Tag: India

Dow Row

Dow is a sponsor of London Olympics. Some people want India to boycott London Olympics if Dow continues to be the sponsor because Dow bought Union Carbide which was responsible for Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984. IOC has said Dow is not responsible for Bhopal gas tragedy and Dow sponsorship for Olympics will continue till 2020.

India has not boycotted Olympics any time. In 1980 USA and many countries boycotted Moscow Olympics. In 1984 USSR and some countries boycotted Los Angeles Olympics. In 1976, 22 African countries boycotted Montreal Olympics.

In 1974 India refused to play South Africa in Davis Cup final due to South Africa’s apartheid policy. In 1986 India boycotted Commonwealth Games in UK because UK had refused to put sanctions against South Africa. In 1974 Italy had refused to play South Africa in Davis Cup semi-final. In 1986 Nigeria, Kenya and many other countries had boycotted Commonwealth Games.

If India boycotts London Olympics due to Dow sponsorship it is likely to be alone. In 2008 India won one gold medal and two bronze medals in Beijing Olympics. India’s participation or absence will not make much difference to London Olympics. Besides, India will have to boycott Olympics in 2016 and 2020.

The victims of Bhopal gas tragedy should have been left to pursue cases of compensation in American courts where the compensation amounts could have been higher. The victims did not have to pay the lawyers if they did not win the cases and if they won they had to pay a percentage of compensation amounts as fees. The Government of India bungled by taking up all cases and clubbed them together and they were fought in India. Then the Supreme Court should have left the cases to proceed. Instead in February 1989 it got into arbitration and fixed the compensation amount at 470 million dollars and all civil and criminal liabilities were waived off. Those who did not want arbitration kept quiet after the emotional outburst of the CJI. The compensation should have been to victims alone but all residents of Bhopal got compensation thus diluting the claim of victims.

It is a different matter that after some years criminal liabilities were brought back and some Union Carbide officials were prosecuted and found guilty. That raises the question of finality of Supreme Court judgment. If liabilities waived off by Supreme Court are restored after some years where is the certainty of the closure?

There is a question of genuineness of protests on 3/12/2011. Some leaders had used a manual and a video to train protesters. The training was for over a month.

Sports Minister Ajay Maken has written to IOA to take up the matter of Dow sponsorship with IOC. There is no love lost between Ajay Maken and IOA. IOA derives its powers from IOC and has used it to fight against the government.

Milkha Singh and some other people want Indian athletes to participate in London Olympics. Boycott means many athletes will miss the chance of a lifetime to participate in Olympics and win a medal. If Bhopal victims did not get justice it is not entirely due to Union Carbide.

Parliament Paralysis

Since 23/11/2011 Parliament is disrupted day after day. MPs do not do work. There is talk of no work, no pay for MPs. No MP has openly opposed it but opposition MPs blame government for disruption and vice versa. Some say cutting 2,000 rupees of daily allowance will not make a difference to MPs as they have other sources and resources.

There are two points. First, it is immaterial whether cutting 2,000 rupees of daily allowance makes a difference to MPs or not. Parliament did not function and they should not get daily allowance.

Second, besides daily allowance there should be cuts in salary and other allowances. An MP’s salary is Rs.50,000 p.m., constituency allowance Rs.45,000 p.m., office allowance Rs.45,000 p.m. and there are other allowances and perks. For every day besides cut of 2,000 rupees of daily allowance there should be cut of 1,700 rupees from salary, 1,500 rupees from constituency allowance, 1,500 rupees from office allowance and so on. People do not lose money however rich they are. When Saturdays, Sundays and other holidays come in between they also should be counted. If a whole session is disrupted MPs should not get travelling allowance for the session.

Presiding officers should not adjourn houses. If the noise is too much they should put on ear plugs and sit. MPs who disrupt should be suspended for at least three days and marshals should be used to carry out those who do want to leave the house. That was the practice before and last year it was done in Rajya Sabha on 9/3/2010. Many years ago Raj Narayan was a heavyweight MP and marshals had a tough time to take him out.

Some say MPs do other work outside Parliament. When Parliament is in session MPs are supposed to attend Parliament and the work they do outside does not count.

India should switch over to presidential system. India has many political parties and parliamentary system which works best in effective two-party system is not suited for India.

Kanimozhi bail plea

There were reports that CBI will not oppose Kanimozhi ‘s bail plea. The Supreme Court questioned CBI on the reports and CBI’s lawyer Harin Raval said it would certainly oppose Kanimozhi ‘s bail plea.

Karunanidhi came to Delhi and met Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh on 22/10/2011. On 24/10/2011 CBI did not oppose bail for Kanimozhi, Asif Balwa, Rajiv Aggarwal, Karim Morani and Sharad Kumar. It opposed bail for R. K. Chandolia and Shahid Balwa. On 31/10/2011 Supreme Court judges G. S. Singhvi and H. L. Dattu questioned Harin Raval “Is is true that during the hearing the CBI counsel said that he has no objection to bail for five out of the 14 accused?” and directed him to confirm the next day. On 1/11/2011 Harin Raval confirmed that U. U. Lalit representing CBI had not opposed bail for five accused.

On 3/11/2011 CBI Special Court rejected Kanimozhi ‘s bail plea and other bail pleas in 2G case . CBI had not opposed her bail plea and many had taken for granted that she would get bail. Judge O. P. Saini rejected her plea. Case-fixing by prosecution and defence did not succeed. DMK MPs were in court. Karim Morani’s family members had brought flowers and chocolates. Kanimozhi had applied for bail under Section 437 of Criminal Procedure Code which allows bail if the applicant is under 16, or a woman, or sick or infirm. The court said Kanimozhi belongs to upper echelons of society and a Member of Parliament. By no stretch of imagination she can be said to be suffering from any disadvantage on ground of being a woman alone.

There is much talk about bail not jail being the principle. Most of those who say that are lawyers of the accused. If the court feels witnesses need to be protected and granting bail will obstruct justice it is within its right to refuse bail. During TV discussions anchors should mention which lawyer represents whom. It should not be made out as if the panelists are not connected to the case. Comments like denial of bail is a grave miscarriage of justice and a deliberate misapplication of law or when the prosecutor does not oppose bail there is no reason to oppose bail are contempt of court. If the judiciary has shifted from the rule “bail is the rule and jail an exception” to “jail is the rule and bail an exception” it has good reasons. Prosecution’s objection is of no consequence. It was interesting to watch Rajiv Pratap Rudy on Left, Right and Centre. He criticized Congress. When Nidhi Razdan said Jaswant Singh of BJP wanted bail for the accused he replied “Nidhi, did I say Kanimozhi should not get bail. I did not.” That stumped Nidhi Razdan.