Month: April 2011

Plots and song

”Bhushans get two prime farmhouse plots from Mayatwati govt for a song” said the headline of Indian Express on 20/4/2011.

What song? Munni badnam hui? Sheela ki jawani? Dum maro dum? Did Bhushans sing the song in front of Mayawati?

The cost of the plot is Rs.3.5 crore. At the time of allotment 35 lakh rupees were to be paid. The rest to be paid in 16 instalments over 10 years. Is 3.5 core rupees a small amount? If it is less than quarter of the market rate what is the market rate? Sometimes the campaign against someone has motives other than exposing the wrongdoing. As Dom Moraes wrote in his book the campaign against Abdul Rahman Antulay was because Ramnath Goenka did not get cement.

As Elliot Carver said in Tomorrow Never Dies: The most important question is not what, where or when. It is why.

Why did the report appear? The CD failed to get the Bhushans out of the drafting committee. This was another attempt. By the way Elliott Carver was a newspaper owner. He tried his best to China and England fight a war. He did not succeed and had a watery grave.

Then came the report that the government owned Central Forensic Science Laboratory found the CD not tampered with. This contradicted report from Truth Labs which had held the CD was tampered with. Truth Labs stood by its report.

Nobody from Indian Express appeared on Karan Razdan’s Last Word on CNN-IBN on 22/4/2011.

According to a poll 65% of people want Bhushans to stay in the committee. They see the attacks on Bhushans as an attempt to derail the Lokpal Bill. Somebody has filed a PIL against notification of formation of drafting committee of Lokpal Bill. Somebody has filed a PIL against Anna Hazare. Santosh Hegde is considering quitting the Lokpal Bill panel. The targeting of activists will not stop if Bhushans quit and others take their place.

Banks and loans

In 1953 or thereabout the government of India nationalized Imperial Bank and changed its name to State Bank of India.

In 1969 the government of India nationalized 14 banks. In later years more banks were nationalized.

Some years back there was a proposal to nationalize those banks as they were making losses. The employees protested saying there were not responsible for losses.

The banks had lent to many industrialists who had not repaid the loan and that was the reason for losses. Many industrialists in India would have gone bankrupt years ago if banks had insisted on payments.

The report that a group of banks led by State Bank of India allowed Kingfisher Airlines which has a debt of over 7,000 crore rupees to convert a part of loan into share at Rs.64.48 each when the market price was around Rs.48 is disturbing. The owner of Kingfisher Airlines owns an IPL team. Nothing has changed over the years. Some years back Essar Group was bailed out. Many companies are regularly bailed out by banks. Many times companies don’t pay and banks convert loans into shares often at a cost higher than market price. Once a company’s loan was converted into shares of Rs.10 each when the market price was around Rs.6.

Many real estate companies borrowed from banks and bought land at high prices. They were unable to sell flats. Banks did not act against defaulters. Defaulters going to court and long legal proceedings should not be a deterrent.

Nationalized banks belong to the country. If a company is unable to pay the loan winding up petition must be filed against the company. The government of India must come out with a white paper on defaulters.

India and Singapore

Singapore was once a backward country. It has made progress over the years and has controlled corruption and has low crime rate. India lags behind in many respects. When comparisons are made some say Singapore does not have free press, popular sovereignty and equal moral status of citizens.

How free is India’s press? Corporate houses control many news TV channels and newspapers. Journalists working for many others are influenced by lobbyists who work for various interests. Newspapers and channels that want ad revenue enter into agreements with corporate houses not to say or write anything against them. Columns of writers who write about misdeeds about corporate houses disappear.

Where is popular sovereignty when people who have not contested elections or lost elections become ministers? Narasimha Rao and Deve Gowda were not MPs when they became PMs. Manmohan Singh is a Rajya Sabha member and the only one time he contested Lok Sabha election he lost it. Prithviraj Chavan had lost Lok Sabha election. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha. He was made CM of Maharashra when Ashok Chavan was removed. Bhoopinder Singh Hooda was not an MLA when he became CM of Haryana. Shivraj Patil who had lost Lok Sabha election was made home minister. There is no democracy or popular sovereignty when people who are not MPs or lost Lok Sabha elections become PMs or people in Delhi decide who should be CM, more so when one who is selected as CM is not an MLA, or industrialists decide who should be or should not be minister. Singapore has elections and its leaders are elected. Mani Shankar Aiyar lost Lok Sabha election. He was nominated to Rajya Sabha.

It is not clear what is meant by equal moral status. The constitution is about equal legal status which in India is often compromised by reservations on the basis of caste, class, tribe or gender. Over the years ministers, MPs, MLAs, bureaucrats, police officers and other public servants have been made immune from prosecution without permission from some authority which is difficult to get. Cases drag on for years in courts. In one case when the Supreme Court annulled the election of an MLA it was time for voting for the next Assembly.

In Singapore there is public caning for some offences and that plays a part in controlling crime. Singapore is a small country. Justice is quick. India can do away appeal from one court to another and see that justice is quick.