COMICAL POLITICAL IRONIES: ON A DAY LIKE THIS ON INDIA’S POLITICAL JOURNEY

March 30, 2013 was just yet another day, in the life of Indians like any other day, and so witnessed political games like it happens on any other day. But on certain days, the democratic ironies of these political games get so pathetic that they start sounding comical. That is the ugly aspect of it because it shows growing apathy among the masses on the irrelevance of the present political class elected by them. This apathy blocks the drive to fight the seriousness of the problem by wrapping it with mundane ignorance.

So sample this:

After a brief lull, the Beni Prasad Verma-Mulayam Singh Yadav verbal duel got back to its full life again. Beni, the Congress party member of parliament (MP) from Uttar Pradesh and the Union Steel Minister, started firing shots again at his old colleague, Samajwadi Party boss Mulayam Singh Yadav. Incidentally, Beni left the SP boat before the 2007 UP assembly polls to join the Congress party ship later in 2009 to harness the greener pastures.

But Beni has been unable to create any ground for the Congress party in UP where the party is nothing but a dead political entity in spite of the fact that the Nehru-Gandhi family hails from the state and Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are elected MPs from traditional Congress party bastions, Amethi and Rae Bareli. And if we go by the media reports, even Priyanka Gandhi is preparing to take electoral dip and Rae Bareli could well be her address too, after the next Lok Sabha elections.

Ok, but here it is Beni Vs Mulayam. Many consider Beni, as influential Kurmi leader in the past, as the political mentor of Mulayam Singh Yadav. With dwindling Kurmi politics in the state, he was gradually sidelined in the SP. After leaving the SP, he couldn’t leave any political impact through his outfit, Samajwadi Kranti Dal. He had left the SP at a bitter note and the verbal crackers that we are witnessing to this day have their genesis in that.

So, on March 30, Beni, in his usual bitter tongue, proclaimed the next Lok Sabha elections would indeed be the funeral of the SP restricting the party to just four of the 80 Lok Sabha seats from UP. He also alleged Mulayam to cheat Muslims on Babri issue.

Though, we didn’t see Mulayam taking charge on this, we had Akhilesh Yadav, Ram Gopal Yadav and some others filling the gap.

Akhilesh, the UP CM, said it would be the Congress party’s doom and the party would not be able to win more than 4-5 seats. SP General Secretary Ram Gopal Yadav reiterated Mulayam’s words saying it was Verma’s frustration due to the two successive defeats of his son in the assembly elections.

Mulayam’s remarks came a day before in an interview (1): “Beni Prasad Verma has no status. His son contested elections and he lost even his deposit. He lost all 5 seats from the constituency where he is an MP. He is just flattering Congress. He behaves as if he’s the only leader left in Congress now.”

Another SP General Secretary Ram Asrey Kushwaha said Beni had lost his mental balance and demanded his removal from the Union Cabinet. The recent episode had begun some days ago with Beni accusing Mulayam of having terror links. Mulayam’s party made it an issue and disrupted the Parliament’s proceedings creating pandemonium. The party was demanding apology and Beni’s removal from the Union Cabinet.

Beni had to apologise to Mulayam over his comments as the support withdrawal by the DMK on Sri Lankan Tamils issue put the government’s survival on thin edge making it to placate the SP to manage the numbers in the Lok Sabha. The apology, it seems, somewhat softened Mulayam Singh Yadav because we didn’t hear anyone from the SP reiterating the demand to remove Beni from the Union Cabinet until on March 30.

With the latest tirade, the pitch was high again on March 30 renewing the demand of Beni’s removal.

And interestingly, some media sources reported that the UPA government was considering removing Beni from the Union Cabinet. An NDTV report said (2): “Samajwadi Party sources say the Congress has assured the party that controversial Union minister Beni Prasad Verma – who has been relentless in his public attacks on the SP and its chief Mulayam Yadav – will be dropped from the Union cabinet.”

Let’s see what happens next. Let’s wait to see how this sources-based news plays out in reality. But there was more in the store.

On March 31, a day after the latest run of jibes came the heavy punch from Shivpal Yadav, Mulayam’s brother and a minister in the UP government. He declared Beni a smuggler. He said: “You all know and you have also read that Beni Prasad smokes a lot. These days he is smoking a lot… he mixes something in the tobacco. He should undergo treatment for this. You have read also that he is into smuggling of opium. He mixes charas in his cigarettes. He is doing both these things. So his mind will be affected.”

So decorated words by our policymakers, for our policymakers – comically interesting! Isn’t it?

THE SUPPORT WITHDRAWAL GAME: THE SP-CONGRESS FRIENDLY FIGHT

The Congress party: We don’t need support.

The Samajwadi Party: Mulayam calls Congress cheat.

The Samajwadi Party: We won’t withdraw support.

The Congress party: The party doesn’t support Beni’s statements.

Even if it can sail without it, the Congress party needs Mulayam’s SP to manage comfortable numbers in the Parliament. The Congress party forcing Beni to apologise to Mulayam over the ‘terror links remarks’ validates this. Then there are other validating indicators.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram was in Lucknow on March 29. He shared stage with Akhilesh Yadav during an event to launch 300 bank branches in the state. Reportedly, he lauded Akhilesh Yadav and promised financial help to the state.

A regime at the centre of an outright criticism for failing to deliver during one year of Akhilesh’s tenure got a distinction on performance from the Harvard educated Chidambaram. He went on to say (3): “Akhilesh is a young Chief Minister. He has started his career well. He and his team willl do the best to bring Uttar Pradesh up in every single way. I assure the Chief Minister that the Government of India is committed to stand by Uttar Pradesh in its development”.

Clearly, Chidambaram’s act was just a placating one highlighting the fact the Congress party needs Mulayam’s support to avoid the heightened pressure points because other supporters after the SP withdraws (existing ones like the BSP or the prospective ones like the JD(U) or the AITC) would be excruciatingly demanding.

It is further validated by the fact that the Chidambaram act came a day after Manmohan Singh remarked that the SP withdrawing the support had real chances to happen.

But, it is the other way round too, it seems. The SP too, needs the Indian National Congress boat to sail through in UP.

With a rapidly rising anti-incumbency, the state government needs funds to offer and maintain the dole-outs it has promised to the electorate. And see, Mr. Chidambaram’s assurance is already in. It adds up to assurance on Beni’s removal from the Union Cabinet. The party has already made a safe distance disowning Beni’s remarks midst the reports of Beni’s removal.

So who says, Mulayam is going to withdraw the support soon. The public war of words is just a mask. Yes, the Beni Prasad Verma issue is a personal one but that is being dealt with, it looks. Apart from it, the whole war of words game is a friendly one.

The SP would not like to deliver the message that it is with the Congress party on issues like petroleum price hikes and rising overall inflation or on policy issues like quota in promotion or the women’s reservation that directly affect its brand of politics and hence chances in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Also, the Congress party is an opposition party of the SP in UP with Rahul Gandhi trying to resurrect the lost political base in the state and that can never happen in alliance with the SP, at least in the public eyes.

Therefore, the solution is mask the meanings and play for verbal duels. So, Mulayam Singh Yadav calls the Congress party cheat but says his party won’t withdraw the support from the UPA as it would allow the communal forces to pitch in. A worn out but ‘play safe’ statement and enactment, isn’t it?

So, where does this all boil to?

Keep on watching this friendly duel for more friendly jibes. Someday, the comical theatre of the pathetic may well turn into the hilarious rhapsody.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

(1) Beni continues verbal attack on Mulayam, March 30, 2013 – http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/politics/beni-continues-verbal-attackmulayam_844509.html

(2) Congress will ask Beni Prasad to quit govt: Samajwadi Party sources, March 30, 2013 – http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/congress-will-ask-beni-prasad-to-quit-govt-samajwadi-party-sources-348198

(3) Chidambaram praises Akhilesh, assures financial help to Uttar Pradesh, March 29, 2013 – http://ibnlive.in.com/news/chidambaram-praises-akhilesh-assures-financial-help-to-uttar-pradesh/381862-37-64.html

DMK PULLS OUT, AKHILESH YADAV THREATENS TO PULL THE PLUG: WHEN IS THE UPA GOVERNMENT COMING DOWN?

When is the United Progressive Alliance government coming down?

Though this is an old question, repeatedly asked, repeatedly analysed and repeatedly guessed, this time, it has got a seeding space that is generating galvanized responses from the political and media pundits as well as from the ‘aam aadmi’, the common man, who is going to be the centre of the short-lived attraction once more when the next general elections are held (when? – the raging debate is all about it!).

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) that has 18 Lok Sabha MPs (members of the Parliament) has withdrawn support from the UPA government on the issue of human rights violations and atrocities on Sri Lankan Tamils demanding India take a tough stand against the stubborn small island nation. Now, the stubbornness of Sri Lanka and the ineptness of the Indian foreign policy rule out any such intervention by India that the DMK so eagerly wants in order to help it reclaim its slipping electoral ground in Tamil Nadu.

But, in the process, it has made the life tougher for the Congress party led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government that is, at the moment, running on leased breathers from two highly unaccountable political allies, Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

Whatever be the predicament of the UPA government or of the DMK, the ongoing crisis of UPA’s political survival has given fodder to the pundits and analysts that they would keep on chewing for sometime before arrives the next shipment of a volatile political development in the run-up to the next general elections of India.

But, really, is the UPA government going to fall on a day like this?

Has its survival become so vulnerable that Akhilesh Yadav says that his party could pull the plug even in the ongoing parliamentary session?

Akhilesh’s father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, a UPA savior at other times by voting for the government in the Parliament on contentious issues like the India-US Nuclear Deal or the Retail FDI, is actively pursuing the elusive ‘Third Front’ as an alternative to the Congress party and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

But, it doesn’t look like so, not now, not before the last quarter of this year as the historical perspective of the Indian politics during the UPA-2 days says, even if the Mulayam’s SP finds a trigger to pull the plug in the ongoing Parliament session.

What could be the political developments saving the day for the UPA government to give it time to create outreach to let it exploit the populist dole-outs like the Food Security Bill or the direct cash subsidy transfer before the country goes to polls to elect the next Lok Sabha?

WHAT COULD SAVE THE DAY FOR THE UPA GOVERNMENT?

What could be the political developments saving the day for the UPA government to give it time to create the outreach to let it exploit the populist dole-outs like the Food Security Bill or the direct cash subsidy transfer before the country goes to polls to elect the next Lok Sabha?

Efforts to woo Nitish Kumar might succeed: After managing good enough number of people in the Adhikar Rally held in Delhi, Nitish met almost every big political boss of the UPA government and got a favourable response from each of them, from the prime minister to the finance minister.

Now the reports say the UPA government is preparing to open its coffers to give Bihar Special Status, a demand Nitish has been making for years and is now all out to make it a major poll plank in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. If he doesn’t get it, he will play the victim. If he gets it, he will take the credit of opening new avenues of development for Bihar. A win-win situation, in any case, it seems for him, as of now. Transfer of the Bihar Governor Devanand Konwar to placate Nitish is yet another indicator of what the Congress party is working on.

Ever since the Congress party started facing pull-out problems from the allies in UPA-2, it has been working to woo the political parties like Janata Dal (United) to manage numbers in the Lok Sabha. Nitish, who harbours prime-ministerial ambitions but doesn’t stand a chance before Narendra Modi in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), might jump the wagon to join the UPA as his Bihar government can manage numbers without the BJP. JD(U) has 115 assembly members and can easily manage the seven more required to cross the half-way mark in 243-member Bihar legislative assembly. Others including the Congress party have 15 members in the state legislative assembly.

A softening Mamata Banarjee: After withdrawing support and creating a drama on many issues, Mamata’s All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) supported the UPA government in the presidential election last year. Now her open support to the UPA government over the UNHCR Resolution on Sri Lanka gives sustainable hopes to the Congress party floor managers that Mamata could be managed provided she is placated with what she has asking for long, something that she needs desperately before going to the next general elections – funds to get West Bengal rid of the mammoth debt and to implement development projects.

Reports say the UPA government is seriously considering offering special financial package to the West Bengal government.

And then, there is Mayawati: Mayawati would like to see the anti-incumbency consolidate even more in Uttar Pradesh before going to the parliamentary polls and given the rapidly deteriorating law and order situation in the state during the first year of Akhilesh Yadav’s rule, she has valid reasons to think that in another six months or so, the anti-SP votes would be a sizeable chunk.

She has another reason to think so in case the SP pulls the plug. In that case, the state would not be able to get any financial concession from the central government, making it difficult for the state government to implement populist schemes before the elections, and that would help Mayawati directly as the Congress party and the BJP have lost the political ground in India’s most populous state.

Now, JD(U) with 20 MPs,  AITC with 19 MPs and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) with 21 MPs count for 60 MPs. Right now, the UPA has 227 members in the Lok Sabha and it is surviving with outside support of 58 MPs that includes 22 from the SP and 21 from the BSP.

Even if the 22 of 58 leave, the Congress party can manage it easily with 39 MPs from the JD(U) and the AITC. And add to that the possible bonus numbers from the DMK. The last UPA ally to leave the coalition is reportedly not in favour of bringing down the UPA government. A media report quoted K Anbazhagan, the DMK general secretary, as saying, “”The Congress gave our party a lot of problems. But, we cannot allow communal forces to form a government”. That is additional 18 MPs for the Congress party when it comes to the voting on government’s survival in the Lok Sabha.

So, it is not going to happen now.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

UNHCR SRI LANKA RESOLUTION: RAHUL GANDHI HARD-TALKS ‘POLITICS OF CHANGE’ YET THE CONGRESS PARTY REAFFIRMS ITS NOT GOING TO CHANGE

The way the national events and the international developments, directly affecting the internal politics of the country, are happening tell us the Congress party has not even given a thought to the prospect that it is the time to change, to follow the politics of principles, that ‘enough is enough’, that no more unethical compromises to cling to the seat of power.

Abuse of power by the democratically elected governments in India has become a norm and the Congress party leads the pack, for it has ruled the country for the maximum number of years.

NOW could have been the time to walk the talk when, once again, Rahul Gandhi, the future prime-ministerial candidate and the party’s recently crowned vice-president, is talking not only to change the way the Congress party functions, but is also speaking about making the Indian politics free of undemocratic values like the dynasty politics.

Rahul has not been able to walk the talk in the past and has not been able to leave any strong political imprint yet but given his brief career in politics and so a less-exploited stock of ideation from the pool of thoughts, due weightage can be given to see if he intends to walk the talk this time.

Vote on the US sponsored UNHCR resolution against the human rights violations in Sri Lanka was such an opportunity when India needed to think from the perspective of ‘country first’ and not from the lure of clinging to the ‘power first’. That would have been a direct reflection of what Rahul Gandhi is talking about.

But! Alas!

Allegedly, the slain LTTE chief’s minor son was killed by the Sri Lankan troops in cold blood after he was captured during the civil war. Overall, there has been a global outcry on how the island nation crushed the LTTE war, greatly compromising the human rights of its Tamil population.

Post the civil war, efforts are on to the rebuild the nation and here, the international community including India can do much to ensure that the Tamils get what they lost during the war phase, by extending assistance and supervising the process effectively under some United Nations mandated body. If the international community could not interfere during the civil war phase, it has no right to make a point out of the civil war dangerous enough to derail the rebuilding process.

The compulsions of the foreign policy said India needed either to abstain or vote against the resolution moved by the US.

Sri Lanka is strategically important for India due to its location. Any deeper access to the anti-India powers like China or Pakistan in Sri Lanka is something India would never like to think of, for it would provide the these countries strategic outreach to India. But that has been happening in Sri Lanka for quite sometime now. China is developing projects in Sri Lanka, latest being launching the island nation’s communication satellite in the space.

India needs to be alarmed at the rate such events are happening in its neighbourhood. China is making good inroads in Myanmar, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka.

India, a country that is not in a position to armtwist its neighbours, should adopt a policy to go along where its national interests demand to go.

In case of the UNHCR resolution, India needed to follow a path that would not allow China deeper access in Sri Lanka. But India didn’t do that because it needed to placate political allies like the DMK in order to save its government that is surviving on volatile support of not-to-be-trusted political parties like SP or BSP who can pull the plug on any given day after the DMK withdrew the support.

But! Alas!

There was no walk the talk moment. The government chose to play safe in order to save its days in the office, even if it was at the cost of a potential foreign policy risk that can give India security nightmares in future.

The Congress party led government could have set a precedent by sending out a tough message that it was not ready to compromise with the national interests anymore by not supporting the Sri Lanka resolution during its vote.

But that didn’t happen.

It was never enough just to have a resolution diluted that is what many see as India’s doing. As of now, the DMK has criticised the government for failing to introduce tougher words in the resolution and has said would not join back the government. But who knows what happens tomorrow.

The way the top leadership of the Congress party went into panic on CBI’s raid at M K Stalin’s residence last morning tells us the government still believes it can bring the DMK back on the table.

The India vote against Sri Lanka on the UNHCR resolution was, indeed, yet another let-down by the Congress party.

And this is not the standalone event diluting the Rahul Gandhi hard-talk about the politics of probity.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

INDIA VOTES AGAINST SRI LANKA ON UNHCR RESOLUTION – YET ANOTHER FOREIGN POLICY COMPROMISE

The ongoing survival crisis of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government after the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) withdrew support from the government on the issue of alleged Sri Lankan war crimes on Tamil population of the island nation with yet another Channel 4 documentary revealing more dirty secrets of the human rights abuse by the Sri Lankan government in the civil war was yet another test-point for the Indian foreign policy.

Going not just by the humanitarian aspect, but also by the requirements of the internal politics, SOLIDARITY with the Sri Lankan Tamil community is a must as Tamils are an integral part of India, but sensitivities of the foreign policy cannot be decided by a community concern alone.

The matter becomes even more serious when we see it in the context of the increasing Chinese collaboration and presence in countries neighboring India, be it Pakistan, Myanmar, Maldives or Sri Lanka. China, always a belligerent country with historically proven anti-India stand, is encircling India effectively and India needs to find its solution soon.

India, on its part, has been doing enough for the rehabilitation of the Sri Lankan Tamils in the post civil war era and that should have been the policy to be followed further, realizing the fact that India is not in a dominating position like the China or the USA when it comes to the foreign policy matters. And much of it has to do with a poorly thought foreign policy management.

What happened in case of the UNHCR resolution on Sri Lankan war crimes only reinforces the predicament of the Indian foreign policy when the internal political interests shadowed the demand of the external geopolitical stakes. India decided to vote against Sri Lanka when the need was to oppose it.

When, India as a country, cannot exercise effective control over small nations like Maldives and Sri Lanka, it needs to respect the games of the international geopolitics and that says go where the national interests lie and here it called for India to desist going with the US sponsored Human Rights violation resolution against Sri Lanka because it will enable China to access the strategically important Sri Lankan territory even more deeply.

And the Rahul Gandhi led Congress party had this golden chance to begin the process of undoing the rot, that the grand old party of India, has again, so willingly, missed.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

DMK PULLS OUT, MULAYAM DICTATES TERMS: WHAT THE CONGRESS PARTY SHOULD DO?

In a state of shock, awe and indecision and a collective face as deadpanned as Mr. Manmohan Singh himself, what the United Progressive Alliance government, or should we say now the Congress party government, should do after the DMK pulled out of it taking away its 18 Lok Sabha members?

That depends on what the Congress party strategists are thinking at the moment. The options may be:

  • Whether the Congress party is trying to save its skin
  • Whether the Congress party is trying to locate that elusive face saver
  • Whether the Congress party is trying to cling to the power at any cost

The above three options are based on the sort of politics the Congress party has been practicing after the coalition era in the Indian politics began.

Alternatively, the young blood, if we believe Rahul Gandhi is really trying to change the face of the Congress party and so the Indian politics, may push the Congress party to do something radical, something very un-Congress party, going for morals and principles, opting to take the road of uncompromised political ethos.

What could be the options then for the grand old party of India if that be the case?

  • Whether the Congress party is thinking ‘enough is enough’ and no more compromises
  • Whether the Congress party is reading the writing on the wall desisting it from taking yet another ‘even if unethical, be in power anyhow’ decision
  • Whether the Congress party is realizing the mistakes done in the past and trying to base its decision of the moment to save the day for its near future
  • Whether the Congress party is realizing that it is staring at a certain electoral defeat in the upcoming general elections and that has more to do with its anti-people policies and unethical political practices than mere the simple anti-incumbency factor

Though the signals as of now are giving mixed responses, the political developments say the Congress party is inclined more towards the first set of options mentioned above.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

NOW COMES THE NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY BILL – CORRUPTION GETS SOME MORE AVENUES TO COVER?

The Union Cabinet today passed the National Food Security Bill. Intended to cover 67 per cent of the Indian population, the United Progressive Alliance is seeing it as one of the game-changer duo (direct cash transfer of subsidy being the other one) to help it win the next general elections that all say it has already lost.

Okay, that is an analysis in the future, but given the precedent set by two other (not counting many others here) flagship (populist) dole-outs by the UPA government, the Farm Debt Waiver (FDW) scheme and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Guarantee (MNREGA) that is also known as NREGA, this too, is going to be yet another hotbed of political and bureaucratic corruption.

The government is simply not apt to handle such mammoth projects. Given their scale involved covering a large section of the Indian population stretched across a vast geographical space, there has to be a complex monitoring procedure to regulate the desired flow of the resources.

But sought and implemented as populist dole-outs (though with bad economics), more emphasis was placed on giving customary statements and doing customized data-sheets showing the positive outcomes while suppressing or even killing the negatively worrying trends that let the people involved in the implementation of FDW and MNREGA embezzle thousands of billions in a country of a billion socioeconomically poorly managed lives.

Let see the how the FDW and the MNREGA have lost the track – what FDW and MNREGA began with and what became of FDW and MNREGA.

Farmers’ Debt Waiver Scheme

Text (1) of the FM’s statement (during the launch) – 2008

As you are aware, this is the most ambitious debt waiver and debt relief scheme ever undertaken by any Government in India. Our initial estimates placed the number of beneficiaries as 3 crore small and marginal farmers and 1 crore ‘other farmers’. As it terms out, the number of small and marginal farmers is more than 3 crore is estimated that the number is likely to be Rs. 3,69,00,000 and the number of other farmers is estimated about Rs. 59,75,000. These are of course unaudited figures. They are verified but they are yet unaudited figures. Initially, in the budget, it was estimated that the cost of the scheme will be about Rs. 60,000 crore to the Central Government. As it turns out, the cost of the scheme is likely to be in the order of about Rs. 71,680 crore, again unaudited. After audit, there may be some reduction.

To see what became of it, I quote from an article I wrote when the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) preliminary report on Farm Debt Waiver audit came out recently.

The CAG says on the sampling: “Since debt relief and waiver mechanisms involved a huge amount, Performance Audit was undertaken to assess whether the management of claims for debt waiver and relief under the scheme was in accordance with relevant guidelines and requirements. The review, carried out from April 2011 to March 2012, covered 25 states involving field audit of a total of 90,576 beneficiaries’/farmers’ accounts in 715 branches of lending institutions situated in 92 districts. The sample included 80,299 accounts of such farmers who were extended benefit under the scheme, 9,334 accounts of such farmers who were not selected as beneficiaries even though they had received agricultural loans between 1 April 1997 to 31 March 2007 and 943 cases where complaints were received.”

Now that is a good enough size given the fact that this a preliminary report on the performance audit. When we see it in the historical perspective of the fund misappropriations in various government schemes including the MNREGA and NRHM, it only indicates for a bigger anomaly to surface say when the sample size is increased to 2 per cent of the universe of the covered 3.45 crore farmers (that would be a sample size of 6,90,000!) or who knows Mr. Pawar will ask for a 5 per cent sample size (with 17,25,000 cases!).

Sure, a more comprehensive report should and would follow and no matter what the sample size is, the country is going to see more dirt on the scam. UPA’s history of scams says the misappropriation level is only bound to go up.

Also, Mr. Pawar’s statement is fundamentally flawed. Even the audited 0.25 per cent of sample size (from a comprehensive number of 90,576 beneficiaries spread over 92 districts) establishes irregularities in the fund management of the farm debt waiver scheme and Mr. Pawar’s denial or any justification falls flat.

Now let’s come to another UPA drum-beater – the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Guarantee Scheme

What the UPA government had proposed or (the tall and lofty claims):

THE NATIONAL RURAL EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE ACT, 2005 (2)

No. 42 OF 2005 [5th September 2005]

An Act to provide for the enhancement of livelihood security of the households in rural areas of the  country  by providing  at least one hundred  days of guaranteed wage employment  in every financial  year to  every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work and for matters connected therewith  or incidental thereto.

A PIB release (3) on five-year assessment of MNREGA read: It has been five years since the launch of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) launch from Anantpur in Andhra Pradesh on February 2, 2006. The act has been instrumental in raising the productivity, increasing the purchasing power, reducing distress migration, creating durable assets while ensuring livelihood opportunities for the needy and poor in rural India.

The verbal manipulation continued to drumbeat the tall and lofty claims completely ignoring the reports about the widespread corruption.

Now see what became of MNREGA with some reports on MNREGA corruption:

2012: NREGA: Wages are often denied or delayed, with corruption rife (4) – In spite of NREGA work being measured, most workers are underpaid, with people having been paid as little as 1 per day (in Tonk, Rajasthan). Average wages paid across the country are well below the statutory minimum wage. Getting acknowledgements for work applications is very difficult, and the unemployment allowance is a pipe dream.

After being taken to one of the 6,38,365 villages in the country, this writer would like to extend a counter-invitation: not to show that the NREGA is working perfectly, but to show corruption, forged muster rolls, delayed wage payments, low wages and work sites appropriated by higher castes. But the desire would also be to introduce people, who in spite of all this, struggle and fight for the right to work.

2011: Indian rural welfare – Digging holes (5) – India‘s biggest single welfare project was launched in 2006 and costs over $8 billion a year. Alone, it eats up over 3% of all public spending, and officials say over 50m households last year got some benefit from it. Supporters say it has helped to lift rural wages—on average workers get about 120 rupees ($2.40) a day—which should mean falling poverty. But in many districts, especially poorer ones, huge amounts are stolen or wasted.

2010: ‘Corruption mars implementation of NREGA’ (6) – A government-sponsored study on NREGA has found large-scale corruption and irregularities in the implementation of the programme in several states with authorities in some areas “misappropriating” central funds and “threatening” workers to keep their mouth shut. The study, sponsored by Rural Development Ministry, was initiated in September 2008. The research team visited Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

2008: Dismal Experience of NREGA: Lessons for the Future (7)

The CAG Report underlines the fact that the guidelines indicated in the NREGA have not been followed. The Report specifically mentions lack of provision of professional staff to implement the scheme.

All this resulted in a situation where out of 20.1 million households employed in the NREGA, only 2.2 million (that is, 10.5 per cent) received the full 100 days employment and wages as promised by the Act. The average employment per household was 43 days in 2006-07 and 35 days in 2007-08, as revealed by the Ministry of Rural Development.

Although the NREGA has provisions for transparency in the process of implementation, in actual practice, data on the work done and payments made for various kinds of jobs is kept as a closely guarded secret. As a consequence, there is a mockery of social audit. Even some of the fake NGOs are prepared to verify social audit by charging a ridiculously low fee per panchayat. As a result, the most radical provisions of the NREGA are violated with impunity.

A CAG report on MNREGA audit is awaited and is slated to be tabled in the Parliament. Be prepared. If we come across yet another CAG report on how the project was ill-managed costing a huge sum to the public exchequer, it wouldn’t be a surprise.

We have all the reasons, rooted in the recent history of the political and bureaucratic corruption that has surpassed GDPs of even many nations, to believe that the precious resources are again going to be wasted.

This is the irony of India – a rich country where majority of the world’s poor, and undernourished somehow manage to survive.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

(1) Farmers’ Debt Waiver scheme – Text of the FM’s statement – http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=39122

(2) THE NATIONAL RURAL EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE ACT, 2005 – http://nrega.nic.in/rajaswa.pdf

(3) Five Years of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA – 02-February, 2011 – http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=69534

(4) The Economic Times, April 21, 2012 – http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-04-21/news/31378994_1_minimum-wages-nrega-hundred-days

(5) The Economist – November 5, 2011 – http://www.economist.com/node/21536642

(6) Zee News, May 23, 2010 – http://zeenews.india.com/news/nation/corruption-mars-implementation-of-nrega_628589.html

(7) Mainstream, April 12, 2008 – http://www.mainstreamweekly.net/article641.html

‘MAN KILLING MAN’ IS THE WORST ACCIDENT TO HAPPEN

Why does a System exist?

What does a System exist for?

Who all constitute a System?

What all should a System exist for?

Let’s see the universally accepted (and rightfully correct) answers sanctified by the human elements of the human civilization.

Human civilization here means the human society. Civilization might be a complex term with different and differential connotations and permutations associated with its various elements, but the basic driving force of the process of civilization can be defined in the simplest of the terms – striving to make a society that provides ideal living conditions to each of its inhabitants.

So, what are the answers that we come across:

Why does a System exist?

To bring an order among the various elements that, constitute the System. In case of the human civilization, the primary element of the System is the humans.

What does a system exist for?

Being human first and remain human always – a System exist for the people it is made up of.

Who all constitute a system?

The human beings who believe in the universal doctrine of the human civilization of ‘being and remain human’

What all should a System exist for?

To maintain human harmony, to promote ‘human’ growth and to weed out the ‘inhuman’ elements

The in-built and the inherent point of concern of the System thus should be the ‘human’ existence and:

–         his life;

–         his livelihood;

–         a responsible living with dignity treating every other life in the same way.

Any deviation from this norm is an accident and the System needs to be cautious, proactive and reactive to eliminate the accidents.

And a ‘human taking life of a human’ or ‘a man killing a man’ is the worst accident of all this.

But people in some of the establishments (that are very well part of the System) say not all the murders are accidents.

When the human civilization is about ‘being and remain human’, how can they say it?

How can they frame policies on this ill-thought and misplaced premise?

Isn’t it anti to the basic tenet of any human society – striving to make a society that provides ideal living conditions to each of its inhabitants.

Isn’t it ominous?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

FREE LAPTOPS – BRAND BUILDING THE INDIAN POLITICS WAY

‘…that was the first things most students tried to do’ quoted a Hindustan Times* report on the free laptops distributed by the Uttar Pradesh chief minister.

The report was on how the laptops crashed when the students tried to change the wallpaper that shows the CM Akhilesh Yadav and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Now whether to refer this act of the UP government to distribute ‘eligible’ students laptop free of cost as an act of charity or social responsibility of an elected government or poll-related or poll-promise related populist sop of a government feeling the heat of not delivering on law and order and development agenda, may have separate lines of independent debates, but it tells us one thing very clearly – nothing (not even every charity) comes free and when the political class of the day is involved, never even think of it.

The interesting report made the equally interesting observation: “Efforts to change the in-built tamper-proof wallpaper — depicting Yadav and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav — proved disastrous. The laptops crashed. And when local HP engineers tried to rectify the problem, Linux, one of the operating systems on the machine, got wiped.”

Brand-building the Indian politics way – imposed, forced, indoctrinated.

Indian politics is full of interesting case studies if one thinks of doing a series of satirical stories such brand building exercises.

Incidents like politicians introducing biographical lessons in text books during their term in the office or the next group of political officer-bearers purging the concerned text book content and introducing their own or politicians inundating every street and corner with photographs, placards, hoarding and statues of their own or politicians naming roads or projects in their names or politicians distributing populist dole-outs and freebies funded by the taxpayers’ money in their own name and branding, are numerous. No dearth of them.

Development as an ‘issue at the level of professional doing’ is absent in every administrative unit of the Indian government, be it the Union or the States. At some places, development gets a higher turn-out rate like Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Kerala and some other Indian states and union territories. But nowhere, it is at the level of ‘professional management’ to ensure maximum efficiency.

States like Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and some others come in the category where the element of the ‘professional management’ does not even touches the political functioning in ‘developing a development paradigm’ and even if touches, it happens as a random and sometimes, standalone event.

Uttar Pradesh has become worse than Bihar of Lalu Yadav days. Not only the lawlessness is on full display, but equally frustrating are the profiles of the ministers entrusted to bring the India’s most populous state back on the trajectory of development. Many hours of daily power cuts have become regulars, and are already decades old. Civic infrastructure of almost every city is crumbling. Except the national highways and privately managed projects, the road infrastructure is in shambles. Industrial growth is just limited to the National Capital Region areas and that too, is slowing down.

The chief-minister in office was elected to begin the process to undo this all. Yes, it cannot happen in one year. But there is not even the remote sign of that beginning anywhere in view. Instead, on full display are the typical brand-building practices of the Indian politics.

But such practices always have an element of caution – banking on them heavily costs dearly – Mayawati saw it, Lalu Yadav saw it, the National Democratic Alliance saw it, the United Progressive Alliance government will see it.

Hopes built on such a brand-building have very pertinent possibilities of coming down crashing like these ‘wallpaper tamper-proof free laptops’ are crashing.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

* Removing Akhilesh wallpaper crashes laptops

http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Lucknow/Removing-Akhilesh-wallpaper-crashes-laptops/Article1-1026044.aspx

THE ITALIAN BETRAYAL: WHAT INDIA SHOULD HAVE DONE IN HER FIRST REACTIONS

As a common Indian who cares for the Indian pride, some natural, spontaneous thoughts emerge as the initial (and required) reactions:

The topmost functionaries of the government should have acknowledge the issue fully in the morning of March 12 (a day after Italy’s refusal to send back the marines to face trial in India) instead of giving silly sounding replies like the one where the prime minister said that he came to know about the issue through the newspapers or the one by the minister of external affairs where he said that he was yet to read the note verbale sent by the Italian Embassy.

A strong note of protest should have been issued by the Indian Parliament as the Parliament was in session highlighting the Italian betrayal that it was a direct attack on the Indian sovereignty and undermined the sanctity of the Indian judicial system.

As the Italian Ambassador in Indian office at the moment had signed the undertaking taking responsibility of the marines’ return to India by March 23, he should have been immediately made a party in the case against the Italian marines to face the Indian courts.

Given the pangs of the diplomatic immunity and the international legalities, and if India, still chose to play the civilized partner, the Italian Ambassador should have been asked to leave India immediately after the issue emerged.

At the same time, India should have called its Ambassador back from Italy suspending the diplomatic ties.

To back this action, the prime minister should have made it clear that if the marines did not return by the date given in court, i.e., March 23, India would break its bilateral ties with Italy.

And all this should have been done by March 12, 2013, a day after Italy reneged on its promise to send back the Italian marines, accused of killing two Indian fishermen.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

INDIA’S POLITICALLY INCORRECT RESPONSE OVER ITALY’S BETRAYAL ON MARINES’ RETURN ISSUE

The details that filtered out said there was a note verbale sent by the Italian Embassy to the Ministry of the External Affairs on late evening of March 11. Some reports put the time around 9:30 PM. Now that is not so late a time in the evening that no one would be there to inform the top brass of the government about it given the sensitivity of the issue as it is directly related to the question of the Indian pride and country’s status in the global geopolitical set-up.

But the way the Indian government and the political class reacted tells they are not at all concerned about the question of the Indian pride.

First in the series of bloopers is from our comfortably-numb-economist prime minister, Manmohan Singh. According to a PTI report (1) quoting a CPI(M) MP, the prime minister said he came to know about the issue from the newspapers.

The report said: CPI(M) MP M B Rajesh said, “We met the Prime Minister and took up the issue of Italian marines. The Prime Minister told us that he came to know about this from newspapers. He assured us that he will ask the External Affairs Minister to look into this issue to intervene in this issue.”

See the travesty. Manmohan’s junior colleague and one of the senior UPA ministers didn’t inform the PM and he came to know it through the newspaper reports. Questionable! Objectionable!

But when we see the response of Mr. Salman Khurshid, the UK educated elite politician and a senior minister in the government handling the foreign affairs, the charade becomes even more farcical. Mr. Khurshid’s response was a usual verbal manipulation lacking in substance. According to an India Today (2) report, he said: “It is a matter of our countries collectivism. We will read the papers first. Let’s see what they have to say and what the reasoning is. Only after that I can say anything”.

The report further said: “Khurshid said that he was yet to read the note sent by the Italian government. He said he would “definitely give a response” after reading it.”

Now this response, like Manmohan’s, came many hours after the Italian note verbale landed in the Ministry of External Affairs, but Mr. Khurshid was yet to read it. Also, Mr. Khurshid, what reasoning can justify a backstabbing? Yes, Italy’s stand is a sinister breach of trust and yet you need time to read and respond to a short note verbale. Questionable! Objectionable!

See, what yet another UPA minister, from the coalition partner NCP, Tariq Anwar, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing, had to say about the issue. According to a DNA report (3): “The Indian External Affairs Ministry is examining the issue. I think the MEA has taken view of this decision and they have chosen to review the situation and talk to their Italian counterparts, after talks some solution will come out”.

What sort of solution can come out? Could India bring Ottavio Quattrocchi and many others on the Indian soil for, once they, somehow managed to flee or leave the country, for their roles in scams? No!

There wasn’t a single assuring word promising a concrete action to be taken on the Italian betrayal!

Instead, it was just playing with words like the Indian politicians have been doing delaying the issues for long, so long, that they become obsolete in public’s memory!

But why only the government, the political opposition, too, was not pro to react in a way that would put the symbolism of ‘nation first’. See what the BJP’s Shahnawaj Hussain had to say (4): “It is a completely a diplomatic failure. Government should take this issue very seriously. If the Italian marines were sent then did the Indian government take guarantee of their return? The Congress has to give an answer. Is there a conspiracy between the Italian marines and the UPA government? BJP wants an answer.”

This statement doesn’t reflect the concern of putting the ‘nation first’. It is more about the Indian brand of the politics being practiced across the parties – a politics that is more concerned with strengthening the political class than the democracy – a politics that has become the breeding ground of corruption and anti-democratic measures – a politics that has become politically incorrect.

See what the Wikipedia quotes about politics (5): Politics is the art or science of influencing people on a civic, or individual level, when there are more than 2 people involved. Modern political discourse focuses on democracy and the relationship between people and politics. It is thought of as the way we “choose government officials and make decisions about public policy”

Is the predominant political practice in India politically correct? No!

How can the country expect a tough and befitting reply from such a spineless political class that thinks of political interests first and prioritize them over the national interests?

While Italy, a nation that has no real standing before India in the global geopolitical and economic affairs, acts like it is the senior and the dominant one saying India violated the law, India’s first reactions were more like that of a junior fellow, as if the country had no global standing!

See, this is what the Indian politicians have done with the global perception of India!

It is no more about being a soft nation! It is now about being a spineless nation.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

(1) Italy’s decision not to send back marines ‘unacceptable’: Prime Minister
(2) Will respond only after reading letter sent by Italy on marines: Khurshid
(3) India to respond after going through Italy’s response on marines: Salman Khurshid
(4) Italian government’s decision on marines is unacceptable, says irked Manmohan Singh
(5) Losco, Joseph (2010). AmGov. New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 3.