Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Category: World

Budget 2011

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee presented India’s budget for 2011 on 28/2/2011.  He began reading the budget at 11.00 a.m.  Within half an hour many MPs were seen dozing and some yawning.  At 12.25 p.m. Speaker Meira Kumar was seen dozing.  Veerappa Moily and Veerbhadra Singh were sitting behind Pranab Mukherjee.  Veerappa Moily kept himself awake.  Veerbhadra Singh dozed sometimes.

The budget had a proposal of cash subsidies for kerosene and fertilizers.  Subsidies should be abolished.  Changing their form will create other problems.

We don’t need FDI in equity market.

Co-operative societies that have lost money due to non-payment of loans by handloom weavers should be allowed to go bankrupt.  No need to give money to societies.  This will encourage more borrowers to default.

NABARD should manage with what it has.  No need to give more money to it.

Pranab Mukherjee talked about the strategy to fight black money and talked of state funding of elections.  There should not be state funding of elections.  Candidates or parties should spend their money.  State funding of elections will not put an end to black money even in elections.  Corruption by politicians is one part of black money.  There is corruption by non-politicians.  There are corrupt bureaucrats, judges, policemen, tax officials and many others.  Ex-CJI K. G. Balakrishnan’s brother and sons-in-law have assets disproportionate to their income.  Mani Shankar Aiyar said he was offered 35 crore rupees.  He should tell the names of all who offered him money.  Suitable punishment is required to tackle corruption.  Punishment should be proportionate to the amount and for large amounts there should be death penalty.

Preferential treatment of SCs/STs should end.  Reservations meant for 10 years have continued for 60 years with more categories getting them and even more categories demanding them.

Educational Institutions of higher learning should stand on their own feet.  They should collect necessary amount through fees.  Universities, IITs and Delhi School of Economics should not be funded by government.

Money should not be part of any award by government.  Rabindranath Tagore Award for promotion of universal brotherhood should not have cash component of one crore rupees.

Backward Region Development Fund should be scrapped.  There will be competition for being a backward region as there is a competition for being OBC.

The cost of maintaining judiciary should be recovered from litigants in civil and criminal matters.  When a civil case is filed the litigant should pay the approximate cost of the trial including salaries of the judges, cost of maintaining court premises etc.  In criminal matters if someone is found guilty and appeals, the appellant should pay the cost of the trial.  Frivolous litigants should pay a heavy fine.

Revenue deficit and fiscal deficit should be zero.

Government borrowing should be zero.  When the government borrows 3.4 lakh crore rupees it is a serious problem.

It is good to have more warehouses so that food grains do not rot in the open.  Till then excess stock should not be bought.

There should be an evaluation of money spent on scientific research and results.  If the results are not commensurate with the amount spent funding of scientific research should stop.

Government should not finance art.

There should be one category for Income Tax exemption.  Pranab Mukherjee has done well to raise exemption limit to general category i.e., men who are not senior citizens, from Rs.1,60,000 to Rs.1,80,000 while keeping the limit of Rs.1,95,000 for women.  It is a half measure to end sexual discrimination against men.  Reducing age of senior citizens from 65 to 60 and raising their exemption to Rs.2,50,000 from Rs.2,40,000 and creating very senior citizen category of people who are 80 years old and granting them tax exemption upto Rs.5,00,000 should have been avoided.  Senior citizens have been given many privileges over the years.  Senior citizens have been given many privileges over the years.  They don’t even have to stand in queue.  I go to pay electricity bill and in queue for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Behind me are people who have been in queue and will have to wait for a long time to get their turn.  Suddenly three people appear at the counter and say they are senior citizens.  Such exemptions should be done away with.

During the day Sensex went up by more than 500 points and then came down and closed the day 122 points higher than previous closing.

In the evening Pranab Mukherjee was on NDTV 24X7, CNN-IBN and Headlines Today.


Surrender is not maturity

After the government of Orissa surrendered to the demands of Maoists for release of a collector and an engineer BJD MP Jay Panda said the government acted with maturity. Maturity is a word overused and misused by journalists and politicians. Surrender is not maturity.

The state government abdicated its responsibility when it agreed to negotiate with criminals and accepted their demands. This makes mockery of the rule of law.

The risk of losing lives of hostages needs to be taken. If criminals kill hostages they are guilty of murder and they shall be caught dead or alive. If caught alive they shall be hanged after due process of law.
In 1972 Israel did not surrender to Black September when they abducted Israeli athletes in Munch. Israeli athletes died. Israel tracked down Black September members and killed them.

In 1972 Israel did not surrender when an aeroplane having Israeli passengers was hijacked and taken to Entebbe. It rescued hostages.

During the hearing of Binayak Sen’s bail application some EU observers had come to watch the proceedings. It is time for India to return the compliments. Indian observers should watch proceedings in some trials in EU countries. Trial of Julian Assange can be a good beginning.

Pirates of Somalia

Over the years pirates of Somalia have expanded their sphere. From the coast of Africa to the coast of India there is no safe zone from the pirates.

UN, NATO, EU and AU have been ineffective in putting an end to piracy. When piracy began the demands of pirates for ransom were met. They became bold and piracy increased. More ships became targets. More Somalis became pirates. In few instances pirates were met with resistance and hostages rescued. EU countries let off pirates caught instead of putting them on trial. India, China, South Korea and USA have on occasions fought pirates.

Now the pirates are found around Lakshadweep. When Indian Navy encounters pirates all pirates should be shot dead. Those already caught should be charged with waging war, hijacking and abduction and put to death. There is no soft option.

Sailors in ships sailing in Indian Ocean should have training in use of weapons and must be provided with armour. They should take turns to guard ships.

Somalia has anarchy. Somaliland, in northwest Somalia, proclaimed independence in 1991 and has stability but is not recognized by other countries. There are double standards as such countries recognize Kosovo and supported referendum in South Sudan. Puntland, in northeast Somalia, proclaimed autonomy in 1998. India can recognize Somaliland and annex rest of Somalia. UN abandoned Somalia after some years. USA had a bad experience and withdrew its troops. Pirates should not have safe havens.

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