gfiles magazine

October 11, 2014

His Master’s Choice

Cover Story
cbi political tool

When institutions of faith crumble, it hurts. As Peter F Drucker says, “No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organised in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.” As the saying goes, “There are no good or bad regiments but Colonels.” If the man in command is good, the regiment will be good. If he is bad, the regiment will be bad. This holds true for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Each of its leaders changed the organisation’s orientation, independent character, credibility and goodwill.

‘Smart Cities’ Urban Agenda or Utopia?

urbanisation mg devasahayam

India is fast heading towards a 50:50 rural-urban distribution of population slated for the middle of the present century. Tamil Nadu has already achieved this and other states would soon follow. Such countrywide distribution would mean that in another three-four decades India’s urban dwellers would exceed the combined population of the US and Europe. These habitats are not mere buildings and amenities, but meant for people with flesh and blood to live and work.

Service above all

deo dutt sharma

all his life he has been like a sailor on a ship called destiny, which invariably called at the right ports. A structural engineering topper from IIT Roorkee, specialising in the impact of earthquakes on buildings, the Indian Administrative Service was not even in Deo Dutt Sharma’s plans in the early 1970s when he joined the Uttar Pradesh Public Works Department (PWD) as an Assistant Engineer at Rae Bareli. Subsequently, he was promoted as Executive Engineer. As luck would have it, because of his outstanding career record, he was interviewed  and found suitable by the UPSC to join the IAS in the 1985 batch of the UP cadre.    

The Inimitable Prime Minister

new paradigm mk kaw

Like many of my compatriots, I have seen and judged Narendra Modi from widely different perspectives. There was a time when I saw him as a mass murderer who had engineered or, at the very least, permitted the anti-Muslim riots. He was portrayed by some as a lackey of the Adanis and the Ambanis, ready to oblige them going out of the way, and then travelling in executive jets for his election campaign at their expense. He was labelled as a dictator who treated his ministers with contempt and was an incipient Hitler.

NSEL scam:Accounted Loot

scam jignesh shah

Jignesh Shah is out on bail. But the Enforcement Directorate is still working on the case of financial irregularities and fraud against the Shah-promoted National Spot Exchange Limited (NSEL). It has released a notification listing the properties attached by the Maharashtra Government linked with the `5,600 crore NSEL scam. The Directorate is still not able to unearth the alleged unaccounted wealth of some promoters, like former NSEL Director Sunil Daga Khairnar. Whether this step will lead to the return of money of duped investors remains to be seen. In an exclusive, Ajit Ujjainkar brings you the list of the offenders.

Men at the receiving end?

gender amitabh thakur

Recently I filed a writ petition in the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court, praying for the formation of a National and State-level Men’s Commission to look into specific men-oriented issues and problems. The focus of the petition is on the unique problems being faced by males. It says that the petitioner fully understands, realises and appreciates the fact that in society at large and particularly in Indian society, women in general occupy a more difficult place vis-à-vis their male counterparts.

Buoyancy will persist

dr gs sood

Two recent events vindicate my view on the market being in a secular bull run with intermittent corrections coming in. One, the rating upgrade and the other, the Supreme Court’s cancellation of allotment of coal blocks. The market may have run ahead of fundamentals but the uptrend will continue to sustain, more due to earnings’ expansion than due to expansion of earnings’ multiples. The fundamentals, of course, have started to catch up, as reiterated by an upgrade of India’s sovereign rating by international rating firm Standard & Poor (S&P) from negative to stable.

Quality of surrender

surrender sadhguru

People often ask me about the role of surrender on the spiritual path. I tell them they cannot achieve it. Surrender is not an act. Surrender is a certain quality. If you try to surrender to someone, you will only become a slave. You will not become free. I have never asked anyone to surrender to me. I do not want such an indignity to befall anyone! The spiritual path is not about you surrendering to the Guru or to anyone else. It is about you becoming surrender. The Guru is just a catalyst to bring about that quality in you.

Ramdev on the sidelines modi meeting a damp squib

fate & fetes

Baba Ramdev is a puzzled man after Narendra Modi took over as Prime Minister of India. He travelled almost nine months across the country to root out the Congress regime with the hope that when the BJP would come to power, he would have a say in matters of governance. But, since the new regime has taken over the reins, most of the ministers do not even say  a ‘namaskar’ to the maverick baba. His request for a meeting with Modi also did not fructify; he was advised to wait. The baba became restless so he requested one of his journalist friends, with a national TV channel, to seek an appointment with Modi.

Phone friends ...but modi refuses to meet

fate & fetes

Narendra Modi is very cautious since he has taken oath as Prime Minister of the country. He understands that people will try to approach him using all the possible means at their disposal. Recently, an old acquaintance from Shimla contacted him for some personal favour for a close friend. In Shimla, Modi had stayed with the man’s family when he was in charge of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh as General Secretary. Modi received the call personally and talked to the person and asked him about his and his family’s well-being. The person requested a meeting. Modi asked as to what job he wanted done. The person said he could not explain on the phone.

‘Make Modi Show’ no boosts for ministers

fate & fetes

The mist is getting clearer as the days pass. Events are indicating very clearly how Narendra Modi will act, how he will administer the Government of India.  The recent ‘Make in India’ function was splendid; the who’s who of India attended. In a political setup, it is a convention that the Prime Minister or a leader gets his programmes and policies endorsed by his political colleagues and ministers. But Modi is doing things in an unconventional manner. Kalraj Mishra, Dharmendra Pradhan, Anant Geete and Santosh Gangwar were all there at the function on the dais but Modi chose to give the Chairman of the Tata Group, Cyrus Mistry, the opening speech.

Aura of power change in persona

fate & fetes

Power brings a command and wisdom along with it; power lends a certain finish to individuals. Though Narendra Modi ruled Gujarat as Chief Minister for more than a decade and was in absolute control,  a refinement, confidence, style and sense of command were missing. gfiles observed Modi two years ago at the India Today conclave in the Taj Palace Hotel, Delhi. His face had worry lines; he did not have an aura of confidence. Now he is the Prime Minister, and all power flows through him. gfiles observed him at the ‘Make in India’ function minutely. Modi now appears calm, composed and confident. It appears that, in three months, he has grasped the reins of power at the centre firmly.

Hush-Hush! the way

The corridors of the Women and Child Development Ministry currently have an eerie silence. An incident within has struck at its very foundation. It is learnt that a woman officer has filed a molestation complaint against a Joint Secretary. The complaint was filed with the Secretary and everybody was furious on hearing about the alleged incident. The surprising development was that the Joint Secretary, of the Manipur-Tripura cadre, was reverted back to his parent cadre without any notice or a proper inquiry.

High and dry the way

The move to disband the six-decade-old Planning Commission has created a furore among the 500-strong Indian Economic Service (IES) officers. Nobody has thought about what will happen to those working there. In any case, IES officers were already sidelined in the government and they did not have major work in the ministries. Approximately 100 IES officers were working in the Ministry of Planning and they all have to be gainfully deployed. Even promotions will be impacted, as the officers from the defunct Plan panel will have to be placed in ministries, where posts of Joint Secretary and above are considered ‘reserved’, albeit unofficially, for IAS officers.

Khera and his kitchen garden the way

It is well known that the de facto boss of the Sheila Dikshit Government in Delhi was Pawan Khera. After sister Rama Dhawan, it was Khera who enjoyed the confidence of the former Chief Minister. Dikshit vacated her 3, Motilal Nehru Marg residence immediately after demitting office but Khera is still occupying two NDMC houses in Kaka Nagar even after Dikshit has resigned from the Governorship of Kerala. Khera got the two houses re-allotted from Jalaj Srivastava, IAS, NDMC Chairman, when Dikshit was appointed as Kerala Governor on the basis that he was serving the governor as an adviser. But now that Dikshit is no more a Governor,  officially Khera has to vacate the houses immediately.

Senseless conventions the way

 Administration of the human resource within the government is a complex web. The services, especially civil service officers, are explicitly managed by the Service Rule Book but there are often issues where no solution can be found in the rule book. For example, an officer who is on compulsory wait for a new posting does not get a salary for the waiting period. How does he manage? He gets the salary with retrospective effect as and when he is posted in any department of the Government of India. There are hundreds of IAS, IPS and other civil services officers who are put on compulsory wait. Though they are provided with all amenities like a car, telephone and house, many officers are at their wits’ end on how to meet their expenses.

October 4, 2014

Cheat funds

scam chit funds

Financial scams and scandals rock the country on a regular basis. Promising quick money to gullible small investors, these scamsters make a killing and then vanish into thin air. And what does the system do—it is caught napping each and every time. Still, no efforts are made to plug the loopholes and strengthen prevention efforts...

Exploiting the loopholes

regulation chit funds

Whenever there is a scam, the government and regulators realise the need to plug loopholes in the law. But, after a lull, unscrupulous operators are back in business, promising the moon, and investors again fall prey to them. The regulators too look the other way until another scandal comes along

Jignesh Shah goes free again

scam nsel

The Bombay High Court recently granted Jignesh Shah bail after 107 days in jail in the Rs. 5,600-crore National Spot Exchange Limited (NSEL) scam. Justice AM Thipsay said in his order: “I am granting him bail… since there is no possibility of him absconding.” This has raised eyebrows. All agree that the Rs. 5,600-crore crime was committed. The only debate is whether the court should have accepted the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) chargesheet which clearly spelt out that Shah was deeply involved in the fraud.

Modi: Taking a leaf out of JP's book?

inclusion mg devasahayam

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi came out with his first discourse on inclusive governance while addressing the nation on August 15, 2014, he spoke of governing India through sahmati (consensus), not bahumati (majority), and sought the cooperation of people and political parties in this mission. Modi exhorted the people to join the mass sanitation movement to remove the “dirt in our village, city, street, area, school, temple, hospital, and what have you, by 2019 when we celebrate 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.” He invoked Lal Bahadur Shastri’s slogan “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan” and said that a soldier sacrifices himself at the border and protects Mother India. Similarly, a farmer serves Mother India by filling the godowns with grains.

Babus rule the airwaves

broadcasting poonam dabas

There has been a spurt of media articles, editorials and television debates after the new Government has come to power giving the impression that the government is exerting bureaucratic control to manipulate the working of the newsroom in both wings of Prasar Bharati–Doordarshan and Akashvani. What is not known is that the splurge of media articles could be a pressure tactic to draw the attention of the new regime and seek administrative and financial control in the garb of functional autonomy.

Kashmir : The Simmering Dish

 kashmir mk kaw

A few years back, I asked Maharajkrishna Rasgotra, ex-Foreign Secretary, as to what he thought would happen to the Kashmir situation 20 years later. “It is simmering today. Twenty years hence, I guess it will still be simmering.” So far, his forecast has held out. But if Modi is the Masterchef that he claims he is, a dish that has simmered for decades is hardly the Super Royal Delicacy he has promised 125 crore Indians. Imagine some alternative scenarios.

Whither Congress?

congress shubhabrata bhattacharya

Obsessed with the demand for it to be granted the position of Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha, the Congress seems oblivious to the fact that as an organisation it is not quite positioned to provide opposition to the BJP juggernaut. The very fact that the Chief Ministers of Haryana and Maharashtra were jeered by the very same crowds which cheered Prime Minister Modi, brings into stark relief the utter lack of organisational ability in India’s Grand Old Party.


rasheda hussain

Her name, Rasheda Hussain, itself is loaded with meaning. Rasheda is derived from Rashid—one of the 99 names of Allah meaning “The Guide” or “one who takes to the right path”—and Hussain was the son of Ali and the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. “God is inside me… not something external—that I have to be afraid of. I am always trying to evolve as a better person. That is my religion. Religion is something that makes you strong,” she says.

Police must acquire a human face

police amitabh thakur

Recently, I went to the UP Police Academy in Moradabad to deliver a lecture to Deputy SP probationers. There a probationer shot a question: “These days so much focus is being given to humane policing. Here, in the Academy also, we are taught a lot about this. But many of us feel that this is more theoretical. What is your opinion, particularly in light of field experiences?”

From Kak Bhushundi to Kaw

humour non-fiction

It is believed that, during his wanderings in the Himalaya after renouncing the world, Sant Tulsidas met Kak Bhushundi, the mythical sacred crow to whom god Shiva had related the story of Lord Rama. Kak Bhushundi related the immortal tale to Tulsidas during his visitation, who, thus divinely inspired, wrote his classic epic poem, Ramacharitamanas. MK Kaw’s family too has a Kak Bhushundi connection. Kashmiri Pandits had an endearing trait – to give nicknames to fellow Pandits, making fun of some odd feature in their personal appearance. The aquiline nose of Kaw’s distant ancestor earned the sobriquet ‘Kaw’, likening him to Kak Bhushundi or a crow.

On a bull run

dr gs sood

THE market is firmly in the bull grip with economic fundamentals gradually catching up. Though there may be a correction in the short run as the valuations appear a bit stretched and most of the near-term positives have already been factored into current valuations. Also, some large public sector offerings are likely to hit the market soon. The long-term view of the market remains bullish. Economic growth for the April-June quarter is likely to be the highest of the previous eight quarters on the back of the sheer change in mood and sentiment. The signs of cyclical recovery are very much visible in industrial output, exports and corporate performance.

Invent your own God

divinity sadhguru

Two cows were grazing in an English meadow. One said, “What’s your opinion on the mad cow disease?” The other said, “I don’t care a hoot about it. Anyway, I’m a helicopter.” If a cow realises that it is a cow, it becomes a celebrity — a holy cow. It is that simple! It’s merely a question of realisation. In India, we have always called mystics ‘self-realised’ beings. Realisation is not about inventing or discovering something; it is just about realising who you are. Most people don’t realise who they are because they’re too self-engrossed to pay any attention to life.

Secret of Udaipur

young & old

The genie of the Laxmi Vilas Palace hotel, Udaipur, has come out in the open. Arun Shourie and Pradip Baijal, former Secretary, Disinvestment, have figured prominently in this controversy.  Laxmi Vilas Palace is an Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) property purchased by hotelier Lalit Suri a decade ago. It was public knowledge that it was sold for a pittance. It is also an open secret at whose instance the deal was solemnised. The timing of the controversy is the subject of curiosity. Shourie is a well-known mentor, guide and philosopher of Narendra Modi. Shourie was offered a Cabinet post but he reportedly declined, citing personal reasons.

Industrialists and Modi

young & old

It is not easy to understand Narendra Modi’s style of functioning. He communicates to the media only what he wishes to share and nothing more. There are only a few who can sense what is happening in South Block. It has been observed in the last 100 days that the media has reported only whatever he wanted to deliver and prove to the public, while other developments have surfaced as rumours, creating a furore in the government set up. India Inc was also watching, though the top industrial houses were in touch with Modi much before the elections were announced. But, whenever a new Prime Minister takes over the country’s reins, the top industrialists make courtesy calls. This is a routine affair for the last 67 years.

Gadkari’s woes

young & old

Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Surface Transport and Shipping, has learnt a lot since crossing paths with Income Tax authorities. He is very cautious now. Aware that the homes of ministers are bugged before he came into this post, sources disclose that he even invited a private detective to check his residence. It was discovered that the situation was fishy. Some newspapers carried a banner headline but he managed to hush up the news. Since then, Gadkari is more vigilant as far as ministry matters are concerned.

Congress in retirement

young & old

Janardan Dwivedi, a confidant of Sonia Gandhi and a powerful General Secretary of the Congress party, has recently stated that the leaders who are above 65 to 70 years of age should now look for other assignments and make way for the younger generation. After hearing this, the witty and intelligent General Secretary, Digvijaya Singh, narrated a story to journalists. He said, “The great emperor, Akbar, took the reins of power at the age of 13. He was a child and did not know how to run the country. Akbar was a sharp child; he used to trust Bairam Khan, his military commander and a powerful statesman and regent at his court.

Make my India the way

Everybody is anxiously waiting for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to open his magic box and solve the country’s problems once and for all. However, the socio-economic political situation is not so straightforward. South Block has been aggressively at work, for the last 100 days, drawing up blueprints which will provide the roadmap to be pursued by India Inc. The final blueprint is nicknamed ‘Make India’. If sources are to be believed, the Prime Minister’s Office has selected 35 top ministries. One of the most efficient and influential Secretary to the Government has been assigned the job.

Who will be the Cab Sec? the way

By the end of October, the Narendra Modi government has to select a new Cabinet Secretary of India. If the current Cabinet Secretary–Ajit Kumar Seth–does not get an extension, the government will be on the lookout for a competent and efficient replacement. Sources disclose that two prominent names are being circulated in the corridors of power. PK Mishra, Secretary, Power, a 1977-batch IAS officer of the UP cadre, is the most prominent name. Another officer’s name that has surfaced for the coveted and prestigious post is that of Anil Goswami, Secretary, Home Affairs, a 1978-batch IAS officer from the J&K cadre and an experienced bureaucrat.

Significantly insignificant the way

A Dalit wrote the most important policy document of the nation, our Constitution. But 68 years on, there have been very few IAS officers from SC/ST categories in the highest echelons of policy-making. It has been observed that officers from the Dalit community seldom reach the rank of Secretary. There are many factors. What happens when a Dalit reaches the rank but is assigned to an inconsequential ministry? There are at least four serving Dalit secretaries in the government but, intentionally or unintentionally, they have been sidelined in insignificant departments or commissions. Lalit K Panwar, a 1979-batch Rajasthan-cadre IAS officer, known for his skills and efficiency, has been posted as Secretary, Minority Affairs.

Powerful JS the way

How was Ashish Kundra, a 1996-batch IAS officer of the AGMUT cadre, appointed as an administrator of Daman & Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli? Nobody in the Home Ministry seems to be able to explain. Kundra has served as an OSD to the former Commerce Minister, Anand Sharma. The Prime Minister has clearly instructed that no officer who has served on the staff of the ministers in the previous regime should be allotted significant assignments.