CAN’T SAY IF BHARAT NIRMAN DID HAPPEN, AND LO! HERE COMES YET ANOTHER UPA-II AD-SPEND BLOOPER

We are going to be burdened (indirect effects of which we are to feel later that might come in form of some more subsidy cuts) a bit more and as usual, it is the immense wisdom of our comfortably numb prime minister Manmohan Singh that is (or going to be at play again) at play again.

But before going into that let’s scratch our heads to know a little that what Rs 200 crore can do the life of some ordinary Indians:

Let’s take a simple corollary. India is the youngest nation in the world and millions of its young representatives are staring at the prospect of a stable livelihood.

To go into that let’s pan across some data:

  1. ‘Around 7 crore people are unemployed or underemployed in India’ said Labour and Employment Minister Mallikarjun Kharge in Rajya Sabha (upper house of the Indian Parliament) last December.
  1. According to an assessment from the latest Economic Survey of India report, the per capita income of India at current prices in 2012-13 was around Rs 5200 (with the national average of Rs 61,564 an year).

According to an exclusive story by the daily DNA (www.dnaindia.com – DNA exclusive: UPA-II’s India story is going abroad, for Rs200 crore, June 6, 2013), the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is planning to launch a massive advertising campaign to go for an overseas image makeover to address the brand UPA hara-kiri and disgrace. The report says: “After being battered at home and abroad, the UPA government is planning a Rs200-crore blitzkrieg to shore up its nirman story with a desperate bid to woo foreign institutional investors, particularly from North America, western Europe and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations.”

What does it mean for you and me and for an Indian who elects the people who make the governments like the UPA?

Nothing, except, some more misuse of the resources that were supposed to be used for the betterment of the public by the ‘people from among the public elected by the public’!

Rs 5200 per month, we all know that it is not a level of income to lead a satisfactory standard of living but let’s see what 200 crore can do for a rich country of poor where millions survive on less than 2$ a day.

This Rs 200 crore can employ around 3.2 lakh people for a year with Rs 5200 in monthly emolument. If we consider an average family size of four members, it effectively adds to the support system of 3.2 lakh families or around 1.3 million people in those families.

See! This much of the resources are going to be wasted again and this much, like always, like the Rs 150 crore for the recently re-launched Bharat Nirman campaign, would be taken out from the public fund that is supposed to be used for the public betterment. Okay, the government would justify it with more than one reason, in reality, nothing can justify it, especially when the very same government is shedding the crocodile tears to reduce the energy and fuel subsidies under the garb of increasing burden on the financial health of the nation.

Simultaneously, Rs 150 crore can effectively add to the support system of 2.4 lakh families or around 9 lakh people in those families. It becomes even more glaring if we take into account the ad-spend of the UPA-II government since 2009 when it retook the office.

According to the reports, the ad-spend figures available till February 2012 show the UPA-2 government had already spent Rs. 2246 crore on advertisements by then. Going by the corollary of the Rs 5200 per month per capita income, it could have translated to an effective aid to the support system of 3.6 million families and around 14 millions of individuals of such families.

We all know who Rajiv Gandhi was and what he did for India. Why do we need multiple advertisements across multiple platforms by most of the government departments and ministries commemorating Rajiv Gandhi on his birth and death anniversaries?

Okay, if they have to do so, why don’t they do so from their own, private funds? Why to waste the money meant for (and must be) used for the betterment of the public?

Okay, the argument may be propagated that the ad-spend was necessary but such an argument easily gets punctured in the light of the related developments.

Such arguments sound sham when we come across regular reports of massive corruption in almost every government project. Almost nothing, not even the rural India centric massive projects with an ambition to cover the most parts of the nation are beyond the web of the neck-deep political and bureaucratic corruption.

Advertisements by the government departments and ministries are supposed to act as tools to aware and empower the people intended to be the beneficiaries of different programmes and projects to ask for what is rightfully and legally theirs.

Instead, their ignorance and their inability to convey the wrongs happening as reflected in the large-scale corruption tell either the government efforts to aware and empower the people are failing or the government is not at all serious about the ultimate aim of such initiatives – making aware and empower and instead is busy in bushing the beat making such advertisements a personal branding exercise for the person or group of persons involved. And if that be the case, it is certainly not an acceptable practice. Such wastage of public funds is deplorable.

But, as has become clear, the insensitive political class doesn’t even think about such considerations. Rather, they prefer to suppress the voices trying to show them the reality. As the election time is approaching near, the UPA government and Mr. Manmohan Singh are ratcheting up the (empty) rhetoric again with heavy advertising to showcase what is not there; literally, to befool us again.

Coming back to where we began, on youth and unemployment in India, Manmohan Singh recently said: “The unemployment rate came down from 8.3% to 6.6% between 2004-05 and 2009-10. This period suffered from one of the worst global meltdowns in history and most of the countries, developed and developing, have registered increased in their unemployment rates while we were still able to create additional jobs. Employment in the unorganised sector registered a growth of more than 9% from 26.5 million in 2005 to 29 million in 2011.” 

But his assertions fall flat when we see the larger picture that is not what Manmohan is trying to make us see.

According to a report published in The Wall Street Journal (Young, Jobless and Indian, November 23, 2012): “The latest World Development Report by the World Bank says India’s youth unemployment — as a percentage of the youth work force — was 9.9% for males and 11.3% for females in 2010. In 1985, the figures were 8.3% and 8%, respectively. Youth unemployment in India, like most countries, has consistently been above the national average. But of late, the data indicate rising youth unemployment, now virtually 50% more than the national average, or total unemployment rate.”

Qualitatively disturbing! Now see this assessment from the International Labour Organization (ILO).

ILO says in its Global Unemployment Trends 2007-13, released in May 2013: What does it say about unemployment in India: “In India there is evidence that youth unemployment rates are higher for families with incomes over the $1.25 poverty rate than for those with incomes under this poverty line. “In developing countries such as India, as much as two-thirds of young workers receive below average wages and are engaged in work for which they are either over-qualified or under-qualified. Over-education and over-skilling co-exist with under-education and under-skilling. Such a mismatch makes solutions to the youth employment crisis more difficult to find”

A mismatch!  Indeed it is. A population of over a billion with majority of them quality-illiterate, poorly-fed and living a sub-standard quality of life needs a political and bureaucratic class that could understand this mismatch to work out effective solutions.

Instead, we have a political and bureaucratic class that has become synonymous with corruption, nepotism, insensitivity and elitism.

Instead of addressing such grave problems with the seriousness demanded, the Manmohan Singh led governments is pouring the money from the public funds freely into massive cover-up operations to create an illusion of the achievements that are not there, to create a layer of propaganda to hide the utter failure that his government has been during its second terms in the office since May 2009.

The insensitivity and the rashness reflect in the advertisement campaigns like Bharat Nirman or this reported campaign targeting the overseas audience or the reports of a Rs 100 crore campaign by the UPA government in September 2012 to justify the retail FDI decision and diesel-pricing deregulation and price hike or the Hindustan Times report (UPA ad blitz gets Rs. 630 crore more, June 6, 2013) that says the Finance Ministry okays Rs 630 crore more for the Bharat Nirman campaign.

Mr. Manmohan Singh, the youth from the 7 crore of the unemployed or underemployed people or 70 crores or more of the Indians, quality-illiterate, poorly-fed, the Indians forced to live a sub-standard quality of life, cannot buy your sham every time. NDA had learnt this lesson in a bitter way in 2004.

This time, it may well be a telling development for your government the signs of which you are not reading. Stop wasting millions that could give livelihood to the millions. That is not your private money. It is rightfully theirs.

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

Advertisements

SUPREME COURT TO SPEAK ON GOVERNMENT’S MEDDLING IN THE COALGATE PROBE BY THE CBI: WOULD IT FORCE SOME ‘FORCED MORALITY’ IN THE INDIAN POLITICS?

It is being discussed that today is a big day for the political developments in India when the Supreme Court is expected to put forward its views on the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) affidavit in which the central investigating agency of India has detailed out the changes made by the government of India (under scanner for its role in the scam) in the CBI’s status report in the coal blocks allocation irregularities. The affidavit named all those who met the CBI Director Ranjit Sinha and described all that was changed after back-to-back meetings with Ashwani Kumar, Minister of Law and Justice, and officials from the prime-minister’s office and the coal ministry.

CBI has filed two affidavits to explain its transgression after the issue surfaced with a report in the Indian Express on April 13 this year, on April 26 and May 6. April 30 when the Supreme Court heard the first affidavit was a sad day for the Indian democracy and it reflected in the apex court’s observation.

The bench headed by Justice R M Lodha had said: “You don’t need to take instructions from political masters. If it’s deliberate, intentional, why was it done? Was it decided to do so? All these things should not happen. Is the law minister entitled to ask for the report under the CBI manuals? Our first exercise will be to liberate CBI from political interference. This suppression by CBI is not ordinary, there is a very disturbing feature in the affidavit.” – The Economic Times, April 30, 2013

On April 26, while filing the first affidavit, Ranjit Sinha admitted in the Supreme Court that the status report on coal block allocation scam was shared with the political executives including the law minister “as desired by him”. The court slammed the CBI for sharing the report and for violating the SC’s guidelines and asked the agency to file a detailed affidavit naming all those who met the CBI and pushed for the changes as well as the changes made.

The apex court termed it as a ‘massive breach of trust – a matter that shaken its foundation’.

While hearing the case on March 12 on two Public Interest Litigations on irregularities in the coal blocks allocation, the apex court had set the norm. According to the media reports including this Business Standard report, the court laid out: The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government appears to be headed for a trouble similar to the one it faced in the telecom scam. The Supreme Court directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) not to share the details of its coal scam findings with politicians or the executive.

It was politically explosive and the country heard the explosion. There has been a political chaos in the country after CBI’s affidavits and SC’s initial observations over the first affidavit. But as expected, this has also met the same fate as most of the terror explosions in India have – they remain unsolved.

The difference is, in terror explosions, faces behind them are not known most of the time, be it the intelligence failure or any other reason, but in politically explosive developments like this, a whole nation of over a billion knows very well who all are responsible.

Even, then, they do not move. They simply refuse to take responsibility. They deny every principle of accountability that a democratically elected public office commands.

Today, the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice R M Lodha is going to hear the coal block allocation scam and given the developments of the past, it is expected that the top court is going to make life tougher for the government.

But given the political scenario in India where corruption and unaccountability has become a chronic problem of every political outfit, it would take highly scathing remarks by the Supreme Court if the law minister and the concerned officials are to go.

A political opposition that is gunning for heads then would become even more aggressive in pushing for its demands to sack the rail minister Pawan Kumar Bansal who is in the eye of a political storm after a bribe deal to appoint an Indian Railway General Manager on a lucrative post in the Railway Board, brokered by Bansal’s nephew and his election campaign manager in the 2009 Lok Sabha election, was unearthed by the CBI.

If the SC’s observations today force Ashwani Kumar’s ouster, the government would be in no position to save Bansal.

The Manmohan Singh government has shamelessly defended these two ministers till now refusing every demand of their resignation and so compromising every ideal of an ethical political life. Even, the comfortably numb Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has come forward to tell the nation that there is no need for them to resign.

But what about Manmohan Singh’s accountability in this whole issue? His office, too, is involved in this mess and he too, may face the top court’s ire.

The government would be expecting a breather from the SC. But some acidic words would make the life hell for it. If that be the case, it would try all to dilute the negative effects of SC’s remarks shielding behind irrelevant logics like it performed well in the Karnataka assembly election and that should tell the nation (and to the top court) that the Congress party led government is on the right path. As the Congress is expected to perform well, be ready to listen to this sham today, again and again, when, by this afternoon, on the counting day of the Karnataka assembly election, trends declare the Congress party has performed well.

That would give the Congress a fresh arsenal to hit back on its political adversaries.

So be prepared to witness yet another round of ugly political war today and in the aftermath with unparliamentarily war of words following and flowing freely in the air.

But be clear of one thing. SC response on the matter that makes life even tougher for the government would not push the government to move because this is a bold new Indian politics that doesn’t believe in the universal values of political morality.

If political morality has any chance left in the Indian political scenario of the moment, it has to be a forced one.

What is needed from the Court No. 4 of the Supreme Court of India today is some response that makes the life hell for this government. Only then we can expect that some ‘forced morality’ will prevail in an otherwise immoral political atmosphere.

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

THE BOLD NEW INDIAN POLITICS & ASHWANI KUMAR, PAWAN BANSAL AND THE MS-OFFICE (MANMOHAN SINGH, WHO ELSE?)

Let’s take the trend-setting and norm-establishing deeds of the breed of politicians of this generation who are neck-deep in corruption but are refusing to budge, who are in denial of their wrongdoings even if it is proven beyond doubt, even if it is there for everyone to see.

We have, here, the ruling coalition of India and its leading party, Congress, in the driving seat topping the corrupt-pack, with its high-profile leaders zooming to be in vogue of new highs of corruption and manipulation of the public office.

And this all is happening under the ‘able’ guidance of the prime minister of India, Mr. Manmohan Singh and his office, which has become exceptionally active, an otherwise comfortably numb prime minister.

Our dear Manmohan Singh and his ‘MS Office’ have enriched us with such many developments in the last few weeks and Manmohan Singh is clearly emerging victorious in the latest incarnation of the Indian politics that is bold,  brazen and immune to any criticism, even if a justified one in the public perception. The list of his gems adorning the list of corrupts is long, from Suresh Kalmadi to A Raja to Ashwani Kumar to Pawan Kumar Bansal.

While the development of the long list did involve some cases of surrender by the politicians when they had no other option left to manipulate and continue clinging to the power, the recent high profile cases of Manmohan’s two trusted aides, who incidentally come from his home state Punjab, Minister of Law & Justice Ashwani Kumar and Minister of Railways, Pawan Kumar Bansal, are representative of the new thinking of the Indian politics that has started believing in its right to absolute denial, not caring even if they do not have any option left to manipulate any more.

Now, they simply say they won’t surrender even if the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court of India, alleges them of breach of trust.

If they don’t care for the Supreme Court of India, who we are then to be taken seriously, though, we elect them and therefore, we give them the power to manipulate?

So the Congress is up, in arms, in brazen defense of its these two tainted ministers saying they won’t resign, when they should have resigned already, even if they go by the standard set by A Raja and Suresh Kalmadi.

And all this is happening the under the watch of MS-Office.

One of the duo, safe in the troubled waters, Ashwani Kumar, has subverted the guidelines set by the Supreme Court. The apex court had asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) not to share the status reports of the coal block allocation scam probe with the political executive. But, as the reports say, Mr. Kumar, the coal ministry and the MS Office directed the CBI Director, who says he is very much part of the government (the government that beats the bush every day claiming CBI’s independent functioning), to modify the status report in the investigation of a case in which Manmohan and his government is facing the heat.

Isn’t it like asking a thief to probe himself and come up with the investigation report so that he could be sentenced?

The other one, safe in the troubled waters, Pawan Kumar Bansal, until now seen as a non-controversial and clean politician, has got embroiled in an age-old scam of India where, in case of government jobs, a huge sum of money changes hands before any high-profile and lucrative transfer and posting takes place.

With every passing day, more and more skeletons are tumbling out telling us how companies were built in the name of Bansal’s son and wife; how they registered meteoric growth in a span of few years only; how the main accused in the case, his nephew Vijay Singla, was so close to him and how he managed his 2009 Lok Sabha election campaign; and how the Bansal family members share business interests with Vijay Singla. Being the Railway Minister, appointment for the Railway Board position for which the bribe was offered comes under directly overview of Mr. Bansal.

Had there been even an iota of verity in the claims of Mr. Bansal of being a clean politician, he would have resigned on the day his nephew was arrested for brokering the bribery deal misusing his department and his name.

He needed to come out clean. He needs to come out clean. And so Mr. Ashwani Kumar, and so Mr. Manmohan Singh, and so every other politician charged with allegations of manipulating and corrupting the public office.

They simply cannot be allowed to trade and tread our trust, again and again.

But this bold new breed of Indian Politicians is doing exactly that. This bold new breed of Indian Politicians believes in killing every such spirit. And they get support when they see that we, the voters, are short of options; when they see that we, the voters, are not able to make informed decisions while electing them.

A good case in point is the Karnataka assembly elections. Congress, neck-deep in corruption is poised to win when the votes are counted on May 8 because the ruling Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) government has lost its credibility due to massive and widespread corruption in the state under its regime.

See! We, the voters, are replacing one corrupt regime with regime of another political party that, in all probability, is going to lose the next parliamentary elections, due to the massive and widespread corruption in the country under its regime.

We, the Indian voters, wandering in the troubled waters, facing the classic dilemma of choosing between Scylla and Charybdis! Isn’t it?

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

ONCE, THERE WAS A PERCEPTION CALLED MANMOHAN SINGH

Manmohan Singh’s biography on the official website of the prime minister of India says about him: India’s fourteenth Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh is rightly acclaimed as a thinker and a scholar. He is well regarded for his diligence and his academic approach to work, as well as his accessibility and his unassuming demeanour.

There is nothing much to decipher about Manmohan Singh. There is nothing left to decipher about Manmohan Singh after his absolute fall from the ‘high of the apolitical and honest brand name of 2004’, during his second term as the prime minister of India.

Still, let’s see him and his integrity in the context of today’s developments; an integrity that is more fragmented than ever before.

A television news channel broke the news at around 1:55 PM that Manmohan Singh was studying the Supreme Court’s observations against his government on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) affidavit on sharing the Coalgate probe status report with the government and would later come up with his response.

The Coalgate, a mammoth coal block allocation scam, in making over the years but precipitated during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)’s regimes with maximum coal block allocations, is being probed by the CBI. A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in September 2012 involved the Supreme Court in the ongoing case. In March this year, the SC asked the CBI not to share the Coalgate investigation reports with the political executives.

And today’s observations by the SC that made the ‘thinker’ in Manmohan Singh to say that he was studying the apex court’s observations, is just the tip of an iceberg that, no doubt given the developments in the case till now, is going to throw big dirt on the sham of the UPA government and Manmohan Singh when the CBI submits its detailed affidavit in the SC on May 6 furnishing full details, naming persons and footnoting the changes describing the level of intervention by the political executive (Manmohan Singh’s government) in a clear case of vested interests and law-subversion.

But, beware, though you are already aware, that we are going to have a similar response from Manmohan Singh even then, shirking every responsibility, belittling the norms of democracy and shattering the notions of personal integrity and political sanctity.

So, the ‘thinker’ in Manmohan Singh pushed him to say, at 1:55 PM today, that he was studying the SC observations.

But the ‘scholar’ in him has got stuck somewhere in the ‘thinking’ mode it seem as it is over nine hours, while writing this, and we are yet to see what the studious assignment of Mr. Manmohan Singh has resulted in as Mr. Manmohan Singh is yet to come out with his ‘observations’ on the SC observations directly questioning his moral grounds putting him and his government in the dock. This all is happening on a day when there is a need of immediacy in responding to the SC’s remarks.

It simply tells us Manmohan Singh doesn’t bother about such questions of ‘moral sanctity’ and he is like any other politician of the political class that just doesn’t care for the values of democracy.

The prime minister’s website describes his academic credentials from Cambridge to Oxford but we need to find the source institution where this sort of ‘scholarship’ is a norm making the students immune to every criticism even if it is rightly targeted at them and intended to push them to take the corrective measures.

It is not a sad and black day for Manmohan Singh. It is a sad and black for the Indian democracy and its common man.

No politician is easily accessible in India. It cannot be said what does the website mean by ‘well regarded for his accessibility’? It has been written about a person who chooses not to speak when the whole country expects him to speak on a day like this after the highest court of the land makes scathing remarks against his government.

The country had expected in 2004 that the apolitical Manmohan Singh would prove a genuine politician and would serve the country differently, honestly. But all that is shattered now. Before becoming even a politician, he drifted to become one among the insensitive political class mascots of the day.

On political level, even after today’s development in the SC, nothing would move. Reports at the moment say that the government is firmly behind the Minister of Law and Justice Ashwani Kumar who is the front of the government’s manipulation machinery in the Coalgate probe by the CBI. Even on April 26, when the CBI Director Ranjit Sinha had admitted in the apex court of sharing the probe report with the political executives despite SC’s restrictive orders, Manmohan Singh was very prompt in defending his minister saying there was no question of his resignation.

The country had not expected this ‘diligence’ and it is certainly not an ‘unassuming behaviour’.

He is at the centre of criticism. He has been at the centre of whirlwind criticism. He is at the centre of political satire and jokes. His silence and selective responses on the monumental corruption cases by the colleagues of his government implicate him fairly. And this all is a well established line of discussion now.

Once, reading stuff on Manmohan Singh like that in the initial lines of his personal profile at his official website sounded good. But who knew then that it was driven more by the perception of yore. It started fizzling out as Manmohan’s term in the prime-ministerial office changed the calendar dates with rising corruption of unimaginable scales.

Manmohan Singh is failing India. Manmohan Singh is failing its common man.

Once, there was a perception called Manmohan Singh.

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