gfiles magazine

February 10, 2012

More trouble for Kalmadi

elections & factions
More trouble for Kalmadi
Ajit Pawar eyes Pune
URESH Kalmadi’s problems seem to be never-ending. Barely had he managed coming out of jail that he was at the receiving end on his home turf Pune, where a political battle has ensued. Kalmadi is the Congress MP from Pune even though he was expelled by the party in the wake of the Commonwealth Games controversies. Having nurtured his constituency well, Kalmadi still has a good grip on the masses in Pune. But now he has to contend with Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar, who has thrown the gauntlet to him. So what if once Kalmadi was Sharad Pawar’s most trusted lieutenant? The Pune Municipal Corporation elections are approaching and Ajit Pawar wants to widen his base. Pawar roared in a rally at Pune recently without naming Kalmadi, “Pune is a cultured city..READMORE

Ajit Singh flying high

elections & factions
Ajit Singh flying high
takes ministry in hand
JIT Singh, the newly appointed Minister for Civil Aviation, is proving all who thought that he could not take wings in his new ministry wrong. Rising from the ground, the new Minister acquired a full grip on the affairs of his charge. Ask him anything about his new ministry and Ajit Singh has his answers ready. In fact, it would not be wrong to say his officials are a bit disturbed and much surprised to see a minister so well-versed with aviation issues. Ajit Singh studied in the US and only joined politics after the.....READMORE

Who will be VP

elections & factions
Who will be VP
the business of democracy
HE race to be the Vice President of India has already begun.   Though it is a long way to go, but one cannot stop aspirants from trying for the prestigious post. The new incumbent is expected to take office in July-August 2012. It is learnt that a leading business house from Mumbai is reportedly planning ahead: If the present incumbent Hamid Ansari is not elevated as President of India, then it wants him to continue. But if he is elevated, the business house still appears to be wanting to have a Vice-President of its choosing? The reasons for this are not far to seek. This is because the Vice-President is the ex-officio Chairman of the upper house or the Rajya Sabha and plays a ‘vital role’ in our democracy.
At the forefront of the race is Najeeb Jung, a retired IAS officer of the 1973 batch from Madhya Pradesh cadre and Vice Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia University. He has recently been appointed as Director of the Reserve Bank of India, an appojntment....  READMORE

BOOK REVIEW social commentary

social commentary
A beautiful tragedy
The story of a Third World country trapped in neo-colonialism
HE novel, Subarnadweepa, was published in Odia in 1994. This was the time of liberalisation of Indian economy, the beginning of neo-colonialism and a new kind of socio-economic disparity when some people became rich while others were thrown out of their low, but stable status. The translation of this modern classic has been published in 2011 as The Golden Island.
The Golden Island is a tiny island, with ambiguous reasons for its existence and is very different from India. Yet this allegorical country is a modern mythology of neo-colonialism, a fact that did not strike me when I was reading the novel. It struck me a couple of days after I finished the book and wanted to read it again.
When I was reading the book, it had quite a different ambience: an esoteric serendipitous country, whose beauty flows through the rapid chain of events, across landscapes and quaint people, and a cascade of cultures and mores. Occasionally, it made me angry: the rapacious neo-colonialists, the exploitation, a political economy indifferent to people in a democracy and an economic disaster.....READMORE


dr gs sood

Season for short-lived rallies
he year 2012 started on a cheerful note, with the markets gaining ground robustly. The markets showed resilience despite a host of negative developments on the international front, including the downgrades by rating agency Standard & Poor’s, delays in talks about restructuring of Greece’s sovereign debt and lowering of world growth estimates by the UN and the World Bank. Foreign fund inflows in the New Year have been so good that the first two weeks saw more inflows than what had flowed out in 2011. The rupee has also seen a decent bounce off its lows. The possible reason for FIIs’ inflows could be the opportunity provided by the sharp decline in the rupee and the attractive valuations the market is offering at this point in dollar terms.
This may not be the start of a bull run but it only suggests that there may not be a sharp downswing either. That foreign investors are still optimistic about the Indian economy is proved by recent FDI inflows. Also, despite much concern, the Indian markets did not witness any significant pull-out by the FIIs. This was perhaps due to the fact that we are already at the Sensex level of around 12,000 in dollar terms. The share of FII investments in emerging markets like India is still small compared to their global portfolios. They have to increase their share of investment in countries that are going to grow much faster than the rest of the world......READMORE 

APPOINTMENT prime minister’s office

prime minister’s office
PM’s new image doctor
Communications advisor Pankaj Pachauri has to undo some of the damage done to the Prime Minister’s image by his earlier advisors and fill the communication and information deficit as speedily as possible
by Renu Mittal
or a print journalist who used to write a column on statecraft, it would have been in the fitness of things to read between the lines and quit while he was still ahead rather than have his replacement (almost) appointed without information, consultation or discussion.
This was the case of Harish Khare, media advisor to the Prime Minister, who resigned after Managing Editor with NDTV, Pankaj Pachauri, was brought in as communications advisor to the PMO without either his consent or worse without his knowledge. Sources say the information came to him out of the blue, with the clear signal that he was not exactly welcome and that it was time to put in his papers. The fact that Pachauri would be reporting to the PM’s principal secretary Pulok Chatterjee rather than Khare only made the message that more hard-hitting.
Ever since the exit of TKA Nair from the post of principal secretary to the Prime Minister, it was clear that the next to go would be Harish Khare but since he had refused to oblige and step down, sources said his hand was virtually forced when Pankaj Pachauri was brought in......READMORE

SILLY POINT humour mk kaw

humour mk kaw
The Expanded Acronym
F you wish to put down someone who pretends to be a mighty potentate, the easiest way is to expand his acronym in a droll manner. Thus, IBM could find itself designated as ‘Institute for Bungling Morons’. Microsoft may have to come down a peg or two if it is made to say that ‘Most Intelligent Customers Realise Our Software Only Fools Teenagers’. Indian school children make fun of NCC as ‘National Chappal Chor’ and MBBS is expanded to read ‘Miyan Biwi Bachon Samet’.
No wonder the heaven-born service has not escaped the onslaught of wags and funsters. IAS has been lampooned as the ‘Indian Avatar Service’ to right size those members of the tribe who take on airs. It becomes ‘Invisible After Sunset’ as an appropriate description of those who try to ape the lifestyle of Wajid Ali Shah. And for the numbskulls, who periodically put their foot in the mouth, the acronym translates into ‘I Am Sorry’ as a permanent defence mechanism against violent reprisals, judicial, administrative or journalistic.
How far is the criticism justified? Do all or most IAS officers exhibit a nose-in-the-air attitude, looking down upon other human beings as lesser creatures?
The fact of the matter is that the combined onslaught of journalists, writers and other influential members of civil society, such as those untiring scribes of Letters to the Editor columns and those angelic bearers of the ever lit candles at India Gate or Jantar Mantar have reduced their status to  that of babus and pen pushers. A scholarly friend recently informed me that the pejorative expression ‘babu” was derived by our colonial masters from the Bengali phrase for fish, of which their local recruits used to smell all the time.
The implied criticism that senior bureaucrats have stopped drafting policies on momentous issues and are now considered fit only to convert the staccato barks of their political masters into a Government Order couched in chaste bureaucratese is justified. This explains why a large proportion of those whom the CBI books for Tihar Jail are politicians and not bureaucrats....READMORE

SPORTS london Olympics

london Olympics
Aiming for gold
Haryana is foremost in sports achievement but others must equal it if India is to have an impressive showing in London 2012
by Harpal Singh Bedi
HE vision statement of the study titled “Sports Performance Assessment of Indian States”, commissioned by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), opens with this wish:
“Imagine: If each Indian State and Union Territory contributed only one Olympic gold medal each, India could find its due place among the top three countries in the medal tally by the 2020 Games.”
The study was completed long before Mayawati’s wanting to add three more States to the Indian Union. If that ever happens, then, going by this, India would be vying for second place on the Olympic leader board.
The study was done in collaboration with Winning Matters Consulting, which adopted the Sports Performance Index (SPI) system to rank the States and came up with some interesting conclusions. According to it, in the sporting world, profit and loss are measured by medals won. Hence, the focus was on a State’s contribution in terms of medals won at major national and international events over 2008-11, with emphasis on big multi-discipline events – Olympics, Commonwealth, Asian and National Games. Seventeen individual sports that contribute 85 per cent of the medals at the Olympic Games were taken into account.
Haryana emerged the number one State in promoting sports on account of its strong national and international performances, dominated by boxing and wrestling. It also scored for being a model State in terms of talent identification, policy and incentives. Punjab and Maharashtra ranked second and third, respectively. Delhi was eighth and Madhya Pradesh 10th....READMORE

MY CORNER grievance amitabh thakur

grievance amitabh thakur
Better than Lokpal
The Grievance Redressal Bill 2011 sets forth an arrangement that is multilayered with well-defined structures and procedures, and may prove to be truly empowering
ecently we witnessed a lot of hoopla over a civil movement aimed primarily at passing a Lokpal Bill for more transparent, accountable and corruption-free governance. The movement and the Lokpal Bill took the entire nation by storm. The prime movers behind this movement insisted that a complete Act, covering different aspects of governance, be passed in one holistic package which they called the Jan Lokpal Bill. The government and many other civil societies had different opinions on this issue.
The government later introduced a bill in Parliament with an intention to prove its commitment to fighting corruption among government officers. The Bill, which goes by a long name- ‘The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011’, outlines the responsibilities of government departments towards citizens - and how someone who is denied the service due to them can take action. Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare had asked for this issue to be included in the Lokpal Bill. 
The Bill began by saying that every public authority or government department has to publish a citizen’s charter that clearly lists all the services that the department has to render along with timelines.  The citizen’s charter has to clearly explain the complaint redressal system for that office - like which officer in that department a complaint should be registered with. The Bill also provides for a “grievance redressal mechanism for non-compliance of citizen’s charter.”...READMORE

FIRST STIRRINGS vijay sanghvi

vijay sanghvi
‘I broke through the lines’
As a journalist from regional newspaper, Vijay Sanghvi overcame the
disadvantage that one suffers in a city where the political language is English
ithin a week of my arrival in Delhi in May 1967, my first encounter was with giants of political journalism assembled outside the Congress Party office waiting for the Congress Working Committee session to end. They were well over 50 years in age while I had only three months earlier stepped into my 28th year. They worked for reputed English dailies published from the capital, had the added advantage of knowing politics and politicians well, and operated in groups to bamboozle their way in. It was apparent that they would not allow a young person like me to have an edge. In addition, I also had inherent disadvantage of working for an out-station regional language paper that few could easily access or read. Every regional language media person suffers from this disadvantage because the political language of Delhi is English. No other language is recognised by decision makers in politics or the bureaucracy.
The only way I could overcome the shortcomings I realised would be by building one-to-one relations with decision-makers. I had my contacts in Mumbai and used them to get an exclusive copy of the 10-point programme that the Working Committee had adopted in its marathon session. My report was picked up the next day by news agencies enabling me to make my entry into what appeared to have been an impregnable wall of seniors in Delhi media circles because they greeted me as one of their own at our next encounter....READMORE

AVIATION air india regulation

air india regulation
Spreading the malaise
The ripple effect of Air India’s defaults in clearing dues of airports, oil companies and other suppliers would have not taken place had the Government put in place an independent regulator
by Naresh Minocha
ITH the governance of the country’s aviation sector not even being skeletal, the proverbial bad fish spoiling the whole pond is coming into full play. Today, the Government is spreading the financial burden of managing sick Air India Limited on other entities in the aviation sector. The ripple-effect of bad governance of a hopeless public sector enterprise now threatens to even dent the Income Tax Department’s receipts from airport and the aviation sector.
Air India and private loss-incurring airlines have already hurt the financial health of public sector oil companies, such as Indian Oil Corporation, through delayed payment of fuel bills. The oil companies, in turn, are facing bills, though modest, against fuel handling facilities provided by airports.... READMORE

SECURITY task force challenges

task force challenges
Agencies cry for covert ops
The Task Force appointed to review existing security systems needs to consider not only the world security scenario and social media threats, but also the role and ambit of our intelligence agencies
by AK Verma
 Task Force, comprising retired senior officials and heads of all government departments having national security responsibilities, with the convener of the National Security Advisory Board as its Chairman, has been holding sessions to review the existing systems and suggest improvements, changes and modifications of the processes, procedures and practices to bring about a qualitative change in the internal and external national security posture. The Task Force is also expected to examine what remains to be done with respect to the recommendations of the committee set up after the Kargil war. It is likely to submit its report by March-end.
The Task Force faces a daunting task. Ensuring comprehensive security is getting more and more complex every day. The external environment has become vitiated by new perspectives of political permissiveness, which have brought in their wake questionable doctrines of unilateralism, pre-emptive strike and regime change. Globalisation has made economic penetration a much simpler activity. Technological advances render territorial frontiers insignificant. Emergence of a single superpower after the Soviet Union’s disintegration has not resolved the equation of balance of power. Three emergent powers in Asia, China, Japan and India, are engaged in aggressive competition for status, markets and resources. China, in addition, is involved in a hectic pursuit of military power to equal that of the US in the coming decades. The world security architecture, therefore, remains in a constant flux, with new alignments, realignments and conflicts surfacing in dramatic ways.....READMORE

Governance defence

Does the Ministry of Defence have a hidden agenda in denying ‘natural justice’ to the Chief of the world’s third largest army?
by M G Devasahayam
THE Chief of the Army Staff, General Vijay Kumar Singh’s main contention in the Supreme Court, where he has gone seeking justice is: “The government needs to explain as to why the senior-most officer of the Army could be treated in a manner which reflects total lack of procedure and principles of natural justice, and that too on an opinion obtained from the Attorney General.” He goes on to state that the conduct of the government is affecting his reputation and the action on their part is affecting his image before the general public and the armed forces.....Read More

GOVERNANCE - public policy

public policy
Forever and ever
Food, drinking water, education, healthcare and sanitation are issues that governments and officials say cannot be solved in haste, but this has not prevented them from glossing over other challenges, answers to which are within reach
by BN Uniyal
Shame, said the Prime Minister, that 42 per cent of Indian children are malnourished! Shame, said the Supreme Court, that thousands of children, particularly girls, are dropping out of schools because there are no toilets for them! Shame, said the Rural Development Minister, Mr. Jairam Ramesh, that absence of sanitation is the biggest blot on India!
–The Hindu, January 22, 2012
here is too much around and about us for every Indian to be ashamed of. The Hindu could have very well have added a shame for 70 per cent adulterated milk sold and yet another shame for the 41 per cent or so of the population that goes to sleep on an empty stomach every night, or for the low quality of education in our schools, and so on and so forth. We have a national shame for every day of the week.
Food, drinking water, education, healthcare and sanitation were considered “burning issues” when I started my career 50 years ago. Today, as my career as a journalist is coming......  Read More

GOVERNANCE - tribal rights

Sepoy’s misstep
Despite Rahul Gandhi’s airy assurances to tribals, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes is the Centre’s stepchild
by Naresh Minocha
N August 2010 at a tribals’ rally, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had said, ‘My job as your sepoy in New Delhi has just started. Whenever you require my support, call me. I will be there with you.’ The rally was organised to celebrate the denial of permission to Vedanta to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri hills of Orissa. Rahul added: ‘True development takes place by respecting the interests of the poor and tribals, and not by muffling their voice.’
But going by the maltreatment of the constitutional authority for protection of tribal rights by the UPA government, Rahul’s promise appears to have fallen by the wayside. The government has not tabled even a single annual report of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) in Parliament, leave aside taken a decision on the recommendations by the commission. The NCST has repeatedly had to struggle to enforce its constitutional right to advise the government on proposed policies and regulations that impact tribals. Two glaring instances are the mining bill and the food security bill.......Read More..

BIG BOSS - jawhar sircar,secretary, culture

‘Do not apply value judgements to culture’
awhar Sircar, a 1975 batch IAS officer, is an exceptional bureaucrat who enjoys working in the Culture Ministry. No wonder, he has been the longest-serving Secretary in this Ministry. He has tried to cater to the ‘cultural  community’ in various ways. He draws satisfaction from the fact that his efforts have brought back the community to the Ministry. No doubt, he has achieved a lot in this field because of his keen interest in the subject. From the mid-1990s till 2005, he took the lead in upgrading the annual Kolkata Film Festival to a remarkable and recognised event of international standards. His other interests are in theatre, in which he became involved from his mid-teens, and in certain genres of music and dance. In this interview, he speaks about the problems of attitude and orientation in the functioning of the Ministry and its associated bodies.
interviewed by Diptendra Raychaudhuri
gfiles: Throughout your career, you have mostly served in finance or related departments and ministries. You also served as Chief Election Officer of West Bengal. At the fag end of your career, you became Secretary in the Culture Ministry. How has been your experience here?
Jawhar Sircar: True, I spent around 17 years in industry and finance, but I have also spent.....Read More