Friday, September 30, 2011

CBI hints at Anil Ambani's role in 2G

Anil Ambani  - son of late Dhirubhai Ambani - is now under the CBI scanner for his role in the alleged mega-2G scam.

It may be noted that three senior executives of his Reliance Communications are already members of the Tihar Jail's VIP Club.

It has been reported that the cops have informed the Supreme Court of India that these 3 Reliance Communication Executives want to change their original stand in the case according to which they had maintained that they were responsible for the decisions made in connection with the 2G issue.

Reliance Communications is India's second largest telecom service provider and a company of Anil Ambani's ADAG. The prices of the shares of the ADAG companies crashed on the stock markets today when the news of Anil Ambani being investigating hit the streets.

However, some political observers say that information of investigating Anil Ambani has been disclosed at this juncture to take heat of the home minister P. Chidambaram. The home minister has been under pressure for quite some time, especially after the note from Finance Ministry to Prime Minister Office went public.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Scams of India

The current Government of India led by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh will probably go down in history as the government with the maximum number of corruption charges - both in terms of quantity and magnitude. Most of the scams exposed in the last few months have occurred while the government is still in power.

Ironically, some of the most severe allegations of corruption were against the Congress or Congress-led governments. These include...

  • Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had imposed emergency when Jai Prakash Narayan led an anti-corruption campaign against her government.
  • Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi faced rough weather when his senior colleagues led by V. P. Singh alleged corruption in the Bofors Commission scandal. 
  • Soon after completing his tenure, Prime Minister P. V. Narsimha Rao's was tried in court for bribing the members of parliament from the Shibu Soren's JMM Party.
  • Amar Singh, Member of Parliament, is currently in custody for his role in trying to bribe some members of parliament to abstain from voting or voting in favour of the Congress during the last Vote of Confidence in the parliament. Incidentally mediator and the whistle blowers in the case have been sent to judicial custody while the beneficiaries of this graft are still left untouched.
And now the current government has, shamelessly, surpassed all previous scandals, its ministers and senior MPs have landed in jail for their involvement in the mega-scams that have taken place in the last 3-4 years. The size of the scams put all the previous scams to shame...
  • Commonwealth Games scandal - Thousands of Crores - Accused politicians include... Suresh Kalmadi MP and chairman of the Organizing Committee, Sheila Dixit, Chief Minister of Delhi.
  • 2G Scam - Lakhs of Crores - Accused politicians include... A. Raja, MP and now ex-Minister of Telecommunications, Kanimozhi MP, P. Chidambaram - then Finance Minister, now Home Minister.

Earlier governments too have had criminal investigations against them, but none were of this magnitude and most were after the government had left office.

To top it all, the government has vigorously contested against those have raised voices against corruption and black money.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Rajbala - victim of police action dies in hospital

Rajbala - a 51 year old woman - who was injured in the police action on the Ramdev Baba and his supports at Ramlila Ground on night of 4 June 2011, died in GB Pant Hospital today morning (20-Sept-2011).

Baba Ramdev was on an indefinite hunger strike in protest demanding action from the government against black money. On the fateful night the police had used brute force shortly after midnight to break hunger strike at Delhi's Ramlila Ground. They had swooped down and started hitting the sleeping supporters including women and children.

It is alleged that Rajbala was injured in the lathicharge that had severely damaged her spinal cord. She had been battling for her life in the city's G. B. Pant Hospital since then. She had undergone surgery and was on ventilator since then. She had become quadriplegic. She passed away today morning in the hospital.

The police had faced severe criticism for the brutality it had displayed on that eventful night. They have no argument to justify why they had to take action late in the night when the protestors - who were in a peaceful agitation - were sleeping. Even the Supreme Court had taken suo-motto cognizance and sought an explanation from Delhi Police on this matter.

Truck driver beaten to death by the police! Corruption at its worst.

Another case of police brutality has come forward - the death of a truck driver on the national highway in Uttar Pradesh.

Corruption at its worst - RTO Officials today (26-Sept-2011) beat a truck driver to death in Uttar Pradesh. His fault was that he refused to pay a bribe of Rs.5000.

The incident happened on National Highway 2 in Chandauli. An ARTO who was supposedly on a routine checking, intercepted a truck. After checking the licence and other documents, the ARTO demanded a bribe of Rs.5000/-, which the truck driver refused to pay. As a consequence of his refusal the ARTO and his associates badly beat up the driver leading to his death.

This is the state of affairs in our country and the Congress-led UPA Government is not willing to act against the corrupt. It does not want to pass the strict jan-lokpal bill that Anna Hazare is demanding.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Forest and Environment - Who Cares!! At least not the government

This is what a new study released by the Centre for Science and Environment, an NGO, has to say...
For some time now, industry, government and regulatory agencies have been persistently talking about how environmental regulations have throttled the country’s growth. They have raged on about how the system of forest and environment clearances has forced India’s credit ratings to its nadir. And they have bitterly complained about how environmentalists were holding the country and its people to ransom.

All of which is unadulterated hogwash, says a new assessment by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
The Director General of CSE Sunita Narain says “Environmental regulations are seen as impeding growth, but where is the impediment? We are finding that despite all the browbeating, almost every project is getting cleared with frightening consistency, making a complete mockery of our regulatory systems.”

If the report is to be believed that the Government of India has approved more damage to the environment and specially forest land in the last two year than has been done since independence

Take the case of coal mining. All coal mining areas are heavily polluted, and most coal mining companies have very poor environment management record: many of these places fall under the category of critically polluted areas (CPA). Monitoring by pollution control authorities shows about one-third of operating coal mines are violating all environmental norms. Despite this, coal mining projects in CPAs are being given the go-ahead quite regularly.

It is the same story in the case of coal-based thermal power projects. Of the top 10 districts where environmental clearance has been granted to these projects, six were declared as already critically polluted.
The report also speculates that, there could be a new scam to take over the land and the water of the people.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fingers pointed at P. Chidambaram's role in 2G scam

Another embarrassing moment for the Congress led UPA government at the center in India.

This time a note has come forward. This note prepared by the Department of Economic Affairs, an office under Pranab Mukherjee, current Finance Minister of India, was sent to PMO on 25 March 2011. It has raised questions on the actions and inaction of P. Chidambaram, the then Finance Minister of India in connection with the 2G scam.

The note - an 11-page document - describes that the Finance Ministry had demanded that the 2G spectrum be auctioned. According to a report in the Times of India, the note says that P. Chidambaram had overruled the recommendations of the ministry - the Ministry of Finance - that demanded that 2G spectrum be auctioned.
"DoT could have invoked this clause (5.1 of the UAS license) for cancelling licences in case MoF had stuck to the stand of auctioning the 4.4 MHz spectrum," the note says.

The note, directly casts a shadow of suspicion on the role played by the then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in the 2G spectrum allocation which is said to have caused a loss of Rs. 50000 crore to Rs. 1.76 lakh crore to the Indian exchequer.

The timing of this note becoming public could not have been worse for the ruling UPA coalition, whose credibility has been severely compromised in the past few months. The note was given by PMO to an RTI activitist in response to an RTI request.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Onion Export - Another Rollback by UPA Government

Something is really not working right for the Congress-led UPA government at the center in India.

Since its almost successful panga (पंगा) with Baba Ramdeo during his hunger protest against black money in middle of the night at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi, almost every decision of the government seems to be backfiring, further denting its already low credibility.

The latest in the series is, today's (20-Sept-2011) announcement of a roll-back by the Government on its decision that it had taken on 9-Sept-2011 to ban the export of onion.

This time the government has bowed down to the protest by the farmers against the ban.

Common-on GOI - get your act together, and do something right for a change.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Narendra Modi v/s Shanker Singh Baghel

Narendra Modi and Shanker Singh Baghel have both begun their 3 day fast - actually 72 hours by Modi and 75 hours by Baghel.

Narendra Modi's fast is called - Sadbhavan Fast. He has several clear cut points on his political and personal agenda that he is highlighting on the occasion...

  • The relief (that he claims) that he has got from the Supreme Court - experts say that it is not exactly a clean chit, but then that is a different issue.
  •  The thumbs-up that his style of governance has received in the US Congressional Research Service's report.
  • The informal announcement of his candidature as Prime Ministership of India in the 2014 polls.
On the personal front, the fast could be his way to thank God for the period of successful governance in Gujarat.
But, what is Shanker Singh Baghel's agenda? He, it seems, has sat on a fast just to oppose Narendra Modi. There is no other apparent purpose of Baghel's three-day fast - besides ensuring the Narendra Modi is not able to hog all the media attention.

Yes! that it. His only and seemingly successful agenda is to divert some of the media attention that would have otherwise Narendra Modi got. Now the media is forced to give some time to Baghel, from what would have been undivided and uniterrupted focus on Narendra Modi's activities during the 72 hour fast.

Friday, September 16, 2011

US Congressional Report jumpstarts race for next PM candidate

Even as L. K. Advani is preparing to start his Rath Yatra against corruption from Gujarat - a yatra seen by many as the start of his campaign for 2014 polls, a report tabled by the US Congressional Research Service has preempted the race to find the next prime ministerial candidate in India.

It is well-known that L. K. Advani has ambitions to become the country's Prime Minister, but today, 16 Sept 2011, he has also endorsed the US Congressional Research Service Report that Narendra Modi could well be BJP's PM candidate for the 2014 polls.

The report by the US Congressional Research Service has projected (though not explicitly) that the next parliamentary elections in India, which are scheduled for 2014, could be a Narendra Modi v/s Rahul Gandhi battle.

The report has acknowledged Narendra Modi's governance in Gujarat stating that it is the best example of effective governance in India. The same report has also described Nitish Kumar's governance also as a positive example. It also describes that since 2009 Mayawati's focus has shifted towards investment in infrastructure projects.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Controversy and Government of India

Controversy refuses to leave the present government at New Delhi. The government has managed to get itself in a corner even in a win-win situation. The Indian Hockey Team has won but once again the government has lost.

The Indian hockey team refused to accept the "too-little" award money offered to it by the federation.

Normally this controversy would not be attributed to the government, but here GOI is involved because it is responsible for controlling and funding Hockey the national sport of India.

Interestingly, many questions were raised last week when the media reported that the team did not have proper shoes when they set out to play the final match. Surprising!! Very surprising - because the government says it has given crores for this game, so has it all gone.

The most likely and easy answer that pops into the mind is "CORRUPTION". Like other government departments, the babus and officers managing the federation need to be closely examined.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tihar Jail, Delhi - the address of some VIPs

It has been a bad year for the ruling UPA government in New Delhi.

1. It lost a lot of credibility, the way it handled anti-corruption campaigns of - Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdeo.
2. So many of its sitting MPs and former Ministers have been sent to Tihar Jail while cases against them are being investigated and await court trials. These are ...
A Raja - Former Telecom MinisterHe had to resign as minsiter and had been  taken into custody by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in Feb-2011 for his role in the multi-multi crore 2G scam.
Kanimozhi - Sitting Rajya Sabha MP of DMK and daughter of DMK supremo K. KarunanidhiSent to Tihar in May 2011 for allegedly taking a whopping bribe of Rs.214 crore in the 2G scam. 
Suresh Kalmadi - Former Organizing Chairman, Common Wealth Games and Sitting Member of Parliament
Suresh Kamadi was sent to Tihar in May 2011 for his role in another multi-multi crore scam - the Common Wealth Games scam, that he is alleged to have masterminded when he was the chief of the organizing committee.
Other high profile political inmates of Tihar Jail include...
Amar Singh - Rajya Sabha MP and former prominent member of Samajwadi Party
Sent to Tihar in September 2011 - Although he is not a member of the UPA alliance in the center, he has been sent to custody in the connection to the case where he has been accused of allegedly providing the bribe-money in the Cash-for-Vote scandal that shook the country in July 2008.
Mahavir Singh Bhagora and Faggan Singh Kulaste - both former BJP MPs 
Sent to Tihar in September 2011 - These are allegedly two of the three MPs who had been given the bribe by Amar Singh to abstain from voting during the trust vote of July 2008.

Friday, September 9, 2011

This Government is at war with itself!

This Government is at war with itself!
Wow! What a thought? The line by Arun Jaitley has caught the media attention.

The statement was made at the press conference held in New Delhi where Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj  addressed the media.

The opposition leaders were talking on the outcome of the Monsoon Session of the Parliament.

The main points of the press conference were...
  • How the entire opposition stood united against the government? 
  • The differences that emerged within the Congress and between the Congress and the Government.
  • The government's failure in getting intelligence on the terrorist activities.
  • The government's failure to unearth the masterminds of any of terrorist blasts that have shaken in the country in the last few years.
The leaders took the occasion to highlight how the government lost its credibility in the last couple of months. They cited the massive public response to Anna Hazare's movement and how the people raised slogans against the leaders who went to RML Hospital after the recent bomb blast outside Delhi High Court.

Arun Jaitley's made the statement "This government is at war with itself." and proceeded to highlight how the government had changed its foreign policy initiative when when one ally went public with her dissatisfaction.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

CAG Reports on KG Basin and Air India

The reports on KG Basin and Air India by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) raises issues on the working of both DGH and Air India.

The issues raised in turn put heat on the UPA government which is already under public scrutiny for the way it has been responding to the common man's concerns on corruption and irregularities of the top politicians and bureaucrats.

In the KG Basin report titled Report No. - 19 of 2011-12 for the period ended March 2011 - Performance Audit of Hydrocarbon Production Sharing Contracts (Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas), CAG raised questions on the working of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons and the monitoring of the provisions of the Production Sharing Contract (PSC). According to CAG there was an apparent violation of the terms of the PSC by Reliance.

In its Air India Audit report titled Report No. - 18 of 2011-12 for the period ended March 2011 - Performance Audit of Civil Aviation in India (Ministry of Civil Aviation), CAG has submitted its observations over the acquisition of aircrafts and the Merger of Air India and Indian Airlines.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Blast outside the High Court - Another terror attack in Delhi

A bomb exploded around 10:15am outside the crowded Gate 5 of Delhi High Court killing at least 11 people and injuring many. The injured were shifted to AIIMS and other hospitals.

Indian Express says...
Terror revisited the heart of the Capital on Wednesday morning when a powerful bomb ripped through a crowded reception area at one of the entrances to the Delhi High Court, killing at least 11 and injuring 64, 15 of whom are serious.
There are unconfirmed reports that Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami (HUJI) has claimed responsibility for the blast. The reports say that the group has warned of more such attacks if the death sentence of Afzal Guru is not repealed.

This is the second blast in the vicinity of the High Court in 5 months. On 25 May 2011, a small blast had happened in the court parking lot.

Hi-Profile Cases in India

Tihar Jail has of late become the address of some big names in Indian politics, and most recent entry in this list is Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh.

Amar is accused of buying MPs to support he Manmohan Singh government in July 2008. On 06-September-2011, he was sent to judicial custody by Delhi Court in the infamous cash-for-vote scandal of 2008. In the same case two former BJP MPs Mahavir Singh Bhagora and Faggan Singh Kulaste have also been sent to jail custody until 19-September 2011.

Times of India reported...
Special judge Sangita Dhingra Sehgal remained unmoved as Singh said he needed round-the-clock medical surveillance because of his kidney transplant and promised to behave well during the trial. She remanded him along with two former BJP MPs -- Mahavir Singh Bhagora and Faggan Singh Kulaste -- to judicial custody till September 19.
The biggest controversy of the moment is that the chargesheet does not say anything on the beneficiaries of  the cash-for-vote scandal?

India Today says...
The Congress that survived the crucial vote - after the Left parties withdrew support over the Indo- US nuclear deal - maintained a discreet distance from the court case, saying it believed in the due process of law.

However, the BJP - whose MPs were at the centre of the case and had claimed they were being enticed with bribes to vote for the UPA - described the case as the "biggest scandal of the century" and demanded to know why action had not been taken against the beneficiaries of the scam.