Posts Tagged ‘PTI’

So where were you on the night of Deepavali?

6 December 2012


A satellite image released by the national space and aeronautics administration (NASA), of India that is Bharat, on the night of Deepavali that is Diwali, 2012.

Photograph: courtesy NASA via Press Trust of India

What Montek Ahluwalia can learn from Sir MV

31 May 2012

“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



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?

Is this why they want us to take part in elections?

3 June 2011

Row after row of empty seats in the Karnataka legislative assembly in Bangalore on Friday, as the Congress and JDS boycott proceedings in protest against the speaker disallowing a debate on the situation arising out of the Supreme Court’s observations while quashing his order disqualifying 16 MLAs.

A PTI report says the Congress legislature party has failed to arrive at a decision on whether to boycott the entire session, but a television report says a full boycott is on.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

CHURUMURI POLL: Target Sri Sri Ravi Shankar?

31 May 2010

The future Nobel laureate of India, Sri Sri Ravishankar (SSRS) of the Art of Living, is in the news.

According to a PTI report, the 54-year-old spiritual guru escaped unhurt when an unidentified gunman shot at his car shortly after he left his evening discourse on Sunday. According to the Economic Times, a man fired a shot at the car in which he was travelling. According to The Hindu, the target was SSRS himself, but the bullet fired from a .22 revolver missed him and hit somebody standing near him.

DNA calls it an assassination attempt. The New Indian Express reports that SSRS said the gunman could not fire a second shot because of the “positve energy” in the ashram. IANS says the incident was not a result of any enemity between devotees; CNN-IBN says it was not an “inside job“. SSRS himself says he has forgiven the attacker and appealed for peace. ANI quotes him as saying he fears a threat to his life and the Karnataka government has scaled up his security after BJP president Nitin Gadkari stepped in.

But did SSRS really have a narrow escape? The DGP Ajai Kumar Singh says it was not an attack on him, it was just an “incident”. The bullet was fired from more than 700 feet. According to the Wall Street Journal, “The incident appears to have taken place five minutes after Mr Shankar left the place where it happened.” Home minister P. Chidambaram says “it may not be correct, I underline, may not be correct to say the firing was aiming at him.”

Questions: Was there an attempt on SSRS’ life or not? What could be the reason for such a dastardly attack on a man of god? Is this all a publicity stunt to cover up something else?

Also read: The the great great Sri Sri NGO NGO scam scam

Is Yale turning India into a Dynastic Democracy?

20 June 2009

ASHVINI A. writes from Bangalore: Scanning the headlines on the Deccan Herald website on Friday afternoon, I came across a Press Trust of India (PTI) report about Indian parliamentarians attending classes at Yale University on global issues and leadership challenges.

My first reaction was “Wow, good idea, will open their minds.”

But it took just a few seconds for my initial enthusiasm to come crashing down. As I scrolled down the report, the choice of MPs selected for the programme intrigued me, and then began plainly irritating me.

Leader of the pack: Abhishek Manu Singhvi, son of L.M. Singhvi.

The other members of the squad:

# H.D. Kumaraswamy: son of former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda.

# Naresh Goyal: son of former prime minister I.K. Gujral.

# Jayant Chaudhary: son of Rashtriya Lok Dal leader, Ajit Singh.

# Shruti Choudhary: daughter of Haryana tourism minister Kiran Choudhary, and grand-daughter of Bansi Lal.

# Priya Dutt, daughter of late Sunil Dutt.

# Mohammad Hamdullah Sayeed, son of the former Union minister P.M. Sayeed.

# Anurag Singh, son of the Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.

# Mausam Noor: granddaughter of Congress leader A.B.A. Ghani Khan Choudhary.

In other words, eight of the ten members of the team (there is also Prakash Javadekar, who is just the son of his parents) are from political families. Sons, daughters, relatives of political leaders.

First, their family standing and surname helped most of them get tickets to contest the elections and enter Parliament. Now, they are getting preferential treatment for leadership courses!

Democracy zindabad!

In a house of 543 MPs, were there no other “young MPs” who were found worthy of being chosen for this high honour?

(For the record, the India-Yale Parliamentary Leadership program is aimed at “providing insight and perspective to young leaders by giving them the exposure of different fields and ideas.”)

Who selected the MPs?

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) or the Indo-US forum of parliamentarians? Does Yale know of the scam? Or is it a party to it?

How did H.D. Kumaraswamy get on the list? Did he serve as chief minister without these leadership skills? Or did his friend Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who headed FICCI till recently, swing it for him?

Off hand, I can think of at least three other MPs from Karnataka who have been elected on the strength of their own steam without any member of their family being in politics, who could have been on this trip: Dhruvanarayana (Chamrajanagar), Navin Kumar Kateel (Dakshina Kannada) and Janardhana Swamy (Chitradurga).

Looking at the number of “children” who were elected to the Lok Sabha, it seemed to me as if “We, the People” had internalised dynastic politics to the extent of becoming a Dynastic Democracy.

Looking at the Yale list, I am convinced.

Questions like whether leadership can be taught if not learnt in a classroom, and whether leadership for an Indian milieu can be taught by an Ivy League University, are evergreen.

But there are other questions bugging me:

# How is it that these “children” did not pick up leadership skills from their father, mother, uncles?

# Should a former chief minister like Kumaraswamy have been included in the list with first time MPs?

# Can an American university, howsoever great, really teach leadership for an Indian context?

# Are these first-time MPs in danger of being brainwashed and indoctrinated in the American way of thinking and learning?

# Should we not send delegations like these to places in India that are poor, disease-stricken so that they know the reality?

# Should not these MPs spend time with farmers, weavers, fishermen etc who face extreme hardships to make a simple livelihood and have little of no support from Goverment?

Going to Yale is good idea, but visiting different towns and villages at home in Bharat that is India will teach them more lasting lessons about leadership and challanges that an Yale can never teach.

Pretty soon, Parliament is going to take up the question of whether “foreign universities” should be allowed to set up shop in India. Is it reasonable to expect at least eight of the ten to have made up their minds?


Disagree with the choice of MPs?

Write to the president of Yale, Richard C. Levin.


Phone: 203-432-2550


Also read: Graduates of Indian Universities need not apply

Do they teach this at Harvard Business School?

Buying a plane isn’t like buying a phone. Still…

13 February 2008

NIKHIL MORO in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, forwards two telling links on the “Super Hercules” cargo planes.

The first link is from Deccan Herald dated 7 February 2008. Headlined “India, US ink billion-dollar aircraft purchase deal”, it’s a Press Trust of India despatch from Washington. It reads:

WASHINGTON: India and the US have signed a billion-dollar (about Rs 3,900 crore) deal for purchase of six Super Hercules military transport planes from Lockheed Martin which Pentagon feels breaks the “psychological barrier” in bilateral defence cooperation.

The deal was signed recently following the Indian cabinet committee on security clearing last month the purchase of the six C-130J Super Hercules aircraft. The planes are expected to be delivered starting 2011.

“It is a very good plane and is very widely used. It is a workhorse and it has been used for 40 years but the ‘J’ type (C-130J) is amazing…it can really take off on a much shorter runway and India basically lacks this kind of an airplane,” James Clad, deputy assistant secretary of defence, said.

The second link is from Air-Attack dated 17 January 2008. Headlined “Lockheed receives $1.4 billion contract for 17 C-130Js for Canada,” the report cites a Lockheed Martin press release as source. It reads:

Marietta, GEORGIA: Lockheed Martin has signed a contract with the Government of Canada valued at $1.4 billion for the purchase of 17 C-130J Super Hercules airlifters and related equipment and services….

The Canadian Forces’ new Super Hercules will be the longer fuselage or “stretched” variant of the C-130J, similar to those being delivered to the U.S. Air Force. Deliveries to Canada will begin in 2010. Canada joins the growing number of nations with C-130J fleets. Allied operators include the United States, Australia, Demark, Italy, Norway and the United Kingdom.

The new C-130J generates much greater operational efficiency than the older C-130s, such as Canada’s E and H model, by flying farther, faster, with more payload and higher reliability. Additionally, the C-130J only requires three crew members for most missions so fewer flight crew members are exposed to potential threats in-theatre. C-130Js are being used daily for troop and equipment re-supply via ground delivery and airdrop, for air-to-air refueling, ground refueling and humanitarian relief.

If a billion dollars can fetch only six C-130Js for India, how can $1.4 billion fetch 17 C-130Js (and related equipment and services) for Canada? Is there more than meets the eye here? Is there something extra Lockheed Martin is throwing in for its new Indian friends now that it has opened an office in New Delhi?

In December 2007, the Canadian American Strategic Review listed the per-unit price of the C-130J at $65 million apiece. A report in December 2006 on India-Defence said the price per C-130J may “top” $70 million. Six planes=$420 million. Therefore, 17 planes=$1,190 million. How come six planes=$1 billion, 17 planes=$1.4 billion?