Apr 282012
 

Rajya Sabha nomination is not an award or a prize or a title. Article 80 of the constitution prescribes that a person to be nominated to Rajya Sabha should have special knowledge or practical experience in respect of literature, science, art and social service.

Over the years many people have been nominated to Rajya Sabha in violation of the constitution. Mani Shankar Aiyar lost Lok Sabha election, he was nominated. Kuldip Nayyar was a journalist. Fali Nariman was a lawyer. Chandan Mitra, Shobhana Bhartia and Cho Ramaswamy were journalists.

Some qualified for nomination but did not know the importance or responsibility of Rajya Sabha membership. Lata Mangeshkar treated it as an award. Maqbool Fida Husain did not know nominated members did not have the right to vote in presidential election.

Now there is news that Sachin Tendulkar, Rekha and Anu Aga are nominated to Rajya Sabha. Rekha qualifies for her special knowledge or practical experience in art. Sachin Tendulkar and Anu Aga do not qualify. There is no provision for nomination in sport, law, journalism or business. Sport is not art. Journalism is not literature.

Sachin Tendulkar was the surprise choice. On 26/4/2012 Rajiv Shukla took him to meet Sonia Gandhi, ostensibly because Sonia Gandhi wanted to congratulate him on 100th 100. Soon came the news of nomination. The file of nomination moved from prime minister to home minister to president who signed it. Congress was having bad time. On 24/4/2012 it had to suspend its eight Telangana MPs from Lok Sabha for four days. On 25/4/2012 S&P cut its outlook on India from stable to negative. Bofors was back. On 26/4/2012 BJP attacked Congress in Parliament over Bofors. Once the news of Sachin Tendulkar came out that was the main topic on TV channels. Bofors, RISAT, Jhina Hikaka’s release and other matters lost their importance.

There was talk of Sachin Tendulkar getting Bharat Ratna. Sport was not a category for which Bharat Ratna was given. Criterion was changed so that Sachin Tendulkar may get Bharat Ratna. However there were demands for Bharat Ratna for many people. Some people said Dhyan Chand should be the first sportsperson to get Bharat Ratna. When Republic Day came there was no announcement of Bharat Ratna. Sports Ministry is said to have mentioned the names of Dhyan Chand, Tenzing Norgay and Abhinav Bindra but not of Sachin Tendulkar. Sports Ministry said BCCI did not recommend his name. BCCI said we thought government gives Bharat Ratna. Later Maharashtra government recommended Sachin Tendulkar’s name but the government of India did not announce Bharat Ratna for Sachin Tendulkar.

Sanjay Manjrekar said he was shocked Sachin Tendulkar accepted the nomination. Some wondered what he will do in Rajya Sabha. He has not retired from cricket. Will he find time to attend Rajya Sabha? It may happen that on a TV channel half screen will show live telecast of Rajya Sabha debate and other half will show live telecast of Sachin Tendulkar playing in a cricket match. Some fans did not want Sachin Tendulkar in Rajya Sabha. Some fans wanted him to join Rajya Sabha later.

Rekha’s nomination is curious. Jaya Bachchan had returned to Rajya Sabha after two years. Sonia Gandhi does not like her. Some years back Congress had got her disqualified on office of profit issue. That had boomeranged and Sonia Gandhi had to resign as MP and chairperson of NAC. Later a bill was passed to make many offices not offices of profit. Amitabh Bachchan was happy that Lindstrom had said there was an attempt to frame him in Bofors case. He had held a press conference and had appeared on TV channels.

Many businessmen have made it to Rajya Sabha by paying money to party presidents or MLAs. Recently a Rajya Sabha election was countermanded because around two crore rupees were found in a car and that money was meant to be payment to MLAs. Now we have nomination of a businesswoman to Rajya Sabha.

Article 80 does not say eminent citizens are to be nominated to Rajya Sabha. If challenged in courts many nominations will be struck down as unconstitutional.

Rajya Sabha should be abolished. That will save time and avoid duplication. Lok Sabha should have at least one representative per million people. India’s population being 121 crores as per 2011 census the strength of Lok Sabha should be 1210. If Parliament House cannot hold that many members Lok Sabha sessions should be held elsewhere.

Apr 282012
 

St. Aloysius’ College is in news for its rule that students should show their faces in class rooms. Students who come wearing burkha have to show their faces. The rule is in prospectus. Some have called it Burkha ban. Muslim clergy is said to be opposed to the rule.

St. Aloysius’ College has come to the rescue of Muslim female students who are under pressure from Muslim male students to wear burkha. Muslim female students don’t want to wear burkha. Parents of those female students don’t want their daughters to wear burkha.

In West Bengal, Muslim male students had made life difficult for a Muslim female lecturer. She defied them. The management had succumbed to pressure from that Taliban and had transferred the lecturer to some other place.

Colleges have a right to make rules. Students who want to study there must follow the rules. Some years back a college in Bantwal faced such a problem. A Muslim student came to college wearing burkha. Some Hindu students protested and said they too would come wearing religious dress. The Muslim student was asked to stop wearing burkha. A female Muslim lecturer tried to make that Muslim student understand and give up burkha in college but the student did not agree. She stopped attending college. The college management faced hostile questioning by TV channels. Then came Nicolas Sarkozy’s statement “Burkha is not welcome in France.” That flummoxed TV journalists.

Islam does not say a woman should cover her face. Islam says a woman should be modestly dressed. Recently Emir of Qatar visited India. His wife did not cover her face. There is no violation of freedom of religion when Muslim female students are told not to cover their faces in college. Muslim clerics who want Muslim female students to cover their faces should start colleges for them. Muslims have Yenepoya Medical College in Mangalore. They can have other colleges. It is not for Muslims to dictate the rules in Christian colleges.

Till some years back St. Aloysius’ college was a boys’ college.

Sections of population are getting talibanised. Some years back there were no such problems from Muslim female students.

Covering a face by wearing burkha is different from a Sikh wearing turban or a nun wearing her habit. In both cases there is no covering of face. Many Hindu women cover their faces in different ways. The college rule prohibits covering faces and applies to all female students irrespective of religion. There was a report that St. Edward’s School in Simla has banned turbans.

If students come wearing burkha lecturers cannot be sure of the identity of the students. Instead of one student somebody else may be present.

Burkha is a security issue. Terrorists can come wearing burkha. That happened in Kabul. Three men wore burkha and came in a car and got inside the compound of Indian guest house and shot people. In Australia bank robbers used burkha. In three cases babies were stolen by women wearing burkha.

Apr 262012
 

Bofors returned to news on 25/4/2012. TV channels reported former Swedish police chief Sten Lindstrom’s interview to Chitra Subramaniam on thehoot.org.

In April 1987 Swedish Radio reported that kickbacks were paid in Bofors deal. After that some newspapers had reported on it. Chitra Subramaniam worked for Indian Express. Sten Lindstrom had leaked many documents to her. Sten Lindstrom revealed himself as the source.

Why did Sten Lindstrom go public now? Perhaps he thinks he will not live long. He reminds me of W. Mark Felt who was informant in Watergate scandal.

Sten Lindstrom said there was no evidence that Rajiv Gandhi received any bribe but he watched the massive cover-up in India and Sweden and did nothing. The evidence against Ottavio Quattrocchi was conclusive. Martin Ardbo, Managing Director of Bofors, had written in his notes that at no cost could the identity of Q be revealed because his closeness to R.

I remember reading something different many years back. H said he did not care if Q is hurt. H did not care even if N is hurt. But G must be protected at all costs. Q is Ottavio Quattrocchi. H is Hinduja, one of Hinduja brothers. N is Arun Nehru. R or G is Rajiv Gandhi.

The reports do not mention Win Chadda and Hindujas who received kickbacks. Why Sten Lindstrom did not mention them?

Sten Lindstrom said in early 1990 an investigating team met him and gave him a list of name including that of Amitabh Bachchan. The team did not trust Chitra Subramaniam because she refused to link the Bachchans to Bofors kickbacks. The Indian investigators planted story of Bachchan angle in Dagens Nyhetter. The Bachchans took Dagens Nyhetter to court in UK and won.

In early 1990 Vishwanath Pratap Singh was Prime Minister. Arun Nehru was a minister then. He told no one planted Amitabh Bachchan’s name.

Sten Lindstrom said after the Letter Rogatory was lodged with Switzerland he and public prosecutor Hans Ekblom waited for Indians to contact them but no one did. He saw the extent to which everyone was compromised.

V. P. Singh’s government fell in November 1990. Chandra Shekhar who followed him had Rajiv Gandhi’s support and did not last long. P. V. Narasimha Rao was a Congress member. During his time Madhavsinh Solanki lost his job because he gave a letter given by a lawyer to Swiss court hearing Bofors case. Deve Gowda and Inder Kumar Gujral headed United Front government supported by Congress. Atal Behari Vajpayee headed NDA government and BJP was the main constituent. CBI filed chargesheet in Bofors case. Ottavio Quattrocchi was out of India. Attempt of extradite him failed. Hindujas went to Delhi High Court and got a favourable judgment. Win Chadda remained safe. In 2004 UPA came to power. Bofors case was closed.

The interview conceals more than it reveals. We do not know why Ottavio Quattrocchi is target and Hindujas and Win Chadda are not targets.