Thursday, December 31, 2009

Central Vigilance Commission

Yesterday's comments by CVC Chief Pratyush Sinha were actually the most ineteresting and deserving of national attention. It got lost in the more spicy follow-up of the Ruchika Girotra case.

If the CVC in this country can face problems in investigating high-profile matters then this country needs to get alarmed. His admission to CNN-IBN that while investigating high-profile cases even they face problems like delaying tactics etc. was quiet a scary prospect. It gets the alarm bells ringing in my ears.

His comments can be read at this URL:

I am very happy to note that he has also responded freely to the query about the changing nature of corruption in the govt. I, for one, completely agree that the larger mass of corruption is shifting from babus to the people sitting in important ministries. The direct hobnobbing of various ministers with the businessmen is certainly a very important starting point.

It is not that these things are any secret. These are all "dirty-open-secrets" of how governance is done, contracts are handed out, vested interests are created and protected. But this is probably the first time that a Chief Vigilance Commissioner has accepted these things openly.

The significance of this statement lies in the fact that accusations of corruption that have been brushed under the carpet may not happen as easily in future. The Telecom Scam amounting to almost Rs.60000 crores, the Rice Scam amount to around Rs.2500 crores and many others have not made an impact on the general masses had this fate because these numbers are unimaginable for them. It is indeed difficult for the masses to believe that scams at such humungous level can ever exist.

It will be interesting to see if the Fourth Estate will find those courageous journalist who will uncover these large scale scams and go public. I would like to see some journalist making it public that the Sethusamudram Project is also a Rs. 2500 crore scam. The rumors are that the Minister of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping - Mr. T R Baalu - in the last government was from Tamilnadu and owns many shipping vessels, all under 30000DWT and that his son runs a dredging operations company. The Strait has a depth of 12mtrs only and therefore vessels under 30000DWT only can fare through that route. There are less than 5% vessels that are under 30000DWT and the narrow Palk Strait will not allow higher speeds and therefore vessels will not save any time by going through Palk Strait. Its only Mr. Baalu's ships that will benefit. And the continued need for dredging will give lots of money to his son's dredging company. We would like to see the media go after these rumors and accusations and bring them to light for the benefit of the public and make them more aware.

For ages, people have accused and spoken in hush tones about the nexus between Murli Deora, The Minister for Petroleum in the 14th as well as 15th Lok Sabha and the Ambani family that promotes Reliance. During the recent and ongoing feud between Mukesh and Anil Ambani, Mr. Deora intervened in favor of Mr. Mukesh Ambani. The country was wondering why Mr. Deora had to intervene in a private matter involving two brothers and the terms of settlement between the two of them. Is there only smoke or is there some major fire? Are these just rumors or is there any truth in these matters? What is the magnitude of these scams?

Whatever the matter be, it is important to answer these controversies in the favor of this nation. If these companies and individuals have benefitted hugely with some unreal personal wealth being created through favors from the Govt of India, then shouldn't the courts snatch the companies away from such individuals and put these companies on auction for other cleaner people to own and run these important economic pillars of this country and let the proceeds from such sale be invested in creating employment for the rural sector.

There are rumors about many senior politicians and there unreal wealth and involvement with various corporates. Someone owns an entire island in Indonesia and throws lavish parties there, someone owns Grape Vineyards and Wineries in South Africa, someone runs world's greatest breweries, brewing even for superbrands like Budweiser, so on and so forth. The journalists involved with the political circles surely know them all. But its upto their moral standards to bring this truth out in public. These things may create a chaos of sorts, but it will certainly bring in a greater order. Because these culprits in high positions go unpunished that we find common men encouraged to take to similar practices.

What belongs to this nation should be given back to this nation.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Shashi Tharoor, How Tweet!

This General Election, amongst many other things, I felt a lots of voters waking up. To some extent it appeared to be the result of the 26/11 Terror Attacks, which caught India, Indian Internal Security Agencies, Intelligence Bureau and above all the ever-hated Politicians with its pants down.

I also give some marks to rising education and a general movement amongst the masses for this change in electoral practice in India.

The good news is that people have started thinking about how they are governed. And when they have started doing this I can't think of a bad news.

While I subscribe to the BJP's suggestions on how to govern this nation, and my party got a drubbing at these elections which, led to lots of dirty linen being washed in public, giving a field to day to all its opponents, I was extremely satisfied thinking about the increasing participation from the voters.

I am sure that as the voters think more about the nation and how they are being governed and go through various experiments on this subject, they will slowly and surely arrive at the same thoughts that many of us at BJP think is the right way. It will also help BJP sharpen its own thinking as the feedback mechanism is now working full swing.

This election wanted a fresh breath of air. Some young faces, new and innovative ways of connecting with the masses, more honorable education on and so forth.

When the UPA govt. decided to bring in India's most famous Tweeter - Mr. Shashi Tharoor - into the Ministry of External Affairs as the Deputy Minister, almost everyone welcomed the idea.

He had an experience in dealing with the UN, having been UN Under Secretary General under UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. He also had the most important qualification for a ministerial post in India - good looks. Good looks come very handy in Indian Politics. If you don't believe me, follow every single comment on Tharoor and you will invariably find Indians suggesting his "easy-on-eyes" looks as a very attractive point on why he should be in the govt.

Tharoor also speaks fluently in English, authors books in English, is on boards and panels of a variety of International Organizations and all in all undoubtedly a qualified candidate for a deputy ministerial berth in the Ministry of External Affairs.

But somehow, I never understand why he does not discriminate between what he should tweet and what he shouldn't. Mr. S M Krishna had to roar against his recent tweet on new Visa policy.

While the newly active Indian voters seek a lot of transparency to help them put forth their own views, tweeting your disagreement with your own boss doesn't seem to be a very bright idea.

Mr. Tharoor needs to remind himself time and again that he is now a Minister and a very integral part of Indian Political system. He is not an activist alone. His responsibilities towards his Ministry need to take priority over his activist-sort-of behaviour. Its only a sign of maturity.

The country shouldn't get the feeling that Mr. Tharoor is too sensitive to what US and European nations think of policies framed by the Government of India. We would also like to see that he has his eyes on the role his ministry plays in the security of this nation. I am sure there can be other ways of managing the problem that have surfaced during the Headley investigations, but such a matter is best discussed between the concerned people only and the nation has to follow it keeping full-faith in the decisions of the govt. The tourism business that he seemed worried about will anyway get affected if India is unable to keep its borders and home secured from terrorists.

What the countrymen want to see is seriously independent foreign policy, which caters to India's priorities and India's place in the world on the basis of its self-confidence.

I, personally, will be happy to see the Ministry of External Affairs putting priority on securing India's borders.

India has 7000kms of land boundary and 14000 kms of coastal boundary, approximately. We have seven neighbours - Paksitan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. For an informed reader, it is not difficult to note that India's relationship with almost all of these neighbours is hostile. Barring Bhutan, we have a large no. of outstanding issues with all the neighbours. Maintaining good, cordial relations with them is the responsibility of the Ministry of External Affairs and I think they must take a lead in this matter now.

SAARC being a complete failure, needs to redesigned. India has to find ways of balancing individual nation's aspiration and not make them feel belittled in front of India. Instead of getting into rationality of their feeling, practical ways of addressing these feelings may be a more welcome move. Matters with China can then be dealt with more ease. Because an interesting thing to note is that the disinterest shown by India in its own neighbours has allowed China to have much better relations with them and which they, supposedly, use to stoke anti-India sentiment amongst them. India looks almost sorrounded by China and Chinese view of India.

However, that's an agenda which remains to be fulfilled.

At the end, I hope the dressing down he has received from Mr. Krishna will help him realise that everything he says has an implication. His choice of words and subjects in public domain need to be thought over carefully.


My mind has something to say about everything. I almost compulsorily comment on things that come into my attention span. If something is happening, my own thoughts about it get generated almost automatically. Whether I know the subject or not is of least consequence.

These thoughts then start a barrage of questions in my mind. Lots of them. Some questions just evaporate in thin air and some remain in my consciousness long enough to let me google-out the answers. Of course, this spreads me thin between a huge range of subjects. From physics to geology to metaphysics, theology, history, politics, professions, businesses and so and so forth. Sometimes I think I know about so many things and then again, so little about so many.

The burst of thoughts is so much that I have to speak them out or discuss and debate with someone. Its not enough for me to know that I have a thought. I realize it becomes important for me to share these thoughts with anybody and everybody and sometimes even push a thought through a debate so much as to expect another person to accept my point of view.

And almost everytime I find myself doing this, my mind goes straight to an essay I read, during my B.Sc days in Sacred Hearts College in Ernakulam, called Arguing by Robert Lynd. It almost always brings back a shot of sanity into my mind and I become a little less pushy in my sales attempt.

However, I must point out here that the thoughts have never been created to support any specific agenda. A thought has simply emerged, more like a piece of truth on the basis of the amount of information I have with me. I think this is what gives me the conviction in my own thoughts. And this pure logic of arriving at a conclusion excites me to make others see what I see.

I look forward to this Think Pad letting me express all my thoughts as they come.