Thursday, 4 April 2019
indian polity: Can Modiji Win Election Without Pakistan as his Tr...: (Image courtesy: PIB May2014) “ This partition has been a mistake and has to be an...
“This partition has been a mistake and has to be annulled some day or other. (An Hon. Member: By force?) Why should I not have a right to say that?” stated founder of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee.
He was participating in a debate over the Bill for first amendment to the Constitution in Parliament on 16th May 1951.
Dr. Mookerjee stoutly opposed Partition before and after it happened in 1947. He ultimately quit Nehru cabinet & the Congress Party to start BJP (originally Bharatiya Jan Sangh). Alas, BJP has never transformed Dr. Mookerjee’s vision into a credible initiative on phased merger of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It owes an explanation (if apology is undignified) to people of Indian subcontinent on this count.
There can never be peace in Indian sub-continent without merger in which religion should be relegated strictly to private space. The Merger should be driven by focus on our common genes, common culture and common goal - jobs, happiness & prosperity for all. Who is scared of rationality & humanity-driven unification?
The only other alternative and very painful one is to secure peace through a war. If this option is exercised, it must lead to break-up of Pakistan, which has become a cradle for global terrorism. The break-up idea has been articulated well by BJP maverick MP, Dr. Subramanian Swamy.
In September 2018, Dr. Swamy reportedly stated: “Pakistan be broken into four regions - Sindh, Balochistan, Pakhtun and West Pakistan - and the first three must be handed over to India. “This is the only solution to the India-Pakistan conflict”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done nothing to exercise either option. He has an unflinching faith in Empty Bravado. He resorts to token action when faced with horrible events and the public resentment over inaction. He loves fear-mongering about Pakistan during the election campaigns. He first tasted fruits of this fear-generating strategy in December 2002 polls for Gujarat State Assembly.
Recall vivid coverage of these polls in the media.
According to the Frontline (21Dec2002) cover story headlined ‘Riding the Hate Wave’, “Sprawled across the streets of Gujarat were posters of the burning Sabarmati Express, portraying Narendra Modi as the saviour. As part of Modi’s anti-Pakistan rhetoric, posters depicting Modi and Musharraf as adversaries were put up across the State. It prompted a Congress(I) leader from Madhya Pradesh, who was campaigning in Gujarat, to comment, ‘I didn't know Musharraf was contesting elections in Gujarat’.”
Mr. Modi repeatedly dragged Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s name in his speeches. Gujarat Chief Minister referred to him as “Mian Musharraf” to insinuate link between him & Gujarat Muslims.
He concluded his campaign with reported call: “You decide whether there should be a Diwali in Gujarat or whether firecrackers should burst in Pakistan”.
There has been no looking back since then. In every subsequent election, this fear of Pakistan celebrating BJP’s defeat by bursting crackers has been stirred & re-stirred.
The other day Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani cautioned the public. He reportedly said Congress victory “by mistake” in the 2019 Lok Sabha election will see Pakistan celebrate Diwali.
For Mr. Modi in particular and BJP in general, Pakistan is a trump card with which many anti-BJP votes can be transformed into support for BJP candidates. He torments voters’ mind with the shrill call to choose between Nationalism & Pakistan. He makes every issue including jobs a secondary or non-issue in the heat of anti-Pakistan campaign.
In 2007 Gujarat assembly elections too, he banked on Pakistan & Musharraf. In 2009 Lok Sabha elections too, Mr. Modi targeted UPA for its failure to fix Pakistan after 2008 terror attack on Mumbai. At a rally held during March 2009, he asked: “Mumbai was attacked by Pakistan but what did the New Delhi government do”.
He repeated his anti-Pakistan strategy in 2012 polls. A day before the elections, Mr. Modi wrote a letter to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, on “talks going on to hand over Sir-Creek to Pakistan”. He also alleged that the handover would be worked out on 15the December. The two-page letter was circulated to the media the same day. Prompt came strong rebuttal from Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). In an official release, PMO trashed Mr. Modi’s “unsubstantiated allegations”.
As put by the release, “The contents of the letter and the timing of its release to the public, even before it was formally received in this office, raise questions about the motives behind its issue. The writing and release of this baseless letter by the Chief Minister of Gujarat in his ‘personal’ capacity, a day before elections in the state, is mischievous”.
After winning 2012 assembly polls, Mr. Modi tapped every opportunity to reaffirm his credentials as nationalist who would fix Pakistan if elected as Prime Minister.
While speaking at Nava Bharat Yuva Bheri in Hyderabad on 11 August 2013, Mr Modi observed: “Our soldiers were beheaded and just after that our Indian Foreign Minister was serving Biryani to Pakistani guests in Jaipur, and what does he say, this is protocol..! I am asking youngsters of my country, should there be any protocol with those who behead the soldiers of our nation”?
He even chose solemn occasion of Independence Day to berate Dr. Singh for his failure to rein in Pakistan.
Thus on 15th August 2013, Mr. Modi in his speech noted: “The President, yesterday, while mentioning Pakistan said that there is a limit to how much one can bear. The President has given a very grave indication in speech about the issue. I was hoping that Mr. Prime Minister would have given Mr. President an assurance. Unfortunately I did not get to hear an assuring talk from the PM. I can understand that the PM has to be diplomatic and there is a check on how and what he can say on strategic issues”.
The list of his quotes against Pakistan and UPA Government’s failures in dealing with this terror sponsor is long. After becoming PM, he forgot all his sermons.
He made surprise visit to Pakistan on 25th December 2015, hurting sentiments of countless patriots. He ignored ceasefire violations (CFVs) & jawans’ martyrdom that touched 4-year high in 2015.
Did his touching the feet of mother of the then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during the visit reduced CFVs and terrorism? No. A week after this visit, terrorists from Pakistan launched a deadly attack on Pathankot airbase, a highly strategic asset for India.
It was a perfect opportunity for Mr. Modi to order retaliation against Pakistan. The terrorists were neither Kashmiris nor they launched attack in Kashmir. They unleashed attack in Punjab – an attack that might have destroyed several parked Indian Air Force aircraft.
Mr. Modi took deadly attack in stride. He even allowed Pakistan team to inspect Pathankot airbase. Were they served Biryani, a food with which Modi rubbed the UPA? Did this inspection compromise national security?
Any nationalist putting up such questions can be branded as anti-national who get applauds from Pakistan? The message is clear one has to swallow or tone down national pride instead of asking Modi ji to rise to the occasion.
Mr. Modi’s posturing on patriotism and his actual conduct of Pakistan Policy are thus two different cups of chai. His sound & fury against Pakistan does not translate into his giving direct orders to unleash back-breaking retaliation. Is this because he lacks courage to take direct responsibility for the resulting consequences?
He thus plays safe by saying that he has given free hand to armed forces. He is only a shade better than his predecessor, who was branded by BJP as weakest PM.
His limited action against Pakistan is presently induced by electoral compulsions. He realized he could no longer ignore strong resentment over his blow-hot-blow-cold policy on Pakistan.
Nationalism can’t, however, be a seasonal political fruit. It has to be strong, consistent, tough political stance against unyielding, terror sponsor, Pakistan.
When Mr. Modi realized that 2017 Gujarat assembly polls was a close fight with Congress, he launched the fiercest verbal attack, alleging Pakistan’s nexus with Congress Party.
In December 2017, He thus accused Pakistan of interfering in Gujarat elections. He referred to a dinner hosted by a known Pak supporter Mani Shankar Aiyar, for Pakistan's ex-foreign minister Kurshid Kasuri in New Delhi. Mr. Modi’s predecessor Dr Singh attended the dinner.
Dr Singh trashed Modi’s “conspiracy with Pakistan” remark. He pointed out that Mr. Modi was setting a “dangerous precedent” with his “ill-thought transgression” and asked him to apologize to the nation. Modi didn’t.
BJP ally Shiv Sena condemned dragging of Pakistan into Gujarat election campaign an “impious” way of trying to win the polls.
At a rally, Mr. Modi asked: “Does Pakistan want to make Ahmed Patel Gujarat CM?” At another rally, he said after the Mumbai attacks, the Air Force had approached then Prime Minister Singh with a plan for surgical strikes, but the government did not show the courage to order it.
For the Lok Sabha poll campaign, he has made Pakistan-focused nationalism his core plank right from the word go. And he is doing that with Vengeance - vengeance not against Pakistan but vengeance against the Opposition especially the Congress Party.
It is projected as ally of enemy country. He demonstrates with panache his brand of nationalism before his hysterical fans at the political rallies.
He recited the poem “Saugand mujhe is mitti ki…..Main desh nahi jhukne dunga” at Churu in Rajasthan on 26th February 2019 a few hours after Balkot airstrike news served as hyper-dose of nationalism for Indians. He said that the country was in secure hands.
Mind you, this poem was promoted aggressively as BJP’s national song in the run up to 2014 polls. And forgotten later.
Launching his formal campaign for Lok Sabha elections at Merrut on 28th March, Mr Modi said his government had shown the courage to conduct surgical strikes on land and in air and in space.
Same day, he address a rally at Akhnoor in Jammu & Kashmir. PM alleged that the speeches of Congress leaders receive applause in Pakistan. Similarly, leaders of State’s two leading parties, PDP and NC, were hailed in Pakistan because of their anti-India posturing.
Mr. Modi has thus ignored Election Commission’s advice to all parties on using armed forces as tools for vote-mongering. So have other BJP stalwarts. A case in point is Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath branding Indian army as “Modi Ji ki sena”.
As put by advisory dated 9th March 2019, “It is therefore necessary that the political parties and leaders exercise great caution while making any reference to the Armed Forces in their political campaigns”.
In its 2nd advisory on the same issue released on 19th March, EC stated: “the political parties/candidates are further advised that their campaigners/candidates should desist, as part of their election campaigning, from indulging in any political propaganda involving activities of the defence forces”.
With PM labeling anyone seeking accountability as Pakistan supporter, it is time to show the mirrors. Mr. Modi breached BJP’s Pakistan Policy as enunciated in its 2009 manifesto. Every nationalist would appreciate the policy and expect the Government to follow it.
The Manifesto says: “There can be no ‘comprehensive dialogue’ for peace unless Pakistan a) dismantles the terrorist infrastructure on territory under its control; b) actively engages in prosecuting terror elements and organisations; c) puts a permanent, verifiable end to its practice of using cross-border terrorism as an instrument of state policy; d) stops using the territory of third countries to launch terror attacks on India; and, e) hands over to India individuals wanted for committing crimes on Indian soil”.
Why can’t PM resist the temptation to write “love letters” to Pakistan. The other day he wrote a letter to his Pakistani counterpart, Imran Khan, on eve of its National Day after India boycotted an event on the same day at Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.
As we know, he, as Gujarat Chief Minister, repeatedly used this term ‘love letter’ to humiliate his predecessor and UPA for written communication with Pakistan.
In his message leaked by Mr. Khan on Twitter, Modi stated: “I extend my greetings & best wishes to the people of Pakistan on the National Day of Pakistan. It is time that ppl (people) of Sub-continent work together for a democratic, peaceful, progressive & prosperous region, in an atmosphere free of terror and violence”.
Unlike on previous occasions, Mr. Modi did not disclose that he had greeted Pakistan. He kept his greetings secret as that would have been perceived by voters as Modi playing double games – one at rallies & the other at diplomatic level.
It remains to be seen whether voters would see through rhetoric. Would the Opposition manage to bring problems bedeviling the country back on electoral agenda?
If Modi succeeds in keeping patriotism pot boiling with his anti-Pakistan rants, then he deserves huge applause for swaying masses on nationalism. Would his return to power deter Pakistan from sending terrorists to India? Would Pakistan stop shelling border areas in J&K?
Friday, 17 March 2017
(Image courtesy: narendramodi.in)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to citizens to take a pledge for a New India has overwhelmed as well as dazed me. Overwhelmed because it has kindled a new light at the end of dark tunnel. And dazed because I realize that virtually all ex-PM foresaw ‘New India’ during their respective tenure.
With the promises and pledges for New India galore, I find myself in a whirlpool of dreams. I find they have not led the country near the promised Utopia.
The other day, I instantly became Bhavuk (overwhelmed) when PM saw a New India in the mandate that BJP got in recent State assembly elections.
PM ordained: “On the NM Mobile App http://nm4.in/dnldapp, take the pledge and express your commitment towards building a new India.”
He added: “A new India is emerging, which is being powered by the strength & skills of 125 crore Indians. This India stands for development. When we mark 75 years of freedom in 2022, we should have made an India that will make Gandhi Ji, Sardar Patel & Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar proud.”
I look at the heaven and ask did they not feel proud when Parliament unanimously passed ‘Agenda for India’ to mark 50 years of Independence?
At the risk of being branded as anti-national by Modi Bhakts, I must confess that I am hesitant to join Mr. Modi’s Eureka moment. And the cause for my disillusionment is a long history of forgotten, failed or partly achieved dreams of New India promised by several ex-PMs, political parties and even entire Parliament.
If we diligently count the number of versions of New India promised by our political leaders since Independence, they would outnumber many times the versions of Windows software.
How do I assure myself that Modiji’s dream of New India is a real one? How do I convince myself that it is not a fad for great men to say “I have a dream….” Don’t forget, PM talked of his dream for India in June 2016 when he addressed joint session of the US Congress.
Will the latest imagination be different from all previous ones? Would PM tell citizens why ‘New India’ visualized in the BJP’s 1998 manifesto for Lok Sabha went unimplemented? What happened to Bharat Ratna Atal Behari Vajpayee’s ‘Agenda for Building a Proud and Prosperous India’?
We should perhaps wait for Modiji to detail his vision for New India and how he intends to achieve it. In the meanwhile, I would like to share with him the country’s forgotten dreams. This perhaps might lead him into asking whether ‘New India’ is a mere political rhetoric that is spun when powers that be hit cloud nine.
Everyone would agree that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru envisioned New India without using this term in his famous ‘Tryst with Destiny’ that he gave on 14th August 1947. This vision was perhaps not shared by Finance Minister, R.K. Shanmukham Chetty.
Referring to bloodbath that resulted from the country’s partition, Mr. Chetty stated in his budget speech for 1948-49: “The way ill fortune has dogged our heels makes one doubt whether our people had made a tryst with disaster rather than with destiny.”
Such setbacks did not dilute Nehru's passion for New India.
On 12th April 1954, he thus gave a clarion call to all citizens “to join in this might adventure of building up new India. It is a way of showing that we shall stand on our own feet and not allow ourselves to be uprooted by the strong winds that blow in upon us from any quarter.”
Mr. Nehru articulated his vision on several other occasions too. For instance, at the opening Nangal canal on 8th July 1954, he stated “The major thing is making a new India, building a new India, a prosperous India, putting an end to the poverty of India….”
Mr. Nehru’s successor, Lal Bahadur Shastri, too had a great vision for India.
Like Modiji, Mr. Shastri, in his broadcast to the Nation on 19th October 1964, invited “all my countrymen to join together as brothers and sisters in this great and challenging task of building up a new, awakened and strong India.”
Like Modiji, he too asked the citizens to “pledge yourselves anew to the dedicated service of our motherland”.
All subsequent ex-PMs have had vision for New India though some of them did not use the term ‘New India’ in their discourse. The day-dreaming for New India appeared realizable when Parliament drew up ‘Agenda for India’ on the golden jubilee of the Independence.
The Agenda specified ‘minimum tasks’. Some of these are: attain marked improvement in the quality of life of all citizens in time-bound manner with focus on basic minimum needs; all political parties to launch national campaign to “combat economically unsustainable growth of population, recognising that such growth lies at the root of most of our human, social and economic problems”, provide universal primary education by 2005, decriminalize politics, undertake meaningful electoral reforms, preserve dignity of Parliament through good conduct by MPs in Parliament and outside and promote scientific temper in the country.
20 years later, we find that MPs have exhibited rare collective aversion to even mention the Agenda by mistake in public discourse. This might well have emboldened Modiji to set sights on platinum jubilee of the Independence as the target for transforming the country.
We have to wait and see whether Modiji would incorporate this forgotten agenda in his dream for New India. We also have to see whether he enlightens citizens as to why his Government failed to carry forward BJP’s past resolve for New India.
According to BJP in its 1998 Lok Sabha poll manifesto, “As the adage ‘Raja kaalasya kaaranam’ (The ruler is responsible for the times) reminds us, the blame for this sad of State of affairs rests with the Raja and not the Praja. The BJP pledges that, when it is in power, the people will see a qualitative change in the culture of governance. There will be a marked change in the mindset and behavior of those in Government. Their duties and responsibilities will take precedence over their perquisites.”
The Manifesto called for a change in the mindset and behavior of citizens in their daily lives for building a strong, prosperous and proud nation.
It stated: “On the occasion of the Swarna Jayanti of our Independence, therefore, the BJP makes the following appeal to every Indian to inculcate the spirit of the Freedom Movement:
1. We, the people of India, shall not discriminate on the basis of caste, creed, class, gender, language, or region in any of our actions and decisions in life. Instead, we shall behave with all our compatriots in the belief that we all are equal children of Bharat Mata.
2. We, the people of India, in whichever profession or vocation we are in, shall work with honesty, dedication and discipline in the spirit of a New Work Culture.
3. We, the people of India, shall always give priority to our patriotic duties and responsibilities over narrow self-interest, even as we zealously strive for the realization of our rights enshrined in the Constitution.”
BJP created a new tune for New India in its 1999 Manifesto. It stated: “This is the moment to look ahead, to a new, resurgent India. Let us hold hands and walk together to build a resurgent, modern India. Let us throw away our old prejudices.
Let us put an end to divisiveness. Let us have a moratorium on contentious issues.
Let us bind ourselves with bonds of trust and friendship.”
The Manifesto continued: “We want an India which we all feel part of, in whose future we all have a stake. And we want to enter the new millennium with confidence; not with divisive feelings. This is our call for reconciliation and it is part of our commitment to the minorities.”
Compare all these highfalutin offers with the ground realty to understand why BJP consigned its different versions of New India to archives.
The all-mighty BJP has even forgotten to realize Mr. Vajpayee’s vision for New India that he articulated through his speeches.
A speech that should be etched in the mind of anyone who talks of New India is the one delivered on 15th August 1999. In his Independence Day Address to the Nation, Mr. Vajpayee stated: “I have a vision of India: an India free of hunger and fear, an India free of illiteracy and want. I dream of an India that is prosperous, strong and caring….Come, let us build an India in which we have balanced development that benefits all regions and all sections of society....”
He continued: “Come, let us build an India in which Dalits, Adivasis, and Backward Classes are not only freed from economic deprivation, but also enjoy the fruits of social justice....Come, let us build an India in which our nari shakti - our women - are able to realize its full potential - from shaping the future of their families to shaping the future of the nation....Come, let us build an India in which the minorities fully enjoy the fruits of national development, while having full opportunities to contribute to it. Our country belongs to all....”
The speech that he gave after BJP-led National Democratic Alliance was voted back to power in October 1999 also deserves recall.
In his discourse titled ‘Agenda for Building a Proud and Prosperous India’ broadcast on 16th October 1999, Mr. Vajpayee stated: “India needs a Government that will reach out to the last person in the last row....With the help of a billion people proud of being Indian: There is nothing that we cannot achieve; No problem we cannot tackle; No challenge we cannot face; and No opportunity we cannot seize.”
If we add up the vision of all ex-PMs for New India, would Mr. Modi have anything new to inspire the masses? Yes, if he visualizes and implements fully a vision for New India in which the gap between political promises and performance is zero.
Modiji, I confess I have a dream in which I foresee our great leaders act like fakirs. They walk the talk on duties and sacrifices that they expect the citizens to make. This is the utopia I have been dreaming ever since I understood Indian politics.
Thursday, 25 August 2016
(Edited Picture of PM with CJI. Image Courtesy: PIB)
Did Chief Justice of India (CJI) T. S. Thakur breach the Judiciary’s own voluntary code of conduct (CoC) when he ridiculed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day (ID) speech?
The answers to this and certain other prickly questions on judicial accountability lie in the court of CJI. And national enlightenment on these issues can come only if civil society files public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court (SC). A Big If indeed.
To best of my knowledge, Vocal NGOs have not yet implored CJI to give verdict on applicability of CoC on him? Has PIL industry petitioned SC to admonish the Executive-Legislature combine to not delay further enactment of judicial accountability law?
Clarity on this count can also emerge if Modi Government advises the President to seek SC’s opinion on these issues. Another Big If!
A Layman’s reading of CoC named ‘Restatement of Values of Judicial Life’ (RVJL) shows that Justice Thakur prima facie violated two of its 16 principles when he derided PM’s speech. These are: 1) “A Judge shall not enter into public debate or express his views in public on political matters or on matters that are pending or are likely to arise for judicial determination.” 2) “Every Judge must, at all times, be conscious that he is under the public gaze and there should be no act or omission by him which is unbecoming of the high office he occupies and the public esteem in which that office is held.”
Another occasion when CJI deviated from former principle was during the last winter season. Justice Thakur first endorsed #OddEven scheme of Delhi Government outside the Court. He later trashed PIL against the scheme, which rides roughshod over citizens’ right to earn one’s livelihood and physically challenged persons’ right to travel safely. After all, these rights can be interpreted as right to life just as right to fresh air is interpreted to rationalize the scheme.
Civil Society might well dismiss all this as nitpicking of no consequence in the absence of statutory CoC.
SC had unanimously adopted RVJL/CoC in its full court meeting held on 7th May 1997. In April 2015, Chief Justices’ Conference discussed agenda item ‘judicial values – a need for re-examination’ and tersely “resolved to reiterate the Declaration of Restatement of Judicial Values, 1997.”
Notwithstanding this reiteration, RVJL enforcement lacks transparency. Instances of it being invoked against deviant judges are rare. RVJL is not even mentioned on SC’s website!
Compare this with Pakistan apex court. The latter’s website not only hosts its CoC but also disclosed the fact that it has been notified through a gazette.
It is apt to note that Law Commission, in its report on lapsed Judges (Inquiry) Bill, 2005 submitted in January 2006, recommended that CoC to be issued by Judicial Council under the proposed law should be published in the Gazette of India.
LC also recommended that “till such time as the Judicial Council comes to be constituted under the proposed Bill of 2005 and such Judicial Council publishes a Code of Conduct, the Bill must provide that the ‘Restatement of Values of Judicial Life’ adopted by the Supreme Court in its Resolution dated May 7th, 1997 shall be treated as the Code of Conduct for the purposes of the proposed law.”
The Report continued: “It should also contain a provision that the Code of Conduct could be modified from time to time by the Judicial Council by amendments that could be notified in the Official Gazette.”
The Report continued: “It should also contain a provision that the Code of Conduct could be modified from time to time by the Judicial Council by amendments that could be notified in the Official Gazette.”
Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) echoed LC’s concern for RVJL in its 4th report on Ethics in Governance submitted in January 2007. Under the chapter ‘Ethical Framework for the Judiciary’, ARC observed: “mere prescription of a Code of Conduct is not an end in itself. Along with the Code of Conduct, a mechanism for enforcing the code needs to be evolved. It would be desirable to designate a senior Judge of the Supreme Court as the ‘Judicial Values Commissioner’ (JVC).”
ARC added: JVC should be empowered to enquire into cases of violation of the Code of Conduct and report the matter to CJI for taking action. JVC should have jurisdiction over the judges of the Supreme Court, and members of other judicial and quasi-judicial bodies. A similar institution should also be constituted at the state level.
Though UPA Cabinet accepted ARC recommendation relating to JVC, it is not known whether the Government communicated it to SC and if so, whether JVC was notified. Google search for Judicial Value Commissioner throws up disappointing result.
When UPA returned to Power in 2009, it decided to substitute lapsed Judges (Inquiry) Bill with the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill (JSAB), 2010. The Bill incorporated RVJL into proposed judicial standards.
A proposed standard that has direct relevance to Justice Thakur’s dig at PM’s ID speech is worth pondering. It reads as: “no Judge shall make unwarranted comments against conduct of any Constitutional or statutory authority or statutory bodies or statutory institutions or any chairperson or member or officer thereof, in general, or at the time of hearing matters pending or likely to arise for judicial determinations.”
This stipulation is of no consequence at present as JSAB lapsed with the dissolution of 15th Lok Sabha in May 2014. NDA Government has disclosed its intent to resurrect the Bill but has not unveiled the revised bill, factoring in suggestions of different stakeholders including Parliament Standing Committee (PSC).
In its report on JSAB submitted during August 2011, PSC recommended: “The Committee feels that Clause 3(2)(f) should be expanded by specifically mentioning that judges should restrain themselves from making unwarranted comments against other Constitutional / statutory bodies/institutions/ persons in open Court while hearing cases.”
The urgency for independent oversight of judicial standards can be driven home well by recalling what legendary Leftist MP, late Bhupesh Gupta, stated during August 1972 while participating in a debate on The Constitution (13th Amendment) Bill, 1972.
Mr Gupta observed: “The moment you (judges) sit on the Bench you do not become angels or divine creatures. You see, you are either taken from the Bar or you are recruited directly or promoted from below or some such method is there. Therefore, you have all the virtues and vices associated with others. You carry them with you, you carry your past with you, you carry your qualifications and attendant disqualifications, you carry all of them with you.”
Monday, 8 August 2016
(Image courtesy: Central Institute for Research on Cattle)
“There are allegedly hundreds of Gosadans and Goshalas in the country, which actually do not exist, in whose names people collect money and eat it up,” stated Bollywood doyen, Prithviraj Kapoor, while participating in a discussion on Gosadans and Goshalas (cow shelters) in Rajya Sabha way back in March 1958.
Mr. Kapoor's comment elicited a wisecrack from the then Deputy Minister for Agriculture, M.V. Krishnappa: “Since cow is a dumb creature so many people are doing so many things in the name of cow.”
Fifty-eight years later, the issue of dubious people masquerading as cow vigilante has now been raised in a similar way by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In his maiden townhall with the public held last week, Mr. Modi stated: “I get so angry at those who are into the Gau-Rakshak business. A Gau-Bhakt (cow devotee) is different, Gau Seva (cow protection) is different. I have seen that some people are into crimes all night and wear the garb of Gau Rakshaks in the day.”
It is not known whether Mr. Modi, his bete noire of Chara Gohtala (fodder scam) fame, Lalu Yadav and other leaders have read the Parliamentary and Constituent Assembly debates on all that went wrong in the name of cow protection since the Independence. But what we all know is that the stringency and violence in the name of cow protection is nothing new. It has occurred under all regimes.
The obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) shown by a section of media especially TV channels’ on exposing publicity-hungry Gau-Rakshaks is relatively new phenomenon. This is diametrically opposite to its stance on Kuta-Rakshaks who pitch for safeguarding stray dogs at the cost of human lives. Though both types of vigilante group directly or indirectly contribute to human tragedies, yet media targets only Gau-Rakshaks. The media overlooks or publishes as space fillers tragic news about Kuta-Rakshaks'-induced killing of babies and kids by dogs.
Media activist overlook the fact that stray dogs menace is far bigger and serious than cattle menace and there has to be zero-tolerance for dubious Kuta-Rakshaks who facilitate death and injuries to lakhs of Indians every year. Stray dogs outnumber stray cows in the ratio of 3.24:1. Number of stray dogs was 17138349 (1.71 crore) and number of stray cattle was 5287767 (52.87 lakh), according to 2012 Livestock Survey.
If fundamental rights-obsessed media is allowed to have its way, it would ensure that cow meat is served liberally and dog is pampered and protected on every street across the country. Why doesn’t it pitch for substitution of cow meat with dog meat, which is a delicacy? Why doesn’t it demand translocation of some stray dogs in jungles to give justice to animals like leopards that frequently enter human habitations to feast on dogs?
For one-track media, reading the Constitution, different state laws on cow preservation, different judgments and related policies for rational debate is an anathema.
Reverting back to Parliament debates, a notable instance is the marathon discussion that followed the bloodbath in Delhi after violent cow protection agitation outside Parliament on 7th November 1966.
Leftist MP Bhupesh Gupta drew Parliament’s attention to the role played by RSS magazine, Organiser, in fueling the agitation. Drawing MPs attention to the weekly issue dated 7th November 1966 circulated a few days before the agitation, Mr. Gupta stated: “Read the editorial here and see the picture of the cow in tears or the mother in tears. Well, I am an agnostic and an atheist, but I too have some sentiments. Now, the sentiments of our people are likely to be aroused in the matter of cow protection.”
Another MP Niren Ghosh stated: “This Government can easily come forward with a Bill to ban cow slaughter, but they cannot come forward with a Bill to ban man slaughter. So I demand ut a judicial inquiry should be held into the entire affair, into all aspects of the matter including the shootings, killings and lathi charges that have taken place, so that truth could be established and these things might not be repeated.”
Participating in another discussion on cow protection during April 1970, K. P. Subramania Menon stated: “we in India have also been accustomed to worshipping pigs? The pig, the Varaha, is one of the ten avatharas, and there are so many temples devoted to the Varaha. So, I would like to know whether the Government will think of bringing forward a legislation prohibiting pig slaughter along with cow slaughter.”
The mother of all cow agitations is the varied interpretation of Constitution’s Directive Principles of State Policy. Its Article 48 says: “The State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.”
Add to this the fact that the power to legislate on cow slaughter/protection comes under the domain of the State List. State Legislatures can thus enact laws on this subject under Article 246(3) of the Constitution.
All States and Union Territories except six currently have laws that either ban or restrict cow slaughter. The exceptions are Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Mizoram & Nagaland and Union Territory of Lakshadweep.
The members of the Constituent Assembly differed on drafting of this Article 48. On 19th November 1949, Prof. Shibban Lal Saksena, for instance, contended: “Prohibition of cow slaughter throughout the country can by itself fire the imagination of the common man in India. I wish the ban on the slaughter of cow, which is the Kama Dhenu the mother of plenty, had been made absolute, and given a place in the Fundamental Rights.”
Rev. J. J. M. Nichols Roy countered: “There would be a great deal of disturbance and unrest if this article would be interpreted to mean that all cattle should be prevented from being slaughtered at all times and under all circumstances. This would act against the fundamental rights. I think that this is not the meaning of this article.”
Nehru Government first interpreted Article 48 way back on 20th December 1950. It did so in a circular titled ‘Imposing a complete ban on the slaughter of cattle, raises legal and economic questions’ issued to the States. The Union Agriculture Ministry's circular stated: “what is really intended is not a total prohibition of all cattle slaughter but prohibition of slaughter of cows, and calves and other milch and draught cattle only. The directive is thus subordinate, and in a sense, ancillary to two important provisions in the article, viz., (a) preserving and improving the breeds of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle, and (b) prohibiting the slaughter of the above. Milch and draught cattle would cover only cattle capable of giving milk or of being employed for draught purposes or in other words ‘Useful’ cattle. A total ban on the slaughter of all cattle is thus not an obligation imposed on the States by the Constitution.”
Explained the adverse effects of the total ban on the slaughter of cattle, the Centre hoped that the States thus do not impose legal restriction on the slaughter of useless and unproductive cattle.
The Circular concluded: “States which have already passed legislation totally banning slaughter are requested to take early steps to reconsider it. Without first providing a sufficient number of Gosadans to cater for all the unproductive and useless animals, it is inadvisable to impose a total ban on the slaughter of cattle.”
Article 48 has been interpreted by the Supreme Court too in its judgments on slaughter of cows and other animals.
In its perhaps its first verdict dated 23rd April 1958, the Apex Court ruled: “we uphold and declare that the Bihar Act (Bihar Preservation and Improvement of Animals Act, 1955 ) in so far as it prohibits the slaughter of cows of all ages and calves of cows and calves of buffaloes, male and female, is constitutionally valid and we hold that, in so far as it totally prohibits the slaughter of she-buffaloes, breeding bulls and working bullocks (cattle and buffalo), without prescribing any test or requirement as to their age or usefulness, it infringes the rights of the petitioners under Art. 19 (1) (g) and is to that extent void.”
The Court gave similar ruling with regard to relevant cow protection laws of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Indira Gandhi regime articulated Supreme Court verdicts in a statement to Parliament on 3rd September 1976 (Emergency era). As put by the Statement, “The Supreme Court has interpreted the effect of article 48 of the Constitution relating to prohibition of slaughter of cows and its progeny, as follows :—
(a) That a total ban on the slaughter of cows of all ages and calves of cows and calves of she-buffaloes, male and female, is quite reasonable and is in consonance with the Directive Principles as laid down in article 48 ;
b) That a total ban on the slaughter of she-buffaloes, or breeding bulls or working bullocks, as long as they are capable of being used as milch or draught cattle, is also' reasonable and valid; and
(c) That a total ban on the slaughter of she-buffaloes, bulls and bullocks, after they cease to be capable of yielding milk or of breeding or working as draught animals cannot be supported as reasonable in the interest of the general public and is invalid.”
When Janata Government (in which BJP in its earlier avatar of Jan Sangh was a force to reckon with) came to power, it also articulated constitutional and legal position on the issue whether the Centre intends to bring a law to ban slaughter of cows. In an answer to Parliament question on 20th December 1978, the then Agriculture Minister, Surjit Singh Barnala, stated: “The subjective of preservation, protection and improvement of stock comes under Entry 15 of List II of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution and as such this is a State subject. Therefore the question of the Central Government bringing forward a comprehensive Bill in this regard does not arise.”
Notwithstanding all governmental and judicial interpretations of Article 48, the politics of cow protection remains an emotive topic. It is here pertinent to mention about a national committee set up by Congress Government to go into entire gamut of cow protection in 1967. As put by an official statement dated 5th January 1967, “Government have also decided to set up a Committee which will be composed of representatives of the Central Government, the State Governments and the Sarvadaliya Goraksha Mah-abhiyan Samiti and some experts. The Committee will go into the question of cow protection, examine inter alia all the suggestions of the Goraksha Samiti on this subject, and having considered the matter in all its aspects namely, constitutional, legal, economic and others, present to Government appropriate practical recommendations for their consideration. The suggestions of the Samiti which the Committee will thus consider, will include the one for a total ban on the slaughter of cow and its progeny.”
The Committee, which was supposed to give its report within six months of its formation, perhaps never submitted it. Participating in a Rajya Sabha debate on the issue during December 1978, S. W. Dhabe stated: “The Committee was appointed in 1967. The Committee did not give a report...Thirteen years have gone. The Committee had to go into all aspects of cow protection in this country—constitutional, legal and economic. In spite of this, such an important matter is by-passed. I will appeal to the Government to make a statement in this House. Shri Barnala should also persuade the Prime Minister that it is no use making a show of it. They can issue executive orders or guidelines to the Kerala and West Bengal Governments to save the situation.”
The analysis shows that our leaders and their supporters have paid more attention to cow politics and less to implementation of policies that can benefit cows, dogs and other animals, apart from providing peace and security to public.
It is here pertinent to cite a rational policy that neither politicians nor the dominant media like to discuss, leave aside demanding its implementation. The policy is: National Conservation Strategy and Policy Statement on Environment and Development that was released by Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEF&CC) in June 1992.
It says: “The overriding impact of adverse demographic pressures on our resources and ecosystems due to poverty and overpopulation of man and livestock (cow included) has to be highlighted. Unless there is a curb on population growth and even a reduction of such populations and a corresponding improvement in land use policies, the current trend of over-exploitation and ecological degradation is not likely to improve.”
The policy paralysis is manifested in ugly sight of cows, dogs, pigs and rag-pickers rummaging through waste dumps across the country.
Sunday, 15 May 2016
(A cattle shed that served as model residential school for tribals in Kerala for 13 years. Image Courtesy: CAG)
Does #PoMoneModi (get lost Modi) campaign actually reflect hurt Malayalee pride? Would this campaign have trended on Twitter, had PM quoted official guesstimates on infant mortality rates (IMRs) for all tribes that would put Somalia in better light than India?
Does #PoMoneModi embody certain groups’ deep-rooted hatred for Prime Minister Narendra Modi? (He loves to operate as a star campaigner for BJP and thus provide fodder for anti-Modi campaigns! http://bit.ly/1Sh9m8s). Was #PoMoneModi driven by argumentative Indian’s tendency to get into debate without doing home work?
The answer to these issues would become clear if we dig out bitter truth about the plight of tribals in Kerala and elsewhere across the country. And the unpleasant facts would equally expose the Centre where BJP is carrying on with UPA’s policy paralysis on tribals. The facts would also shame Kerala Government and those who like to shoot from the hip.
Let us start with the crux of #PoMoneModi. IMR in Kerala is 12 per 1000 live births, as compared to national average of 40, according to latest Sample Registration System (SRS) 2013 under which health indicators (HIs) data is collected by Office of Registrar General of India. SRS does not collect data for scheduled tribes (STs) or scheduled castes (STs) as separate groups.
Mr. Modi did not contest this or any of the other health indicators for the God’s own country that are better than national average. Nobody can deny the fact Kerala is role model for other states as far as human development indicators are concerned.
In spite of this, a deliberate attempt was made to twist Mr. Modi’s observation that “infant mortality rate among the scheduled tribe community in Kerala is worse than Somalia” as comparing Kerala with Somalia. Such blatant distortion can only be done by persons who are allergic to facts or by ones who have inane dislike for Mr. Modi.
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy cashed in on anti-Modi campaign instead of basing his letters on what precisely PM stated at an election rally in Kerala. In his letter to PM, CM reportedly posed “Yet, you (PM) compared Kerala to Somalia that is reeling under poverty and internal strife. Is it not a shame for the prime minister to pronounce that a state like Somalia exists in the country?”
In fact, Mr. Chandy should be ashamed for distorting PM’s controversial statement that can neither be disproved nor proved as we realize this later in this column.
Mr. Modi, of course, should have avoided articulating ex-CM V.S. Achuthanandan’s views on plight of Kerala tribals. After visiting Attapadi where over 30 children died of anaemia and malnutrition, he reportedly told correspondents: “The UDF government, by its continued neglect of the pathetic condition of the Tribals of Attapadi, is turning the heartland into a Somalia type situation.”
In the perceptions war, Achuthanandan is an insider in Kerala and his statements thus don’t hurt Malayalee pride. Mr. Modi, on the other, is much as an outsider for Keralites as for Biharis!
The High Level Committee (HLC) on tribals set up PMO during UPA regime has echoed Achuthanandan anguish without drawing comparison with Somalia.
Prof. Virginius Xaxa-chaired HLC, which submitted its report to NDA Government on 29th May 2014, says: “Attapadi is a stark reminder of how forgotten tribal communities can become and what contexts of direness are produced by extreme poverty, remoteness and the non-provision of services by an administration.”
It adds: “At a public hearing in Attapadi, speaker after speaker spoke of the distance between the dwellings of Kurumba tribals and the ration shop, the paucity of minor irrigation projects that could ensure drinking water and irrigation to the tribal community, the inaccessibility to remote tribal villages and the problem brought on by drought. One issue that was raised was about forest-dwelling communities which have had a sudden shift in their nutrition status after rules that have been made which prevent killing of animals without providing them with alternatives that would make up for the loss of nourishment.”
Why no #PoMoneModi campaigner has attacked HLC, whose report is available on the websites of few NGOs? The campaigners also turned blind eye to the fact Modi Government has not yet made the report public, leave aside taking any decision on its recommendations that envisage a new deal for all tribals.
There is no latest, official HI data on Kerala tribals. What is available is woefully outdated data that cannot form the basis of #PoMoneModi.
The Union Government’s latest ‘Statistical Profile of Scheduled Tribes in India 2013’ (SPSTI) quotes data collected under National Family Health Survey (NFHS)–3, conducted by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in 2005-06. NFHS-4 data on Kerala tribals is not yet available in public domain.
According SPSTI, IMR in STs was 62.1, as compared to 66.4 in scheduled castes. The State-wise IMR Estimates (based on 2001 census) show that IMR for Kerala tribals at 60 as compared to national average IMR of 84 for STs.
Even HLC has relied on outdated NFHS-3 and Census 2001 data to focus on tribal IMR and other health indicators. HCL felt that IMR and child mortality rates for tribals were “most likely to be underestimates.”
HLC has thus recommended that “one percent of the total budget for the Scheduled Tribe population (TSP) should be allocated to the generation of reliable, timely, and relevant segregated data on Scheduled Tribes population, from the local to national level. This will provide the crucial instrument – the facts – necessary to guide program managers, policy makers and the Scheduled Tribe population itself.”
Neither PM nor #PoMoneModi brigade nor Kerala CM felt the acute need for reliable, timely data on tribals in their battle for brownie points.
Lack of latest and credible data becomes evident from the official report on ‘brainstorming consultations on convergence of resources for tribal development’ organized by Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MTA) on 13th December 2014.
In the report, S.B. Agnihotri, Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, makes a strong case for tracking each and every infant mortality among tribals to understand the causes of death and thus plan specific remedies to reduce IMR.
The Report quotes him as saying “even if we consider IMR to be 80 per 1000 children born, we are looking at 80x200, i.e. 16000 deaths every month through the country. Tracking 16,000 deaths is more effective than trying to track 24 lakh births.”
The report quotes an unnamed participant as stating “tracking 98 deaths vis-à-vis 1000 births is easier.”
The crucial point to note here is that one official meeting has recorded two IMR guesstimates for India that are higher than 72 for Somalia! This figure was released in March 2014 in the report on the Somaliland Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS). It was carried out in 2011 by Somali Government in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The non-existence of timely and reliable data on national IMR and tribal IMR for each State suggests #PoMoneModi is nothing but political cacophony.
Prime Minister or his advisors might well have relied on an authoritative 2008 study/book titled ‘Tribal Health and Medicine in Kerala’ by N. Viswanathan Nair. Dr. Nair is former Director of State Government’s Kerala Institute for Research, Training and Development Studies of Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (KIRTADS). This study gives bone-chilling IMR data for Kerala tribals. Though this data is outdated, it might rationalize Mr. Modi’s comment. It is, however, for PM’s office to disclose source of such data that led him to compare plight of Kerala tribals with that of Somali people.
A major finding of Dr. Nair’s study is that IMR of Kerala tribals vary from one economic category to another. This fact should have acted as restrain for self-styled champions of Malayalee pride from hurling slurs on PM.
At the election rally, Mr. Modi was only raking up the larger issue of neglect of tribals by State Government. A lot has been said and reported on this subject by experts for years. Why this wealth of unpleasant information did not hurt Malayalee pride all these years? Why this did rouse in campaigners the desire to fight for tribals is difficult to understand?
Research studies on plight of tribals in Kerala available in cyberspace are enough to hurt pride of any Indian, if not give sleepless nights to Kerala CM. Here is a sample that should serve as a wake-up call for Mr. Chandy.
Start with Kerala Home Department-commissioned study titled ‘Impact of Janamaithri Suraksha (community policing) Project on the Safety/Security of the Tribal People in Kerala’. It was prepared by Kochi-based The Research Institute, Rajagiri College of Social Sciences in March 2015.
The study observes: “The situations of children in many of the tribal colonies are found to be very pathetic. They have been facing problems like; poverty, malnutrition, school dropouts, mental and physical illness, etc.”
Listing a few case stories, the study says: “A Janamaithri officer from Kozhikode district narrated a heartening story of a group of tribal children aged 1-12 years gathered in a colony premise without adequate food and cloths. It was so dismal to note that they were eating mud out of sheer hunger. The health condition of the children was very feeble too.”
It adds: “Many studies show that, even after sixty years of formation of the state, tribals continue as one of the most marginalized community within the state, the post globalized developmental projects and developmental dreams of the state has
again made the deprivation of the tribals of Kerala and the developmental divide
has increased between the tribal and non-tribal in the state.”
The study has put on record the fact that the pitiable situation of the scheduled tribes has been cashed in on by Left Wing Extremists (LWEs).
Similar observation about tribals has been made in a paper titled ‘Morbidity Pattern of Tribes in Kerala’ published by IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science in April 2016.
Noting that “conditions of tribes in Kerala are distressing,” the Paper says: “They are caught in the vicious circle of poverty coupled with malnutrition, morbidity and mortality. A study conducted on the basis of Multidimensional poverty index by( Richard Scaria et al 2013) in Attapady Palakkad among Irular, Mudugar and Kurumbar tribes show that majority of tribes lies in the category of severe poverty i.e., tribes in Attappady are affected in more than 50% deprivation indicators.”
The Paper adds: “More over pregnant women and lactating mothers were found to be suffering from chronic malnutrition and anemia leading to high infant mortality rates (Dr Iqbal et al 2013).”
According to a CAG report on Kerala’s General and Social Sector presented to state assembly during June 2014, “A survey covering the children in the age group of zero to 72 months in four Grama Panchayaths 43 was conducted (2012-13) by District Administration (under UNICEF assistance). Data collected and analysed by survey on 1,855 births in four selected Grama Panchayaths revealed that the infant mortality rate was as high as 41.47 among tribal population. In these circumstances, maintenance of separate database for the tribal population is necessary for the appropriate and timely intervention by the Health department.”
The report also cites 13-year delay in setting up a residential school for tribals after the grant of Government approval. This forced students to study in a school that operated from the cattle shed of defunct Pookode dairy project!
CAG also noted that State Government sanctioned (January 2010) acquisition of 1,000 acres of land for the resettlement of landless tribals and released Rs 50 crore (2011-12) to the Tribal Resettlement and Development Mission (TRDM) Wayanad for this purpose. But, the amount is still kept unutilised (September 2013) and no
progress was achieved in the acquisition of suitable land for distribution among tribal people.”
A survey conducted by the Kerala Institute of Local Administration in association with the Scheduled Tribe Welfare Department showed that 49 per cent tribal houses lack toilets. As many as 24,289 families do not hold ration cards. More than 55 per cent live in dilapidated houses. In all, 39,850 houses do not have kitchen. Half of the population is deprived of pure drinking water and 1252 tribal hamlets are not electrified. More than 1300 tribal settlements face threat from wild animals, according to a story published in The Hindu in December 2011.
The narrative on Kerala tribals can’t be made wholesome without factoring a few newspaper headlines. Here is a sample: 1) ‘Rs 1,347cr spent on tribal welfare but results missing’. This was headline for Thissur datelined story that appeared in Times of India on 24th July 2015. 2) ‘Leech Fields -Social indices topper Kerala just can’t stop the baby deaths in its malnutrition-hit tribal Attapady belt’. This was the headline for an exhaustive report with shocking images of plight of tribals that appeared in Outlook Magazine dated 29 July 2013. 3) ‘Criminal neglect takes toll on Attappady tribes’. This was the headline for a story on 30 infant deaths that appeared in Down to Earth magazine in July 2013.
CM’s office can access more such stories and studies from cyberspace to put in place a credible delivery mechanism for tribal welfare schemes.
Turn now to the need for a wake-up call for Mr. Modi. He owes an apology to tribals for his Government’s failure to unveil national tribal policy, whose first draft was unveiled by UPA Government in August 2006!
He also needs to explain two-year delay in making public HLC report and the Government’s decisions on its recommendations.
Above all, both UPA and NDA should tender a joint apology to the nation for holding back annual reports of National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST).
Established under the Article 338A of the Constitution in 2004, NCST is mandated to present its annual report to the President. In the annual report, NCST recommends steps that should be taken by the Centre and/or States for effective implementation of the safeguards.
NCST website says that the Commission has withheld publication of its annual reports for six consecutive years ending 2012-13 pending their disclosure to Parliament. NCST finalized its report for 2013-14 on 13th April 2016 for presentation to President only last month.
The Government is duty-bound to place in both houses of the Parliament NCST’s annual reports along with a Memorandum explaining the action taken or proposed to be taken on the recommendations relating to the Centre.
Let Parliament consider all pending reports on tribals and lay an Agenda for Growth of all Tribals in the forthcoming monsoon session.
Thursday, 31 March 2016
|Image Courtesy: Tehelka|
“The accountability for performance in business is no different to accountability of governance. This great nation has to think of tomorrow and beyond, and the standards of performance and accountability by both, Government and business, must set an example for the future.”
Does this advice rankles Dr. Mallya’s mind (if not as a missed heart beat) when he takes a break from his favourite drinks at his royal retreat outside London? Perhaps not because he might not recollect that he stated this on 3rd May 2002. The occasion was an “awe-inspiring moment in my life” as he put it while delivering his maiden speech as a MP. And the debate he chose to participate was Gujarat riots.
He stated: “Let the failure of performance of the Government in Gujarat be an eye-opener. Let us not indulge in recriminations; but set an example on how the failure in governance should be dealt with, so that these unfortunate happenings are eradicated and never repeated.”
Dr. Mallya should apply his thoughts and values to Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) whose failure to pay to employees, vendors, statutory authorities and lenders constitute the moment of reckoning. Parliament would like to hear from him how failure in corporate governance and ethics should be dealt with.
People now also want Dr, Mallya to live by your words. The public expect him to come back to India and to either settle or fight his KFA legal battles with all stakeholders including ex-employees, some of whom have been reduced to paupers for want of accountability that you once professed.
His Rs 4000-crore one-time settlement (OTS) offer made through his lawyers in Supreme Court does not comply with minimum performance standards set by himself, government and RBI. This issue, however, can be elaborated in a separate write-up.
Reverting to Mallya as an businessman, his well-wishers would want him to see in board rooms of UB group companies including stock market-listed United Breweries (Holdings) Limited (UBHL), whose assets he estimated at more than Rs 12,000 crore in a letter dated 28 September 2011. It appears to be a sinking ship.
As put by UBHL’s annual report for 2014-15, “Accumulated losses of the company are more than fifty percent of its net worth. The company has not incurred cash losses during the financial year covered by our audit. The company has incurred cash losses during the immediately preceding financial year.”
It adds accumulated losses of the group are also more than fifty percent of its net worth.
It adds accumulated losses of the group are also more than fifty percent of its net worth.
UBHL subsidiaries -Kingfisher Training and Aviation Services Limited, UB Infrastructure Projects Limited, Kingfisher Aviation Training Limited, Bangalore Beverages Limited, UB Sports Limited, Kingfisher Goodtimes Private Limited and Bestride Consultancy Private Limited have been facing liquidity crunch, resulting in their ability to transfer funds to parent company being significantly impaired.
When the King of Good Times heralds bad times for its employees, lenders and vendors, corporate accountability naturally becomes the national agenda. Questions of all sorts have thus been put in the media. Mr. Mallya can rightly contend that he is being singled out from loan defaulters by media. He should, however, know that this is the price one pays for projecting an image of King of so-called good values (lavish parties, flirting with girls, seductive calenders and making exorbitantly expensive offering to deities while compromising KFA staff’s right to life which depends on right to earn livelihood).
Mr. Mallya can ignore questions, pinpricks and slurs from media. How long he would, however, avoid face-to-face questioning from Enforcement Directorate and other statutory authorities? What if banks spurn his OTS offer? What if criminal investigation cases by authorities result in framing of concrete charges and are presented to the judiciary? What would he do if Supreme Court ultimately directs him to appear in person to defend himself?
And how long he would fritter any opportunity to put interesting questions on wide range of subjects in Rajya Sabha? The subjects on which he raised questions include loan write-offs, money laundering, extradition treaties, tax information network, provision of alimony on break-up of live-in relationship, rehabilitation of children of devadasis and development of missiles.
He wore his heart on the sleeve while raising issues concerning industries in which UB group has had presence. These include fertilizers, liquor, Formula-1 car racing and aviation.
Participating in the debate relating to Union Budget for 2004-05 on 20th July 2004, Dr. Mallya, for instance, appealed to Finance Minister “to pay particular attention to the difficulties being experienced by the domestic fertilizer industry as a result of which no fresh investments have been made.” He added: “A happy farmer needs a healthy fertilizer industry.”
This quote can be turned around by KFA stakeholders in different ways to underscore their plight. The message here is that Dr. Mallya can be confronted with his own preaching by digging into his speeches at different occasions including annual general meetings of shareholders of UB group companies.
Above all, he has to remember what he told Tarun Tejpal, Tehelka founder, at Tehelka’s Goa retreat – Think 2013. Dr. Mallya stated: “The way I look at life, you cannot complete a lifecycle without failures”.
Dr. Mallya should now put full stop to his corporate failures and use them as stepping stones for bounce back to good times for him and his countrymen.
Dr. Mallya must ponder over the concluding paragraph of his maiden speech in Rajya Sabha. He had stated: “I hope that all those who are privileged to be Members of this august House would devote their time, skills and energies to the emergence of a disciplined, result-oriented India, where citizens belonging to different castes, creed and religion, from all walks of life, can live with positive hope and actually look forward to the overall prosperity of future generations in the making of a great nation that will occupy its rightful place in the developed world.”