Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

The Great Bank Robbery

There are various ways of robbing a bank. One way is to enter a bank, brandish a revolver, and ask cashier to hand over the cash. Second way is to burgle the bank. Third way is to hack into the bank’s computer system and transfer the amount. There are some other ways. All of them will put the robber in jail. There is one way to rob a bank which will not put the robber in jail. It is to borrow thousands of crores of rupees from banks and not to repay them. The debts are written off. Banks protect the identities of robbers. It is as if the Great Bank Robbers have done favours to banks. Apart from direct default there are two other ways banks are robbed. First is corporate debt restructuring. Second is turning loan into shares at higher than market value. If the market value of a company’s share is Rs.10 the bank gets those shares at Rs.20.
I once on a TV channel heard someone attribute some statements to Arundhati Bhattacharya of State Bank of India. “What is the fault of banks if Supreme Court cancelled telecom licenses? What is the fault of banks if infrastructure projects did not take off?” There were some other similar statements. The fault is loan was given without adequate security. Banks should have made sure they can recover their amount even if everything goes wrong. State Bank of India wrote off bad debts Rs.40,484 crores in three years ending 31/3/2015.
RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan has spoken out against bad debt write-offs.
Financial Year ending 31/3/2015 saw writing off of bad debts Rs.52,542 crores. Modi government came to power on 26/5/2014. Great Bank Robbers had Good Days all along. After Modi came to power they had Better Days.
The Great Bank Robbers live a life of affluence. They have large houses. They own planes and yachts. They own cricket, football and other teams.
Public sector banks are property of the people of India. People of India are robbed when Great Bank Robbers defraud banks. Recapitalisation of banks is printing notes and giving them to banks for making up losses. That causes inflation. It is robbing poor to pay to rich.
Banks were robbed Rs.2,11,000 crores between 2004 and 2015. Of these Rs.1,14,182 crore rupees were robbed in three years between 2002 and 2015. How many crores have been written off since 1955 when Imperial Bank of India became State Bank of India or 1969 when 14 banks were nationalised? In 1980 further 6 banks were nationalised.
State Bank of India had eight subsidiaries.
1) State Bank of Bikaner
2) State Bank of Jaipur
3) State Bank of Hyderabad
4) State Bank of Indore
5) State Bank of Mysore
6) State Bank of Patiala
7) State Bank of Saurashtra
8) State Bank of Travancore
State Bank of Bikaner and State Bank of Jaipur were merged into State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur into 1963. State Bank of Saurashtra was merged with State Bank of India in 2008. State Bank of Indore was merged with State Bank of India in 2010.
The matter came up in Supreme Court during some other case. Government lawyer opposed making the names of defaulters public. Supreme Court is looking into the matter and the matter is listed for further hearing.
According to a Credit Suisse report Top 10 defaulters are Essar, Reliance ADAG, Adani, GMR, GVK, Lanco, JSW, Videocon and Vedanta. The total borrowings of these 10 defaulters are Rs.7,33,545 crore rupees.
Vijay Mallya is in the news for defaults of 7,000 crore rupees. His lawyer told the Debt Recovery Tribunal that Vijay Mallya is a small defaulter. Banks should go after defaulters like Ambani of Reliance who owns 40,000 crore rupees. State Bank of India wants his arrest. His former employees want their salaries. CBI has filed a case against him and some banks.

American Presidential Contest

Have you heard of Benjamin Solomon Carson, Christopher James Christie, James Richard Perry, James Stuart Gilmore, John Ellis Bush, Michael Dale Huckabee, Piyush Jindal, Rafael Edward Cruz, Randal Howard Paul, and Richard John Santorum? Never heard of them. Surnames are familiar, not names. Don’t worry. These are Americans who are or were in race Republican nomination for American Presidential Election. They are better known by their pet names Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Jim Gilmore, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Rick Santorum. Other contestants are or were Donald John Trump, Carly Fiorina (born Cara Carleton Sneed), George Elmer Pataki, John Richard Kasich, Lindsey Olin Graham, Marco Antonio Rubio, and Scott Kevin Walker.
One fascinating thing about American Presidential Election is Election Day is Tuesday between 2nd and 8th November every fourth year. This year it is 8th November. Voting takes place on that day even if there is World War.
When the presidential contest began many presumed Jeb Bush will get Republican nomination and Hillary Clinton will get Democratic nomination. It was supposed to be a cakewalk for both them. Soon things turned out differently. Jeb Bush had many rivals who did better than him in polls. Bernie Sanders (Bernard Sanders) emerged a strong rival to Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton.
Donald Trump’s candidacy was first seen with amusement. Last time also he had announced his candidacy and had backed out after some days. This time it was different. There was disbelief when he was second in polls. When journalists asked him he said he was surprised why he was not first.
Carly Fiorina presented herself as rival to Hillary Clinton who wanted to be USA’s first woman president. For some time she did well in polls.
First Republican Presidential Debate was on Fox News. There were 17 candidates. They were split into two groups. Seven candidates who had lower ranking in polls were in a debate before prime time. Ten candidates who had higher ranking participated in prime time debate. Rick Perry was the first to drop out of contest. Gradually some others dropped out.
First Democratic Presidential Debate was on CNN. There were five candidates. Two of them dropped out after a few days. Martin Joseph O’Malley dropped out after Iowa Caucus.
Donald Trump dominated news. He did not worry about political correctness.
Donald Trump had problem with Megyn Kelly of Fox News and skipped one debate and held a Veteran programme. Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum attended Trump’s Veteran programme after finishing their debate. Ted Cruz was also angry with Fox News.
Many women above 30 want a woman president. Many women below 30 do not want Hillary Clinton as president. Madeleine Albright came in support of Hillary Clinton and said for women who do not help other women there is a place in hell. Someone countered it by saying there is a place in hell for women who vote for women just because they are women.
Among Republicans Ted Cruz was first in Iowa caucus, Donald Trump second, Marco Rubio third. Soon Ted Cruz was accused of fraud for sending forms about voter record and lying that Ben Carson had quit. Many said the contest in Republican Party was between two freshman senators and a reality TV star.
Among Democrats the contest was tough between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. For three seats winner was decided by toss and Hillary Clinton won all three. Result was Bernie Sanders 697 seats – 49.4%, Hillary Clinton 701 seats – 49.6%, Martin O’Malley 8 seats – .6%.
After Iowa caucus Martin O’Malley, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum quit.
Donald Trump came first in New Hampshire primary. John Kasich coming second was a surprise. Ted Cruz was third. Jeb Bush was fourth. Marco Rubio was fifth.
Bernie Sanders got 60% votes, Hillary Clinton 38%.
After New Hampshire primary Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina quit.
Jeb Bush avoided mentioning his father George H. W. Bush and brother George W. Bush for a long time. He said he was his own man. After Iowa caucus and around the time of New Hampshire primary his mother Barbara Bush joined the campaign. Then George W. Bush joined and addressed meetings.
On 17/2/2016 Barack Obama spoke against Donald Trump. He said “They recognise that being a president is a serious job. It’s not hosting a talk show, or a reality show. It’s not promotion or marketing. The American people are sensible, ,and I think they will make a sensible choice in the end.” Jimmy Kimmel said “Excuse me. I host a talk show and it is a serious job. I hope he will say that to Oprah.” Trump hit back at Obama and said “This man has done a lousy job and set us back so far and for him to say that actually is a great compliment.”
On 18/2/2016 while on flight from Mexico to Rome one reporter asked Pope Francis about Donald Trump. Francis said “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, in not Christian.” Once asked about gays, Francis had said “Who am I to judge?” He was judging Donald Trump. Donald Trump said it was disgraceful for a religious leader to question someone’s religion or faith. He was proud to be a Christian. He further said “If and when the Vatican is attacked by the ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president.” Mark Burns, a pastor and Trump supporter said, Vatican is surrounded by walls.
Another Trump supporter said there is nothing more Christian than building walls. After all Jesus Christ was a carpenter. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio did not speak against Trump. Jeb Bush said he gets his spiritual guidance from pope, not political or economic guidance.
On 1/3/2016 21 states will have caucuses and primaries. Republican candidates, who are six now, may be reduced to two.

BCCI revamp

Lodha committee submitted its report on 4/1/2016. The committee consisted of for CJI R. M. Lodha and former Justices Ashok Bhan and R. V. Raveendran. The committee made many recommendations. Most of them are good, some are not clear, and one regarding making betting legal is bad.
Good to have former Test cricketers who retired five years before as national selectors. How is seniority decided? Date of birth, selection or Test debut.
President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer should be former Test cricketers.
Good to have three terms of three years each and age limit of 70 years.
Good to restrict full membership to associations that field Ranji Trophy teams. Having one vote for one state is a problem for Maharashtra and Gujarat. Maharashtra has three Ranji Trophy teams: Mumbai, Maharashtra, and Vidarbha. Gujarat has three Ranji Trophy teams: Baroda, Gujarat, and Saurashtra.
Betting shall not be legal. It leads to match-fixing, spot-fixing, session-fixing, and toss-fixing.
Ban on ministers and public servants from holding BCCI and cricket association posts is good. It would have been better if only cricketers were to hold offices in BCCI and state and other Ranji cricket associations and all non-cricketers were banned. Managers of cricket teams should be former cricketers. For Test teams they should have played Tests.
Politicians are unhappy. Sharad Pawar was BCCI President when he was Agriculture Minister. Now he is above 70. Arun Jaitley, Farooq Abdullah, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Manohar Joshi, Narendra Modi, Rajeev Shukla, and others have held positions.
On 4/2/2016 Supreme Court bench of CJI T. S. Thakur and Justice F. M. I. Kalifulla told BCCI to implement Lodha committee recommendations as they are straight, reasonable, understandable, and deserve respect and there is no reason to disagree which has the most illuminated and respected members of the legal community. This was in response to BCCI lawyer Shekhar Naphade’s argument that there is need to consult 30-odd BCCI member associations. Supreme Court fixed 3/3/2016 as the next date of hearing.
Many BCCI officials are unhappy. Ajay Shirke has openly come out against recommendations. Others have privately given excuses to journalists for not carrying out the recommendations.
Lodha committee suggested doing away with zonal rotation for BCCI presidentship as it might prevent the best and the most competent person from being selected. BCCI’s claim or excuse that doing away with zonal rotation is not good because India is a vast country and it is imperative that every zone gets a fair share of opportunity is a poor joke. Zonal rotation came a few years back. When it was East Zone’s turn nobody from that zone got selected as BCCI president. It was Shashank Manohar from West Zone. Arun Jaitley was expected to be East Zone nominee. He became minister and did not show interest. N. Srinivasan was barred by Supreme Court. Both of them were not from East Zone.
The argument by BCCI officials about ban on ministers and bureaucrats holding BCCI offices is that without them cricket bodies cannot run well. Politicians, especially ministers, get clearances easily. There is blanket ban on politicians holding officers, only on ministers. If a cricket association cannot function smoothly without a minister at the helm, it should shut down. Political patronage can cover up many illegalities and swindling as we have seen in the case of DDCA.
Lodha committee rightly barred a person from holding a BCCI post and a state association post simultaneously. This is for decentralisation of power. BCCI officials say this will compromise governance of cricket. They are wrong. When a person holds two posts there is scope for conflict of interest and favouritism. Recently we had the case of Nagpur Test pitch report. With Shashank Manohar there was triple conflict of interest. He was ICC chairman, BCCI president and VCA president.
Those who argue against nine years limit give examples of N. K. P. Salve and Jagmohan Dalmiya as fine administrators. They do not mention Dalmiya spent time in jail. Dalmiya was ICC president. He overruled technical committee report that recommended ban on Shoaib Akhtar for wrong bowling action. Dalmiya’s return as BCCI president is a fact stranger than fiction.
Advertisement-free telecast will result in loss of revenue. Not many will pay extra to watch matches on TV. Different series are telecast by different channels and subscribing to all of them or disconnecting and changing channels according to the series is a problem.
Politicians may decide to form Mumbai, Vidarbha, Baroda and Saurashtra states to circumvent one state one vote rule. They may even like to have Brabourne Stadium state or union territory.
Over the years many Ranji Trophy teams have disappeared. They are Central Provinces & Berar, Eastern Punjab, Gwalior, Holkar, Kathiawar, Madhya Bharat, Nawanagar, North West Frontier Province, Northern India, Northern Punjab, Patiala, Patiala and East Punjab States Union, and Western India.
On 5/2/2016 when questioned about BCCI not implementing Lodha committee recommendations Anurag Thakur replied “The BCCI is not looking at an escape route.” He said Lodha committee had taken 12 months to prepare the report; BCCI is taking just two months to deliberate and discuss.
On 7/2/2016 BCCI’s legal committee met and decided to convene a Special General Meeting to respond to Supreme Court.
BCCI has resisted coming under Right to Information. Lot will change when BCCI comes under RTI.

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