What Montek Ahluwalia can learn from Sir MV

“I don’t think many Indians care about the country,” he (George Fernandes) said. “By Indians I mean those in the highest places. If they cared they wouldn’t have been looting the treasuries as they are and they wouldn’t be allowing the crooks of the world to treat this country as a grazing ground. Some day we will sink and this is not anything to do with China or with Pakistan. It is because this country is cursed to put up with a leadership that has chosen to sell it for their own personal aggrandisement.”

I was struck by the note of despair in his voice. It was hard to believe that this was the country’s Defence Minister speaking, a politician who had reached the pinnacle of his career.

Amitav Ghosh in his book ‘Countdown

***

By K.B. GANAPATHY

Reading an article some time back in India Today magazine, and on May 21, 2012 in The Hindu about Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the great Sardar, deputy chairman of the planning commission for the last nearly eight years, I was livid with anger and felt ashamed of myself as much as helpless for being unable to do anything to stop such alleged stealing and squandering of my nation’s wealth, created from the sweat of my countrymen for the development of my country.

Though a democracy, see how helpless we the Aam Aadmi are. And to think that his case of extravaganza in splurging our country’s wealth on himself is just a tip of the iceberg of a behemoth of Indian bureaucracy, frightens me.

I was suddenly made aware that what is bugging this country’s development is not just corruption but also a very highly indulgent bureaucracy rolling in luxury at State expense. Instead of helping build our nascent free-nation, these pseudo-intellectual, highly educated bureaucrats are bleeding our country of its tax and natural resources.

Thanks to the RTI Act and some of the newspapers like The Hindu and news magazines, this kind of ‘corruption by other ways,’ is also being exposed.

As I was reading The Hindu article by P. Sainath, I was reminded of bureaucrats of my own princely State of Mysore — some of the Dewans — specially two well-known ones: Sir M. Visvesvaraya and Sir Mirza Ismail, legends in their own time and perhaps for all the time to come in the matter of administration and honesty.

About Sir M. Visvesvaraya it is said that when he was on official tour and stayed in the government guest house (also known as inspection bungalow) after his official work, he would switch off the electric light and remove a candle from his pocket and light it for his personal work! That’s the level of honesty.

What a contrast to the total degenerate conduct of Montek Singh Ahluwalia, as reported in The Hindu.

It is keeping this Sardar in mind, the renowned author and journalist Khushwant Singh, being a Sardar himself, with natural pride in such situations which anyone would display, had said, in a lighter vein I suppose, that the prophesy of a Sikh Guru that ‘Raj Karega Khalsa‘ had come true with three Sikhs in top positions ruling India — Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Army chief Gen J.J. Singh (Retd) and Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

This was during the 2004 victory of Congress. UPA-1 rule. But now, the Sikh Army Chief is not there but the other two are there in office. However, the question is, doing what? Oh, yes. From June 2012 when the new Army Chief, Lt Gen Bikram Singh, takes over as Army Chief it will again be ‘Raj Karega Khalsa.’

But, what about Montek Singh Ahluwalia?

A real Sheikh of a country that is ready to fall apart, the Centre cannot hold. If you have not read the The Hindu article, here I give a sample of it.

The title itself is sarcastic in tone — “The austerity of the affluent.” And it gives a peek into the details of financial abuse of office, “A rural Indian spending Rs. 22.50 a day would not be considered poor by a Planning Commission whose deputy chairman’s foreign trips between May and October last year cost a daily average of Rs. 2.02 lakh.”

And this man tells the Supreme Court and the dumb Indians that an Indian who spends (or earns) Rs. 29 a day in urban area and Rs. 23 a day in rural area is not a poor man.

What cheek, what gumption, what audacity and what economics!

The man undertook, between May and Oct. 2011, “four trips [abroad] covering 18 nights [which] cost the exchequer [tax payer] a sum of Rs. 36,40,110; an average of Rs. 2.02 lakh a day,” according to The Statesman News Service, says the article.

At the time it happened, that amounts to US $4,000 a day. And we are a poor country? Absurd. This is a poor country for ‘Aam Aadmi,’ not for bureaucrats like Montek Singh Ahluwalia and politicians. The truth is that this is a rich country where poor people live, because of rulers like Ahluwalia and other corrupt leaders.

There is more startling statistics to come from RTI: “Dr Ahluwalia made 42 official foreign trips and spent 274 days overseas during a seven-year tenure. That is ‘one in every nine days’ he was abroad. And that is excluding travel days. The India Today story found that his excursion cost the exchequer [of our country] Rs 2.34 crore. This could be apart from what Indian embassies abroad spent on him on frills such as hiring limousines. Even a Moghul Emperor would not have had this kind of luxury, freedom and enjoyment.

Apparently, Ahluwalia was and is a law unto himself as much as a boss unto himself.

No one to question him, not even his de jure boss, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.

And remember, all this when our ‘dumb’ Prime Minister pleaded for austerity in 2009 and his Cabinet responded handsomely to the call. The message was for the opposition too. But look at this. This is the spirit of austerity practiced by the ruling party, as also the BJP opposition.

Praful Patel (UPA-NCP) cabinet minister and Nitin Gadkari (NDA-BJP) have hosted two of the costliest weddings ever, says the report.

The Hindu article mentions many more instances of such spending of looted money by our netas, bureaucrats and industry tycoons as you and I watch the world collapse around us helplessly.

What did Chanakya say in his ‘Chanakya Neeti‘?

“Do not live in a country that does not allow you self-respect, honour, means of living, a family, kith and kin, friends, well-wishers, ways of education and self-development. Quit such country. It is not fit for living.”

Alas! Quit and go where?

Jeena yahan marna yahan

Iske siva jaana kahaan…

(K.B. Ganapathy is the editor and founder of India’s most successful English evening newspaper, Star of Mysore, where this piece originally appeared)

Photograph: Deputy chairman of planning commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, at a hydrogen energy exhibition in June 2007 (courtesy Manvender V. Love/ Press Trust of India)

***

Also read: Montek Singh Ahluwalia gets a Padma for what?

Ayyo, Amma, Maami, is tea a national drink?

CHURUMURI POLL: Is the ‘dream team’ exposed?

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22 Responses to “What Montek Ahluwalia can learn from Sir MV”

  1. harsha Says:

    Austerity is a over-used similar to every movie maker in KFI claiming his film to be ‘different’..
    pay commission are revising salaries faster than the inflation. MP’s are giving themselves a hike(100-300%) and patting their own back. President is interested in sight seeing and targeting huge tracts of land for retirement home.
    PM only talks about personal honesty but forgets that loads and loads of scams from his counterparts. Sonia Gandhi is declared as one of the top 20 richest politicians in the world.
    Yet, we have the govt. which fights on how to calculate poverty, how to allocate resources .. Call it the effect of delhi centered administration where few individuals want to control the length and breadth of this land.
    the time has come for states to revolt against the babu’s ; ask for more autonomy ; let there be more competition amongst states which will result in development rather than asking Delhi for funds.
    We need to use RTI more effectively and nail these freely spending folks using their records only! The tone of Singh’s article in Hindu was ‘ I was asked to go for a trip to accompany XYZ , so I went ; why are you asking me now ? ‘

  2. the colonel Says:

    …………….and everything was hunky-dory before ahlu………………

  3. jayashree Says:

    Let him not learn any thing from MV, he has his guru in Mr PM Singh ji!

  4. asha Says:

    Both Monty and his mentor the dummy PM are hand maidens of the World Bank and IMF cartel and surreptitiously doing the bidding of these organizations…so what can a poor MV teach these morons

  5. Nastika Says:

    This whole ‘austerity’ concept & drive is just hogwash. Everybody (I mean 99.99%) of the folks want to maximum utilize their perks. Tell me how many of you didn’t claim your allowance?

    Its not Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia is committing something illegal (or immoral) – he is just using his perks and his boss approves his expense. Why are you worried? If you are concerned then cut his perks – if his current limit is Rs. 2.02 lakh a day, then get it reduced to whatever ‘X’ you want.

    PS: Folks like Sir MV are an exception. They need not represent general public. Pulling out a candle after office hours in a official bungalow is bit extreme & silly. Please stop such impossible stories. Publicize such stories which normal man/woman can follow in their daily life.

    ~*~

  6. M Says:

    “Last Mysore Pradhan” By Sreenivasan M A

    I remember reading this book several years ago. Its the autobiography of civil servant in the Mysore State who later went on to become the Dewan of Gwalior and hold important positions in the Govt. of Independent India. There are some nice snippets about this Ismail.

    He was appointed Commissioner of Mysore by Sir Mirza Ismail. While personally receiving the appointment order from the big Sir, he also a got the name and contact for a nondescript Muslim gentleman in Mysore. He was asked to call upon this gentlemen and that this fine person would help him run the City. He met this nondescript fellow immediately upon his arrival in Mysore and found him to be a refined gentleman.

    After assuming office, the Commissioner started to receive a hoard of complaints from vendors in one of the City Markets. During the days of the Raj, city markets all over India were somewhat equivalent to today’s fancy Malls*. The complaint was about the illegal hawkers who were selling fruits, vegetable and such other sundries on the foot-path outside of the Market. They were catching Market’s customers, were paying no rent and tax to the Market, were creating debri which the ruined the Markets ambience and lowered health standards and on and on. The commissioner order for these illegal hawkers to be evicted immediately. The above said nondescript Muslim gentleman turned up in his office the next day and with great refinement requested him turn his eyes away. He refused to flinch and in less than a week Transfer Order arrived from his excellency’s office (Attara Kacheri) in Bangalore.

    Another story.

    In our thathapan times, today’s dirty Kalasipalya was the center of Native Bangalore#. The various phetes (Cottonpet, Balepet, Tharagupet,Chickpet etc) of Kempe Gowda was supplemented by the modern Krishnaraja Market. (side note: bankrupt BBMP has pledged KR Market as collateral for a Rs.500 cr loan). After the Asia’s first hydroelectric generator was installed at Sivanasamudra, transmission cables were laid to carry the power to Kolar Gold Fields (side note: Karnataka is still into mining) via Bangalore. In B’lore, the first connection was given to KR Market and the first electric bulb in India was lit. This was the economic grandeur of City Market Area.

    This big Sir gave away a vast swathe of high value land to built the Jumma Masjid Mosque. This founding of a muslim base in the heart of Kannada land was an end to us. Over decades these Jumma Muslims cheated, forced, murdered their way into City Market Area. All the kannadigas ultimately lost their commercial buildings. There several thousand litigations still pending in High Court. In number of cases, the the grand children, the great grand children have just given up.

    Moral of the story.

    Nothing has changed in India and definitely in B’lore in last 200 years.

    Alu ya no alu
    But chal tha he hamara Balu.

    ———————————-
    * KR Market and Russel Market in Bangalore; Crawford Market in Mumbai. There are similar ones in Chennai, Calcutta etc. After Independence Govt promoted markets (in B’lore) came as BDA Shopping complex (at Jayanagar, Koramagala, Banshankari etc) and now they come as Mall ( Garuda / Forum)

    # other Bangalore being fully British Controlled Cantonment( Today’s MG Road area with old roads like Brigade Road, Infantry Road, Cavalry Road etc and neighborhoods like Benson Town, Cook’s Town, Cox’s Town, Frazer Town etc). These municipal jurisdictions were administered from Mayo Hall.
    ———————————-
    P.S: Sivanasamudra was not MV’s project.

  7. Srikanta Says:

    Jeena yahan marna yahan

    Iske siva jaana kahaan…

    “Go to the USA”

    With the present IT Breed there, every Indian in US will get kicked back.

    What about uncontrolled population growth where Government has failed?

    Soon everybody will be pulling Candles, So everybody will be Sir MV.

  8. Doddi Buddi Says:

    And the same George Fernandes was planting bombs on railway tracks! Whatever his motivation might have been during the time of Emergency! Wow

  9. DailyBread Says:

    Nastika,

    >Tell me how many of you didn’t claim your allowance?

    Sir, the author of the article & Sainath should find out how much a good room costs in a Hotel like Four Seasons in New York. 4000 bucks per diem is nothing & when you are travelling Everybody loves a good draft beer……

  10. s k muthanna Says:

    Montek Singh Ahluwalia : I have seen this guy so very casually walking in after the commencement of the programme and the then Fin Min Manmohun Singh and other dignitaries were all seated in the dais in FICCI audiltorium or so and seemed bereft of elementary courtesies ! He could care less to Manmohun Singh then (I think Montek was with the Planning Commission then too ??? ) in whatever capacity ( during 1993-94 or so ). Catch him care his de jure boss now!! In the scheme of democratic India definition of rich and poor are only jugglery with numbers and Montek has no qualms defining/prescribing the poverty line and justifying it too! Wish he spends two days , just two days, in Delhi with Rs.29 per day, for understanding survival.

  11. harkol Says:

    Here is the bottom line. CEOs & executives of top companies will spend far higher amount per day in travel, and Indian govt. is certainly one of the largest institutions in the world.

    So, I don’t grudge the travel expenses (first-class seat, five/seven stars) et. al. are something top guys are privileged to have.

    But, on one condition – They perform. They provide their shareholders what they are being paid for. They show concern for the growth and long term welfare of the company.

    The problem we have is our govt. has become a racket. All, including our ‘honest PM’ is not keen on doing something good for country anymore. They are all there for ‘freeloading’ opportunity and personal aggrandizement.

    Someone like Ramakrishna Hegde resigned on a flimsy accusation of phone tapping, in which he wasn’t found guilty. Not to say he wasn’t corrupt (he couldn’t have had his wealth if he wasn’t in some way), but atleast he had some values, some shame.

    Today, everything goes. And govt. will work actively to save freeloader and crooks, as long as you belong to ruling dispensation.

  12. Srikanta Says:

    I would like to see a discussion, on rising petrol prices will affect Society in general. Its implication on all facts of life etc.

  13. Shivaprakash Says:

    I am not sure if Rs. 36,40,110 is an astonishingly high expenditure to be made by the D.C. of the Planning Commission. If I look at a pragmatic way, the yardsticks that he has put up for declaring BPL is a joke. However, what about this: http://swaminomics.org/?p=2150

    The observations put in by Dr. Iyer may not go down well with staunchly pro-Chinese paper like The Hindu. But it throws light on some related information one must know while judging the BPL standards.

    Has anyone obtained the travel expenditures of Sonia Gandhi? I read that it was declined to an RTI activist http://www.indianexpress.com/news/make-public-foreign-visit-details-of-sonia-gandhi-cic-to-pmo/803085/

    More serious is this. Please investigate on these
    http://haindavakeralam.com/HKPage.aspx?PageID=14438&SKIN=B

    Hope I am not declared an RSS agent.

  14. harkol Says:

    Srikanta:

    Rising petrol prices is good for the economy and ecology. Diesel, LPG and all other carbon-fossil fuels should become far more expensive than they are today.

    It will have a short term impact on prices. If the increase is done in undue haste then it may even provide a price shock with severe inflation in short run. But, the right way to do such things is to gradually increase it. Say rs.1 increase every month for next 24-36 months and keep it above Rs.100/liter

    At Rs.100+ we’ll have two outcomes.

    1. Short term: The consumption will reduce. People will think twice before going on wasteful rides. People will use more public transport or switch to more fuel efficient alternatives. This is good for forex and ecology.

    2. Alternative energy sources will be in demand. Especially electricity. This has very large and long term impact. More folks will start using electric heaters at home. We’ll need to increase our electricity generation. This will push us towards more nuclear, thermal, solar & Wind energy. India has large deposit of coal and can build far more thermal plants than today. There are good technologies available that can reduce the carbon footprint of Coal.

    So – Govt. should do away with all subsidies on fossil fuels. Let people absorb the shock (they will), and control a high price of oil in future through a combination of Duty & taxes to maintain prices at European levels, where prices are above Rs.100/liter.

  15. jayashree Says:

    Rs 35 Lakh toilet stinks!!

  16. navollasa Says:

    punjabis have become very rich nowadays.
    their names have also become sunny, minny , monty, panty etc.

    green revolution, canadian passports , australian migration , allowance in every part of india as caretakers and security , 90% of army tax – free food , alcohol, petrol residence and canteens, yeah with least sex ratio to keep females under terror and prostitutes under pants.

    PM singh ruling for 10 years now , a nirankari gurudwara becomes golden temple getting all glitteratti like a bazaar item.

    the whole congress saga seems to be UP vs Punjab .
    either people from allahabad become PMs or they get killed and punjabis rule.

    we are watching all these and our bastard politicians in congress like siddarama and krishna never question these things or even know what’s happening and will be framing cock and bull stories about democracy.

    Now latest Sardar joke trending:

    Usain bolt runs 100m in 9+ seconds. if montake singh wants to beat him he shortens the length of the meter itself.

    although i didn’t want to get racial – (having high regards for chiranjeev singh,rabbi shergill and jagjit singh) it’s becoming completely obvious.
    these punjabis have made a joke of poverty and malnutrition.
    actually they have teased us. i am yet to see a punjabi malnourished kid!

  17. asha Says:

    Naovallasa.

    Punjabi’s have always been rich…it is an old phenomenon….they are hard working and the result is there for all to see…stop cribbing about them….

  18. Nastika Says:

    Rs 35 lakh to secure toilet fittings by providing secure access !!

    Why couldn’t they fit Rs 500 webcam, monitor for a week and catch the culprit? Problem solved.

    ~*~

  19. asha Says:

    nastika,

    This scheme of sprucing up toilet at 35 lakh expense was probably Monty’s idea…there is a reason why surds are called “Barah Baje”…LOL…your idea of a Rs 500 camera will not work here :)

  20. navollasa Says:

    @asha
    what’s your connection with punjabis? if you are not a man then you are married to one of them or have close friends.

    that’s the problem with our people. they tend to have some links and then stop any criticism against anyone and anything factually and put all the blame on the people of the state. well done.

    what would punjabis be if there genetics were not developed with 5 rivers and himalayas nextdoor?

    please don’t divert issues. what are we today – a bunch of goons without any resources waiting for a outsourcing capitalist to rape us directed from these monty panty bastards.

  21. Ishita Says:

    I am way too late to share my comment over here still, i want to. I am in my mid-twenties and a professional. During my stint in college i did my majors in Political Science hence, i deeply read about the constitution, political world, international relations, law making, administration & execution etc.. I had a great interest in politics and i enjoyed keeping updated knowledge over the subject. When i casted my first vote, i felt thrilled that even i can make contribution in choosing the right leader for our country But, i find it difficult to understand why our teachers and those great learners who dedicated their time and energy in making and formulating laws, code of conduct, duties and responsibilities which one hardly follows and which are violated every now and then. The current political scenario of the country has developed a sense of political apathy within me. When i see distinguished personalities like Montek,Chidambaram,Tharoor, Dr. Singh maligning themselves into shocking scams and they come out clean chit and free. It gives me that such bunch of intelligentsia class has lost its morale over power and money. Our so called PM has become a mere puppet, the ministers are busy filling their pockets. Looks like each of them takes their 5 year term as a gateway to treasure island. Fill up pockets and walk free! A Common mass cried over foul play by govt., inflation in basic needs like food and shelter, tattered medical facility and high-rate of illiteracy and employment and wherein the current govt. and their dutiful minsters play blame game over heavy losses like 2G spectrum and CWG, express their dramatic worry and concern. I am surprised to see the way Kanimozhi and A. Raja were welcomed by party and people, as if they were a solider who fought for the safety of our lives. Definitely they fought for their own lives and defeated the law of the country. Now i have stopped casting my vote, no more healthy political discussions attract me. I see World’s biggest democracy going towards a downfall. I donot hope for any change and i donot wait for any messiah who can change the situation. Gone are the days when we common mass had power to choose. Today voters are driven by money and greed. Ministers easily break and make promises, step back from commitments, align with their biggest rivals to make profit and we as common mass follows the drama.

  22. Ishita Says:

    I am way too late to share my comment over here still, i want to. I am in my mid-twenties and a professional. During my stint in college i did my majors in Political Science hence, i deeply read about the constitution, political world, international relations, law making, administration & execution etc..

    I had a great interest in politics and i enjoyed keeping updated knowledge over the subject. When i casted my first vote, i felt thrilled that even i can make contribution in choosing the right leader for our country But, i find it difficult to understand why our teachers and those great learners who dedicated their time and energy in making and formulating laws, code of conduct, duties and responsibilities which one hardly follows and which are violated every now and then.

    The current political scenario of the country has developed a sense of political apathy within me. When i see distinguished personalities like Montek,Chidambaram,Tharoor, Dr. Singh maligning themselves into shocking scams and they come out clean chit and free. It gives me that such bunch of intelligentsia class has lost its morale over power and money. Our so called PM has become a mere puppet, the ministers are busy filling their pockets. Looks like each of them takes their 5 year term as a gateway to treasure island.

    Fill up pockets and walk free! A Common mass cried over foul play by govt., inflation in basic needs like food and shelter, tattered medical facility and high-rate of illiteracy and employment and wherein the current govt. and their dutiful minsters play blame game over heavy losses like 2G spectrum and CWG, express their dramatic worry and concern.

    I am surprised to see the way Kanimozhi and Raja were welcomed by the party and people, as if they were a solider who fought for the safety of our lives. Definitely they fought for their own lives and defeated the law of the country. Now i have stopped casting my vote, no more healthy political discussions attract me. I see World’s biggest democracy going towards a downfall.

    I donot hope for any change and i donot wait for any messiah who can change the situation. Gone are the days when we common mass had power to choose. Today voters are driven by money and greed. Ministers easily break and make promises, step back from commitments, align with their biggest rivals to make profit and we as common mass follows the drama.

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