Category Archives: Featured

Celebrities in Parliament

This article was published on August 18,2014 in “The Political & Business Daily”. The clipping is attached. 

The Parliament has seen some of the most famous personalities (sans Politicians) as its member, due to the power of Article 80 of the Indian Constitution. The said article confers upon the President, the power to nominate (not more than) 12 members to the Rajya Sabha. The Article 80(3) further states that “The members to be nominated by the President under sub clause (a) of clause ( 1 ) shall consist of persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as the following, namely: Literature, science, art and social service”.

Rajya Sabha (Council of States) is the upper house of our bicameral Parliament (Sansad). The Members of Parliament for Rajya Sabha are elected directly via a collegium consisting of elected members of assemblies of the sates of India.

There is hardly any doubt over the fact that this rule has helped the Parliament to adopt a diverse culture, along with getting expert opinions by these members over the issues pertaining to their field of expertise. But on the other hand, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that any of these has hardly made a significant contribution to the Parliament’s proceedings. The recent voices of dissent against these members for ‘short attendance in the Parliament’ have done more harm than good to the reputation of Article 80. Sachin Tendulkar, who faced the most criticism for short attendance, made a statement that he couldn’t attend the Parliament as his brother was undergoing a surgery. While no one in the country would ever doubt the integrity of Sachin Tendulkar, this recent incident has surely given a food for thought regarding the sincerity of the Nominated members towards the Parliament’s proceedings.

Apart from Tendulkar, the other celebrity who came under fire for the similar issue was Rekha, who currently has a measly attendance of 5%. The particular article in question has given the Rajya Sabha some of its most learned members, such as Dr. Zakir Husain, Dr. Alladi Krishnaswami and Satyendranath Bose.

Speaking about the nominated members, Jawaharlal Nehru said in the House of the People on 13 May, 1953:

“…The President has nominated some members of the Council of States who, if I may say so, are among the most distinguished, taking everybody in Parliament altogether—it is true, distinguished in arts, science, etc.—and our Constitution in its wisdom gave that. They do not represent political parties or anything, but they represent really the high watermark of literature or art or culture or whatever it may be”

Since the inception of the Rajya Sabha, more than 150 members have been nominated by the President under this rule. Among these are some of the brightest minds in the country including scholars, jurists, social workers and artists. Over the years, these exceptionally talented individuals have undoubtedly raised the level of debating in the Parliament.

Here, it must be mentioned that these nominated members aren’t given any special privileges over and above the rules for the elected members. These members also need to fulfil the minimum attendance requirement of the house or else face disqualification. But the bone of contention is that these exceptional individuals were, at the first place, nominated to the house because they exhibited utmost integrity and work ethics in their field of work. They are expected to showcase exemplary behaviour and show the other member how it is done! Consequently, they are constantly under the radar of everyone. But if there is one thing we have seen from these champions’ past, it is that they know how to answer their critics with their work. Let just hope that the history repeats itself yet again!

मोदी हैं सपनों के सौदागर मात्र!

मोदी सरकार के 100 दिन होने को आये. इस विषय पर तथ्यों पर आधारित आलेख को थोड़ा व्यंगात्मक लहजे में कहने का प्रयास कर रहा हूँ. भक्तगण मित्र भी उसी भावना से लें!
प्रधानमंत्री श्री नरेंद्र मोदी हमेशा से कहते रहे हैं कि मुझे सिर्फ विकास की राजनीति करनी है, मैं बदले की राजनीति में यकीन नहीं रखता. मगर उनके  प्रधानमंत्री का पद संभालने के बाद से ही जिस तरीके से यू.पी.ए. सरकार द्वारा नियुक्त राज्यपालों को चुन-चुन कर परेशान किया गया और किया जा रहा है तथा संवैधानिक पद पर बैठे व्यक्ति की मर्यादा को तार-तार किया गया, इससे तो यही लगता है कि मोदी की कथनी और करनी में कोई समानता नहीं है.

श्री मोदी कहते हैं कि वो सिर्फ विकास की राजनीति करते हैं. हां, वे विकास की राजनीति तो करते  हैं, पर आम आदमी के विकास की राजनीति नहीं बल्कि अपने दल के नेताओं का विकास करने की राजनाति में जुटे हैं. उनका एकमात्र एजेंडा है कि साम, दाम, दंड और भेद, किसी भी तरीके से अपनी पार्टी के रिटायर्ड नेताओं को राज्यपाल के पद पर आसीन करवाना, ताकि पार्टी पर उनकी पकड़ और मजबूत हो. इसके लिए उन्हें प्रशासनिक और राजनीतिक हथकंडा अपनाने से उन्हें कोई गुरेज नहीं है.

कई बार मंच से श्री मोदी ने महंगाई घटाने और भ्रष्ट्राचार मिटाने का सपना आम लोगों को दिखाया है. सत्ता पर उनके आसीन हुए 100 दिन पूरे होने को आए मगर महंगाई से किसी को भी राहत मिलती नहीं दिख रही है. रही बात भ्रष्ट्राचार के खात्में की तो उनकी सरकार भ्रष्ट्राचारियों का साथ देती नजर आ रही है. एम्स के संजीव चतुर्वेदी मामले से तो यही लगता है कि उनकी सरकार ईमानदार अधिकारियों को ही हटाने की मुहिम में लगी है. फायदा सिर्फ करीबी नेताओं और कॉरपोरेट घरानों को पहुंचाया जा रहा है (crony-capitalism).

जिन युवाओं के समर्थन से मोदी प्रधानमंत्री की गद्दी पर विराजमान हुए, आखिर कब बेरोजगार युवाओं की सुध लेंगे? देश के युवा दर-दर भटकने को मजबूर हैं पर मोदी हैं कि गुजरात के ‘विकास’ की ‘खुशफहमियों’ से बाहर निकलना ही नहीं चाहते. आखिर उन्हें कब एहसास होगा कि अब वे प्रधानमंत्री हैं, गुजरात के मुख्यमंत्री नहीं. आखिर पूरे देश को ‘विकास’ की झांकी कब दिखाएंगे!

मोदी कहते हैं कि लोकतंत्र में उनकी गहरी आस्था है. मगर अफसोस, चाहे-अनचाहे वे लोकतंत्र की जड़ें खोदने में ही लगे है. क्या बगैर विपक्ष के एक स्वस्थ लोकतंत्र की कल्पना की जा सकती है? मोदी हैं कि उन्हें विरोध के स्वर पसंद ही नहीं हैं. अपने जयकारे की उन्हें इस कदर आदत लग चुकी है कि सरकारी कार्यक्रमों में भी दूसरे दलों के मुख्यमंत्रियों की उनके सामने हूटिंग होती है और वे मौन रहते हैं.

मत भूलिए, मोदी जी! ये लोकतंत्र है. निंदक को पास रखने में ही भलाई है. शिकायत सुनने और विरोध सहने की आदत डालने होगी. वरना जिस जनता ने सर पर बिठाया है, वो गिराने में भी वक्त नहीं लगाती है. हाल के उपचुनावों के नतीजों से जनता का मूड भांप लें और जो सपना दिखाया है, उसे पूरा करने के लिए कुछ काम करें.

Coal makes the vision cloudy

August 25,2014: The Supreme Court today declared all coal block allotment done between the years 1993 to 2010 as ILLEGAL. It says coal block allocation was done in an arbitrary, unfair and non-objective manner. Though, it has stopped short of cancelling the allotments as the apex court says more hearing is needed into the case.
Thus, the roots of this mega-scam can be traced to NDA-led BJP also. It would be hard to believe if someone says that the Coal Ministry under the Prime Minister Shri A.B. Vajpayee did not know about the unfair means of continued or continuing allocations (a total of 70 coal blocks were given away from 1993- 2005, when BJP-led NDA was in power for a part of that duration). And later, Congress governemnt totally swept over the issue. Obviously, as Prime Minister and Coal Minister, Congress’ Man Mohan Singh owes a major responsibility for this scam ( he should have resigned as PM when the scam came to light during his resign, but he persisted). It seems, the coal had clouded the vision of all our parties and politicians during those years. It also shows that the beneficiaries of such scams and financial irregularities just play it low so that they continue to reap the benefit.

The coal scam is indicative of rampant and deep-rooted corruption and opaqueness in our systems of governance. As responsible citizens, let us not get divided over party lines. Who took the beating if politicians made the loot over coal blocks? We all- the hard working citizens of India!

To read more about the judgement of Supreme Court today on this matter, please click here.

भ्रष्टाचार के खिलाफ लड़ाई का यथार्थ: An article on AIIMS CVO controversy

 19298312My article on the issue of transfer of AIIMS Chief Vigilance Officer – Mr. Sanjeev Chaturvedi- that was published in Vir Arjun, a daily Hindi news paper on August 25,2014.  Please have a look!

सुहृद पूंजीवाद (Crony-capitalism)

जिस प्रकार हमारा समाज और हमारी अर्थव्यवस्था भ्रष्टाचार रूपी दंश से पीड़ित है, उसी प्रकार सुहृद पूंजीवाद (Crony-capitalism) हमारी अर्थव्यवस्था और इस समाज के लिए एक अभिशाप है। सुहृद पूंजीवाद में जहाँ व्यापारी व् पूंजीपति अपने व्यापार की सफलता के लिए सरकारी अधिकारियों के बीच अपने करीबी रिश्तों पर निर्भर होकर गलत तरीकों से कई महत्वपूर्ण निर्णयों पर सरकारी अधिकारीयों की सहमति की मोहर लगवाकर अपने हित और अपने व्यापार को पोषित करते हैं। फिर वो चाहे कोई कानूनी परमिट हो, सरकारी अनुदान हो या फिर किसी अन्य सरकारी योजना का हिस्सा हो। इसे हम व्यवस्था में व्याप्त वितरण में पक्षपात भी कह सकते है।
रिज़र्व बैंक ऑफ़ इंडिया के गवर्नर रघुराम राजन ने सुहृद पूंजीवाद के खिलाफ चेतावनी दी है, जिसमें उन्होंने कहा है: ” यह हमारी विकास दर को अत्यधिक धीमा करता है “। यह विकासशील देशों के विकास के लिए सबसे बड़ा खतरा है। आम जनता के हितों के लिए यह एक वास्तविक चिंता का विषय है।“ यह बात उन्होंने पिछले सप्ताह को मुंबई में ललित दोशी मेमोरियल लेक्चर में कहीं। श्री राजन ने कहा की पिछला आम चुनाव पूरी तरह से राजनीतिज्ञों और व्यापारिक समूहों के बीच सांठगांठ के आरोपों से भरा था जो की एक गंभीर चिंता का विषय है। राजन ने अपने गहरे पहलुओं को सबके सामने रखा जिसमे उनका कहा कि ‘अमीर और प्रभावशाली व्यक्ति भूमि और प्राकृतिक संसाधनों के आधिपत्य के लिए सुहृद पूंजीवाद का प्रयोग कर रहे है, कही ऐसा तो नहीं की सुहृद पूंजीवाद, अतीत में व्याप्त सुहृद समाजवाद को प्रतिस्थापित कर रहा है। यह लोकतांत्रिक अभिव्यक्ति, पारदर्शिता और प्रतिस्पर्धा के लिए हानिकारक है। यह एक स्वाभाविक प्रश्न है, की क्यों जनता ऐसे राजनीतिज्ञों को वोट करती हैं, जो की सुहृद पूंजीवाद को बढ़ावा देते है। कुछ अच्छे लोग है, जो राजनीति के परिद्रश्य को बदलना चाहते है पर जब वो चुनाव लड़ते है तो उनकी जमानत भी जब्त हो जाती है।
ध्यान देने योग्य बात यह है की मैं पूंजीवाद के खिलाफ नही हूँI मेरा अर्थशास्त्रीय झुकाव बाज़ार की तरफ है I सरकार का काम बिज़नस स्वयं करना नहीं है, अपितु, सरकार ऐसा मूल ढांचा तैयार करे ताकि नागरिक अधिक अच्छे ढंग से गुणवत्ता व् उत्पादन वाला व्वसाय कर सके।

Is Modi ruling the President way?

Today’s newspapers have carried out a news that Modi’s Prime Minister Office (PMO) has taken over the process of  deciding on appointments and transfers of senior officers in the government. By doing so, the PMO has reduced Home Minister Shri Rajnath to a rubber stamp in selection process of bureaucrats. The selection of senior babus happens through Appointment Committee of Cabinet (ACC) and Home Minister has a primary role to play in this. However, now Mr. Modi will decide on appointments and as Home Minister Mr. Rajnath will simply sign at the dotted line.

It seems Mr. Modi continues to concentrate power in his hands. let us remember that we have in India what we call Westminster Parliamentary system and not the Presidential system of governance.  If Mr. Modi thinks that he can run government by Presidential system by proxy, then it would not be a healthy trend for our country.

In a parliamentary system followed in our country, the prime Minister has enormous power and privileges, but the PM must ensure that his or her several of the departments continue to be relevant.

It may be noted that I am not opposed to Presidential system of governance, though. But let us not run systems by proxy. It would tantamount to subversion of constitution also.

Here is a link to the news that appeared in newspapers.

 

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. 

A train to Pakistan, but this time from China!

“The enemy of your foe can be your best friend.” Nothing but this describes China’s long standing plans of getting cozy with Pakistan. Struck between two nations, each of which wants a piece of its territory, India has been trying hard to settle the issues amicably. The latest headache for the Indian Government is China’s plans of building a rail link to Pakistan which will pass through the disputed PoK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) territory.

Adding to India’s concerns is the fact that China is taking it as a swift project with pre-feasibility stage of the link already completed. Pakistan, on its part, sees huge value in the project with its ambassador to China making a remark “This new link will enhance the economic ties between China and Pakistan as well as create a new link between East and South Asia.” The proposed route of the rail link would pass through the Xinjiang region in China, which was a part of the ancient Silk Route. It will join the railway network of Pakistan via Khunjerab pass, which lies in the PoK. China justifies the entire project by saying that it would help them easily receive import material from the countries of West Asia.

What is interesting to note here is that while China is offering a deaf ear to the concerns of the Indian Government regarding the disputed PoK territory, the Chinese government, itself, is much against any third-party involvement in its own disputed territories in the South China Sea. Case in point would be China’s vehement opposition to the exploration projects undertaken by the ONGC Videsh in the South China Sea territory. Although the Chinese officials have maintained their anonymity regarding the PoK dispute and cite ‘ease of imports’ as the lone reason behind the rail link, it is extremely hard not to think about China’s bigger objective of disrupting the Indo-Pak equation.

What further raises the eyebrow is China’s enhancing interest in other projects related to the PoK apart from the rail link. China has taken up the work for renovating the Karakoram Highway which connects the Pakistan mainland to the PoK. The Chinese Government has also pledged a $500 million loan to Pakistan to help complete their side of the project. One of the other reasons given by China for its enhanced interest in the road and rail link to PoK is the ease of importing adequate material for its newly planned Special Economic Zone in Kashgar. One of the western most cities of China, Kashgar has seen relatively low development over the past decades. The planned SEZ seems to be China’s latest attempt to raise this area to the level of other developed Chinese cities.

The recent (June, 2014) visits from Hamid Ansari, Indian Vice President and Sujatha Singh, Foreign Secretary, have initiated a much needed discussion on the rail link issue. While the Chinese Government tries its best to avoid discussion on such issues and instead, releases copy paste joint statements, the Indian Government must place issues like these at the top of its list to ensure a speedy resolution.

India must remember, the Dragon won’t go away if you just close your eyes and assume it’s gone. It is wiser to open the eyes and tame the dragon before it starts laying its eggs!

Courts: Why not operate like Hospitals!

There is a news today that the Chief Justice of India RM Lodha has stated that Indian courts are over-burdened and he apparently does not see a way out of this under the current operating system.

As hospitals work round the year to bring succor to those suffering, so should courts work round the year to bring justice to those suffering. Is this something too much of an expectation? Chief Justice RM Lodha had submitted a proposal wherein the courts would function throughout the year, without increasing workload and overtime for judges, but bar bodies and Bar Council of India were not keen on this, saying they could not work those many days. I think, time has come that justice system emulates hospital systems and function FULL TIME on all working days of a year. After all, it is about alleviating pain of a sufferer without the use of scalpel and blade!

India has an extreme  over burden of pendency of court cases, resulting in ineffective justices for many. We need speedy justice and that is only possible by having adequate courts and justices. At the same time, strengthen criminal justice system at the local level so that affected parties do not have to necessarily escalate their grievances to the upper courts. I agree to a large extent with Justice RM Lodha’s observation that in the current system, Supreme Court has become more of a court of appeals, rather than discharging its duty as a primary constitutional court.

Needless to say, in the criminal justice system, good value-systems, stringent and effective laws, modern professional policing, social dispute redressal (Lok Adalats) also play a great role so that disputes are settled before even reaching the courts. Or, shall I say, lesser disputes arise if there is a more tranquility and harmony in the society.