gfiles magazine

July 19, 2018

Fasal Bima in quandary

BJP MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe got his doctorate on ‘Political Parties as Victims of Populism and Electoral Compulsions’. Now, Dr Vinay has been given the job to analyse Narendra Modi’s popular ‘Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana’ (PMFBY) scheme as he heads the BJP’s Policy Research and Good Governance wing. Sources disclosed that there are contradicting findings by Dr. Vinay’s team, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Niti Aayog. The Centre currently has a bill of Rs 3,100 crore on account of its share of the premium for the 23 per cent crop that is currently insured in the country. This financial liability is expected to touch a whopping Rs 8,800 crore once the target of bringing 50 per cent crop under insurance is achieved in three years. After a long and detailed survey, experts have concluded that post-harvest losses do not include storage losses. Further, it only insures against weather risk and not crop loss risk. Risks such as destruction by wild animals are not covered under the scheme. In many states where premium rates are low, there is still very low subscription.

UPSC to Appoint DGPs

THE Chief Minister is the most powerful person in any state because he has complete control over appointment of Director General of Police and other police personnel. But this control has been punctured by the Supreme Court. The apex court has passed a slew of directions on police reforms and ordered all States and Union Territories to not appoint any police officer as acting Director General of Police (DGP). A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also directed all States to send the names of senior police officers to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to be appointed as DGPs or Police Commissioners as the case may be. The UPSC, in turn, will prepare a list of three most suitable officers and the States will then be free to appoint one of them as police chief. The directions came on a plea of the Centre seeking modification of the judgement rendered in the Prakash Singh case on police reforms. BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay had sought urgent hearing on his interim plea saying the directions passed by the 2006 verdict have not been implemented by authorities concerned.

Retire (retd)

ARE you a retired civil servant and write (retd) on your visiting card. Be careful as a case was registered against KS Premachandra Kurup, a former IAS officer and former director of state-run Cooperative Academy of Professional Education (CAPE), stating that he misused the IAS title by using it after retirement, and hence he should be punished under Section 170 of IPC. Writing IAS after retirement is highly irregular and quite unbecoming of an officer, it was alleged by the state government. Section 170 of the IPC says: “Whoever pretends to hold any particular office as public servant, knowing that he does not hold such office or falsely personates any other person holding such office, and in such assumed character does or attempts to do any act under colour of such office, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.” A single bench of the Kerala High Court in an order dated November 23, 2012, observed that “use of naming such service with or without suffix ‘retired’ by a former member is an impropriety, but, certainly it cannot be treated as an offence, nonetheless an offence under Section 170 of the Penal Code.”

Pawn or puppet

THIS is an old story but it indicates the character of the Swayam Sewaks who are working in the RSS. There was a strategy in the RSS in 2013-14 to contact senior civil servants who were against the Congress regime or chief ministers. Some top-ranking RSS supporters were deputed for the covert operation. One was a Professor of Economics. He cultivated friendship with an IAS officer who was disenchanted with a Congress Chief Minister. A meeting was fixed with the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi. The meeting lasted for one hour. Arun Jaitley also met the officer. Over the days, the interaction continued. Then the BJP came to power. Narendra Modi became Prime Minister and Arun Jaitley Finance Minister.

RSS deputes Ram Madhav

RSS leader Ram Madhav’s political career is taking new shape. He has reportedly been assigned two critical jobs. One is to handle Andhra Pradesh and the other the RSS’ propaganda machinery. Ram Madhav belongs to Andhra Pradesh and is close to Vice-President M Venkiah Naidu and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Till now, MG Vaid was the only spokesperson of the RSS. Now Ram Madhav is pushing that dialogue. The RSS has reportedly launched a full-fledged ‘Vishwa Samvad Kendra’. To streamline the propaganda machinery, spokespersons have been appointed in all major cities. They are slated to gather news and information, make dossiers and issue photographs of Sangh activity. The Sangh’s new head office is being built in New Delhi and it will be a hi-tech centre.

Priyanka writing a book

THERE’S a little buzz in social media. Congress supported WhatsApp groups are flashing Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s pictures and lectures in Amethi. Something is brewing in the Congress but as per the norms of the party, nobody can dare to ask questions openly. It’s no secret in the party that Priyanka is the main advisor of her brother and looks after the party work behind the curtains. Family sources say that she is busy penning a digest on her father, the late Rajiv Gandhi. Family insiders inform that Priyanka was deeply attached to her father and has many memories to draw upon. Sources reveal that many publishers have already queued up for what will definitely be a bestseller.

Elections on Mobile

BELIEVE it or not, the next parliamentary election in 2019 will be fought on the mobile screen. The government is in top gear to provide electricity to every home and install broadcast towers to reach every mobile user. The posters, sound bites, live speeches, discussions, TV coverage, all will be on mobile phones. PM, Chief Ministers, Ministers, MP, MLAs, Corporators, all will be planning to reach mobile phone users. It is going to be a completely technology-driven election. The ruling BJP is way ahead of their competitors. There are about 65 crore mobile phone users in India, and just over 30 crore of them have a smart phone, according to technology consultancy Counterpoint Research. Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is tech savvy himself has drawn up a long plan. Sources disclosed that his plan is to reach every village of India before the announcement of elections. And, voila, an expansion in relay towers. According to a Deloitte India report, India currently has around 400,000 telecom towers and the growth is expected at around 3 per cent annually over the next four-five years to take the numbers to 511,000 by 2020.

Rahul at sea?

RAHUL Gandhi is still dependent on the advice of his mother Sonia Gandhi. Insiders reveal that Sonia’s team controls all decision-making and continues to exercise authority. During the Rajya Sabha elections a few months ago, the Congress president had asked one of the selected nominees who called to thank him whether his name had been officially announced. Rahul was obviously unaware that the list had already been declared. His own recommendation of electing Sam Pitroda to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka was rejected by the then Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah. Similarly, while deciding on names for the expansion of the Punjab Cabinet, Rahul had to accept Sonia’s advice in clearing the candidacy of a four-time MLA whose name figured on the Chief Minister’s list, though it had been initially turned down.

CONDITIONAL CASH TRANSFERS : Addressing gender discrimination by enhancing women’s worth

THE different perceptions of sex-selective abortion as gender discrimination have led to strategies for intervention, social change, and reform initiated by the state, by concerned civil society initiatives and the women’s movements in the regions where it prevails. The liability of bringing up a girl-child is associated with the burden of dowry at the time of marriage. This instrumental rationality of the valuation of women has been countered by feminists, predictably and understandably, to establish and emphasise women’s substantial non-waged labour; their centrality to social reproduction and their contribution to household work, marginalised tasks, agricultural and other work. The women’s movement’s demand for recognition and equal wages for such work done by women has had a significant impact in this area. Simultaneously, the struggle to provide women with better legal access to inheritance and property, to employment, and to political influence is also a strategy of empowerment (Sunder Rajan 2003).

Classified reality

IN the era of star whistleblowers such as Julian Assange and Edward Snowden and massive leaks or releases of classified, often highly disturbing information, it is difficult to surprise the public with disclosures about clandestine activities, past and present of governments, yet the book A Shining City on a Hill, Novus Ordo Seclorum by French scholar and international relations analyst Come Carpentier de Gourdon, a long-standing part-time resident of India makes, in a highly readable, suspenseful manner, a number of stunning assertions which he backs with a wealth of published and unpublished documents and with testimonies from high-level witnesses. The book contains an account of the author’s first months in Colorado, in the Rocky Mountains in the 1980s.

Modi fails in Kashmir

WHEN Modi took over as the Prime Minister in 2014, he aroused great hopes in members of the Kashmiri Pandit community. Most people did not expect initiatives in foreign policy or an economic miracle from him. After all, he had been in State politics most of the time. But the least one expected from him was a positive deal for the Hindus. He could be expected to build the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution, legislate a uniform civil code for the minorities and make it possible for the Kashmiri Pandits to return to their ancestral homes. Modi has belied these hopes. He did not put the plight of the Pandits at the top of his political agenda. He has left the Ayodhya temple to the judges of the Supreme Court. He has more or less abandoned the RSS agenda for Article 370.

Doubling farm income

THE Prime Minister of India has rightly made a clarion call to all those engaged in the agriculture sector to focus their energy and efforts on doubling farmer’s income. To my mind, there can be no two-ways about this, it is indeed the most important and critical area if India is to achieve the status of a developed nation. India has a population of 1.34 billion (2017) and according to the official census figures of 2011, 83.37 crore (68.84 per cent) live in rural areas while 37.71 crore live in urban areas. Despite urbanisation, rural markets still account for half of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is estimated to be $2.848 trillion (nominal) and $10.385 trillion (PPP) for the year 2018. The contribution of agriculture to GDP is 17.32 per cent, industry 29.02 per cent and services 53.66 per cent.

Black elephant

bitter criticism of the UPA Government before it lost the elections in 2014 was its failure to check the continuing growth of black money in the country. The common perception was that nothing much could be expected from the Government as the UPA people were themselves deeply entrenched in it. The said Government even blatantly disregarded the Supreme Court’s directions for setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) for making enquiries regarding black money. To elucidate the last observation, some historical facts need to be mentioned to complete the background. Senior Advocate Ram Jethmalani had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court, inter-alia, on the issue of black money.

Gandhian dilemma in military leadership

may be laughed out even before I answer the question. However, I grew up in a family conditioned by Gandhian thoughts, when my father-a small town doctor-actively took part in the freedom struggle and was even imprisoned. I carried some of the Gandhian ideas and values when I served for nearly three decades in the army. I found some of his ideas useful in handling tricky situations that confronts a military leader. Before I recount my experience in applying Gandhian ideas, a bit about the man revered as Mahatma. Though many consider Gandhi a pacifist, he did not think so. Addressing a gathering at Geneva in 1931 Gandhiji said “I regard myself as a soldier, though a soldier of peace.” Gandhi applied quite a few principles of war in executing his political campaigns.

Governance by fear : Signs of failing State!

INDIA just observed the 43rd anniversary of Emergency. Civil Rights stalwart Rajni Kothari described the period thus: “It was a State off-limits, a government that hijacked the whole edifice of the State, a ruling party and leader who in effect treated the State as their personal estate. It was the imposition of a highly concentrated apparatus of power on a fundamentally federal society and the turning over of this centralised apparatus for personal survival and family aggrandisement. It was one big swoop overtaking the whole country spreading a psychosis of fear and terror.”

No Ball

IN the shaded lanes, winding through the labyrinths of the Walled City in Old Delhi, the FIFA World Cup turned out to be a harbinger of achhe din for the shady kings, rooks, knights and pawns, who move the pieces on the chess board of the underground betting networks in India. The unpredictability of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which saw many big teams heading for the exit door early in the tournament, turning the pre-match odds on its head, made these men dance merry high on lucre. Riyaz (name changed), is just one of the hundreds foot soldiers in the vast underground betting network that stretches from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Surat to Siliguri, which in turn is linked to syndicates in Dubai, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Lateral entry needs a new perspective

WHAT started as a proposed idea has now emerged in a concrete form with the Department Of Personnel and Training issuing an advertisement for induction of ten persons from outside the government to man joint secretary level posts in the Union government. I had then welcomed the ideas of opening windows to let fresh air in the corridors of power invigorate the much abused civil service, IAS in particular. In my piece in gfiles one year ago, I had suggested that “…the issue should be given a careful consideration before an irreversible decision is taken, since a decision of disturbing the precarious administrative equilibrium could lead to serious implications. Perhaps an initial pilot programme involving technical and infrastructural ministries is indicated.

From the Editor

THE Government of India can earn Rs. 1.8 lakh crore by imposing a GST of 18 per cent on sports ‘gambling and betting’ if they make it a legalised vocation. If 28 per cent tax is imposed as it is at present on cars, then the government will earn Rs 2.8 lakh crore. Business lobbyist body FICCI in its 2016 report estimated the size of the illegal betting economy at Rs 10 lakh crore. It’s somewhat enticing for any government in the world. The Law Commission of India recently submitted it’s report, ‘Legal Framework: gambling and sports betting including cricket in India’. gfiles cover story this time is analysing ‘gambling and betting in sports’, the most dreaded trade war of the world. Broadband has literally opened a Pandora’s Box, as one does not know whether the fellow walker on the road busy on mobile is gambling or betting. The technology has made it a herculean task to keep track.