Month: August 2011

Black money in Swiss banks

Wikileaks has made public the names of Indians who have black money in Swiss banks and LGT Bank, Liechtenstein. There are main accounts and sub accounts. Nira Radia has 289990 crore rupees. If she is not an Indian citizen she cannot be prosecuted.

Some account holders are businessmen. Naresh Goyal, Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh are mentioned. Politicians include Rajiv Gandhi (19800 crore rupees), Sharad Pawar, Karunanidhi, Stalin, Chidambaram, A. Raja, Suresh Kalmadi, Laloo Prasad Yadav, H. D. Kumaraswamy and Jyotiraditya Scindia. Rajiv Gandhi died in 1991. Who operated his accounts after that is not mentioned.

TV channels did not report the event. The channels had devoted lot of time for diplomatic cables. Even if they gave prominence to Anna Hazare’s fast for Lokpal Bill it defies comprehension that they did not even mention about account holders. Some months back Times Now was eager to reveal the names when they became public but was quiet when names became known. May be the owners of TV channels have black money in Swiss banks. May be politicians and businessmen have used all means to silence the media.

As per The Sunday Express report dt. 7/8/2011 France had given to India list of 700 HSBC accounts in Geneva, Switzerland. Names of account holders have not been made public.

By this time all money could have disappeared from those accounts and moved to other places like Cayman Islands, Mauritius and Singapore. Rudolf Elmer had given the names to Julian Assange in January 2011. Switzerland will not give details of past accounts.

Since the account holders are in power or have access to people in power it is tough to prosecute them. It will be possible to prosecute them once they are out of power or have no access to people in power.

India and balance of power

For centuries England followed the policy of balance of power. When there were wars in Europe it joined a side that was weak. It benefitted from that policy and became a world power.

It is time for India to follow the policy of balance of power. After the end of Warsaw Pact and disintegration of USSR, USA-led NATO has dominated the world. Russia is unlikely to be a superpower. Alcohol and abortions have weakened Russia. Countries attacked by USA or NATO are helpless. India can provide leadership to such countries. India has nothing to gain by supporting NATO except in Afghanistan. However NATO is fighting a losing war in Afghanistan and if NATO withdraws it is best for India not to get involved. It is unlikely that UN Security Council will be expanded soon and India’s chance of getting permanent membership of it is slim.

NATO’s bombing of Libya is the latest example of use of force to impose its will. There was UN authorisation for no fly zone but NATO went for regime change. They bombed cities and killed many civilians. Serbians and Africans are hauled up before International Criminal Court but nothing happens to NATO leaders for their crimes. When there was an uprising in Burma, NATO did nothing. They wanted China and India to do something. Libya has oil and that is the reason for NATO bombing. Libya abandoned its nuclear programme to appease NATO and paid the price.

It is not necessary for India to fight NATO forces. India can oppose and defy sanctions imposed by UN, EU and NATO. India can engage in trade with Iran and other countries. India is unable to buy oil from Iran because of sanctions. India can sell arms, ammunition, warplanes and warships to countries under sanctions. NATO is not concerned with democracy and human rights. If that had been the case they would not have traded with China. There is no reason why India should agree to sanctions because other countries do not like a government or a person. USA, UK and France supported South Africa when there was apartheid. USA helped Israel develop nuclear weapons and did not act when Pakistan developed nuclear weapons. Iran having nuclear weapons is not a problem for India.

In Asia, maintaining balance of power means siding with countries threatened by China which have no defence pact with USA. American forces are in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia do not have American forces. India can support them.

Lokpal Bills

Anna Hazare had told that if his Lokpal Bill, known as Jan Lokpal Bill, is not passed by 15/8/2011 he would begin his fast on 16/8/2011. The government had introduced its Bill in Lok Sabha which was different from the one drafted by Anna Hazare group. That bill was sent to a standing committee. Prashant Bhushan called the government Bill Promotion of Corruption Bill.

The government did not want a strong Lokpal Bill. Monsoon session usually begins in the middle of July. The government postponed it to the beginning of August. The government hid behind Delhi police to put restrictions on the fast and when arrests backfired it released the members. Anna Hazare was not in a hurry to leave Tihar jail and left it when Ramlila Ground, famous or notorious for crackdown on Baba Ramdev and his followers, was ready for his fast.

Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan appeared on various channels. Karan Thapar’s interview on CNN-IBN was a nasty one. He said Anna Hazare’s fast was blackmail and when told that Gandhi fasted he said that was blackmail. Ram Jethamalani had walked out on one occasion and Karan Thapar had got an award for that episode. Either Karan Thapar does not know blackmail is a crime and somebody can be punished for it or he knows and wrongly accused Anna Hazare and Gandhi of blackmail.

Kiran Bedi said “Anna is India, India is Anna.” That reminded many of Deo Kant Barooah who in 1974 said “Indira is India, India is Indira.” Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan disagreed with Kiran Bedi.

Feroze Varun Gandhi and Rajeev Chandrashekhar said they would introduce Jan Lokpal Bill as private member’s bill. The standing committee advertised for comments and suggestions and Congress MP from Bareilly sent Jan Lokpal Bill to it. A group called National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) sent its draft which is different from government and Jan Lokpal Bills. Some members of NCPRI are NAC members. It seems the government is using NCPRI to delay Lokpal Bill.

Anna Hazare has set 30/8/2011 to pass Jan Lokpal Bill. Government does not want to do it and parliamentary procedure is an excuse to delay the bill. When the government wants 17 bills get passed in 12 minutes. The constitution does not mention standing committee and standing committee’s recommendation is not binding on government or parliament. The government wants people to wait till winter session for Lokpal Bill to be passed. Many times MPs do not want to wait for an hour to discuss their topic and want suspension of Question Hour and when that is not granted disrupt the proceedings for the whole day. Once something is postponed it may never take place. Chandigarh was to go to Punjab on 26/1/1986. That was postponed and Chandigarh remains a Union Territory after 25 years.

Lokpal Bill has come and gone for 43 years. Beneficiaries of corruption do not want corruption to end. If Prevention of Corruption Act had been effective there would have been no need for Lokpal Bill. Over the years it was diluted, it became difficult to prosecute ministers, bureaucrats and judges, and as one judge put it, it became Preservation of Corruption Act.

It is people who are supreme and not parliament. It is wrong to say that it is an upper class movement because there is no Dalit or Tribal or Muslim leader in it. Many Dalits, Tribals and Muslims are upper class. Corruption affects all.

On 23/8/2011 Anna Hazare refused drip and hospitalisation and asked the people to resist non-violently if police come to take him away forcibly. The all-party meeting held at 3.30 p.m. on 24/8/2011 concluded without coming to a definite conclusion. NDA and Left Front wanted withdrawal of government bill and introduction of a strong Lokpal Bill. UPA did not want to withdraw the bill. After that Anna Hazare group had second round of talks with Pranab Mukherjee and Salman Khurshid. The talks failed. At 9.54 p.m. Prashant Bhushan said it was back to square one.

There is a strange thing of TV channels using separate cameras for people in studio, as if they are at separate places. If there are five people five cameras are used. The anchor speaks to the panellist who is to her left and she appears on the top left of TV and the panellist appears at the bottom left. The panellist on the right appears on left and vice versa.