Saturday, July 30, 2011

J&K- Yeh Rishta Kya Kehtlatha Hai- Part I

Aug-2010. Manmohan Singh says that India is willing to consider autonomy for J&K within the ambit of the Constitution. What does it mean?

Oct-2010. Omar Abdulla says that J&K’s accession with India was not final and absolute, but was based on certain conditions and that J&K had not merged with India like Hyderabad and Junagarh. S.M Krishna does not find anything wrong with Omar Abdullah’s statement. (Of course he did not find anything wrong in Portuguese’s Minister’s speech as well!) P. Chidambaram certified the authenticity of Omar’s claims. (Kaash… he could have certified the authenticity of India’s list of 50 most wanted criminals.)

Jul-2011.Mehbooba Mufti argues for Self Rule in a conference in Germany.

I am reminded of the childhood story of 7 blind men trying to feel an elephant. Are the above and the views of innumerable other players any different? I doubt.

I classify the various views/ opinions on J&K into two categories-
  1.          those based on the stated position of a political party or a  religious group or a columnist. These intellectuals/ parties/ groups don’t want to move an inch from their declared position. They don’t think like common people, like us. Faced with any problem, you and I look at the available options. Choose one and proceed. Suppose after sometime we feel that we have chosen the wrong option, we stop to evaluate. We see what we would have been-better off or worse- had we chosen the other option. Accordingly we are either content with what we have chosen or we change; but the intellectuals/parties/ groups won’t do this as this would amount to a climb down for them. 
  2.          those arising out of ignorance of the details.

I intend to address the second problem through these articles. Being a common man, I am going to analyze like one.

When I spoke to my friend Dr. Vasanthi about my intention to write a series of articles on J&K, she suggested that I prepare the readers with some background and history before I fill them with complex details.

Hence this intro.

What was India before independence?
Till 1857 India was ruled by East India Company (EIC) which was something similar to a Public Sector Undertaking of today. EIC grew beyond being just a trading company; it used military power, acquired territories and ruled them. The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 made the British rethink their strategy for ruling India. EIC was asked to transfer all the territories under its rule to the Queen. Till 1947 these were directly ruled/ controlled by the British. Provinces like Punjab, Assam, Bengal, Madras, United Privinces and Central Provinces fell under this category and were directly administered by the British.

Post 1857 the British started entering into agreements with rulers of small states. These were called Princely States. While communication, military and external affairs of these states were directly managed by the British, internal affairs were “indirectly managed”- a euphemism; the rulers (Rajas, Maharajas, Badshahs, Nawabs) were just constitutional figureheads. There were 150+ such states in 1858 and these grew to 550+ in 1947. J&K, Baroda, Hyderabad and Mysore were some of the large Princely States.

In 1947 when British decided to granted independence, the Labour Party government headed by Clement Attlee passed the Indian Independence Act. This Act partitioned the directly administered territories (provinces) into India and Pakistan.

The Act gave an option to the Princely States - either to remain independent or to join India or Pakistan. And this was the starting point of all the problems!

And what did the Princely States do?

Some of them were clear. They joined India.

Some of them wavered. They tried to rebel under the leadership of Nawab of Bhopal. But this rebellion collapsed in no time.

But the twists and turns of some of the Princely States are worth a detailed discussion.

First Jodhpur- predominantly a Hindu State with a Hindu ruler. Still it wanted to join Pakistan! Why? Maharaja Hanwant Singh’s aristocratic lifestyle! A great polo player!Congress and its leaders had socialistic ideas and the Maharaja felt there was not much future for him. Fortunately wiser sense prevailed and the King decided to accede to India. Later he agreed to merge with India for an annual privy purse of Rs. 17.50 lacs.

Next Junagarh- One of the Princely States quoted by Omar Abdullah in his speech in the J&K Assemply in Oct-2010; a Hindu majority State with a Muslim ruler. At least Jodhpur & Jaisalmer shared boundary with Pakistan. Junagarh did not share anything. Still Nawab Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III decided to join Pakistan! He signed the Instrument of Accession in September, 1947. Junagarh was surrounded on three sides by India. Indian government (read Sardar Patel) sealed the borders to Junagarh; stopped movement of goods to the State. There were internal disturbances also within Junagarh. Adjacent States also protested the decision of Jungarh. The Nawab fled to Karachi in October, 1947. His Dewan sent desperate telegrams to Jinnah and others in Pakistan seeking help. But no came help from Jinnah or Pakistan. The State Council of Junagarh decided to accede to India in November, 1947. Indian army moved in. Liaqat Ali Khan kept writing to Nehru that his government disapproved the actions of India. (Remember Kalaignar Karunanidhi used to write letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh regarding Srilankan problem). A plebiscite was held. 99% of the people voted for Indian rule!

Next Travancore. Maharaja Chittirai Tirunal did not want to join India or Pakistan. He declared independence in Jun, 1947. Sir C P Ramaswamy Iyer, the then Dewan of the State advised the ruling family to accede to India.

Hyderabed- 87% Hindu population; Ruled by a Muslim ruler; Situated in the South Central part of India. Nizam Osman Ali Khan declared that the State would be independent. The State Congress Party launched an agitation against the Nizam’s decision. Communists, as usual betrayed- supported Congress initially, but sided with the feudal Nizam later. India sent its army in September, 1948. The State was annexed to India.
Note that in all these cases the decision to join India or Pakistan or to remain independent was taken by the King/ Nawab/Nizam/ Badshah and not by any elected body of the people of the State. In fact the Mayo College educated Nawab of Junagarh said he was not required to consider the public opinion under the Indian Independence Act, 1947! We will return to this point later.

Last but not the least, Jammu & Kashmir.
We will discuss in Part II.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How I bought a flat in Coimbatore!

Poor me!
I decided to buy a flat. It was August, 2009. I was working in Dar-es-Salaam, East Africa. My family was in Madurai, Tamilnadu. Krishna, my elder son suggested that Coimbatore would be the perfect place for me to settle down after retirement.
I started searching the internet for good apartments. I came across a project in Coimbatore promoted by a reputed builder from Chennai.

I landed in Coimbatore in the first week of Sep, 2009.  The project was under construction. Out of the 70+ flats, only 10-12 were sold. Anand, the Marketing Manager of the builder, was confident that in the next 4 months the project would be completed.
A 1500 sq ft flat with a 350 sq ft open terrace was priced at Rs. 56 lacs- if I were to buy, I would have to pay Rs. 45 lacs immediately as “substantial portion of the project was over.” I told Anand that I did not have enough liquid cash; I could pay a maximum of Rs. 25 lacs and the balance in monthly installments of Rs. 4 lacs. Anand agreed. He told me to pay a token advance of Rs. 10,000 to book the flat. I did.
I returned to Madurai. We started dreaming.
“We should put a joola in the open terrace like Yeh Rishta kya kehlatha hai” said Eshwar, my younger son.
“Royale Play in the hall,” suggested Krishna.
Parvathy, my wife’s dream was “TV cabinet like it is in Suhana’s maike in Sasuraal…”
In the next 3-4 days he sent me the documents which shook us out of our dreams. Pay Rs. 45 lacs in the next one week! Any delay would attract 18% interest!
What nonsense! Anand pacified me. ‘You are working abroad. You don’t know how it works here. This is just a paper. Sign this. My MD will be fine with your proposal. Pay Rs.5.60 lacs-10% of the total price. Then I will speak to MD and get his approval’
‘Why can’t you change the documents to reflect the payment pattern I want?’ I asked.
‘Unless you pay some substantial amount, how will my MD believe that you are a serious buyer? Believe me.’
‘Reasonable,’ I felt. Also my date of returning to Dar-es-Salaam was approaching. I wanted to conclude this transaction before returning to Dar. I paid Rs. 5.50 lacs.
Till I boarded the flight Anand did not get any approval from his MD. After I landed in Dar, Parvathy called and said that she a received a letter from one Sangeetha from the builder’s office asking me to pay balance Rs. 39.4 lacs forthwith.
I sent a strong mail to Anand enquiring about his MD’s approval. He said he was working on it. He also asked me to pay Rs. 19.4 lacs- Rs. 25 lacs which I had agreed to pay less Rs. 5.60 which I had already paid. This would enable him to impress upon his MD that I am sticking to my commitment!
Parvathy was sympathetic. “Jaane do… pay him.” I did.
Sangeetha acknowledged the receipt, but reminded me to pay balance Rs. 20 lacs to avoid interest!
No word thereafter from Anand or Sangeetha. Meanwhile my wife, sons and I resumed our dreams. We started exchanging mails on interiors, furnishing, modular kitchen, etc.

I went to India for a short holiday in Jan, 2010 and when I went to the site I was shocked! No progress at all since I had seen in Sep last! The project was supposed to have been over by that time, as per Anand’s initial discussions with us.
“The builder faces severe cash crunch.” Someone said in the site. It sent a cold shiver down my spine. Is the project jinxed? I have already paid Rs 25 lacs. I rushed to the builder’s office and insisted on meeting the GM, a guy called Jhonny Raffael. After waiting for an hour, I was told he had gone out for an urgent meeting.
 Anand met me in the lobby. “Sir, why don’t you apply for bank loan? I can get you easily. Jhonny was telling me…if Hariharan has not paid the full Rs. 45 lacs, how can he complain about delay in completing the project? I am sure my MD will also….”
Little did I realize that I was getting deeper into the trap!
“Why the work had not progressed …?” Anand dismissed me casually.”These guys will finish in 3 months. Don’t worry. You can do grahapravesh by Tamil new year.”While I was leaving, Anand threw his next carrot. “Don’t worry, I will get you good discount on any extra work you want to be done in the flat. That’s a promise!”
I believed and gave a list of things to be done- our “yeh rishta..” and “Sasuraal gendha..” stuff! Before leaving India, I applied for a loan of Rs. 20 lacs. The Bank pointed out to my wife that the documents were not signed by the competent person from the builder’s company.
Again a nightmare. Have we been duped? Fortunately for us, not. The builder took a sweet one month and returned proper documents, without a word of regret. The loan was sanctioned and the money was paid to the builder in Feb-2010.
Sangeetha sent a mail that registration of the land could be done whenever I travelled to India. My father’s 80th birthday was falling in the first week of April, 2010. I travelled to India. After attending the birthday celebrations, I drove to Coimbatore. When I was near Darapuram, some 70 kms from Coimbatore, Sangeetha called and said that registration could not be done as the “valuer” had not come. Enquired whether it could be done the next day, she said “only by next month”! I lost my patience. How irresponsible! I have spent $2,000 on travel from Dar to India and these guys are so casual!
I drove to their office and shouted at everyone. They said they would arrange a meeting with the GM. When I waited, a middle aged man who was sitting next to me hushed “Sir, you are far better. I paid the money 18 months back.”
As usual, the GM evaded me. As I was leaving, they gave me a bill for Rs. 1.20 lacs towards extra work. Discount…? Nobody was willing to talk about it.
“Hariharan, when is the flat going to be ready?” asked my concerned sister in law. So did my friends, other relatives. We were embarrassed to give a reply. We could not tell them about the problems. We cursed ourselves. ‘Why the hell did we brag about the flat to others?’
The land was registered the next month. I had to make an extra trip. The land lord who came to register the undivided share told me that the flat which was being sold to me was, in fact reserved for him under the Joint Venture Agreement between him and the builder. He had objected to the same being sold to me. Then he was “compensated” by the builder. That was why the registration did not take place the previous month!
I felt stupid.
I went to the site. There was hardly any work going on! Anand was ready with his reasons. “All workers have been retained by the Govt. for the Tamil Semmozhi Conference. Hence the delay.”
By now I had started getting disenchanted with Anand. A feeling of helplessness filled me.

I returned to India in Oct, 2010. I learnt that the builder had sacked the GM in charge of Coimbatore Projects and a new guy called Palanisamy had joined. I met him. I filled him with my grievances. He sympathized with me and said he had been receiving complaints from other buyers as well. He apologized for the delay in completing the project. There came Sangeetha with a letter asking me to pay interest of Rs. 180,000 as I had delayed paying the initial Rs. 45 lacs!
Palanisamy who was courtesy by itself till then, distanced himself. He could do very less in this regard as these things happened before he joined. He told me to meet one Anil Damani who could help in this.
Anil Damani, whose business card said that he was the Sr. General Manager of Secunderabad Branch, said he was deputed to Coimbatire to solve the problems. He listened to my grievances and called Anand. Anand confessed! He confirmed every word of what I had said! Damani, perhaps did not expect this.
“Pay Rs. 90,000 as a compromise.” Damani said with an air of finality.  Logic..? Simple. “If you want possession, you better pay. Remember you have already paid Rs. 50 lacs+. “
“What if I go to court?”
“Try your luck.”
Possession? Is the flat ready for taking possession? A visit to the site in the morning had revealed that generator had not been installed, water connection had not be obtained from Corporation, lift had not been installed, car park was not paved, final coat of paint in the flat was not given, doors inside the flat had not been fixed…..
Damani dismissed these as trivial issues.
I did not agree. I called the builder’s office Chennai and wanted to talk to their MD. I could not succeed in getting him. Then I wrote mail after mail to the MD. Two months went by. No reply. Meanwhile the Coimbatore office reminded me that they would be charging interest for every further day of delay.
My friend in Dar consoled me. “Hariharan, I paid Rs 75 lacs for a flat in NOIDA 2 years back. Still I have not got the flat. You are better off. Pay this and be done with it.”

Finally I paid Rs. 90,000! I paid full Rs. 1.20 lacs for extra work. $2,000 on a wasted trip- I let go of. 18 months delay in handing over- I accepted. Lift was not installed- I accepted. Gym was not ready- I accepted. Plumbing problems- I accepted. So did other owners.
The builder’s tag line “where you love coming home” at the entrance of the building stared at me. I wondered whether it meant anything.
I did the grahapravesh in June-2011. I was leaving the flat after grahapravesh. Anand met me in the car park.  “Sir, you did not invite me for grahapravesh! How could you do this?”

Poor me!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Indian Media bails out Murdochs...!

Rupert Murdoch is a worried man. He had to close News of the World. His plans of acquiring BSkyB had to be shelved. His aide Rebekah Brooks has been arrested. Along with his son and Rebekah he had to face the questions of Select Committee of the Parliament. Who else can he look for advice, but the Indian Media? Here is how the Indian Media helps Murdoch team. (Rebekah gets a special bail to meet Indian Media. What follows is an imaginary discussion.)

Prannoy Roy: Welcome to Delhi, Mr Murdoch. Sorry to hear about the closure of NOTW.

Rupert Murdoch: What else to do? Compelling circumstances….

Prannoy: What compelling circumstances? Are they worse than ours? Year after year we incur huge losses. Do we close? No. We find one idiot after another to invest- the first and biggest idiot was the public. We find some bank to lend.

Rupert: Prannoy…Money is not the issue….

Prannoy: Then nothing is an issue. Believe me. This is my 21 years of experience….(as if some new idea has dawned on him) ha! You’ve money…Don’t worry you had to close down 
NOTW. You can always buy a stake in NDTV. I can offer 17% @.....

Rupert(irritated): Prannoy…I have come here to solve my problem, not yours.

Vir Sanghvi: I agree with Prannoy. Whatever happens, you should not stop. That’s the mistake I did….I stopped…rather HT stopped my Counterpoint. See Barkha. Did she leave?
Rebekah Brooks : What else could I have done? They had arrested me….

Barkha Dutt : But you were close to Camerons. You could have called someone from the party…the Ghulam Nabi Azad equivalent…

Vir: Or Ahamed Patel equivalent….

Rebekah: But the problem is Guardian has been writing all kinds of stories about me….How could I have clung to my job?

Rajdeep Sardesai: That’s unprofessional of Guardian…See how I defended Barkha…I accused everyone to be jealous of her success…

Arnab Goswami : Take myself…I am fiercely independent…Still I wrote only an internal memo on the unethical behavior of a fellow journalist. Did I ever shout in the News Hour Debate “The nation wants to know tonight whether Barkha crossed the lakshman rekha”?

Prannoy(boasting): Bachhoo…that’s because both of you respect me…I am the father of Indian News media…21 years of experience….
Rupert: If you have 21 years experience, NOTW has 42 years…I acquired in 1968. But this kind of incest is not there among British Media guys…
Barkha: I have an idea on how to counter Guardian’s smear campaign. Conduct a live show in one of your channels. Call Guardian’s editor and also a handful of friendly journalists. Let them ask you questions…

Rupert: That’ll be a disaster.

Barkha: No, you call your colleague as moderator. Friendly journalists who will get adequate time will ask all soft questions. When Guradian guy asks some tough questions, you can accuse him of not knowing journalism at all…At the end of the programme, you can claim you have proved your innocence. I have a CD of a similar show conducted in India… will be very helpful to you…  

N Ram: Mr. Murdoch, I have a time tested model. The best way to handle Guardian or any other competitor is to fight among yourselves! That’s what I do! Times of India takes away my market share. I lose readership to Deccan Herald. Do I fight them back? No. Instead I fight with my brother Ravi and cousin Malini….People get so absorbed in our internal fight that they forget the real issue. Good strategy. It works. Try it. Start accusing each other…

Rajdeep: Wow…that would be a masterstroke…Guardian will be confused- whether to follow the phone hacking story or your internal accusations…I will try this with Times Now…They are taking all the TRPs….Sagarika, are you ready for a fight?

Ram: Rajdeep …remember….you owe me royalty…I have been following this strategy since eighties…initially with my uncle Kasturi, then with….

Barkha: Rebekah, can you not ask Cameron to meet editors and complain that this kind of enquiry by Select Committee would affect investor sentiments, FDIs would fall…

Rebekah: No way…we have a Prime Minister who has been elected by the public…who would like to go back to the public during the next election…Manmohan doesn’t have these compulsions…He can say all that…

James Murdoch (irritated): Oh…fo….Will someone tell me how to handle the select committee…

Barkha: Jayanti Natarajan is waiting outside. Shall I call her? She will tell you how they thwarted a JPC enquiry into Bofors in the past, PAC enquiry into 2G recently…It will a sure shot. You can defeat any parliamentary committee enquiry….

Rebekah: Is she a journalist?

Barkha: No, but we are politicians!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Do you see what I am seeing?

“There have been ----- terror attacks in America, ------ terror attacks in Europe, ------- attacks in Russia since Jan this year.” Chidambaram says in the press conference on 14th morning- the morning after the terror attacks in Mumbai; some 14 hours after the incident.
‘Did he spend the whole night collecting this statistics?’ I wonder. Would it not have been better if he had reviewed the security lapses and the efforts being taken to track the culprits? How is he different from Shivraj Patil, his predecessor who was accused of changing his dress 3 times within 2 hours of a terror attack?

“I have spent lot of time with New York police, London police, Moscow police….and there are intelligence gaps everywhere”, bragged Chidambaram again when asked about intelligence failure.
‘Kaash….he had spent half the time with Indian police”, I could not help thinking. ‘He/ his NATGRID could have prevented these attacks…’.

There was “no intelligence input to state or central agencies” another declaration by PC.
Initially I thought ‘what nonsense?’ Then I realized ‘Brilliant.’ If he had said that there was intelligence, people would be asking him what action he took to prevent the blasts. At least that was what media did to Shivraj Patil in the aftermath of 26/11- why did he not act on the intelligence available? Since there was no intelligence, all uncomfortable questions have been put to rest!

“After 31 months, the incident took place yesterday evening. Mumbai police have protected the city and its residents for 31 months…” Another piece of wisdom from PC! He emphasized this “31 months” as much as he could.
As if 31 months is a permissible period! As if 29 or 30 months would have been bad! As If the Govt. cannot be held responsible, if the attack happened more than 31 months after the previous one!

Don’t you see his subtle and smart efforts to justify the failures? How could he get into this defensive mode when 18 people have lost their lives and hundreds have been hospitalized the previous night? Is he more a “lawyer” than a “minister”? No problem. But let him stop being a minister.

Conveniently for him, he does not have to face- media also does not force him to face- the following uncomfortable questions.
“Nobody, no terrorist fears this Govt.”, said a commoner in Zaveri Bazaar in a TV channel.
“Why such attacks are not repeated in New York or in London? How the terrorists manage to strike Mumbai…that too Zaveri bazaar again and again?” asked a passenger in a local train.
“Is the Govt. serious in containing terrorism?”
“Why Kasab has not been hanged till date? Why Afzal Guru has not been hanged yet? How much the Govt. has spent on their security? Why is it not spending even the allocated budget for buying equipments?”

I see a pattern in his approach.

Step 1. Propose something big- a grand idea, some restructuring/ revamp of your ministry. Promise the impossible. Remember his NATGRID, NIA, etc.- that they will be developing and integrating such an impressive data base that they can prevent any terror attack. Even as recent as Jul 6 he was boasting in a TV interview that NATRGRID can prevent any terror attack! This will not only keep you in the headlines for a few days but also keep the media engaged.

Step 2. When the unexpected happens, initially blame someone; deny the existence of something obvious; do this blatantly. Bindoss. Remember he blamed Maharashtra police when there was a goof up in the list of 50 most wanted criminals. Remember how used to blame state governments (West Bengal or Chattisgarh or Orissa) whenever there was a naxal attack. Remember there are no minutes of the many meetings between him and A Raja. (In this regard Modi and Gujarat Govt. should learn from PC. Why, in the first place, did they keep records of 2002 riots? Only because they had kept the records, it received universal condemnation when they destroyed! See PC. He does not keep minutes of his meetings with A Raja and both are lawyers!) Now he claims there was no intelligence regarding Mumbai blasts. For the media, whoever makes the first noise gets the attention.

Step 3. When holes are punctured in his initial arguments, send your deputies to apologize or make corrections. Remember it was G K Pillai who admitted that there was no mistake on the part of Maharashtra police. Now it appears that there was intelligence-an IM guy arrested by UP ATS earlier this year head warned of this. As usual we are not hearing much from PC. May be he is looking for a “bakrah” to apologize on his behalf.
Repeat the above sequence 2-3 times till it becomes too obvious even to the friendly media.

Then shift to some other ministry!

Not ready to believe me.

How was his performance as Finance Minister? No different.
Read Arun Shourie’s “Main hun na school of budgeting”, “Jo hyper bole so nihaal”. You can see the same pattern.
How he talked big about NREGA in his budget speech, but did not allocate any additional funds! He simply diverted the allocations to existing schemes.
How he boasted about a Rs. 60,000 loan waiver scheme and there was no provision for the same in the budget!
How he did not provide for 5th pay commission recommendations in the budget whereas the budget speech included the same.
How he emphasized the importance of national rain water harvesting programme, only to provide a paltry Rs. 50 cr. (There were arithmetical errors in the allocation also.)
2-3 years of the above. People, RBI Governor, SEBI Chairman and Media started seeing the pattern. Unfortunately for the country and fortunately for him, 26/11 happened. He was shifted to Home Ministry.

I can see these things.
I am sure you are also seeing them.
In fact everyone can see them…..
……Except the Congress and Media!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Manmohan's Cabinet Reshuffle vs. Chanakya's Prescriptions

No clear message, declares Times of India.
The wrong message, clarifies The Hindu.
An exercise in futility by rudderless PM, observes The New Indian Express
Reshuffle, collapse predicts Indian Express.
Wholesale condemnation from Print Media!
TV Channels (like the predictable NDTV) have been more charitable.

But generally the reshuffle has not gone well with the media. Not fair. Since when have they stopped seeing positives in every move or absence of move (Remember the famous quote of PC “Not taking action is also an action”) of UPA?

I, for one, am quite satisfied with the reshuffle. Let me explain why.

Arthashastra is an amazing book written by Chanakya around 320 BC- contains 15 adhikaranas or volumes and around 6,000 verses. It’s like the constitution of a country, dealing with a variety of subjects- rights and duties of Govt, and citizens, composition of King’s council of ministers, Defense, Foreign Affairs, civil and criminal procedure code, etc.  So important is the Council of Ministers to Chanakya that he describes extensively the traits, qualities of ministers in the 1st adhikarana itself and….

Hold your breath…..

Sonia-Manmohan combine has followed Chanakya’s prescriptions religiously!

Unable to believe? Read on.
Chanakya advises in Chapter 8 of 1st adhikarana that the king (Sonia-Manmohan combine) should take into account the competence of the person while appointing/ retaining him as a minister. Take for instance S M Krishna, the “competent” External Affairs Minister who went on reading Portuguese Minster’s speech in UN meeting, blissfully unaware that his country was India! India’s affairs were “external” to the Minister! Sonia-Manmohan duo rewarded his faithful adherence to “external affairs”.

Chidambaram’s “competence” is no less. Anyone has forgotten how he gave a list of 50 most wanted criminals from Pakistan, half of whom were in India, how he lied about the case against P J Thomas in the meeting with PM and Sushma, how it has become impossible to hoist national flag in J&K?

The Ministers should commence all those jobs which have not yet been done, continue to implement those which are in progress and improve on those which have been completed say verses 51 and 52 of chapter 15 of adhikarana 1. Dayanidhi Maran sold for a low price spectrum to Aircel after the “new owners” adequately compensated his family. Andimuthu Raja continued and improved on what Dayanidhi had started in UPA 1- sold at record throw away prices spectrum to Swan,Duck, Crocodile and what not! Then came Kapil Sibal, who commenced that which had not been done earlier- waived penalties for Rcom!

Anyone doubts that Sonia-Manmohan did not follow arthashastra???

Ha…yes! I am a little concerned ( so would Sonia-Manmohan combine be, I believe) about the diminishing “competence” (the first mentioned trait) of Kapil Sibal. A few months back he taught us that Rs. 1.76 lakh crore was equal to zero! But now he seems to be content with Rs. 650 cr being equal to Rs. 5 cr!

Kautilya quotes Vishalaksha as saying that the King can appoint his associates in secret activities. Ahmed Patel-Sanjay Gandhi spotted him; Rajiv Gandhi developed him; Sonia Gandhi’s chief strategist. Has anyone heard of his name except in telephonic negotiations of Nira Radia with reputed journalists? Any guess as to whose associate he could be in secret activities? However Kautilya cautions that such a minister can blackmail the King and the King should keep a watchful eye on him. Is Kautilya giving message to someone?

A king can choose a person because of his “proven loyalty”. Jayanti Natarajan- Does anyone know her for anything other than loyalty? So powerful is her loyalty, that it has effortlessly displaced Jairam Ramesh’s achievements! (Of course I am happy she has become a Minsiter; thank god, we will see less of her in TV debates! For the same reason, I would like Manish Tewari and Abishesk Manusinghvi also to be Ministers.)

Persons from Ministerial families are the next category of Ministers, recommended by Chanaky. So what if Murli Deora had to resign in the wake of KG Basin scam allegations? His son has been rewarded! Cabinet berth is their ancestral property.

Of course that Sonia-Manmohan combine could have done better. Chanakya, for instance says that a king, depending on the needs, can have 1000 ministers like Indra. Manmohan Singh, poor guy, has only 80 ministers. Still a long way to go!

But in some respects, the Sonia-Manmohan combine has gone beyond Chanakya’s prescriptions. They have introduced the concept of reservations- 2 cabinet berths have been reserved for DMK. Karunanidhi can fill them up at his convenience! There is a positive side to this also. Consider this. A Raja took charge of telecom ministry in May-2007. In Jan-2008 he sold the spectrum. Rs. 1.76 lac crores in about 8 months- a monthly run rate of Rs. 22, 000 cr! Every additional month Karunanidhi takes to fill in these positions, Indian state will be wealthier by Rs. 22,000 cr!

I wonder why the media did not consider these positives before dismissing the reshuffle as useless.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Columnists condemn him. Cartoonists mock at him. Courts indict his Govt. Cabinet colleagues ignore him. Coalition partners show contempt towards him. Former media adviser declares he lacks political authority. Every lallu-punju writes an “open letter” to him, asks him 8 or 10 or 12 questions. Not to mention the opposition, for whom he is a soft target.

I am referring to Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India.
He wasn’t this bad earlier.
In fact a star performer, role model minister in 1991. Father of the liberalized Indian Economy.
He simplified the tax laws…. Reduced the tax rates…Encouraged foreign investments…Removed hurdles in doing business….You name any damn good thing in economics or public finance. He did it; initiated it.
But then, what happened in the last 10-15 years? Why does he look so last?
Scam after scam…and he was aware of the whole thing and kept quiet!
Sympathizes with Quottrochchi that CBI should not harass him!
Coalition partners negotiate, not with him but with Sonia who should be their representatives in HIS CABINET!

A few months back he seemed to be satisfied that his personal integrity was not being questioned. But does brand Manmohan Singh stand for just personal integrity? Does it not stand for smartness? Intelligence? Is it not the “friendly media” which in the hope of defending him subtly reduced him to a just personally incorruptible man? (It is another matter that the “friendly media” are also slowly getting wary of him.)
Ultimately he is reduced to a vegetable! He is no longer a player, but has become a spectator, mute, helpless.
Looks like he is doing President of India’s role in Prime Minister’s office.
But why is he sticking to his office?

What are his compulsions?

Corrupt politicians stick on to power. Take Karunanidhi & Co-  40+ years of specialization in corruption- wheat, sugar, cement, pesticides, road/dam/flyover/secretariat construction to spectrum, private telephone exchanges and still counting! Lallu Prasad Yadav & Co-  10+years experience in corruption; but fast learners. Mayawati Dalit & Co-  10+ years of crude, brazen, “so what” kind of corruption! But all these groups have generally remained in power, whether in the State or in the Centre. As they say, you have to be “in it” to be “out of it”! Power helps them stop/ divert CBI or such other inquiries, weaken court cases. But no one suspects Manmohan of corruption. He doesn’t need the protection that “power” offers. No CBI or Court or the currently fashionable “Lokpal” which may, in future, investigate this Govt.’s deals is going to hold Manmohan Singh responsible. (Am I putting my foot in my mouth?) The only deal in his entire tenure as Prime Minister in which he got personally involved was the nuclear deal. While there were allegations that he misled the parliament and the country on some vital facts of the deal, no one alleged or even suggested any quid-pro-quo. So this doesn’t seem to be the compulsion.

Physical threat. This sounds cinematic- taken straight out of Hindi movies of the 80’s! Or sounds like the foreign hand theory of Indira Gandhi regime- Sonia Gandhi, her Italian family and their “videshi chal”!

Ideological compulsions. There is a “bhooth” in the minds of secular politicians, journalists and social activists (the “katarnaak” group whose damage creating potential is yet to be appreciated) that if you are knowingly or unwittingly the reason for the collapse of this Govt., you are helping the communal BJP to come to power. Their theory is simple. Indian politics is a zero sum game- any loss to Congress or UPA is a gain to BJP and that is not permissible!
Scams involving lakhs of crores of rupees- permissible!
Denigration of the office of CVC, CEC, CAG- permissible!
Blatant misuse of CBI- permissible!
Scant respect for courts and their judgments -permissible!
So the theory is you do/don’t anything, continue/discontinue to do anything so that BJP is kept out.
Is Manmohan a prisoner of this ideological compulsion? Does he think that he owes this much to the nation that he continues to head an inefficient, corrupt Govt. so that BJP is kept away?
Let’s for a moment ignore whether BJP should be kept out of power at any cost, whether looting the country of crores of rupees is justified because Advani does not become the Prime Minister. Let’s just see whether the assumption that the collapse of UPA will lead to BJP forming the Govt. is valid.
Remember… the Communists were supporting UPA 1 because they thought the communal forces would come to power if they did not support UPA1. In the 2009 elections they did not join UPA. What happened? Did BJP come to power?
Similarly PAC report on 2G scam was to be rejected. UPA2 did not have sufficient numbers in PAC. What happened? Mayawati and Mulayam extended support. The report was rejected.
So if Manmohan were to resign, the Govt. will not collapse. No. The corrupt and self serving Congress and coalition partners are like octopus- they will align, re-align, support from outside, offer issue based support… do anything to ensure that the Govt. continues. They will install a corrupt guy as the PM. It is correct too- a corrupt Govt. headed by a corrupt PM is better than a corrupt Govt. headed by an honest PM!
If Manmohan has this illusion, let him come out of this.

Let’s look at the personal side.
I sympathize with him as a person. Imagine what Ms. Gursharan Kaur will feel whenever she sees media castigating him; what Ms. Upinder Singh will think whenever the court indicts him; how bad Ms. Daman Singh will feel when Advani calls him nikamma; how hurt will Ms. Amrit Singh be whenever some unknown blogger writes an open letter to him; if he chooses to continue in office now and the Govt. is voted out of power in the next elections, how will he feel about this in his retired life - that he did not forego the office but he was thrown out!

Manmohan should take the call now and resign.
If he is unable to take the call…
Soniaji…daya kiijiye Manmohanpar…chod diijiye une!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Kaun Banega Besharam (Congress prepares its spokespersons)

Obviously Sonia and Manmohan are concerned-every day a scam breaks out; Supreme Court indicts Govt, Prime Minister or GOM; CAG quantifies loss; even the most dependable CBI is flexing muscle under Supreme Court supervision. The TV channels have become unreliable; they were not this bad earlier; they have started debating each scam, getting “access” to this report or that letter or some document! And what is the performance of the Congress spokespersons in the TV debates? Pathetic!
Sonia and Manmohan decide to train the spokespersons so that they can handle media better. Now the imaginary training session:
Sonia (murmurs to herself): Nalayak..nikkamma…jokers…
Manish Tewari: Did you call me ma’am?
Manmohan: Nahi Manish…those are my titles…
Jayanti Natarajan: Arey Manish…yehi tumhara problem…when I am here, why will ma’am call some lallu-panju?
Abhishek Manusinghvi: Guys…guys…guys…Forget the Channels. Have you seen yourselves in the mirror? Incorrigible! You cannot handle contradictions…Look at me. As a lawyer I defend the same Bhopal criminals, same Kerala lottery owners who as a Congress spokesperson I criticize…
Sonia (irritated): Bas…Bas…Bas. When do you guys become smart? You have not been able to defend in the debates. Look at the attacks of Ravishankar Prasad, Rajeev Pratap Rudy …Kaash wo log Congress main hote…
Manish: With due respect ma’am…
Sonia: For heaven’s sake…this is not your bakwas TV debate…talk normally…
Manish: They hit us from all sides…kabi CVC, kabi CWG, kabi 2 G,, kabi Adarsh…you tell us how to manage…
Sonia: As spokesperson you should not be affected by the number of scams…you should develop thick skin…
Manish: Ma’am…skin itna thick ho go ya…. I do not wear sweater in winter.
Sonia: You are not proactive…that’s why you don’t know how to handle when a scam surfaces…
Jayanti: I agree with you ma’am…We should get early warning signals so that we can be proactive.
Abishek: Why don’t we do like this….So far every minister/scamster thought it fit to write to PM beforehand. So as soon as a minister writes a letter to PM, before keeping quiet, PM should inform us, the spokespersons. Then we know a scam is brewing and we can be proactive….
Sonia: Shut up, Abishek.
Manish: Take the 2G scam…when CAG report became public, we maintained that only PAC can debate it, not the TV channels. When PAC report was ready, we dumped the PAC….
Jayanti: When BJP demanded Raja’s resignation/ sacking, we maintained it was PM’s prerogative…When Raja was forced to resign after Supreme Court’s intervention, we said this Govt has acted tough on corruption! See the impressive list of corrupt against whom UPA has acted tough…Sashi Tharoor, Ashok Chavan, Suresh Kalmadi, A Raja…still counting…
Manmohan: I wonder whether this long list is a virtue or shame. Does this list not imply that we allowed so many to indulge in corruption rather than acting tough…
Abhishek: Yes…Jayanti doesn’t understand how BJP can use this…that’s why I have said in all the shows that BJP did not act on Yeddiyurappa….one Yeddi can help us in 10 of our scams…how I wish court admits this-BJP’s inaction in a scam- as a justification for our scams and acquits….
Kapil Sibal: Bachoo…tum lawer ho…sharam aathahai mujhe….see what I said…the best argument ever in the 2G scam…there is zero loss on spectrum auction! (giggles, with his “raakshas” eyebrows enlarging, as he does in his interviews.)
P.Chidhambaram: Better still would be to say that spectrum was not auctioned at all! Or, Raja was not telecom minister at all! See how I said that there was no case against P J Thomas and grabbed the headlines…so long as there is obliging NDTV, Hindu….
Sonia: Is that a victory? Do you boast about it? Supreme Court has set aside his appointment.
Manmohan(looking lost): We respect Court’s verdict.
Sonia (shakes Manmohan’s shoulders): For god’s sake…Manmohan, hosh main aao….you are not giving an interview…
Barkha Dutt enters the room.
Barkha: Ma’am Chidambaram is right!
Sonia: What? What is right?
Barkha: I do not know…but main itna jaanthi hu…whatever Chidambaram says is right.
Manish(contemptuously): Are you referring to what he said on Telengana?
PC: Manish, I do not like your cheap jokes…
Jayanti(changing the topic): Barkha, why do you call BJP guys to “Buck Stops Here”? If you want different views, call DMK guys…
Barkha (murmurs to herself): Whatever half or one TRP that I am getting now…after Times Now…I’ll lose…
Kapil: Take the CAG report on KG basin issue…these guys have messed up in the media…ma’am, please make me minister for petroleum also…I will argue that Reliance did not incur cost at all…
Sonia: Enough of the past…let’s come to the current issue…Supreme Court has formed an SIT for investigating black money….how do we handle…what do we do….
PC(eager to be first): Ma’am, immediately transfer the money out of …..
Sonia: Shhhh…I am not talking about that…how to handle it in the media?
Barkha: We will cover Rahul’s padhyatra in Maya’s UP extensively…
Manmohan: Bharka, we are not talking about your channel…there other popular channels…Times Now, Aaj tak…
Jayanti: I will argue how this Govt has acted tough on corruption…see the impressive list….
Sonia: Stop…stop…you know…
Jayanti(raises her voice and continues talking as she does in debate): Sashi Tharoor..Ashok Chavan…
Sonia: Stop…main…main..Sonia bolrahee hu….
Jayanti (continues in high pitched voice): You’ve no right to interrupt me…
Manish(shakes her out of her imaginary debate): Jayanti…Ma’am is asking you to stop…not TV anchor…
Abhishek: Let’s ask…what did BJP do in 2003 to solve black money…
Sonia: But black money issue started afterwards…you’ve only one argument for every problem….disgusting…
PC: Can I arrange to bug BJP headquarters so that we can come to know what BJP is thinking….
Manish: Arey baba…no… we are yet to come out of bugging Pranab’s office…not again.
Manmohan: Can I meet the editors again? This time may be at 9pm or 10pm when the TV channels debate uncomfortable issues…we divert attention….
Sonia: Chup…Chup…ek dum chup….your last meeting with newspaper editors was more uncomfortable than any other uncomfortable issue so far…you’re better off as silent PM.
Manmohan: Just as I had said earlier that poor Quotrochchi should not be harassed by CBI and Courts….can we say now that Courts should not harass black money holders…
PC: I like this line of thinking of Manmohan. CAG should not audit frauds; if it finds, it should not report; if it reports, it should not hold press conference. CBI should not investigate. Election Commission should not restrain political parties…Courts should not interfere…
Barkha: Media can take this argument further…judicial overreach…Harish Salve can talk hours together…it will be a national debate…Politicians, lawyers, social workers, corporate…I get back some of my lost TRPs….     
Pranab Mukherjee: Wo sub teek hai. But aam aadmi kya soche ga?
Sonia, Manmohan, Manish, Jayanti, Abishek, PC, Kapil together: Aam aadmi? Seems to be a familiar phrase… When did we hear about him last?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

After 21 years of experience....

(Bholu, 45, is a trader in cooking oil. Having spent 21 years in trading cooking oil, he is bored. Like the thousands of urban Indians, he wants to get into TV journalism, the most happening profession. His friend tells him that after long debates and exclusives (quick) bucks do not stop at the TV studio, but go directly to bank account!

Searching for the job, he lands in Navi Mumbai Television (NMTV). Ms. Durga Bhat, the editor in chief interviews him . What follows is the imaginary interview.)

Durga Bhat: Good morning Bholu. What do you expect from this job?

Bholu: Good morning, ma’am. It offers an opportunity to work with you, my dream anchor. I would be learning a lot from you!

DB: Suppose Naxals  kill 50 villagers in Chattisgarh. P Chidambaram says intelligence failure on the part of State Govt…

Bholu: Breaking news will be “PC shirks responsibility; blames State Govt…”
DB: No my dear….”PC calls for intelligence revamp!” Suppose Raman Singh says PC did not send enough CRPF personnel….

Bholu: Raman Singh points to Centre’s failure…
DB(cursing herself): When will you learn…..”Political blame game starts! Raman Singh passes the buck!” Do you understand?

Bholu: ……

DB: Gopinath Munde speaks against Gadhkari. What will you report?
Bholu: That in itself is a good caption…
PD: Galat…”Revolt in BJP”, “Tsunami in Saffron Brigade” are the right answers….
DB: Digvijay says Chidambaram is arrogant…Digvijay wants probe into bugging of Pranab’s office…

Bholu: I will report “Deep fissures in Congress”

DB: No … you’ll not go beyond “The outspoken Digvijay does it again!”…at the worst call him a maverick…or mad…isme Congress ko koi lena dena nahi hai…lets talk about Lokpal…

Bholu: I will highlight the attempts of the Govt and Congress to browbeat the corruption issue…schemes of Kapil Si…

DB( frustrated): Looks like I am wasting my time with you…Will you not ask “ Are Bhushans not supposed to quit Anna’s team?” Will you not talk about Santosh Hegde’a issues…fissures in Civil Society…

Bholu: But there is no hard evidence against Bhushans….

DB: I know…that’s why you will not ask Bhushans to quit…Instead you will ask…”Are 
Bhushans not supposed to quit?” Later on if turns out that Bhushans are innocent, you can always say we did not ask him to quit.. we only raised a question….

Bholu gulps the whole of the water from the 500ml bottle.

DB: Allahabad High Court is going to deliver judgement on Ayodhya dispute tomorrow…you have to hold a debate tonight…what will you analyse in your programme….?

Bholu: I will discuss historical, archeological evidence…call Chief of Archeological Survey to the programme…representatives of the plaintiff, defendant…

DB:oh…fo… kya bakwas…you don’t know secular reporting??? You should analyse the religion/ caste of the judges- whether the judge is an orthodox Hindu, whether he does puja, whether he cooks food for himself….what to expect from such a judge, leave to viewers…that’s subtle, secular reporting….

Bholu: Ha.. I understand…

DB: Also you’ll call Congress and BJP representatives so that Manish Tiwari can ask what the BJP did to solve the issue during its regime…that’s balanced reporting..ok…let me test you on corruption …2G scam …audio and video evidence against the minister…what’ll you do?

Bholu: I’ll call the Congress and BJP reps…

DB: Real Bholu ho tum! You should immediately have exclusive, exhaustive interview with A.Raja; otherwise Hindu will publish his interview before you….

Bholu: I don’t quite understand….why no balanced reporting now…

DB: Simple. See..Raja, Kanimozhi, Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and the like have the first and exclusive right to be heard…you should not be disturbing them with opposite views…

Bholu: Ma’am, I have a question…

DB(encouragingly): Pucho..pucho…

Bholu: Suppose a big corporate approaches you thru’ a lobbyist…it wants a particular minister instead of another….what’ll you do?
DB: Maintain the contact. Develop it. Pass on the Corporate’s views to Govt and vice-versa…

Bholu: Will you not report in your programme that the Corporate is trying to a particular minister…that a lobbyist….

DB: That’s not a story…again a lesson for you…

Bholu: What is a story then?

DB: Whether the particular person got the berth.

Bholu: Ha…ha…ha…

DB: Why are you laughing so loudly….

Bholu: I am reminded of the old Sardarji joke. Sardarji was trying to climb the camel. Every time he tried, the camel stood up; so he could not climb. At that time he heard a girl crying for help. He finds 3-4 gundas trying to misbehave with her. He fights with them and saves the girl. The girl was very beautiful. She wants to show her gratitude; tells the Sardarji that he can use her the way he likes.

DB: What does he do?

Bholu: He tells her to hold the camel down so that he can climb…just like you said whether the person got the berth is the story….!

DB: Get the hell out of here!