्द की महिला सरपंच रोशनी देवी व उनकी मंडली द्वारा शराबियों के खिलाफ छेडे़ गए क्रातिकारी अभियान से प्रभावित होकर ही राष्ट्रपति प्रतिभा पाटिल ने उन्हे बुलावा भेजा था।

इस महिला मंडली की कार्यशैली अनूठी थी, जिसके कारण यह चर्चा में आ गई। इस समूह ने गाव में सार्वजनिक स्थल पर शराब पीने वालों पर अंकुश लगाने के लिए मंदिर के नाम 500 रुपये की पर्ची काटनी शुरू कर दी थी, जो शराबियों पर बहुत भारी पड़ी। वास्तविकता भी यही है कि इसी कारण यह समूह ज्यादा कारगर साबित हुआ। हालांकि इसके अलावा उन पर नैतिकता के आधार पर भी शराब को छोड़ने के लिए दबाव बनाया गया। इसका नतीजा यह हुआ कि अब गाव में शराब पीकर घूमने वालों पर पूरी तरह अंकुश लग चुका है। इससे भी बड़ी बात यह है कि महिला मंडली इस उद्देश्य की पूर्ति के बाद भी शांत नहीं बैठी है और दायरे को बढ़ाते हुए सामाजिक बुराइयों के खिलाफ भी अभियान चलाना शुरू कर दिया है।
गबन के आरोप में ग्राम सचिव व सरपंच नामजद:

नारनौल, जागरण संवाद केंद्र : गांव दोचाना के सरपंच धर्मपाल एवं ग्राम सचिव उमेश चंद पर अदालत के निर्देश पर धोखाधड़ी एवं आपराधिक षडयंत्र रचने के आरोप में मामला दर्ज किया गया है। सरपंच और सचिव के खिलाफ गांव के ही एक पंच द्वारा अदालत में इस्तगासा दायर कर उसके एवं कुछ अन्य पंचों के फर्जी हस्ताक्षर कर ग्रांट लेने का आरोप लगाते हुए उनके खिलाफ मामला दर्ज कराने की अपील की गई थी।

जानकारी के अनुसार गांव दोचाना के पंच मदनलाल ने अतिरिक्त मुख्य न्यायिक दंडाधिकारी की अदालत में गत 6 जुलाई को एक इस्तगासा पेश कर सरपंच एवं ग्राम सचिव पर मामला दर्ज करने के लिए पुलिस को आदेश देने की गुहार लगाई थी। मदनलाल ने इस्तगासा में बताया कि ग्राम पंचायत दोचाना के सरपंच धर्मपाल ने विभिन्न तारीखों में पंचायत पुस्तिका व कार्यवाही कमेटी रजिस्टर में उसके तथा कुछ अन्य पंचों, महिला पंच देवी और मुमताज अली तथा सुरेश कुमार पंच के फर्जी हस्ताक्षर कर एवं अंगूठे लगा कर प्रस्ताव पारित कर लिए। जबकि उक्त पंचों के सामने इस प्रकार की कोई बैठक हुई ही नहीं थी। सरपंच धर्मपाल ने पंचायत के सदस्यों का कोरम पूरा दिखाने की नीयत से प्रस्तावों पर फर्जी हस्ताक्षर कर लिए थे। ऐसा कर सरपंच ने सरकार से ग्रांट भी प्राप्त कर ली। इस्तगासा में यह भी कहा गया कि ग्राम सचिव उमेश चंद ने भी सरपंच धर्मपाल से फर्जी हस्ताक्षरों के माध्यम से पारित इन प्रस्तावों को अटेस्ट करके इस अपराध में सरपंच का सहयोग किया है। पंच मदनलाल ने इस संबंध में पुलिस महानिदेशक एवं अन्य संबंधित पुलिस अधिकारियों को भी शपथ पत्र के साथ एक शिकायती दरखास्त भेजी थी, किंतु पुलिस ने उस पर कोई कार्रवाई नहीं की। शिकायतकर्ता पंच मदनलाल के अधिवक्ता सुरेंद्र ढिल्लो ने बताया कि अतिरिक्त मुख्य न्यायिक दंडाधिकारी की अदालत ने मामले की गंभीरता को देखते हुए गत 6 जुलाई को धारा 156 सीआरपीसी के तहत इसे नारनौल सदर थाना में भेज दिया था। जिस पर कार्रवाई करते हुए पुलिस ने सरपंच व ग्राम सचिव कि खिलाफ गत बुधवार को भारतीय दंड संहिता की धारा 419, 420, 467, 468, 471, 406 व 120 बी के तहत मुकदमा नंबर 159 दर्ज कर लिया है।