Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Can Rajnath deliver

The surprise elimination of Nitin Gadkari from BJP’s presidential sweepstake, and the unanimous choice of Rajnath Singh, former party chief and a has-been, have the touch of a television serial hurrying to end because the producer is broke. To add a touch of Inspector Clouseaeu into the plot’s climax, a field investigation by the Income Tax Department on the alleged financial misconduct of the Purti Group founded by Gadkari commenced on the same day. If it were a shoddy screenplay, equally incongruous were the characters in it. Rajnath could be nobody’s choice—neither Arun Jaitley nor the veteran L. K. Advani. At best, he was the second choice of RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat. In fact Bhagwat was Gadkari’s savior and benefactor whenever he got into trouble, and that was all too often. But he had to go as the taxmen, who report to Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, knocked at his door in the nick of time to put a red flag on his choice as president for another term, as Bhagwat had wanted.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

3G violations by Telcos cost dearly

Eye-brows have been raised as to how eight major telecom companies are operating 3G services in 33 circles with impunity without permission or giving any charges.

This is despite the fact that some of these companies have got  no relief from the courts or even appellate tribunals. The  Department of Telecom (DoT), for the record, has an answer “Show Cause Notices to telecom companies who are in violation of  license conditions are under the consideration.”

But these have been under the consideration for a long time. The list of these powerful companies may give a clue as to why there is a delay in acting by the DoT. They are Vodafone Easar South, Vodafone Eassar Spacetel Ltd.,  Idea Cellular Aditya Birla Telecom Limited, Aircel Limited & Bharti Airtel Limited,  Dishnet Wirless Ltd and Spice Communications Ltd. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Will Rahul win the 2014 Race ?

The Congress is also better equipped than BJP to mobilize its voters on the day of election. Modi can still come to power in Delhi, but, for that, there has to be a tsunami of anti-Congress sentiments. It seemed possible in most of 2012. Now it doesn’t.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Send them packing too

Its time banks show the boot to rogue tycoons who loot and scoot; virtually rape the economy in broad-day light and get more money in the name of re-structuring. Its time these rapists are also sent to jail.

Some time back, driving down a road in Mumbai’s Parel, I stopped by to take a close look at a curious sight. It was an array of fancy vintage cars, including, if I remember correctly, the legendary Rolls Royce Silver Ghost. They were all parked behind glass walls. It was a Sunday morning and there was no signboard on the building. At last I found the security fellow who informed me that the owner of these beauties, mostly vintage (produced before 1929) but some classic (before 1965), was none other than Vijay Mallya.

How much does this “king of good times” owe his lenders on account of his grounded Kingfisher Airlines? In 2010 it narrowly escaped going belly up due to restructuring of its debt worth Rs 7,700 crore. Two years later, Mallya was back to the table with creditors, with a further debt of nearly Rs 1,000 crore. Meanwhile even the restructured debt had doubled. The airline is not operational and the staff is not paid for ten months now. Its license has been revoked and no savior is in sight to buy out the airline with all its loans. But Mallya’s listed liquor firm, UB Spirits, has been allowed to carry out business as usual. And none of his creditors would dare take a bailiff to his museum of vintage cars, crank up the beauties on a container truck, and line them up, including the Silver Ghost, if it is there, at Azad Maidan to be auctioned off forthwith. Instead, the country is watching the spectacle of this abominable businessman making gifts of gold bricks to the god at Tirupathi! Why can’t creditors lay their hands on Mallya’s assets other than in his damned airline? It is because of a stupid law which was in place till the other day. In popular imagination, India is a land of wicked lenders—all Shylocks—whereas borrowers are hapless victims of circumstances.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Banish criminals from legislatures first

Some instances compel nations to re-evaluate the boundaries of liberty that their citizens must not transgress. In the early Sixties, It was the famous Nanavati trial, and the propensity of the jurors to take too kind a view of the accused, a handsome naval officer who had the media on his side, that brought about a radical change in the judicial system—a farewell to jury trial. So was the Keshavanand Bharati case in the Seventies, leading to an even more radical change as it held most of the rights in the Constitution, including the Fundamental Rights, as non-negotiable by Parliament. It appears that the Delhi gang rape of December 16, and the public outrage over it, is gathering enough steam to leave its permanent imprint on criminal jurisprudence. This article is about its possible lasting impact on the laws of not only rape but every other serious crime, including those listed in the Indian Penal Code under “offenses affecting human body” (it includes rape). It is worth examining, in this context, if harsher punishment is indeed a deterrent to rape, as civil society seems to think.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

How to handle 'Flash Mob' ? Govt. doesn't know

How to handle 'Flash Mob' The protesters appear as though with a rub of Aladdin’s magic lamp. So different it is from the traditional rent-a-rally protests, and the comforting prior knowledge of the routes they’d follow before their leaders court the symbolic arrest. Harish Gupta “I am not using this term, but I am told it’s like a flash mob, difficult to handle or foresee”. That was Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, his face evidently turned ashen, reacting to the avalanche of people that had gathered around India Gate in the capital last month, after the news of the brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old girl in a moving bus in the city had hit the nation’s conscience, like a charged power line. The girl, named Damini to hide her identity, died in Singapore after battling with death for 13 days. The perpetrators of this heinous crime, six in number, four of whom are slum dwellers, are booked. Politicians, meanwhile, have committed gaffe after gaffe—Home Minister Sushil Shinde saying it wasn’t his job to try and calm the agitators at India Gate for that might be a prelude to his being called upon to meet the Maoist insurgents in Chattisgarh; Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, after blasting Delhi Police and shutting herself in a hidey-hole, surfaced at Jantar Mantar, a candle in hand and armed guards in tow, and was promptly booed back by the crowd; Congress president Sonia Gandhi chose the safety of speaking before a television camera and uttered homilies, meeting select group of protesters and even going to the IGIA to receive the dead body of the brave-heart, her son, Rahul Gandhi, the Congress’ great white hope in the next general election, suddenly became invisible ; the son of the President of India, who had become an MP, suddenly decided to project himself as a man with brains and lamented, in charmingly unorthodox grammar and accent, that the space for public protest had been hijacked by “dented and painted” ladies, thus leaving his father’s public image dented.