#India – Why Narendra Modi behaves like larger-than-life Rambo

This Pic is by Amir Rizvi

This Pic is by Amir Rizvi

Economic Times, Kigshuk Nag, 28 Jun, 2013
Narendra Modi hasn’t formally studied economics or sociology, but he sure has intimate knowledge about the theory of expectations.

In essence, the theory suggests that a person will decide to act in a way that will lead to the fulfilment of what he expects to happen.

So, Modi knows that if electors can be convinced to believe that he will win in 2014, they will actually vote for him. Thus, his whole effort now is to convince theelector that he alone will be the victor.

Though given to talking big for a long time – lately earning him the epithet of feku – this is the real reason for Modi for projecting himself as a Rambo who rescued 15,000 Gujarati pilgrims from Uttarakhand in a day.

The logic works like this: if a particular elector believes that electors in general are convinced that Modi is a Rambo, he will expect them to vote for the Gujarat chief minister and make him the winner.

This, in turn, will induce this particular voter to be in tune with the general mood and plump for Modi (unless he has specific reservations).

Expand this particular voter to the universe of all voters and it is easy to figure out how a general expectation that Modi will win can lead to his actual victory.

Of course, the reverse is also true. A general belief that he cannot win will induce non-committed voters to cast their franchise for someone else. Modi is also using the expectation theory when he warns CBI officers that the government could change in the near future. Read this as, proceed gingerly in the Ishrat Jahan case and do not cross me because tomorrow I willbe your boss.

As a matter of strategy, Modi is also using the theory of expectations along with the public mood in the country that is for “change”. The mood for change first became clear from the massive support garnered by Anna Hazare in 2010-11. Hazare’s enormous popularity was because people saw him as the change agent. But this was short-lived because people soon realised that Hazare could not deliver on the change that they wanted. Actually, the people also do not know the “change” that they seek.

Modi is cognisant of this and is offering himself as the change agent.

The task of Modi’s spin doctors will be to build more attributes for the man, so that they tend to align with the change that the people want. Some changes that people want are fairly clear: they want an honest, transparent regime.

That such a revolution cannot take place in India through our defective electoral system – where loads of moolah is needed – may be known to analysts but not to the common man.

Thus, Modi’s men will project him as clear-as-a-crystal leader who delivers on his promises without fear and prejudice. At the same time, they will de-emphasise some of the attributes that have stuck to Modi.

The most obvious of them is his being anti-minority. To counter this, BJP proposes to produce a vision document for minorities.

Slowly, Modi is also being seen as a handmaiden of big business. As evidence of this, last week, a huge crowd of farmers rode into Ahmedabad in trucks, tractors and trailers protesting the Modi government move to forcibly acquire 50,887 hectares of farm land for a special investment region. Expect Modi nowto become pro-farmer.

Modi’s biggest apprehension, however, is that the 2014 elections becoming a referendum on him. This is in spite of Modi revelling in being perpetually in public gaze and nothing can be a bigger ego-booster than a national election exclusively focused on him. A poll where Modi is pitted against Rahul Gandhi or Manmohan Singh is less difficult for him to manage considering the Congress’ two-term anti-incumbency effect.

But a battle that becomes a choice, want Modi or don’t want him, can become an almost insurmountable obstacle for Modi to cross.

This is because many who prefer Modi to Rahul will pause and evaluate carefully whether they want Modi at all. Many who will give the thumbs down to Rahul will not approve of Modi in isolation because they know he is a feku, projecting a larger-than-life image of himself.

The writer is resident editor, Hyderabad, The Times of India


#India- Home Minister’s visit to Raipur hospital costs woman her life #Vaw #WTFnews

By Sahar Khan in Raipur, mailtoday.in

A woman, who was rushed to Ram Krishna Care hospital in Raipur following a massive heart attack, was detained at the hospital gate by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s securitymen.

Her relatives said they struggled to get medical attention for her failing which she died at the gate.

Shinde was in the hospital to visit the people injured in the Maoist attack in the Bastar district on May 25.

The family further alleged that they desperately made phone calls to whosoever possible to explain the medical emergency but they were turned a deaf ear.

Raipur superintendent of police O. P. Pal, however, said no complaint has been lodged yet in this regard. “ There is a clear instruction that no ambulance should be stopped during any VIP visit.

We will look into the issue if any complaint reaches us,” he said.

A local media report quoting the family of the deceased woman said there was no blockage of roads after the minister’s cavalcade reached the hospital but the security personnel denied the entry through the gate.

The hospital management, on the other hand said, since several VIPs are visiting the hospital after the Maoist attack special arrangements have been made to ensure that patients do not suffer.

Director of the hospital, Dr Sandeep Dave said the woman was already dead when brought to the hospital and no complaint was lodged.

In November 2009, kidney patient, S. P. Verma, died during PM Manmohan Singh’s visit to PGIMER hospital in Chandigarh to attend a convocation ceremony.

Verma’s family claimed he was denied timely treatment after securitymen allegedly kept diverting his vehicle.

In July 2011, injured policeman Dharmendra Kumar died at the emergency gate of Hallett Hospital in Kanpur, after being denied entry by the Special Protection Group deployed for Rahul Gandhi, who was to arrive to meet victims of the Kalka Mail derailment.


Does the Internet belong to the cyber bully? #FOS #FOE #Vaw

Rape threat to Kavita Krishnan


by  Apr 27, 2013, Firstpost


“Tell me where I should come and rape you using condom”, wrote someone to activist Kavita Krishnan during a public chat organised by Rediff.com. This person had chosen for himself the handle “RAPIST” and initially, his ill-begotten suggestions were directed at women in general. However, when his gracious offer to stop raping women if they stopped wearing “revealing clothes” was brushed aside, perhaps he found it necessary to narrow his focus. So he threatened to rape Krishnan.

How could Krishnan have responded to his threat? In the virtual world, all Krishnan could do was retort or ignore, and then retreat. Krishnan’s experience isn’t exceptional. When she was threatened during the live chat, Krishnan became one of the countless for whom the virtual world isn’t quite as free, fair and welcoming as most of us imagine the Internet to be.

India ranks third in cyber bullying after China and Singapore. In an article on Huffingtonpost,  writer Soraya Chemaly points out how the internet is perceived as medium where it is easy, and also justified, to silence women. The methods of silencing, as has been found on several websites in India and abroad, is severe abuse.



David Porter notes in his book Internet Culture that the internet has evolved from being a “peripheral phenomenon” to a “site for cultural production and transformation”. Ways of negotiating virtual identities and communities, therefore, have to be constantly discussed, reinvented and regulated. Communities and identities that populate virtual spaces can display desires that may not manifest themselves obviously in the real world.

Real life prejudices often take on monstrous proportions online. Women are subjected to insults, criticism and extreme cases of abusive behaviour. Take, for example, the case of Amaresh Mishra, whose bio on Twitter reads, “Author, Historian, Film writer and Politician”. Incensed by Modi-supporters who “abuse Sonia and Rahul Gandhi”, he went on a Twitter rant spree and threatened to rape and brutalise (with rods) Narendra Modi‘s female supporters. Some time later, presumably once he’d calmed down, Mishra deleted the damning tweets, thereby almost doing away with evidence that could be used to sue him.

Abuse on the Internet thrives for the same reason street harassment does — because it is tolerated and it’s difficult to ascertain who precisely is your tormentor. The targets, as in the physical world, tend to be those who question the status quo, those who are perceived as less powerful in the social hierarchy.

“It’s not just women,” says Krishnan, while speaking about how the internet can be a threatening space. “Dalits are targeted a lot, I know. I’m told Muslims also receive lots of hate messages. Basically, it’s minorities who are attacked.”

Debarati Halder, who runs the Centre for Cyber Victim Counselling in Chennai, says the preferred way of lashing out at a woman on the internet is by calling her a “slut”. It’s not used in an embrace-your-sexuality way, but seeks to demean the woman into a sexual object.

“They may also bring up personal details including her vital statistics. In many occasions such bullies openly invite trolls to escalate the situation. I have seen if the victim is an active participant in these chat forums, in the beginning they try to protest. But more defensive you get, the more the bully is encouraged,“ says Halder. She says several such instances of abuse can make a woman feel unworthy of respect and even suicidal.

According to Chemaly, when faced with intimidation online, vocal women usually choose to mellow and stop fighting on public forums. When a masked identity taunts you with graphic threats –how he wants to violate you, where he wants to rape your school-going daughter and so on – the most common response is to create a distance between yourself and the commenter.

In India, cyber bullying gets the necessary go-ahead from the absence of laws attuned to such cases. Except for Section 66A of the IT Act, according to which a person can be booked for sending false, offensive messages through communication services, there is no strong law to tackle cases of online abuse. Most cases of online abuse are dealt by clubbing Section 66A with the Prohibition of Ragging Act (Section 509 of IPC), meant to tackle sexual harassment. However, Halder, points out, “Except for cases of monetary fraud over the internet, they [the police] don’t fall back upon the law too often.”

Delhi-based lawyer Apar Gupta says it’s not the absence of well-defined laws that hampers action against cases of cyber abuse.

“Abusive messages are actionable under provisions of existing penal laws since they extend to online mediums as well,” says Gupta. “Personally I feel rather than a problem of lack of laws, there is a problem of lack of enforcement and conviction.”

Anja Kovacs, who runs the Internet Democracy Project, agrees that laws alone can’t create a healthy internet culture.

“Free speech ends where it harms someone’s human rights,” she says. “We have to create a culture of civility on the internet. At present, there is no clear distinction between what can be accepted levels of criticism and rage and what should be blocked and disallowed.”

Looking at the current state of affairs, where the internet isn’t completely safe, Kovacs suggests that we grow a “thick skin”. Halder says that at least moderated forums should take up the responsibility of blocking and booking perpetrators.

“No service provider actively monitors the user’s activities,” says Halder. “This becomes a huge problem especially for Indian victims (specifically women victims) as many perpetrators take this opportunity to continue harassing the victim.”

study on internet users revealed 45 percent people prefer to use pseudo-names in public discussion forums and social networking sites. But 74 percent people on these sites also exchange personal information, including photos, with people they know just virtually. The study also says that more than 69 percent of users have faced abuse and a whopping 78 percent have received abusive messages from known and unknown sources.

From Twitter to Facebook, most social networking portals announce in their policy section that bullying, harassment and abuse will not be tolerated. Facebook has separate sections that warn users against bullying, harassment, using hate speech. Twitter too mentions that offensive content will not be tolerated on the site. It even has a provision that allows the site to block the user completely. However, rarely do the websites make efforts to force out abusive users, which is how the likes of Amaresh Mishra continue to use Twitter.

“The only action they can initiate and conclude is to cancel the registration of the user on their web service for violating the terms,” says Gupta.

Gupta feels the only way to tackle cyber bullying is police reform rather than more legalities. He cautions against legal provisions against online harassment that could be used by conservative and far-right political groups to further grudges and book anyone who seems to oppose their politics vocally on a public web forum.

And so, Krishnan’s harasser and others of his tribe will walk free and perhaps they’ll log on to another chat and spout their threats. They’ll do so fearlessly and confidently because at present, all the odds are in their favour.


#India – becoming the Chamber State ? #politics #Election2014

Jitender Gupta
Rahul Gandhi addressing the CII AGM, Apr 4, Delhi
Business & Politics

The FICCI-CII rallies have replaced grassroots ones. Is politics becoming a corporate playfield?
Sunit Arora, Arindam Mukherjee

Why Corporate Involvement In Politics Is A Problem

Neither Modi nor Rahul are designated leaders of the BJP and Congress, NDA or UPA. What if a different, unheard-of leader emerges from their flock or outside?
The projection of this man or that, this policy or that, runs counter to federal impulses in a large, multi-lingual, multi-interest country where regional parties are booming.
Are business and media houses merely providing the stage for differing views and personalities, or are they openly setting the political agenda in troubled times?
Head-to-head debates may work in homogeneous America. Soapbox oratorical tests are unsuited for heterogeneous India, which is why politicians have spurned it.
In a parliamentary democracy, elected MPs, not business bodies, choose the prime minister. Usurping that role to thrust candidates is an affront to the voter.
Sans deep questioning, all we get is a sales pitch. Bite-sized ad slogans (“India First”) and aphorisms (“Beehive”) end up as wisdom. Result: noise, not nuance.
Real issues around development like food, health, housing and poverty are rarely discussed at business forums.


The consultant-about-town takes a quick look around before launching the pitch. You see, there are three corporate clients—all in their early 60s and owners of Rs 1,000-crore plus companies—who are keen on fighting the next general election. If they can deal with the hurly-burly of politics (which includes egos shattering in slow motion, waiting for days to meet a party president), there is a chance to enter Parliament—the most exclusive club for a nat­ion of 1.2 billion people. The consultant nods when asked if these three clients attended any of the big corporate jamborees at industry bodies CII and ficci last week. “That’s where all the action is,” he smiles.

“It shows us their mindset and, as in this case, focuses their thoughts on issues of importance to us.”Naina Lal Kidwai, FICCI president/HSBC

Amazingly, and unsurprisingly, the “action” being talked about was the news last week. India’s top business chambers gave two prominent politicians—the BJP’s Narendra Modi (three back-to-back events, with the ficci Ladies Organisation, Network 18’s ThinkIndia and the three Calcutta chambers of commerce) and the Congress’s Rahul Gandhi (who spent over an hour talking to the CII in Delhi)—a platform to chest-thump their deeds and outline their political roadmap to a collection of their member companies. The media gave it enormous oxygen, and Twitter took it to another level of absurdity thanks to an online spat between #Feku (a sobriquet for Modi) and #PappuCII (for Rahul Gandhi) that raised disturbing questions about our society today.

What gives corporate India the power to serve up a gladiatorial contest between two individuals (who are yet to get their party’s nod as candidates for the top post) within sniffing distance of national elections? Under the guise of “getting to know” the duo’s plans for an economy that’s seen better days, why is corporate India pushing their candidature in a US-style, presidential-type of debate? It appears far removed from reality, given how Indian politics is no longer dominated by the two national political parties. “Outside Delhi, nobody believes in the two-horse race,” argues economist Narendar Pani of Bangalore-based NIAs. “All this has an air of India Shining, it’s completely disconnected from reality.” It also lays bare corporate India’s greatest fear—dealing with a Third Front government or even the allies of the two major combines.


Big vibes Modi addressing industry leaders in Calcutta, Apr 9. (Photograph by Sandipan Chatterjee)

“India is increasingly becoming like the US, with business controlling the political agenda. It isn’t good.”Vivek Chibber, New York University

Many industry observers say it’s shocking—given that corporate India itself has been plagued by scams—that top business houses are trying to shape India’s political agenda by throwing money power to project who should lead India. For isn’t corporate India at the heart of the massive scams and scandals that have afflicted the UPA government, right from Satyam to 2G and CWG to the Radia tapes, mining scams and money-laundering? Banks like hsbc have been under investigation worldwide and in India for fuelling money- laundering. More recently, a Cobrapost investigation showed laundering faultlines at HDFC Bank, ICICI and Axis. It’s reached such a level that Business Standard’s T.N. Ninan proclaimed in a recent signed article: “In every case, the original problem was created by business, which now complains of the fallout. The old ways of doing business cannot go on if India is to do better.”

There’s also a historical context to how politicians have played the industry bodies to push their cause. This tack is evident when you look at the legitimisation of Modi (a polarising politician by any stretch) after the 2002 Gujarat riots. The very next year, in 2003, he launched Vibrant Gujarat in partnership with FICCI to showcase the state’s economic prowess. And with each passing edition, he’s got the cream of Indian industry (from Ratan Tata and Ambanis downwards) to sing his praises. This corporate identification with Modi has rea­ched such a level that a particular favourite of his, the Adani Group, even cancelled its sponsorship of a Wharton event after the organisers withdrew their invitation to the Gujarat CM. So, it’s hardly surprising that Modi is attending a FICCI event, evident from this tweet from the BJP parliamentary panel member Smriti Z. Irani: “Biggest difference between FICCI n CII event, FICCI FLO begins wid d National Anthem putting INDIA 1st, way 2 go Ladies :-).”

“Leaders from well-developed states are called here. You don’t see Akhilesh, Nitish being invited.”Milind Kamble, DICCI

Indeed, the CII has traditionally been closer to the Congress (remember how former CII head Tarun Das had to apologise to Modi after some of its members made noises about the Gujarat riots when he came to attend its function?). Like Modi and the BJP played off FICCI against CII to his advantage, the UPA carves up its ministries between the industry lobby bodies. So if infrastructure and roads and highways “goes” to CII, information & broadcasting and textiles “interact” with FICCI. Industrialists find it difficult to interact with government as an individual company. Becoming a part of a chamber’s committee, say, on infrastructure, gives a fig leaf of respectability while pushing a company’s case.

The charitable view, of course, is that industry has a reason to invite top politicians—chambers do so every year—given that elections are approaching and that the economy is not in the pink of health. But it’s evident that the engagement has seen a massive spike compared to previous pre-election years. This is also mirrored in the vocal reactions to speeches. Many industry leaders, though enamoured by Rahul Gandhi’s presence and body language, were annoyed that he did not address issues like inflation and GDP growth. “Both the leaders had an entire nation to address, but they chose only one class of people to speak to,” says farmers’ activist Devinder Sharma.

“Corporates are part of India. They are the ones shaping the economy by hard work…or the lack of it.”Cho Ramaswamy, Editor, Tughlaq

It does appear that a large part of the success of business’s role in politics has been fuelled by the media which has routinely played into their hands. Of course, this happens because a predominant part of the media is today owned and contro­lled by business. For example, in CII there were dozens of discussions, but only the session with Rahul Gandhi was aired live to TV audiences. Prof Vivek Chibber, associate professor of sociology, New York University, and author of Locked in Place, which takes a detailed look at business-politics links, says, “The media in India should be seen as a part of the corporate community and it serves their interest. It is drunk with the view of the business community. Unfor­tunately, the debate in the Indian media today is so narrow and so favourable towards business.”

It is a symbiotic corporate-media relationship: like Mukesh Ambani who has made a tidy investment in Network 18, which kickstarted the ThinkIndia dialogue series with Modi last week. Or consider the India Today Conclave (the Aditya Birla Group has invested in Living Media, which owns India Today, a competitor of Outlook) which invited Modi for its leadership summit a few months ago. In Calcutta last week, Modi met a leading daily’s owner for over two hours. Business houses are also big advertisers and eyeballs mean good business. It’s evident that the politician’s messages are amplified by the media.

“It’s a new generation of MPs who have corporate links. They have no parliamentary experience.”Manikrao Gavit, Former Union minister

More often than not, the encounters are also scripted to avoid criticism. Ever catch an industrialist questioning Modi or Rahul Gandhi about 2002 or 1984, respectively? “The boardrooms set the agenda, not the newsrooms. In Andhra Pradesh, for instance, channels owned by corporate houses have a single-point agenda—improve business. So it is with channels in Delhi with footprints in the rest of the country,” says Madabhushi Sridhar, professor at the Centre for Media Law and Public Policy, NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad.

Most experts agree that the media is not questioning this corporate-led development credo and binary view about politics. Indeed, you are bombarded with a whole lot of spin: ThinkIndia’s first panel discussion was on whether the “natural rhythm” of Indian society is liberal and right-of-centre—an amazing generalisation for a country of such immense complexity. Or consider the massive lobbying (notably in BCCL’s Times of India) against proposals to tax the rich.

As expected, despite all the criticism, the industry justifies this interference with the political system. “Industry is a vital stakeholder in nation-building and growth. So it has an important role to play in policy formulation too,” says CII D-G Chandrajit Banerjee. Current FICCI president Naina Lal Kidwai’s reply is also on similar grounds: “The presence of political leaders allows us to understand their mindset. And, as in this case, it focuses their thoughts on issues of importance to us.” The subtext is that the industry has huge financial exposure with political parties for, as elections approach, they are being pushed to ‘contribute’ to the ever-expanding kitties of political parties. From their point of view, there is no better time to put pressure to mould policies to suit their interests.

“By the media hype, it appears we don’t need elections. Just count TRPs, elect the two on the spot.”Devinder Sharma, Farmers’ activist

Experts insist that this will not end at election time. Like in the US, you’ll find business controlling the political agenda in the future. “This will lead to inequalities because business will always look at its own interests and maximised profits when deciding political agenda and policy,” warns Professor Chibber. The key question is whether Indian business, with all that’s gone on in the past few years, has the moral right to influence India’s policymaking and laws anymore?

The number of cases where corporate India is complicit goes on increasing—diversion of slum redevelopment land for commercial use; diversion of irrigation water for industries (as witnessed in drought-hit Maharashtra); helping industries acquire land without paying due compensation; and finally the next big scam in the making, pressing ahead with privatisation of resources in the guise of public-private-partnership (PPPs) without any safeguards. In many cases, political proximity helps corporates wriggle out of tricky situations—like being over-leveraged—and getting state bailouts.

Earlier this month, India’s largest banking entity, the SBI, embarked on a long overdue exercise to publicise wilful loan defaults ranging from a few lakhs to several thousand cro­res. The bank found many had even disposed of the collateral without informing it and have not repaid des­pite having the capacity to do so. “Unless citizens form groups, political action committees, participate in political activity, India is going to be ruled by a small group of political and business leaders,” warns T.V. Mohandas Pai, chairman, Manipal Global Education.

“Both were looking for a platform for longer term play. And these are non-partisan with high visibility.”Dilip Cherian, Image guru

What is indicative of this trend is the rush of people from business entering politics. Industrialists like Vijay Mallya of Kingfisher, Naveen Jindal of Jindal Group, Praful Patel, Raj­kumar Dhoot of Videocon and L. Rajagopal of Lanco are currently MPs; others like Anil Ambani, Shobhana Bhartiya and Anu Aga have been MPs before. Many industrialists are also pushing their people in the upper and lower houses. Why, Subrata Roy of the in-the-news Sahara took out advertisements in the papers to inform everyone that 175 MPs and 120 senior bureaucrats attended the “rice-eating” ceremony of his granddaughter. Says ex-Union minister Manikrao Gavit, who was a member of the Lok Sabha ethics committee, “The new generation which is coming into Parliament has corporate links. They have no experience of the parliamentary system. We have recommended rules to make them more aware of how the system should function and allow for debate.”

The figures are quite striking. According to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), 60 per cent of MPs in the last Lok Sabha were crorepatis. Candidates with Rs 5 crore or more in assets had 30 per cent more chance of getting elected while those with Rs 1 lakh or less had less than 0.5 per cent probability of getting into the Lok Sabha. Says Anil Bairwal of ADR, “In a democracy, we must engage with the government. But who is engaging more? In the last 5-10 years, the influence of money on politics and government has increased at a rapid pace. It is working to the detriment of democracy.”

It’s clear there are fewer voices speaking for the aam aadmi as the lines between politics and business blur. India yet lacks a strong and moneyed social sector which can be an effective counter to business interests. As for the forthcoming elections, recent history is a pointer. Who would have thought India Shining would have come a cropper in 2004? Why did many fail to anticipate the extent of UPA’s return to power in 2009? Given the multi-varied and often mysterious ways of the Indian voter, it makes sense to be a little humble before laying out a menu before her.

Source- Outlook- By Sunit Arora and Arindam Mukherjee with Lola Nayar, Anuradha Raman and Pragya Singh


An open letter to Justice Markandey Katju

Apr 3, 2013, Fisrpost

Dear Justice Katju,

We have been learning to live with your preachy and highfalutin’ commentaries for some time now. We also tolerate the preachy and abominable drivel of a suitably unenlightened Asaram Bapu and his PR officer occasionally.

However, allow us to pick your scientific brains on a few issues and questions which, given your professional background and the current sinecure, should be a walk in the Lutyens’ park for you when it comes to addressing these queries. We urge you to  take advantage of the authority conferred by your experience, age and current station in life – and the wisdom that is supposed to emanate thereof – and pitchfork us all out of the cesspool of ignorance that we have been wallowing in thus far.

Here are 7 issues that have been bothering us. None of these have anything to do with malnutrition, Jurassic Park, Congress and secularism, I assure you. We wish to stick to your knitting – the Press and the Criminal Justice System.

First. We find it alarming that a person of your stature – and one who is fearless to boot – advocates such a defeatist attitude on the issue of voting. (Indians vote like cattle)

You have been quoted as  saying, “I won’t vote because my vote is meaningless. Votes are cast in the name of Jats, Muslims, Yadavs or Harijans. Democracy is not meant to be run like this. Why should I waste my time in joining the cattle queue?”



Truth be told, we find your argument in support of your stated stance terribly odious, and one that is repugnant in its elegant sophistry. Instead, would empowering the citizens of the country with information so that they vote responsibly, be a better way to deal with this quagmire? For instance, there are about 900 million citizens who own a cellphone – and by sending a text they can access some vital details about the candidates contesting from their respective constituencies. Have you tried it Justice Katju? I urge you to click here to know more about this tool. It just might compel you to vote in future. While I am at it, I might as well ask for a pony for my birthday – could you, Justice Katju, request the Mainstream Media to highlight this simple sms tool when the hustings draw nigh?

I also bring to your attention this report titled “Do informed voters make better choices? Experimental Evidence from Urban India”. For a brief outline, click here. Once you have read it, I am sanguine that instead of advising us not to vote, you will start focusing on how to leverage your current position as Chief of the Press Council to herd us all [the great unwashed, the sheeple] towards much-needed information on candidates before we vote. It could be a game-changer, Justice Katju. Do run it by Rahul Gandhi if you happen to meet him.

Second. You say we have criminals lodged in the dark underbelly of the temples of democracy. Correct. So what have you done about it? Taken any initiatives to stem the rot while you were a part of the Criminal Justice System? Written any detailed papers on how to address this malaise ever? Filed any PILs lately? If not, then have you at least read and fully understood what Vohra Committee, Gupta Committee, Goswami Committe and a few others had to say on this and pushed for the implementation of those recommendations? Have you examined the fineprint of Section 8(4) of the Representation of People Act? There are a couple of PILs in the Delhi HC and the SC related to these issues – could you tell the nation on National TV what these are about, without resorting to a farrago of legalese?

Third. Why does the State deny us our right to punch None of the Above [NOTA] on the EVM? Why are legal luminaries like you not standing up for our rights? I suspect you will now throw form 17(A) under Rule 49(0) at me – which then begs the question: why is there such a stunning silence by all concerned on this important choice that is available to a voter?

Fourth. I now turn my attention to Perjury. How seriously do the constituent elements of the Criminal Justice System take this offence? What happens when elected representatives indulge in perjury – does the Judiciary interact with other constitutional bodies like the EC to suitably punish such violations? For instance, let me draw your attention to the self-declared sworn affidavits submitted by a certain Mr. Anil Kumar, MLA [Himachal Pradesh]. Click here for more details. Do you see what I see, Justice Katju? You are a man of science and scientific thinking, as you tirelessly remind us; could you please use your analytical mind, check the affidavits and let us know if there is, prima facie, a case of perjury and/or misrepresentation of facts. Hint: Immovable Assets.

Fifth. Let us now turn our attention to the plight of the Judiciary. Is it not true that there are only 13.5 Judges for every 1 million citizens in India, against the global norm being approximately 70? Furthermore, did the SC [in 2002] direct all parties concerned to improve this ratio to 50 per million in 5 years? Could you take us through the steps taken by the Judiciary and the Government to achieve this goal? Your sincerity of purpose, and adequacy of aim – that is what this country needs, Justice Katju. Not the aimless psychobabble that you normally indulge in.

Also, while we are on systemic problems that beset the Criminal Justice System, is it not true that various state governments presently stand in contempt of court with respect to the seven binding directions that the apex court spelled out in 2006 on the important issue of Police Reforms?

Sixth. You, who are the PCI chairperson, have expressed some trenchant views in the past on how the media revels in the trivial and the silly. No disagreements there. There is also the issue of paid news and soap operas like Radiagate.  However, carping is for us citizens – on the other hand powerful people like you who are utterly non-idiotic, should be doing something about it. Hence I draw your attention to the Leveson Inquiry and humbly ask you if there is any such panel that has been instituted in India to examine the issue holistically? Who are the panel members? By when can the nation expect a set of guidelines and recommendations – as against the usual gobbledygook and poppycock – on this critical issue?

Seventh. As I understand, Prisons and reformation form the final link of the Criminal Justice System. While we have taken note of your bleeding heart, on the issue of Sanjay Dutt’s pardon [by the way, we did notice that your graceful gesture towards Zaibunissa Kazi was a reaction to the brouhaha AFTER the stuff hit the fan], could you share with us some possible solutions that can be deployed to ameliorate the plight of the under-trials in Indian jails? During your tenure as a HC and SC Judge, did you pursue this matter with anyone of any importance? What came out of those discussions? What is the total capacity of all the prisons in India and how many people are actually lodged in those jails? Are the under-trials housed with the general population of convicts, Justice Katju?

You usually have an opinion on almost all issues; yet I notice that you have maintained a studied silence on the matters highlighted above. Why is that Justice Katju? Has sticking to one’s knitting gone completely out of fashion?

On a lighter note, we are quite saddened by the fact that you have not watched any movie for over 40 years. However, I strongly recommend that you take some time out to watch one particular movie; in fact, you ought to invite Dr. Subramanian Swamy and the two of you could watch it together. The lead actor is of Italian descent – as was Al Capone. These Italians, I tell ya!

The Untouchables – that’s the name of the movie. May we Flipkart you a copy?


Jaitapur villagers set to follow Kudankulam residents



Taking inspiration from anti-nuclear power activists at Kudankulam, villagers opposing the 10,000-MW Jaitapur nuclear power project in Maharashtra have decided to launch a similar agitation from April 10.

The mega project, being executed by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), is coming up at Madban village in Ratnagiri district. The project is expected to cost over Rs 1 lakh crore.

Madban resident Praveen Gavankar, who has been spearheading the agitation for the last six years under the aegis of the Janhit Seva Samiti, told Business Linethat the villagers would lay siege to the project, albeit peacefully.

“Our people would be sitting about 100 metres away from the compound wall and will not move from the area until the project is closed down. As the agitation progresses, some persons are also likely to go on a hunger strike,” he said. Gavankar added that emissions from the power plant are set to destroy the neighbouring mango and cashew orchards. The hot water effluents would also, he claimed, destroy the local fisheries sector .

“Despite all the safety measures, the Fukushima incident did happen. Tomorrow, if a similar event takes place at Jaitapur, will NPCIL take responsibility? Will they (NPCIL) insure us from such an event,” Gavankar asked. Despite repeated attempts, NPCIL officials were unavailable for comment.

A local leader from the fishermen community, Amjad Borkar, said that on April 2 a delegation of fishermen from the Nate village, which is very close to the project site, will meet Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi. The delegation will apprise him of the situation and point out the proposed plant’s likely impact on their businesses.


#India -Tribals oppose alternate mine to Vedanta #indigenous

       BS Reporter  |  Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar  February 19, 2013

Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (NSS), an outfit of tribals agitating against the alumina refinery of Vedanta Aluminium (VAL) at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, on Tuesday sought Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s intervention to overturn the Odisha government’s plan to allocate alternate sources of bauxite to the project, which is reeling under acute shortage of raw material following denial of permission to mine in Niyamgiri Hill by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest.

The Samiti aired its views through a 35 page memorandum addressed to Gandhi. A four member team of the tribals’ body later submitted the memorandum to Gandhi at Cuttack through their district congress president, Sadashiv Tripathy.

Raising slogans against VAL, Jairam Bariha, a Dongria Kondh of Ambaguda village in Kalahandi district said, “We oppose state government’s decision to allow mining in Niyamgiri or any other nearby hill as these hills are homes to scores of Dongria Kondh and Kutira Kondh tribes.

Bariha said, “We came to know that government is trying to arrange alternative sources of bauxite for Vedanta”.

He said, mining should not be allowed in the nearby Kandurumali, Sijumali, Sasubahumali, Karlapat reserves as these provide livelihood to the tribals inhabiting these hills.

“The effluent discharged by the company has led to deaths of our livestock and the government’s decision will destroy the numerous perennial streams. These reserves should not be given to any company including Vedanta”, said Bama Kadraka, another member of NSS. Gandhi had expressed his solidarity with the tribals, who were opposing Vedanta’s plan to extract bauxite from the Niyamgiri hill for use in its alumina refinery during his visit to Kalahandi district in 2010.

It may be noted VAL, which has shut down its one million tone alumina refinery in Lanjigarh since December 5 for want of bauxite, had entered into a pact with the state-owned Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) for bauxite supply from Niyamgiri. However, this was red flagged by MoEF, which scrapped the stage-II forest clearance of the mining project on August 24, 2010.

Unable to find bauxite reserves VAL has urged the state government to expedite processing of OMC’s pending applications, especially for those bauxite leases that fall in non-forest areas.


Jairam is wrong: It isn’t mining that causes poverty


by  Jan 14, 2013

Crude generalisations may make for great polemics, particularly when they are backed by ideological rigidity, but they don’t always make for informed political or economic discourse.

Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh is guilty of both crude generalisations and ideological rigidity when he says, with breezy disregard for nuance and even a callous disdain for facts, that “mining only leads to poverty.” Addressing tribal populations in Lanjigarh in Odisha, Ramesh claimed that mining would not do away with the widespread poverty that the tribal-inhabited areas in the State were susceptible to. “The Central government believes that poverty can be reduced only through agriculture and rural development,” Ramesh added. (More here)

Ramesh’s choice of turf to articulate his ruminations on mining, poverty and rural development isn’t entirely without significance. This was after all the ‘hallowed’ ground where Rahul Gandhi had in 2010 given rare voice to his perspective (such as it is on) on developmental economics – with yet more of the same crude and ill-informed generalisations.

Friend of the tribals or just misguided? PTI

Rahul Gandhi had said then that he would serve as a “soldier in Delhi” waging battle on behalf of the tribal people of Kalahandi and against the interests of mining corporates that were looking to harness minerals from this resource-rich region. Ramesh had, as Environment Minister, refused clearance for mining activity in the region, as part of an elaborate mapping of go/no-go areas that clearly went overboard in its reach.

As columnist Dhiraj Nayyar noted last year, that decision by Ramesh cost the country substantially more than the Rs 1.86 lakh crore that was cited by the Comptroller and Auditor-General as the notional loss to the exchequer from the coal scandal.

The Indian economy paid a high price in terms of the 10-15 per cent shortage in power supply year after year, added Nayyar. And that shortage came about not because power generating capacity had not been added, but because of a crippling shortage of coal to fire the power plants. And over the next five years, that shortage will likely more than double.

In other words, what keeps the tribal people of Odisha’s mineral-rich area in poverty is not mining activity but the singular lack of imagination of successive governments, right down to the UPA 2 government of Manmohan Singh, to bring even the rudiments of development to these region. It bears mention that Odisha’s Kalahandi district was in the news during Rajiv Gandhi’s prime ministership in 1986 for the starvation deaths there that prompted a tribal mother to sell her daughter for food. Until then, the Congress had been in power at the Centre for all but three years – and yet, the tribal communities had not benefited from even the faintest whiff of development and continued to wallow in poverty.

Even today, the UPA government’s anti-poverty measures only find expression in throwing good money after bad on welfare programmes that leak like a sieve, rather than in permitting responsible mining activity that would have propelled the economy and uplifted local populations from poverty while simultaneously limiting environmental degradation.

Successful models overseas offer an illustration of the economic multiplier effect, including in lifting indigenous populations from poverty, from responsible mining overseen by proactive governments. In Australia, for instance, the mining boom during the past decade effectively meant that the contribution of mining and mining services industries to Australia’s economy more than doubled from less than 10 per cent of GDP in 2002-03 to 20 per cent of GDP in 2011-12. (More here)

The Australian government also oversaw a partnership between the minerals industry and the indigenous communities, including Aboriginal communities, under which the industry expanded accesss to employment and business development opportunities to indigenous people and communities in mining regions.

In other words, the federal government worked alongside the minerals industry, yet held it accountable for responsible mining practices, and simultaneously leveraged the industry to catalyse the economy in rural and remote parts of Australia both directly through employment and enterprise development, and indirectly by supporting broader economic opportunities.

Similar successful models of responsible mining that uplifted economies exist in other resource-rich countries, including Mongolia. Entire communities benefited from the mining boom, with no significant damage to the environment.

In India, on the other hand, polemicists like Jairam Ramesh and Rahul Gandhi have made a virtue of economic stagnation for decades, in the name of protecting tribal communities from mining corporates. And having contributed thus to a crippling loss of coal for power generation, inflicting a heavy economic burden on the economy, the Manmohan Singhgovernment gave away mining licences recklessly precipitating what is arguably the biggest resources scam in India’s independent history. Today, the selfsame Jairam Ramesh suggests with no trace of irony that it is mining that keeps tribal communities in poverty.

No, Mr Ramesh, what keeps tribal communities in poverty is your ecological evangelism (which acknowledges no middle ground) – and your government’s laissez faire grant of licence that feeds monumental corruption – rather than promote responsible mining that can lift up economies and benefit everyone, including tribal populations, without environmental degradation. It is the singular lack of imagination on the part of the government of which you are a part that has inhibited the Indian economy from realizing its potential and allowed the plunder of national resources, while keeping tribal communities in poverty.


2013- A New Year Wishlist # Humor



My New Year Wish List For 2013

By Satya Sagar

30 December, 2012

Here are some things I fervently wish will happen in the coming year.

1. Scientists find a way to render in an instant every real or wannabe rapist (including scientists) permanently impotent.

2. All policemen are put away in prison and the inmates put in their uniforms to improve the law and order situation.

3. A fisherwoman is appointed Chairperson of the Department of Atomic Energy and the Koodamkulam nuclear reactor is turned into an aquarium.

4. Manmohan and Montek Singh finally become eligible for pension from the United States government and migrate leaving the people of India in peace.

5. Rahul Gandhi finally becomes Prime Minister, of Robert Vadra’s real estate.

6. Atal Behari Vajpayee’s knees finally get better while Narendra Modi’s get worse.

7. The Sheikhs of Saudi Arabia are overthrown by their people after it is found they are aliens with petrol instead of blood in their veins.

8. Mahinda Rajapaksa and his coterie flee Sri Lanka and seek asylum in the Congo and the company of the many genocide artists there.

9. Vladimir Putin tries to impress the Russian people by shooting off alone into space in a rocket, with enough fuel to reach Mars but not return to Earth.

10. Barack Obama undergoes plastic surgery and becomes a white man. Since he is no different from earlier US Presidents why pretend to be Black?

11. China and Japan decide to stop fighting over ownership of a tiny, insignificant islandand instead jointly take over the United States.

12. All those who predicted Apocalypse in December 2012 have their property confiscated and distributed to the poorest of those who didn’t believe their prophecy.

Happy New Year!

Satya Sagar is a writer, journalist and public health worker based in New Delhi. He is also an associate editor at countercurrents.org. He can be reached atsagarnama@gmail.com


The Anthem Of The Helpless #poetry

There’s a girl fighting for her life
In a hospital room.
While in the street the constables scratch their balls.
And some policemen chase bribes
And others try to do their jobs and usually fail.
Everybody’s on the take and everyone steals from the public.
“What’s wrong with me doing it, everyone does it?”
Leaders see nothing wrong with leading this farce.
And still claiming to be leaders.
If men chase a woman on the street,
taunting her, it’s her problem,
or the problem of anyone brave or
stupid enough to get involved.
Because we live under the rule of a state that won’t protect us
and won’t get out of the way.
So anyone who stands up to this state
No matter why and no matter how
They stand up for that girl
Because we have suffered, she has suffered, and more will die
as long as we live like this
without self-respect
under this half-rule of half-competent and full-corrupt.
Sweep them all away – all – get rid of those grand Raj buildings.
Storm not just Vijay Chowk and India Gate.
Storm the half-acre plots of Lutyens Delhi with crowbars
Take down the windows, smash the bricks.
Lay this vicious, callous, senseless raj in ruins.
Let’s not rest until the police are in flight
The government buildings are smoking ruins
And there is a new deal for the people of India
A new deal 
A new police force
A new government
New rules
New staff
New salaries
New regulations
New zero-tolerance laws against anti-social behaviour
New laws against corrupt policemen and officials.
Nothing of the old world that allowed this to happen.
No peace until then.
No peace until we and our children and our mothers and our sisters are safe.
No peace until Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and Shinde and Manmohan Singh
And Sushma Swaraj and Mamata Bannerjee and Narendra Modi
And every other dung beetle that profited from this shit heap called
The Government of India
Has been crushed up into manure 
And forgotten.
No peace until then.

…By Morpoant Tambe


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