India Against Corruption seems to have lost direction and momentum in fight against corruption. IAC wanted a Lokpal Bill. That did not happen. They wanted right to reject and right to recall. Both are unlikely to happen soon. Anna Hazare seems unable or unwilling to lead the agitation. Other members should resume the fight against corruption.
IAC members need not go on indefinite fast. They can go on chain hunger strike. Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Prashant Bhushan can fast for some hours every day. Then Shazia Ilmi, Gaurav Bakshi and Manish Sisodia can take their turn. Then some other people fast. Every day the cycle is repeated. The fight for Lokpal should be separate from fight for Lokayuktas.
Abductors, hijackers, kidnappers, pirates and terrorists are criminals. Governments should not negotiate with criminals.
Maoists in Kandhamal have abducted two Italians, Paulo Boscusco and Claudio Colangelo. It is too bad that Orissa CM Naveen Patnaik has said Orissa government is open to any kind of negotiation with the abductors.
Twenty years ago there was no Service Tax. Constitution was amended and Service Tax was brought in. It began at 5% on some items. Later it went up to 8%, 10% and 12%. After the depression of 2008 it was brought down to 10%. Now it is back to 12%. More items came under Service Tax. Now all items except 17 in the negative list are covered by Service Tax. All Indians pay Service Tax directly or indirectly. Most Indians own mobile phones and they pay Service Tax when they recharge or pay bills.
The results of elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur are out. In UP, SP got absolute majority. In Uttarakhand out of 70 seats Congress got 32, BJP got 31. In Punjab, SAD-BJP coalition retained power. In Goa, BJP displaced Congress. In Manipur, Congress retained power.
Most pollsters had predicted hung assembly in UP. CNN-IBN had predicted SP will get 34% of votes, BSP will get 24%. Headlines Today had predicted 203 seats for SP. SP got 29% votes and 225 seats. BSP got 26% votes and 79 seats. BJP got 47 seats. Congress-RLD got 37 seats. Peace Party got 4 seats, Apna Dal 1, Qaumi Ekta Dal 2 and Ittehad-e-Millat Council 1. CPI, CPI(M), JD(U), TMC and some other parties did not win any seat.
There are people who say what consenting adults do in private should not be covered by law. This is mainly in reference to Section 377 of IPC which is under litigation in Supreme Court.
By that logic prostitution, sale and purchase of narcotics and psychotropic substances and illicit liquor, corruption, polygamy, transmission of pornographic material and many others matters that take place between consulting adults will be out of the scope of law. Drug traffickers can claim they have right to life and liberty to sell heroin, marijuana and such things to consenting adults in private and they have right to equality. The state will have no right to legislate on marriage, divorce, alimony and child custody. Also concubinage, live-in relationship and palimony will be out of the legal purview.
There is anger in UK over aid to India after India chose Rafale over Typhoon. The contract for 126 Rafale fighter jets is said to be worth $10-15 billion. British PM David Cameron said he would do everything to encourage India to reconsider its decision. UK has an economic crisis but gives Â£280 million per year to India. There was opposition before but International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell had justified the aid saying it was necessary to get contract for Typhoon. British newspapers have reported that the money does not reach the poor and is lost in corruption. Now that UK did not get the contract the British government finds it difficult to justify continuation of aid. Indian government says it does not need aid. British aid is â€œpeanutsâ€. UK cannot dictate terms to India and say do business only with us as India is a liberated country.
Jaipur Literature Festival 2012 made news for controversy surrounding Salman Rushdie. The festival started on 20/1/2012 and ended on 24/1/2012. Over the years Salman Rushdie had come and gone. He had attended one Jaipur Literature Festival. He had attended one seminar in Delhi. The events had passed off peacefully.
This time TV channels gave wide publicity to statements of some Muslim leaders, some clerics and some politicians. The statements began in UP where elections are going on and spread to other parts. No party wanted to offend Muslims and lose their votes. If the TV channels had ignored the statements there would have been no controversy. Once those leaders demanded Salman Rushdie should not be given a visa and it was widely telecast the controversy began. Salman Rushdie tweeted he did not need a visa to come to India. Being a Person of Indian Origin he had Indian Overseas Citizen card and could come to India anytime. If he had kept quiet the Muslim leaders would have thought he would not get a visa and stopped the protests. The Muslim leaders continued the protests and demanded he should be stopped from attending the festival. The organizers said the invitation stands. Ashok Gehlot, Rajasthanâ€™s chief minister went to Delhi. Law Minister Salman Khurshid told him Salman Rushdie cannot be stopped from coming to India. Ashok Gehlot met P. Chidambaram and returned to Rajasthan.
Congress and TMC are partners in UPA at centre and have coalition government in West Bengal. The relationship between the two has worsened in recent days. There is talk of Congress aligning with SP after UP elections.
There are no permanent friends or permanent enemies in politics. Congress needs TMC at centre. TMC does not need Congress in West Bengal. Both call each other CPI-Mâ€™s B team and compare to watermelon, green outside, red inside.
Mamata Banerjee, leader of TMC, opposed Congress on Teesta River Water Treaty, petrol price hike, FDI in retail. TMC voted for Lokpal Bill in Lok Sabha and opposed it in Rajya Sabha and moved amendments. Dinesh Trivedi said he had opposed Lokpal Bill in cabinet. He was overruled.
On 29/12/2011 Rajya Sabha was to vote on the Lokpal and the Lokayuktas Bill, 2011. It was adjourned sine die without vote. Parliament was called to sit on 27, 28 and 29 of December 2011 to pass Lokpal Bill. Lok Sabha passed it. Rajya Sabha did not.
Winter session was supposed to end on 22/12/2011. Anna Hazare had announced his three days fast beginning on 27/12/2011 if the bill had not been passed by then and thereafter three days of jail bharo andolan. If the Parliament passed Lokpal Bill by 22/12/2011 India Against Corruption would have observed gratitude day and held thanksgiving party on 27/12/2011. Winter session saw many disruptions and waste of many days. Many parties changed their positions on Lokpal Bill. There were 17 dissent notes in the standing committee report. There was all party meeting.
India needs judicial reforms. Cases drag on for years from lower courts to Sessions Courts to High Courts to Supreme Court. Adjournments and stay orders delay justice. Appeals are allowed long after the expiry of the period granted for appeal. Cases decided by arbitration are appealed in High Courts. There are various tribunals whose judgments can be appealed.
Cases of murder, rape, abduction, hijacking and such high crimes must be tried by a court having three judges and the decision should be first and last. There should be no appeal, only mercy petition in case there is punishment. Minor crimes may be tried by one judge. Civil matters may be tried by one judge or three judges depending on the amount involved and there should be no appeal.