The contrasting tale of two sons-in-law

S Gurumurthy

S . Gurumurtty

S . Gurumurtty

Known as ‘Mappillai’ in Tamil and ‘Damad’ in Hindi, all sons-in-law have high standing in Indian families — religion, caste, region and language regardless.
No surprise therefore that sons-in-law of wealthy, powerful families make news, mostly for wrong reasons. Some months ago, Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi, was in the news for building, in just four years, real estate empire worth couple of billion Dollars [Rs 11,000 crore], according to California’s, which even the media that adores Sonia Gandhi had to confess as reeking of corruption.
When Arvind Kejriwal exposed the shenanigans of Vadra, for the first time therefore even Sonia-friendly media raised eyebrows about her. But within hours of the exposure, she certified Vadra as honest, directed her party to defend her son-in-law. Yet the media did manage to keep the issue alive.
In April last Haryana Government cleared Vadra of wrong doing. Before the media could scrutinise the fake clearance, the CBI and Law Minister Ashwini Kumar were shockingly caught fabricating CBI report to Supreme Court followed by the CBI catching Railway Minister Pawan Bansal’s nephew selling top posts in the Railways. Vadra went out of the radar even as both ministers made noisy exit.
When the Prime Minister’s head was the next, came the news of spot fixing in Indian Premier League [IPL] cricket matches. All previous scams of lakhs of crores of rupees moved out of the radar as another son-in-law, who held himself out as the owner of Chennai Super Kings team, was caught punting on matches.
Gurunath Meiyappan, the hitherto unknown son-in-law of N Srinivasan who heads the high profile Board of Control for Cricket of India [BCCI] has virtually saved the UPA Government that was being chased by the media and the Supreme Court.
Obviously a smalltime punter, Gurunath is in the news for betting on IPL cricket match results. As per police investigating him, far from making money, he was desperately talking to bookies for tips to bet, win and recover the loss of a crore he had made. Yet see where the two sons-in-law stand now. Gurunath is in police custody for an offence that is yet to be made clear and his father-in-law is fighting to save his seat as chairman of the prestigious BCCI. But Vadra, shaming those who had raised questions of corruption against him as ‘mango people’ [aam aadmi] in banana republic [India], still walks like the President and Prime Minister of the country uninterrupted by security in airports and his mother-in-law pontificates on honesty and calls for war against corruption despite the US based Corporate Insider’s count of her [undeclared] wealth at between $2-19 billions. Media berates Srinivasan as shameless. And celebrates Sonia Gandhi for figuring as the 9th most powerful women in Forbes Magazine’s list last week. It is just a prologue to the interesting and contrasting tale of the two sons-in-law – Vadra and Gurunath. Let us recall the Vadra story and contrast it with Gurunath’s.
On October 5, 2012, the Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan disclosed with prima facie evidence that ‘damad’ Robert Vadra has amassed some 31 properties in the last four years mostly in and around New Delhi, which even at the time of their purchase were worth `300 crore and now over `500 crore when the five companies owned by him had a capital of only `50 lakhs. They said that Vadra got the money almost free from the real estate giant DLF in exchange for favours by Congress government in Haryana to DLF – clearly pointing to corruption. The entire media, visual and print, carried the news extensively and stunned the ruling party into silence.
Seeing no one from the Congress defending Vadra through the day, Sonia Gandhi stepped in to defend her ‘damaad’ saying that there has been no misuse of either of the Gandhi family or any other misuse by Vadra who was a businessman and his transactions are transparent and above board. [Zee news 5.10.2012]. She also asked, like an owner of alsatians does, the Congress party to go after those who went after Vadra.
“Sonia Gandhi tells Congress to defend Robert Vadra against allegations”, said NDTV [5.10.2012]. Then it was a pack of wolves let loose against the mango people and the media. Capturing how the wolves were let loose, wrote The Hindu [8.10.2012] the day most newspapers had front paged the exposure on Vadra, Congress spokespersons were briefing media on economic reforms and the appreciation of the Rupee, and how government was confident of getting the insurance and pensions bills passed in Parliament!
The party had actually distanced itself from Vadra, saying he was not a party member and stressing that his accusers could go to court. But that very evening, with Sonia fiat, everything changed. Ministers and party men vied to defend Vadra. Two days later, the Congress even said that the attack on Vadra was a planned conspiracy not against Vadra an individual but targeted at the entire Congress and its leadership – read Sonia. Meanwhile, on 8.10.2012, Vadra came out with his mango people in banana republic tweet, which Sonia Gandhi explained on 10.10.2012 as not Vadra’s but Varun Gandhi’s!
Soon, the UPA allies stepped in to rescue the first family. Sharad Pawar even dared Arvind Kejriwal to go to court to substantiate his allegations. This was the very man who told N Srinivasan to resign forthwith if he had an iota of honesty! Why then a different rule for the son-in-law of the first family, Mr Pawar?
Lalu Prasad accused Kejriwal of targeting Vadra for “cheap publicity.” Not to be left out the Prime Minister’s Office too came out in defence of Vadra by filing an affidavit in Allahabad High Court on 22.11.2012.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram said that it was just private transaction between two individuals which cannot be questioned on the basis of insinuations, unless there was quid pro quo or corruption. But, if it were two private individuals dealing why should the ruling party, ministers and government defend Vadra? Why did the Congress say that the target was not an individual but Sonia. Then, where were the Opposition? The BJP just stopped short of defending Vadra. Only sections of the media was still trying to keep the issue alive. The Livemint online ran a 38-page coverage of the fraud. The India Today ran a detailed exposure of Vadra [22.10.2012]. Earlier, on 15.10.2012, Ashok Khemka, IAS officer handling Vadra’s case, cancelled sale by Vadra to DLF of the property he had bought at `7.5 crore for `58 crore. He was transferred from his job within 10 days [25.10.2012]. Not as punishment, the CM Hooda asserted. Out of compassion then? This raised a hue and cry. Earlier, on 19.10.2012 the DNA came out with an exposure that Vadra has bought 770 hectares of land in a Rajasthan village at double the market rates during 2009-2011 with inside information about the development plans of the government in that area, with the result the value of the land has shot up by 40 times over the price paid by him.
The Business Standard wrote [9.3.2013] an investigative expose titled ‘How a Rajasthan village lost of Rober Vadra’ detailing how Vadra made a killing in the deal. But came the Haryana government exoneration of Vadra on April 22. 2013.
And with the subsequent scams, now the IPL scam taking over the media headlines, Vadra remains declared an honest business man now and Sonia Gandhi as the Mrs Clean of politics!
Gurunath, whose offence is petty as compared to Vadra’s loot, was not fortunate like Vadra to have had an all powerful in-law family. Obviously Vadra chose the right family to marry. Lesson: those who want to be celebrity sons-in-law must choose the right family to marry before attempting to make wrong money!
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USA university Add Gita as Compulsory Subject

अमेरिकीयूनिवर्सिटी में गीता पढ़ना हुआ जरूरी !
जो काम भारत मे होना था वो अमेरिका मे हो रहा है…
amerika - Gita
अमेरिका की सेटन हॉल यूनिवर्सिटी (Seton Hall University) में सभी छात्रों के लिए गीता पढ़ना अनिवार्य कर दिया गया है।
इस यूनिवर्सिटी का मानना है कि छात्रों को सामाजिक सरोकारों से रूबरू कराने के लिए गीता से बेहतर कोई और माध्यम नहीं हो सकता है। लिहाजा उसने सभी विषयों के छात्रों के लिए अनिवार्य पाठ्यक्रम के …तहत इसकी स्टडी को जरूरीबना दिया है।
यूनिवर्सिटी केस्टिलमेन बिजनस स्कूल के प्रफेसर ए.डी. अमर ने यह जानकारी दी।यह यूनिवर्सिटी 1856 में न्यू जर्सी में स्थापित हुई थी और एक स्वायत्त कैथलिक यूनिवर्सिटी है।यूनिवर्सिटी के 10, 800 छात्रों में से एक तिहाई से ज्यादा गैर ईसाई हैं।
इनमें भारतीय छात्रों की संख्या अच्छी- खासी है। गीता की स्टडी अनिवार्य बनाने इस फैसले के पीछे प्रफेसर अमर की प्रमुख भूमिका रही।
उन्होंने कहा कि यूनिवर्सिटी में कोर कोर्स के तहत सभी छात्रों के लिए अनिवार्य पाठ्यक्रम होता है, जिसकी स्टडी सभी विषयों के छात्रों को करनी होती है।2001 में यूनिवर्सिटी ने अलग पहचान कायम करने के लिए कोर कोर्स की शुरुआत की थी।इसमें छात्रों को सामाजिक सरोकारों और जिम्मेदारियों से रूबरू कराया जाता है।उन्होंने बताया कि इस मामले में गीता का ज्ञान सर्वोत्तम साधन है।गीता की अहमियत को समझते हुए यूनिवर्सिटी ने इसकी स्टडी अनिवार्य की।
हमारे संस्कार पाश्चत्य को पसंद आ गये पर हमारे देश में कब गीता का पाठ नियमित होगा…..
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An Idiot’s Guide To ‘Bharat Nirman’

Thursday, May 23, 2013

An Idiot’s Guide To Bharat Nirman

Someone wisely said “If you can’t blind them with brilliance, then bedazzle them with bullshit…” This works fine for our media folks. For the eighth straight day yesterday they continued to fool the people with the distraction of IPL Spotfixing issue. This is not to suggest that they shouldn’t cover it but it certainly doesn’t deserve the 24X7 coverage that it is being given. Perhaps there were orders from upstairs that the GOI didn’t want adverse coverage of its non-performance on Rajiv Gandhi’s death anniversary and particularly so on the 4th anniversary of UPA2. Both these events passed with minimal assessment of the UPA and Congress performance. The most corrupt govt in the history of the democratic world and the most non-performing one too. That is how I would summarise the govt of Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. The latter is easily the most insipid PM this country has ever had. There was another event that the GOI may not have wanted to spoil; the Chinese Premier’s visit.

So Spotfixing was handy for the media to fool the nation. And there was enough incentive too. The spate of Bharat Nirman ads by the Congress with public money has pushed all other ads into back of the mind position. Some have compared it to the “India Shining” campaign of BJP in 2004 which backfired. But the Nirman ads are being viewed in the age of Social Media (SM) which doesn’t hesitate to call BS when it sees it. A couple of news media houses have debated the Nirman ads but other than that most news channels are just happy to enjoy the luxury dole that has dropped into their lap. Why complain! The other big difference from 2004 is that the Congress cannot help making you believe that everything in this country was brought to you by the Nehrus and Gandhis, the rest of India are just passengers who ride their train. You know, like if you travel on national highways of the Golden Quadrilateral the pics of AB Vajpayee have been removed and replaced by Sonia Gandhi. It’s like ‘Made by Sonia Gandhi’ even when she had absolutely nothing to do with it.

The core Congress message of these Bharat Nirman ads are: 1) You are a bunch of idiots and you can be fooled over and over again. 2) You are not smart enough to notice our hypocrisy. 3) We have nothing brilliant to show for performance so you we are going to bedazzle you with bullshit.

So let’s look at a couple of these Bharat Nirman ads and see what the Congress and the GOI really want to communicate to us. The first one is about the great educational institutions their govt has created so that your kid never has to go abroad (Video 1.01mins)

Voila! Move over US and Japan! Our kids have now made robots that serve tea to guests. I can believe that part definitely because Indian kids have proven themselves to be smarter than many others in the world. But for all the screaming about so many great institutions the Congress has created so that your children don’t have to go abroad, where do the ‘motor mouths’ of the Congress have their kids going? You have unauthorised spokies Digvijaya Singh and Sanjay Jha of the Congress thrilled being in New York for the graduation of the sons and nephews. Of course, their party boss doesn’t trust any Indian doctor or hospital at all. Nobody knows her illness but whenever she sneezes she rushes off to New York, Amsterdam or Rome or wherever ‘Veni Vidi Vici’ will take her to be treated. So these institutions are created for desi bumpkins by the Nehru-Gandhi clan, so be grateful and vote for Congress.

As a marketing person, I can tell you, one of the first things in selling a product is to imagine a picture of who your customer is. Preferably even draw a sketch of that customer or group. You will find that exercise quite enjoyable. The Congress is a master at drawing this picture. In other words they are quite clear who their voter is. This is a good thing for any political party. They are even better, they ensure their customer stays the way he has always been; a perfect village bumpkin or a village idiot. Keep them permanently in low education levels and low development of their villages so that they marvel at the wonders of the world the Congress creates. This village bumpkin explains how he saw magic stairs that go up and down. He describes how this that magic thing goes “Trrrrrrr” above ground and “Trrrrrrr” underground and how it has magic doors that open and close. Whoa! What could that possibly be? And the other village bumpkins are stunned and wonder if the Bumpkin No.1 has gone crazy or senile. Watch (0.34mins):

The political tactic of the Congress is stark in the ad. Keep them uneducated, keep them in unemployment. Then the white-skinned ones will come and deliver “magic” to them and overawe them with a basket of doles like NREGA or FSB and make them feel “look at what your mai-baap have done for you”. If after 65 years of independence our villagers have to be still overawed by metro trains then it speaks a lot for how pathetic our govts have been, mostly the Congress govt. Considering the first metro started in Kolkata around 1986-87 you can calculate how far behind in time other cities are. And even the urban transport system is named JNURM after Jawaharlal Nehru. So there you go, if you have BRTS or better buses in your city, it’s a gift from Nehru. Be grateful, bumpkins! While the media does analyse whether these Bharat Nirman ads are “image make-overs” they don’t look at how clinically deceptive they are. Why would they? After all the Gandhi name spells money all over.

Lately, the Congress has been screaming the Opposition is “anti-poor” because the Food Security Bill (FSB) wasn’t passed in the last parliament session. That was washed out over Ashwani Kumar and Pawan Bansal. How long can you sustain the poor with doles and overawe them with metro rails? Well, as long as you “walk the dog” and make sure the crumbs are delivered to the poodles in time. Considering the PM and Sonia Gandhi are so concerned for the poor, how does it explain an expense of 80 crores in a single day to mourn Rajiv Gandhi? Here are some figures of the ads released on RajivG’s death anniversary on May 21 from Newslaundry:
The ads were released through the Department of Audio Visual Publicity (DAVP).
65 advertisements were printed in 11 English dailies in Delhi.
Over 38 of these were full-page ads.
And how much did such a restrained display of remembrance cost us the taxpayer?
Hindustan Times – 10 ads – Rs 20 crore
The Times of India – 7 ads – Rs 10 crore
The Economic Times – 3 ads – Rs 15 crore
The Hindu – 6 ads – Rs 10 crore
The prize for the paper of choice for the Congress union ministers taking out memoriam ads goes to The Indian Express.
The Indian Express – 12 ads – Rs 25 crore.
And that adds up to a tidy sum of Rs 80 crore spent in just Delhi.

The pathetic Indian Express gets the most? 25 Crores? Not surprising! This is why I once wrote “Saving Shekhar’s Express” on the ads doled out to the paper. That is just the official spend. If you add up other state expenditures and other surrogate ads the total could go well over 300 crores (Do read “The Gandhi Septology”). Now on top of all these comes election and boom-time with Bharat Nirman. Do you really expect the poodles to be honest? Naturally, the media doesn’t challenge it when RahulG and SoniaG go around stating “RajivG brought computer to India” or “Nehru brought gas to India”. These statements are now the butt of jokes on the SM. That’s how Bharat was Nirmaned!

The Chinese Premier was recently here after the Ladakh incursion. Seems peace was made and that just reminded me of something; an old story. When the Chinese and Japanese made peace after the world war the Chinese decided to present the Japs with a gift. They presented them with a 1mm thick and one-metre long pure-Gold thread. The Japs accepted it but were stunned how the Chinese could create such a marvel. So they got together their best engineers to find out how they could do better. The Japanese finally got it and they drilled a hole right through the 1mm gold thread and presented it to Germany. The Germans accepted it but were rattled that the Chinese and Japs could be better than them at such marvellous engineering and their govt couldn’t rest till they had outdone those two. So the German govt employed their best scientists to make an improvement to the thread. Finally, the German engineers created an even thinner golden thread and passed it through the thin hole in the 1mm gold thread given by the Japs and tied a knot at both ends. The German govt was thrilled and told the Japs and Chinese what they had accomplished.

Years later the Germans presented the golden thread to the Indian govt. Our govt didn’t waste any time calling engineers and scientists to add value to it. The big boss just ordered that it be named as “Rajiv Gandhi Golden Wonder” and the village bumpkins came and marvelled at this wonder. That is how Bharat Nirman happens. Anything that is done, anything that is created with people’s money and energy is courtesy some Nehru or Gandhi. Build anything, dole out anything and just put a stamp on it: “Made by Gandhis”. Bharat Nirman!

पाकिस्तानी विद्वान मुबारक हैदर – ” भारत की मुख्य धारा में शामिल हो भारतीय मुसलमान “

-सारी मुस्लिम दुनिया में conspiracy theories का बोलबाला
-अपनी असफलताओं के पीछे गैर मुस्लिमो को दोष ( conspiracy theories ) देने की प्रवृति घातक . सारी दुनिया के मुस्लिमो में ये बीमारी व्याप्त है .
-मुस्लिम सोच , मुस्लिम पद्धतियाँ ही अच्छी शेष दुनिया जाहिल ‘ ऐसी आत्मश्लाघा से बाहर आएं मुस्लिम
-एक मिथ्याभ्रम (paranoia ) ने मुस्लिमो को घेर रखा है कि यदि सारे मुस्लिम एक हो जाए तो दुनिया को जीत सकते है .
– बुद्धिजीवी कहलाने वाले मुस्लिम इस paranoia को बढ़ावा देते आये है।
– मुस्लिमो में आक्रामक आत्ममोह ( Aggressive Narcissism) है कि हमने हिन्दुओ को तहज़ीब सिखाई अब पश्चिम को भी सिखायेंगे .
-अपने को मज़हबी और तहजीबी तौर पर सारी दुनिया से श्रेष्ठ समझने की मानसिकता है भारतीय प्रायद्वीप के मुस्लिमो में .
– भारत के मुस्लिमो में भी ये बीमारी आम है . वो भारत की प्रगति , ज्ञान और भारतीय समाज के साथ एकरस नहीं हो रहे है . जो शामिल हुए थे वो भी आहिस्ता – आहिस्ता हट रहे हैं .
– भारत के मुस्लिमो में रिवाज़ है कि अपने 5 – 7 साल के छोटे – छोटे बच्चों को मस्जिद के बाहर हरी पगड़ी लगाकर खडा कर देते हैं और उन्हें कहते है कि खिलाफत के नारे लगाओ।ये वो ही Narcissism है .

– Arab Spring के सन्दर्भ में – अरब जगत Aggressive Narcissism के अगले चरण में प्रवेश कर रहा है , वो है paranoia . paranoia ये है कि आप हर तरफ साज़िश देखते है , फिर violent होते हैं फिर उससे लड़ते हैं .
अरब तानाशाहों के विरुद्ध जो जन लहर उठी है वो अल क़ाइदा और तालिबान जैसे संगठनो ने शुरू की थी , लेकिन इस लहर को cash करने के लिए अमेरिका और यूरोपीय देशों ने इसे अपना सहयोग – समर्थन दिया है , वो सोचते हैं कि इन तानाशाहों को हटाकर हम अल क़ाइदा जैसों को सत्ता में नहीं आने देंगे बल्कि मुस्लिम लोकतंत्र लाएंगे . ये उनका बहुत बड़ा वहम है . मुस्लिमों को लोकतंत्र की ओर नहीं लाया जा सकता जब तक कि मुस्लिम मानसिकता को ही परिवर्तित ना किया जाए .
– लोकतंत्र एक प्रक्रिया ( process) है ,जो वैचारिक परिवर्तन से आती है . पूरा रवैया बदलता है तो लोकतंत्र आता है .
-अभी तो मुस्लिम जगत में लोकतंत्र संभव नहीं दिखता .

-youtube पर देखें –

Indian-American teen invents device that will recharge mobiles in 20 seconds

An 18-year-old Indian-American girl has invented a super-capacitor device that could potentially charge your cellphone in less than 20 seconds.

Eesha Khare, from Saratoga, California, was awarded the Young Scientist Award by the Intel Foundation after developing the tiny device that fits inside mobile phone batteries, that could allow them to charge within 20-30 seconds.

The so-called super-capacitor, a gizmo that can pack a lot of energy into a tiny space, charges quickly and holds its charge for a long time, NBC News reported.

Khare has been awarded $50,000 for developing the tiny device. She has also attracted the attention of tech giant Google for her potentially revolutionary invention.

Eesha seen in this screengrab from a YouTube video.

According to Khare, her device can last for 10,000 charge-recharge cycles, compared with 1,000 cycles for conventional rechargeable batteries.

“My cellphone battery always dies,” she said when asked about what inspired her to work on the energy-storage technology.

Super-capacitors allowed her to focus on her interest in nanochemistry — “really working at the nanoscale to make significant advances in many different fields.”

The gadget has so far only been tested on an LED light, but the good news is that it has a good chance of working successfully in other devices, like mobile phones, the report said.

Khare sees it fitting inside cellphones and the other portable electronic devices proliferating in today’s world.

Beware of ominous Sino-Pak nexus

By The New Indian Express

25th May 2013 07:50 AM

The skill and speed with which Chinese opera artists change their masks has mystified audiences’ imagination for centuries. During his recent visit to India and Pakistan, Chinese premier Li Leqiang has shown that its new leaders can use it to advantage in the amphitheatre of international politics also. After signing a series of goodwill pacts with India to create the mirage of a newfound bonhomie, he has inked a deal with Pakistan to build infrastructure in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). China will build a transport and economic corridor to link its far-western Xinjiang region to the port of Gwadar in Pakistan, passing through territory that is the bane of a bitter dispute between India and Pakistan. China and Pakistan have already conducted a pre-feasibility study for a railway line passing through the same region.

The fact that China is pushing ahead with the projects in PoK in disdainful disregard of India’s objections puts a question mark over the sincerity of the Chinese leadership in mending fences with India. China’s argument that its agreements with Pakistan were being carried out “without prejudice” to disputes between India and Pakistan is totally untenable and must be rejected outright. China had itself expressed strong opposition to Indian co-operation with Vietnam on exploration projects in the waters of the South China Sea that are contested by it.

New Delhi must take cognisance of the ominous portents of the emerging China-Pakistan nexus. Unfortunately, the dispensation in New Delhi has gone overboard playing down threats to India’s territorial integrity from its hostile neighbours despite clear evidence to the contrary. In the face of China’s blatant incursion in Ladakh last month, it conceded ground by entering into a troop withdrawal deal with China and threw a red carpet for Li. Even during negotiations, it indulged in rhetorical flourishes about solidarity. Li has unmasked China’s real intentions towards India. Instead of letting its guard down, India must prepare to take on the China-Pakistan combine as and when such a situation is forced on it.

Kashmiri separatists flex muscle, Congress gives in

The Congress is undoubtedly playing with dangerous tools in Kashmir completely overlooking the evil ramifications of what it has been preaching. It’s no wonder then that the agitated sections of society in Jammu and Ladakh are dismissing the Congress as an extension of the Muslim League.

Ground reality is that it is just impossible to distinguish between the Congress and other groups active in Kashmir, including the separatist outfits……..
By Hari Om on May 24, 2013

Congress rule spawned crony socialism, began loot of country

Fundamental questions have failed to be asked so we have not noticed that most corruption in India is not because of crony capitalism but because of crony socialism.

By Tavleen Singh on May 12, 2013

Summer has come to Delhi this year with so much heat generated by charges of corruption against Ministers of the Government of India that the weather has taken a backseat to the political heat. Hardly a day seems to go by when some new scam does not fall out of the dusty cabinets of some Ministry. So we had barely stopped reeling from the shock of the Law Minister being charged with conspiring with his top law officers to fool the Supreme Court than news came of the Railway Minister’s nephew’s arrest for trying to sell high positions in his uncle’s Ministry at high prices. And, when this comes in addition to scandals that involved high officials in the air force accepting bribes to buy Italian helicopters and the soot that continues to fill the air from Coalgate it begins to seem as if the 2G scam was merely the tiniest tip on the tip of a mountain of rotten deals.

There has been much informed commentary in the newspapers and on television about why this is happening on such a ‘massive scale’. Political pundits in Delhi are traditionally Leftist and see the world only through a single, unchanging prism. In the years that I have covered politics and governance in this city, I have not seen this leftist worldview change even when the end of the cold war caused the collapse of the Soviet Union and brought a total turnaround in the economic policies of eastern Europe. Not even when China made dramatic economic changes and allowed foreign investment and free market economics did the political pundits of Delhi change.

And, ever since NGO’s gained a foothold in Delhi through the National Advisory Council and Anna Hazare’s movement brought more Leftist NGOs to the fore, the Leftist influence on policy-making has increased so much that all the voices that rise above the din of new scandals have a loud Leftist ring in them.

So the term ‘crony capitalism’ is tossed around a lot and there is much passionate denunciation of supposedly crooked businessmen who are ‘looting’ resources that belong to the people of India. This idea is based on the assumption that the resources of the people of India were safe as long as they were in the hands of officials and politicians so nobody has bothered to analyse why vast gas fields remained untapped for decades and why our vast coal reserves were so badly used that we import coal. Fundamental questions have failed to be asked so we have not noticed that most corruption in India is not because of crony capitalism but because of crony socialism.

Let me explain. In the days of the license raj politicians, bureaucrats and even lowly clerks made money by blocking projects from going ahead unless their palms were suitably greased. So if a businessman wanted to set up a scooter factory he first paid money to get a license, then he paid money to make enough scooters to make a profit and before getting to this stage he greased palms all the way down the line to keep files from getting stuck. I have personally seen famous industrialists waiting in smelly corridors outside some Ministerial office simply because they did not pay enough to the clerks in the Minister’s anteroom.

Once the license raj ended, the importance of officials in Delhi got reduced but only until they saw how much money was being generated in the private sector and how many new billionaires were created by the new liberalised policies. This is when they decided that they should also get a piece of the action and since the red tape and convoluted rules of socialist times remained mostly intact, it became quite easy for them to do this.

Clever Ministers have made their money cleverly and not so clever ones, like A Raja, got caught. But, as becomes increasingly clear with every new scam, what he was doing was really not very different to what other Ministers have always done. On account of decades of socialism, the discretionary powers that Ministers have are immense and so, for instance, it is entirely in the hands of the Railway Minister to hand out lucrative contracts to his family and friends and something of this kind happens across the board in Ministries in which large Government contracts are routinely handed out.

The money being made is beyond belief. My businessmen friends estimate that what they make after a lifetime of hard work can be made by a clever minister in a single year in high office. This is because crony socialism continues to leave in the hands of Ministers more powers to dispense favours and contracts than they would have if we had moved to a truly free market economy.

Not long ago, when the latest spate of corruption scandals hit the Government, I noticed a small news item in one of the Delhi newspapers that said Sonia Gandhi had asked Ministers to ‘voluntarily give up their discretionary powers’. Had she been more serious about this, she would have asked the Prime Minister to take charge of forcing them to do this.

Two examples. If A Raja did not have the power to hand out telecom licenses to his friends and if this was a decision that had to be scrutinised by a high-level Ministerial committee, there may not have been a 2G scandal. And, if when coal blocks were being allocated to private investors, the Coal Minister’s decisions had been properly scrutinised, there may not have been a Coalgate. It is actually a great shame that there was a scandal involving private sector investment in the mining of coal because private investment is badly needed.

Those who now condemn corruption involving the private sector should keep in mind that the real looting of the people’s resources has happened under state control of the economy. There are gas fields that remain unexploited so gas fires burn unstoppably and coal fields in which some of the finest coal is being destroyed by fires that the public sector does not have the technology to put out. One day we must hope that somebody analyses without prejudice the damage done to India by socialism and its new incarnation in the form of crony socialism. Crony capitalism is what happened in China and the former Soviet Union in which officials and their families became the new billionaires. So in India we could be lucky to have only crony socialism.

Is the nation in a coma?

Europeans believe that Indian leaders are too blinded by new wealth and deceit to comprehend that the day will come when the have-nots will hit the streets.
A few days ago I was in a panel discussion on mergers and acquisitions in Frankfurt, Germany, organised by Euroforum and The Handelsblatt, one of the most prestigious newspapers in German-speaking Europe.

The other panelists were senior officials of two of the largest carmakers and two top insurance companies — all German multinationals operating in India.

The panel discussion was moderated by a professor from the esteemed European Business School. The hall had an audience that exceeded a hundred well-known European CEOs. I was the only Indian.

After the panel discussion, the floor was open for questions. That was when my “moment of truth” turned into an hour of shame & embarrassment — when the participants fired questions and made remarks on their experiences with the evil of corruption in India.
The awkwardness and humiliation I went through reminded of The Moment of Truth, the popular Anglo-American game. The more questions I answered truthfully, the more the questions got tougher. Tougher, here means more embarrassing.
European disquiet
Questions ranged from “Is your nation in a coma?”, the corruption in administration, even in judiciary, the possible impeachment of a judge, the 2G,telecom scam and to the money in billions, parked illegally in tax havens.

It is a fact that the problem of corruption in India has assumed enormous and embarrassing proportions in recent years, although it has been with us for decades. The questions and the debate that followed in the panel discussion was indicative of the European disquiet. At the end of the Q&A session, I surmised Europeans perceive India to be at one of those junctures where tripping over the precipice cannot be ruled out.

Let me substantiate this further with what the European media has to say in recent days.

In a popular prime-time television discussion in Germany, the panelist, a member of the German Parliament quoting a blog said: “If all the scams of the last five years are added up, they are likely to rival and exceed the British colonial loot of India of about a trillion dollars.”
Banana Republic
One German business daily which wrote an editorial on India said: “India is becoming a Banana Republic instead of being an economic superpower. To get the cut motion designated out, assurances are made to political allays. Special treatment is promised at the expense of the people. So, Ms Mayawati who is Chief Minister of the most densely inhabited state, is calmed when an intelligence agency probe is scrapped. The multi-million dollars fodder scam by another former chief minister wielding enormous power is put in cold storage. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chairs over this kind of unparalleled loot.”

An article in a French newspaper titled “Playing the Game, Indian Style” wrote: “Investigations into the shadowy financial deals of the Indian cricket league have revealed a web of transactions across tax havens like Switzerland, the Virgin Islands, Mauritius and Cyprus.” In the same article, the name of one Hassan Ali of Pune is mentioned as operating with his wife a one-billion-dollar illegal Swiss account with “sanction of the Indian regime”.

A third story narrated in the damaging article is that of the former chief minister of Jharkhand, Madhu Koda, who was reported to have funds in various tax havens that were partly used to buy mines in Liberia. “Unfortunately, the Indian public do not know the status of that enquiry,” the article concluded.

“In the nastiest business scam in Indian records (Satyam) the government adroitly covered up the political aspects of the swindle — predominantly involving real estate,” wrote an Austrian newspaper. “If the Indian Prime Minister knows nothing about these scandals, he is ignorant of ground realities and does not deserve to be Prime Minister. If he does, is he a collaborator in crime?”

The Telegraph of the UK reported the 2G scam saying: “Naturally, India’s elephantine legal system will ensure culpability, is delayed.”
Blinded by wealth
This seems true. In the European mind, caricature of a typical Indian encompasses qualities of falsification, telling lies, being fraudulent, dishonest, corrupt, arrogant, boastful, speaking loudly and bothering others in public places or, while travelling, swindling when the slightest of opportunity arises and spreading rumours about others. The list is truly incessant.

My(MOHAN’S) father, who is 81 years old, is utterly frustrated, shocked and disgruntled with whatever is happening and said in a recent discussion that our country’s motto should truly be CHANGED TO Asatyameva Jayete.

Europeans believe that Indian leaders in politics and business are so blissfully blinded by the new, sometimes ill-gotten, wealth and deceit that they are living in defiance, insolence and denial to comprehend that the day will come, sooner than later, when the have-nots would hit the streets.
In a way, it seems to have already started with the monstrous and grotesque acts of the Maoists. And, when that rot occurs, not one political turncoat will escape being lynched.
The drumbeats for these rebellions are going to get louder and louder as our leaders refuse to listen to the voices of the people. Eventually, it will lead to a revolution that will spill to streets across the whole of India, I fear.
Perhaps we are the architects of our own misfortune. It is our sab chalta hai (everything goes) attitude that has allowed people to mislead us with impunity.

No wonder Aesop said. “We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to high office.”

(The author is former Europe Director, CII, and lives in Cologne, Germany.)