gfiles magazine

November 21, 2013

COVER STORY | Living Dangerously

scam nsel
Living Dangerously
Despite the National Spot Exchange (NSEL) scam running into a whopping Rs 5,600 crore, and its details out in the open, the authorities seem reluctant to act. While arrests have been made in all major scams—from Hawala to 2G to Coalgate—Jignesh Shah, the alleged kingpin behind the multi-crore NSEL scam, continues to roam freely. After the gfiles story in June 2013, NSEL operations were halted. But investigations began only after the gfiles cover story in September 2013. Still, Jignesh Shah roams scot-free. Sources disclose that Shah has engaged some of the best lawyers in the country to pre-empt any government move to arrest him. Is the law for scamsters or for exposing the truth? Neeraj Mahajan analyses the scam and brings the latest updates on the developments taking place in the law enforcement agencies and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
THERE is a saying in Gujarati that if your mother is serving and even if you are way behind in the queue – the least you can expect is an extra ladoo (sweets) in your plate. This explains why both Jignesh Shah and Ketan Parekh are managing to hoodwink the law even after committing grave financial crimes. Unlike Harshad Mehta, Hasan Ali and A R Telgi, Shah and Parekh have managed to evade the law because of their political connections....Read More

EXPOSE | Where land sharks rule

land deals haryana
Where land sharks rule
The nexus between politicians and builders in Gurgaon is responsible for largescale loot of public resources in the millennium city
By Narendra Kaushik
AMIT Jain, Director-General of Federation of Apartment Owners Association (FAOA), frequently draws a parallel between Gurgaon, the millennium city abutting South Delhi, and Mandwa, a hamlet near Mumbai made famous by Hindi film titled Agneepath. While in Mandwa, Jain points out, criminals multiplied their income through smuggling of narcotics, in Gurgaon, builders and developers do it through shady property deals.
Jain would know. The FAOA, a group of 35 apartment owners associations from different parts of the country fighting against builders for upholding interests of apartment residents, gets 24 of its enrolments from Gurgaon alone. The Federation has taken over some 20 cases from apartment associations against the builders. Out of these, half a dozen are against DLF Ltd, arguably the largest commercial estate company in the country. In a case pertaining to Silver Oak, the first... Read More


witch hunting mg devasahayam
"Veekaysinghmania" SATYAMEVA JAYATE ?
The saga of incidents and events related to former Army Chief VK Singh leaves one disillusioned with the possibility that truth shall prevail
THE distinguished civilian MK Kaw wrote thus: “Modi’s illadvised selection of strange bedfellows can result in the kind of fiasco that has followed sharing of the dais with maverick personalities like General VK Singh, former Chief of Army staff, who has been embroiled in controversies galore.….” (gfiles, October 2013). Indeed, the avalanche of lies about the General, flooding the media for over two years, is having their effect!
There is this notorious Goebbels doctrine: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/ or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” India’s ruling coterie and the ‘committed’ media appear to be loyal adherents of this doctrine!.... Read More

GOVERNANCE | Called question

parliament devender singh
Called question
The orderly progression of Question Hour has been besieged by scenes of incessant power struggle, of one-upmanship, pandemonium and unruly conduct

A question is a powerful parliamentary device in the armoury of an MP for seeking information on a matter of public importance with in the specific congnisanse of a Minister of the Government of India. Insiders, however, say, more often than not, MPs have certain foreknowledge, and the latent intent behind seeking information is to pinpoint of highlight delay, inefficiency, waste, malpractices and acts of omission and commission of the Government. In each question, therefore, hangs a different tale.
It is in recognition of the time tested efficacy of questions as a potentially powerful tool of oversight and accountability that, unless decided otherwise, the first hour of every sitting of Parliament, known as the Question Hour, is earmarked for asking and answering questions. Ironically, over successive Parliaments, the orderly progression of Question Hour has been besieged by, what look like, scenes of incessant power struggle, of one-upmanship, pandemonium and unruly conduct... Read More

STATE SCAN | Kashmir: policy paralysis

j&k mk kaw

If we enunciate a clear-cut forthright policy on Kashmir, India will no longer be regarded as a soft State by the world community
KASHMIR is in the news once again. Analysts are having a field day, dissecting personalities, policies, predilections and preferences to understand what exactly is happening and why. Most experts say that Pakistan is indulging in violations of the ceasefire line to facilitate the entry of saboteurs and terrorists into the Kashmir valley. Or, else they feel that Pakistan is trying to keep the Kashmir issue alive on the international circuit because of the session of the UN General Assembly or because of meetings of the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers with Barack Obama.
What is missing from the discourse is any serious debate on India’s Kashmir policy. Taking into account the history of Kashmir since 1947, right from the first Pakistani aggression under the guise of the Qabaili invasion to the 1965 and 1971 wars to the Kargil misadventure, this period has been a blood-spattered saga of violence, sabotage, mayhem and genocide. Yet one searches in vain for a white paper on India™s policy on Kashmir, which clearly enunciates what our goals and strategies are.... Read More

FIRST STIRRINGS | Rathikant Basu Utterly unusual

rathikant basu
Rathikant Basu Utterly unusual
The former Chief Commissioner, Income Tax (Mumbai); is now doing something he always wanted to do — writing — and is today the author of three books.
By Shailaja Chandra
AMONG my list of unusual civil servants, I was particularly keen to do a story on Rathikant Basu. This man had left the IAS when he had several years to go; also at a time when this was not a popular thing to do. But his departure was doubly remarkable because he straightaway plunged into the cut-throat world of electronic media where even finding one’s feet can be precarious.
Even today, after 17 years, Basu’s name evokes two diametrically opposite responses: admiration and envy you know how he dumped the government and joined Rupert Murdoch?” is invariably the first reaction. No, but he brought the difference between night and day to television!” is the other reaction.... Read More..


bhutan an ram
Stepping out
Bhutan’s transition from self-imposed isolationism to a respected member of the comity of nations is a matter of pride for all Bhutanese, and friends
By Shailaja Chandra
WHEN, in 1958, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, on horseback, crossed the Chumbi Valley into the adjoining HA Valley of Bhutan (Druk Yul or The Land of the Thunder Dragon), accompanied by his daughter, Indira Gandhi, and a small entourage comprising officials, support staff and helpers, few at that time would have realised the historic significance of this little-reported event. Some black-and-white photographs and poor quality 8 mm film recorded by the government’s cameraman, apart from the archives in the Ministry of External Affairs and with the Royal Government of Bhutan, are the only public record of this event. For nearly four centuries from the time of Shabdung Ngawang Namgyal (1616) who unified Bhutan...Read More..

MY CORNER | Keep it unbiased

justice amitabh thakur
Keep it unbiased
The present system of inquiry against government servants being conducted in the department itself has its own pitfalls and severe problems
MOST of us might have either sent a complaint regarding some government official or would have been witness or privy to such a complaint. In all such cases, we see the complaint marked to some senior officer, often percolating down step by step so as to finally come to an officer immediately superior to the officer being complained about. There are also examples where the complaint goes to the same officer for his comments or for necessary action.
In cases where the complaint goes to the officer accused, the only thing it results in is bad blood between the complainant and the accused officer where the latter is always in a search of an opportunity to take revenge against the complainant. A famous example that is often quoted is that of the anti-corruption martyr Satyendra Dube, who sent a confidential complaint letter about the huge corruption in the National Highway Authority of India to the then Prime Minister, which later found its... Read More

BOOK REVIEW | Coming to terms with change

technology non-fiction
Coming to terms with change
Two recent books on social media and big data have a lot of important and relevant things to say about governance and IT revolution
By S Narendra
THIS is a must read for legal professionals, IT policy makers, management experts and policy think-tanks to help them gear up the Indian political system to the reality of big data, to its economic value and the potential for its misuse by governments and private firms. As the authors warn, big data is changing the notion of justice and human freedom to act.
Bird flu and swine flu created a pandemic in 2009 and health authorities and researchers desperately wanted to map and isolate the affected areas and people for effective targeting the treatment and control measures in the most vulnerable geographies. Google search came to their assistance......Read More..

INITIATIVE | Are you emotionally intelligent?

workplace dalip singh
Are you emotionally intelligent?
MANY civil servants are extraordinarily talented, conceptually brilliant and have a very high IQ. They excel in computers, science and mathematics. Sadly though, they are not particularly likeable people. Many of them are aggressive and brutal in their responses to the outside world. They have little or no feelings for people around them. They feel psychologically awkward in relationships, have no social graces or even a social or personal life. Being uncomfortable with themselves and making people around them uncomfortable becomes a routine response in their life....Read More..

STOCK DOCTOR | Global funds hold indices up

dr gs sood
Global funds hold indices up
THE current market scenario defies all logic and presents interesting contradictions. Whereas the Sensex is at a kissing distance of its all-time high recorded in early 2008, India Infoline (IIFL) and two other large brokerage houses have announced the gradual shutdown of their retail broking divisions. They admitted that retail clients are no more interested in equities.
According to a recent Economic Times story, the share of retail investors in total turnover of cash market is at a 10-year low of 34 per cent from a high of 84 per cent in 2003. Only 10-15 per cent of the market is near all-time high and is, in general, very expensive. FIIs have bought Indian equities worth more than US$15 billion so far this year. They may deny a visa to Narendra Modi but are betting big on his victory. More than US$3 billion came after September 13......Read More..

PERSPECTIVE | Spirituality, a dimension of joy

festivals sadhguru
Spirituality, a dimension of joy
THE essence of our culture has been to turn every aspect of life into a celebration. Slowly, as the economic condition of the country declined, our festivals have diminished in number. But during the reign of Rama, we are told life was a celebration 365 days of the year!
So, if people ploughed the land one day, that became the occasion for a ploughing festival. If they were planting, it was a planting festival. If harvesting, a harvesting festival, and so on. Making each day a cause for celebration brought joy into everyday life. Without this dimension of joy, life often turns burdensome.... Read More.. the way | Khemka won’t go away the way
Khemka won’t go away
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda Chief Minister of Haryana seems to be in deep trouble as every day brings an onslaught from one of his outspoken officers Ashok Khemka. The State Government has filed two chargesheets against the 1991 batch IAS officer but that does not seem deter Khemka. In the latest episode, in a letter to the Chief Secretary, Khemka has questioned the eligibility ...Read More.. the way | On tenterhooks! the way
On tenterhooks!
Coalgate seems to have opened Pandora’s Box within the government. Serving Secretaries, especially, are a worried species. The arrest of Siddharth Behura, former Secretary Communication, the FIR against former Coal Secretary P C Parakh, the transfer of two Secretaries unceremoniously in the Ministry of Petroleum, has all stunned the bureaucracy. In meetings and in the cocktail circuit... Read More... the way | Delhi lovers, all the way
Delhi lovers, all
“Par kaun jaye ae zauk, Ye dilli ki galiyan chhorh kar” When Zauk sahib said this couplet, nobody dreamed at that time that in actual sense the rulers who will rule from Delhi would not like to move out of the capital of India. The All India Service officers of all state cadres are entitled to serve in Delhi as per the Central Staffing Scheme (CSS). The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions has a rule that no officer will stay in Delhi more than seven years once the officer starts his on deputation. It has been observed that there are many officers....Read More the way | Caught fit and proper | Caught fit and proper the way
Caught fit and proper
Pankaj Agarwal, Secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution is in a fix. His ministry is facing the biggest scandal of this year—the National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL) scam. Agarwal, a 1978 batch IAS officer from UP, was not even aware about the scandal though the NSEL is governed by one of his toothless departments, the Forward Markets Commission or FMC. The real problem is not within the ministry but with the boss of the ministry Sharad Pawar. Sources disclosed that Agarwal can solve....Read More

Bric-a-brac | Divine help? | mahant under seer’s spell

hot & cold
Divine help?
mahant under seer’s spell
SOBHAN Sarkar, the seer who had predicted that 1,000 tonnes of gold was buried under the temple in Unnao, used senior Chhattisgarh Congress leader Charan Das Mahant to put pressure on the government to dig for the elusive gold. Mahant has been a long time chela of Sarkar and was only too willing to oblige. It now appears that Sarkar told Mahant that if he can convince the government to dig for the gold, the Congressled central government would benefit... Read More

Bric-a-brac | Rising star | cp joshi charms rahul gandhi

Hot & Cold
Rising star
cp joshi charms rahul gandhi
THE grapevine is abuzz with news that senior Rajasthan leader CP Joshi is the rising star in the Rahul Gandhi camp. Joshi, who was made the chairman of the screening committee for Chhattisgarh elections, is said to have been instrumental in bringing Ajit Jogi on board and engineering a rapprochement between Jogi and Rahul. For a week before the announcement of tickets, Amit Jogi, the tech savvy son of Ajit Jogi, was a daily visitor to Rahul’s house. The two are said to have had long discussions on the selection of candidates...Read More

Bric-a-brac | Angry young man | bihar cong team faces rahul’s ire

Hot & Cold
Angry young man
bihar cong team faces rahul’s ire
RAHUL Gandhi is frequently angry these days. The latest incident happened when a delegation of the Bihar Congress went to meet him. They favoured a tie-up with Laloo Prasad Yadav in Bihar. They impressed upon Rahul the need to stitch together the alliance at the earliest, so as to provide an alternative to the BJP in the State. But what they got in return was a huge dressing down from Rahul, who told them that they were not worried about either the party or the workers, but only about their own interests and survival... Read More

Bric-a-Brac | Supreme power | hooda brooks no interference

Hot & Cold
Supreme power
hooda brooks no interference
HARYANA Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has grown so powerful that he has dared to defy the Congress Party. This was evident recently, when the Haryana Government appointed three State Information Commissioners. Sources disclosed that a powerful Congress general secretary had desired that pro-Congress persons be appointed as State Commissioners. He had also recommended three names. But, Hooda instead appointed his own nominees. It is learnt that the first appointment of Samir Mathur, a 1981 batch IAS officer, who was working as additional Chief Secretary, Home Department, on a three-month extension, was done at the instance of Chattar Pal Singh, former PS to the Chief Minister who recently became a UPSC Member on the recommendation of Hooda. Second appointee...Read More

Governance | Obey, or refuse

civil services yogendra narain
Obey, or refuse

TThe time has come to amend the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1961, so as to clarify the situation in case of disagreement between the Minister and the Secretary. THE contentious issue of Secretaries to the Government, acting on the orders of the Minister, when a particular Secretary feels that the orders are irregular or illegal, had come into public debate after the 2G scam. One Telecom Secretary refused to implement the orders of the Minister while the other did. The following questions have emerged:
1. If the Secretary of a department gives his advice based on the relevant rules and regulations, is the Minister bound to accept his advice? Read More