Monday, 13 May 2013

If Only...

BJP ally Shiv Sena claims that the projection of Narendra Modi as a Hindutva leader would have led to a BJP victory in Karnataka. They're wrong--because it was not the projection of Modi as a secular leader that put off voters, it was the BJP's association with Yeddyurappa and the Bellary coal scandal that put off Karnataka voters. We are all sick and tired of ministers treating their offices of service as offices of profit. And the only way to teach them all a lesson, no matter which party they belong to, is to give them a drubbing at the elections. Let them lose their deposits; let them sit in opposition; let them repent of their sins and learn some humility. So far, they have only lost an election, not their lives. Let them beware, lest the people lose all patience and let loose a revolution, in which ministers and their kin, who have been fattening themselves at the expense of the country, lose not just their wealth but their lives as well.

And talking of Hindutva--how does the building of a temple to Rama help at all, when not a single politician follows his values? We're far more interested in education, health care and livelihood than in building temples to gods whom we worship but do not emulate.

Friday, 10 May 2013

The Ancien Regime Rides Again?

Stories of a top railway official willing to allegedly offer the railway minister's nephew a bribe of Rs. 90 lakhs for an even more impressive post on the railway board have appalled those of us who have read of plum posts in Church and State being sold under the ancien regime in Europe. Perhaps we should not be surprised at this--the Congress suffers from a feudal/durbari mindset, and these stories of such impressive posts being sold for large sums of money, supplied by vendors, are but the tip of the iceberg.

The question then arises--if a man is willing to pay more than 90 lakhs for a place on the railway board, after borrowing the money from a vendor, is he not likely to take decisions that benefit that vendor? In short, is he not likely to buy the cheapest materials possible for the railways, while billing the railways for more expensive goods? Remember that scene in Jolly LLB, where station house officers with a relatively clean image are required to bid for a post in the capital? Isn't it likely that, if a man has paid for a certain post in government, his first concern will be to repay the money he owes and make as much as he can (in whatever way possible) out of his investment? He's not likely to do an honest job or give an honest opinion--he's more interested in making a profit on his investment. Is that how our government is run?

It is evident, from the stories that have appeared in the press, that companies owned by members of the minister's family have received crores of rupees in loans, after a certain CA was made a director in Canara Bank in 2007, when the minister in question was MoS in the Finance Ministry. Evidently, members of the minister's family, whether close or extended, see his office in government as an office of profit. Does the minister in question see his government post in that light? And how many such men are there, who have entered politics because they had no marketable skills, and want to retire after making a killing?

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Justice Verma Committee Report: Law Minister's Response

Yesterday, Shri Ashwani Kumar, Law Minister, said he disagreed with the committee on its stand that politicians accused of a crime should be debarred from contesting elections. He says that politicians should only be prevented from contesting elections when they are proved guilty of having committed a crime.
What Shri Kumar fails to realise is that the Indian legal system moves slower than the mills of God and justice in India is truly blind. A case as grave as that of the 1984 gas explosion in Bhopal has left the victims at a serious disadvantage--those responsible for taking decisions that led to the accident were allowed to leave the country. So, people who are dying of illness or have been severely disabled due to the explosion have lost out on adequate compensation and on being given justice--they do not see those who took these decisions being punished for their crimes.
The other danger with allowing a person suspected of having committed a crime to fight (and perhaps win) an election is that such an individual will use political power and political networks to evade justice. Not to put too fine a point on it--we've seen how the mere threat of a CBI investigation into various cases is used by parties in power at the centre to keep their coalition partners in line. Hence the insistence that political parties, which field such candidates, should not be permitted on the ballot rolls.

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I work as a freelance editor and writer in New Delhi. 


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