Mint ND 19.12.2011 P-1
NAC-backed Food Security Bill receives cabinet nod


The Bill has special provisions to empower women which includes issue of ration cards to the eldest female member of the family
Anuja & Liz Mathew New Delhi:
The Union cabinet on Sunday cleared the National Food Security Bill, a key promise made by the Congress party to the electorate ahead of the 2009 general election, paving the way for the legislation to be introduced in Parliament.
The move precedes a raft of state elections including in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, next year. Considered to be a pet project of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the proposed Food Security Act is the biggest initiative of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) after the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) that offered at least 100 days of work to at least one member of every rural household.

Hindu ND 16.12.2011 P-10
Anna plans jail bharo
Special Correspondent NEW DELHI:


Social activist Anna Hazare, who has threatened to go on an indefinite fast from December 27 if the Lok-pal Bill is not passed during the winter session of Parliament, has also planned a jail bharo andolan from January 1. Members of India Against Corruption would stage dharnas outside the residences of MPs opposing the Jan Lokpal Bill in Parliament, he said on Thursday. If the Bill was passed then, they would present flowers, among others, to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi. If not, Mr. Hazare would protest outside their residences.
Mr. Hazare's remarks came a day after a consensus eluded political parties on the Lokpal Bill.
"If the government does not pass a strong and effective
Bill in this session of Parliament, I will go on anshan [fast] from December 27" he told journalists here after the second day of the meeting of the core committee of India Against Corruption.
"If the time is short, as per the schedule, the government should extend the session. It can be done for such an important Bill that affects the people."
Pointing out that the session ends on December 22, he said he would sit on a fast in either Delhi or Mumbai, depending upon the weather conditions in the Capital.
Team Anna had applied for permission to hold a public meeting on the Ramlila Mai-dan in New Delhi and on the Azad Maidan in Mumbai.
Reacting to the differences over various provisions of the Bill at the all-party meeting on Wednesday,' Mr. Hazare expressed the confidence that
Parliament would pass the Bill during this session itself. "There may have been differences at the all-party meeting, but I am assured that Parliament will pass the Bill in this session itself. Everybody in the government is giving us assurances that we will get a strong and effective Lokpal. So, we should have faith in them. But if they don't bring it, then we will have to agitate."
. Commenting on the lack of consensus at the all-party meeting on the ticklish issue of making the Central Bureau of Investigation autonomous or bringing its investigation wing under the Lokpal, core committee member Arvind Kejriwal said: "Without the CBI, Lokpal is like an empty tin-box."
Mr. Hazare will address public meetings on the Lokpal Bill in Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad next week.

Business Line ND 26/09/2011 p-12
10 Indians among 19 killed in Nepal plane crash
Indo-Asian News Service Kathmandu


A small aircraft crashed near here on Sunday morning, killing all 19 people on board, but the grief and anxiety of the victims' families was compounded after they were handed out wrong names of the Indian passengers. A much anticipated trip to Nepal for a glimpse of the majestic Mt Everest, the highest peak in the world, up close from air led 10 Indian tourists along with nine other fliers into the jaws of death as the Beech aircraft, belonging to Buddha Airlines, crashed in Kotdanda - a forested area in Alipur district, about 20 km from Kathmandu, Eight of the 10 Indian tourists were builders from Tamil Nadu's Tiruchi town, who went to Nepal for sight-seeing after a meeting in Delhi. The Indian Embassy in Kathmandu identified the eight people from Tiruchy as M. Maruthachalam, M, Manimaran, A,K. Krisunan, V.M. Kankasabesan, T. Dhanseka-ran, Kattoor Mahalingam, Meenakshi Sundaram and K. Thyagarajan. The other two Indians were identified as Pankaj Mehta and Chaya Mehta. At least one of them was work- ing for the UN in Kathmandu, The fresh identification was made on the basis of identity cards and other documents after Nepal's aviation authorities had earlier released " a set of different names, . Though rescuers managed to bring out a lone survivor from the wreck site, the grievously injured 36-year-old Nepali man, identified as Nirajan Karmacharya, died while receiving medical treatment at Lalitpur's B&B Hospital.

Economic Times ND 19 Sep 2011 P3
Strong Quake Strikes Sikkim
13 confirmed dead; 6.9 on Richter; Extent of death & destruction will be known only today
OUR POLITICAL BUREAUS/AGENCIES
NEW DELHI/GANGTOK/GUWAHATI/ KOLKATA/KATHMANDU


Astrong earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale hit mountainous Sikkim at 6.10pm on Sunday. Since it occurred at dusk, the magnitude of death and destruction was not immediately known. At the time of going to press, four people were confirmed dead in the state alone, two in Bihar, two in Bengal and five in Nepal. The quake shook various parts of Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and north India.

According to the US Geological Survey website, the epicentre of the quake was 68 km northwest of Gangtok, 119 km north-north-west of Siliguri, 272 km east of Kathmandu and 572 km north of Kolkata. A magnitude of 6-6.9 on the Richter scale is considered a 'strong' earthquake, which can cause destruction 160 km of populated area around the epicentre. The quake was followed by two aftershocks of lesser intensity within an hour. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police immediately launched search and rescue operations in Pegong area of north Sikkim, badly affected by the quake. Two buildings of ITBP collapsed but no casualty was reported. According to officials search and rescue operations were hampered by power failure. "The road outside the battalion headquarters has cracked. We have launched search and rescue operations," an officer said.

Residents of Gangtok said large cracks had developed in several buildings. "It was a massive earthquake. We have alerted the armed forces and the paramilitary," Sikkim Chief Secretary Gyatso said. Telephone lines to Gangtok were temporarily knocked out and mobile networks were quickly swamped, making communication with the affected area difficult.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling and offered him all necessary help. With the quake felt in Assam, parts of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, the Prime Minister directed the Cabinet Secretary to call an emergency meeting of the disaster management authority.

According to the US Geological Survey website, the quake was complex and was likely to be a result of two events that occurred close together at approximately 20 km beneath the earth's surface.

At the epicentre, the India plate converges with Eurasia at a rate of approximately 46 mm/yr towards the north-northeast. It is the convergence of the two plates that has created the Himalayas, the world's tallest mountain range. USGS said, "the preliminary focal mechanism of the earthquake suggests strike slip faulting, and thus an intraplate source within the upper Eurasian plate or the underlying India plate, rather than occurring on the thrust interface plate boundary between the two." The region experienced a 6.1 earthquake in November of 1980, 75 km to the southeast of Sunday's epicentre.Gangtok resident CK Dahal told a news channel that the city had been plunged into darkness by a power cut immediately after the quake, which lasted for around 20 seconds. "There is no electricity. Everybody is out on the road. We all ran out our houses, some even jumped out of their windows. You can see some buildings that have developed cracks."

Manish Sharma, a doctor attending a conference in Gangtok, told another news channel that guests in his hotel had all run for the doors as soon as the first tremors were felt. "I am standing in front of the legislative assembly of Gangtok and I can see one of the outer buildings... the upper side is in two parts. I can see light coming out of that particular portion. It has not collapsed but it is in two parts, one part has moved aside. Police are trying to calm people down."

Powerful tremors were felt in Guwahati, 600 km away from the epicentre, sending panicky residents onto the streets. In Kathmandu, traffic came to a standstill and hotels and bars were evacuated. Hundreds of anxious tourists and office workers waited for news in car parks and on the streets as the seasonal monsoon rain lashed down. In the national capital, the tremor was felt in certain parts, the second such experience within a fortnight after Delhiites were jolted before midnight on September 7. It's the fourth tremor reported in the country in September. There have been a total of 15 earthquakes of significance all over the world in September. The most high-intensity quakes of 7.0 on the Richter scale, each, were reported from the South Pacific island nations of Vanuatu on September 3, and Fiji on September 15, respectively.

The first quake in India this month was reported in Manipur's Ukhrul district on September 4, its intensity was 4.2. The second was on September 7, also of low 4.2 intensity and epicentred in Haryana's Sonepat region. The third was on September 11, in Kutch region with intensity of 3.4.

Tribune ND 16/09/2011 P-2
Women MPs: India ranks 100th in world
Aom TANDON/TNS NEW DELHI


India may boast of being the largest functional democracy in the world but it has a long way to go so far as women’s representation in the Parliament goes. Even Nepal and Pakistan and war-torn Iraq are far better placed than India on the indicator, as revealed by the latest data compiled by Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), a group of 154 national parliaments across the world.

The compilation, shared during closed door sessions with 47 delegates here to attend the Regional Seminar of Asian Parliaments on “Preventing Violence against Women and Girls”, places India at a poor 100th level in 141 ranks awarded to 154 countries (some share the same level). With just 10.8 per cent women in Parliament, India is bracketed with Benin at rank 100 and placed in the bottommost eighth category out of the 11 the IPU has listed to reflect global position as on January 1, 2010. The figures are reflective of the fact that a law to reserve 33.3 pc seats for women in the Indian Parliament has been pending for over 16 years.

While the highest representation (56.3 pc) of women in the world is in Rwanda (ranked first) followed by Sweden at 46.4 pc and South Africa at 44.5 pc, the lowest - nil - is in Saudi Arabia, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

In South Asia, Nepal is the best placed at 17th rank with 33.2 pc women in Parliament. Beating Germany which stands 18th in the listing, Nepal is placed in the third best bracket, followed by Iraq (rank 38) and in the fourth best category alongside Surinam.

Also ahead of India are Singapore, Pakistan and China at 44th, 49th and 55th respective levels. Pakistan, represented today by Fozia Habib of the People’s Party of Pakistan (PPP), talked of how social challenges in India and her country were similar especially those in respect of women. Pakistan and Singapore in fact beat Canada (ranked 50th) at the rankings.

Among nations in the sixth best category (women’s representation ranging from 15 to 19.9 pc) are UK (62nd); France (65th), Bangladesh (66th), Greece (73rd) and Mauritius (74th). In Bangladesh, women’s representation in the parliament is 18.6 pc, ahead of India. Even Gabon, Slovenia, Swaziland and Thailand finish ahead of us with Thailand ranked 91st.

Americas with 22 pc are the second best followed by Europe OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe -- Nordic countries included) at 21.4 pc; and Europe OSCE (Nordic excluded0 at 19.9 pc. Even Sub Saharan Africa and the Pacific finish ahead of Asia with 18.7 and 15.3 pc women in Parliaments, respectively.

No wonder Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar today, during her inaugural address, mentioned that though 45 parliaments had women presiding officers globally and two-third nations had laws to check domestic violence, 127 countries still didn’t explicitly criminalise rape. “In 17 of the 41 South East Asian countries and the Pacific, over a quarter of the population believes it is justifiable for a man to beat his wife. We must change these attitudes…,” she said.

Mint, ND 9/09/2011 P 5
NATIONWIDE TOUR
Advani rides anti-graft wave, plans 'yatra'
Move seen as attempt to bolster own influence in the party ahead of the crucial assembly polls next year in UP
BY RUHI TEWARI NEW DELHI


The Supreme Court on Monday decided to stop overseeing the investigation into the role of Gujarat state government officials, including chief minister Narendra Modi, in a 2002 communal riots case, setting the stage for a possible criminal trial before a lower court in Gujarat.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claimed that the apex court’s decision essentially absolved Modi, while the Congress party said it did not extend a “clean chit”. Both the parties are principal political rivals in the state, which is due to go for elections in 2012.
The Gulberg Society massacre is one of three massacres that broke out in Ahmedabad in 2002, which were in turn part of a larger state-wide violent reaction to the Godhra train burning incident. On 27 February 2002, 59 kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya were killed when a train they were travelling in was set on fire by a mob at Godhra station. In February and March this year, 31 people were convicted, with 11 receiving the death penalty and 20 getting life terms.
The day after the train carnage, a mob stormed the Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad and massacred 68 people which included 73-year-old Ahesan Jafri, a former Congress party MP, who was allegedly burnt alive outside his bungalow. His wife, Jakia Nasim Ahesan, who survived the attack, lodged a complaint with the police. She then moved the Gujarat high court and later the Supreme Court in a petition which claimed that “the incidents which took place during the period between 27th February, 2002 and 10th May, 2002, were aided, abetted and conspired by some responsible persons in power, in connivance with the state administration, including the police”.
The Supreme Court constituted a special investigative team (SIT) in 2008 to probe 10 riot cases, including the Gulberg Society case, and whether the Gujarat government and the police had facilitated the attacks. Victims alleged that the police and government officials chose not to intervene to stop the violence filed two confidential reports before the Supreme Court in May and November 2010. Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, who was appointed amicus curiae in the case, submitted his views on the SIT report to the court this July. The SIT
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising justices D.K. Jain, P. Sathasivam and Aftab Alam directed the SIT’s final report to be placed before the lower court. The apex court also gave the SIT the option of placing Ramachandran’s report before the lower court.
Ahesan Jafri’s widow, Jakia, told reporters at her Surat residence that she was not pleased with the Supreme Court’s order.
“I still have faith in the Supreme Court, but some things have been missed out,” she said.
“It has been nearly 10 years since the incident. People have been arrested and trial was on against them. However, the real culprits, who were behind the riots, are still roaming free,” she said. Jakia, aided by activist Teesta Setalvad and her NGO, Citizens for Justice and Peace, filed cases against the massacre and the investigations which followed. Judge B.J. Dhandha was appointed to adjudicate the Gulberg Society case by the Gujarat high court in February, after the earlier judge, B.U. Joshi, faced opposition from victims and witnesses in the case, on allegations of bias against the victims.
The SIT can now either file a charge sheet or a “closure report” before judge Dhandha’s court. Now, either charges can be framed and the trial will commence or the case could end because of lack of evidence.
Court has given the lower court a free hand to determine the fate of Modi and others accused in the case, it ensured that charges are not dropped without the due process of law being adopted. The Supreme Court, while withholding any observations, directed that if the lower court drops proceedings against the accused, then the judge has to set out clear reasons and give a hearing to the informants. While the Supreme
The Gulberg Society case draws its significance from the direct complaint made against the state administration, including Modi, for allegedly being a part of the conspiracy.
“We stand vindicated. There is no evidence against Narendra Modi. The due process of law has to be followed. There is a process in a criminal justice system. BJP’s position has always been that there is no evidence against Narendra Modi in the unfortunate 2002 riots,” said Arun Jaitley, senior party leader and leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
Senior party leader L.K. Advani also rallied behind Modi, saying he was an outstanding leader of the party. “Supreme Court verdict in 2002 Gujarat riots case is a great relief to the BJP,” Advani said.
Modi, for his part, chose brevity to react to express his relief. “God is great!” he tweeted.
Law Minster Salman Khursheed, however, dismissed these claims. “The Supreme Court has said the SIT must put its report before the magistrate (in Ahmedabad)... All this is still to happen and the BJP are claiming they are in the clean and are acquitted.” The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said this was not an exoneration of Modi’s role, but that this will lead to the expansion of the charge sheet against him through the inclusion of additional complaints.
Mint's Liz Mathew and Ruhi Tewari, and PTI contributed to this story.

Mint, ND 9/09/2011 P 5
NATIONWIDE TOUR
Advani rides anti-graft wave, plans 'yatra'
Move seen as attempt to bolster own influence in the party ahead of the crucial assembly polls next year in UP
BY RUHI TEWARI NEW DELHI


Bharatiya    Janata    Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani on Thursday said he will embark on a nationwide yatra, calling for clean politics before the next session of Parliament. The    announcement came less than two weeks after a hunger strike by anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare found nationwide public support and forced the Congress-led  United  Progressive  Alliance (UFA) government to agree to some of his demands on a proposed anti-graft legislation, the Lokpal Bill.
Analysts said Advani's move was also an effort to bolster his own sagging influence in the BJP, India's main opposition party, ahead of the crucial assembly elections next year in Uttar Pradesh, the country's most populous state.
"I have decided to take out a yatra against corruption," Advani said at a press conference on the last day of the monsoon session of Parliament. "The name of the yatra, its timing, point of origin and other details will be worked out with the party. Its focus will be on good governance and clean politics."
The chief of the BJP's parliamentary party said party president Nitin Gadkari has agreed to the campaign. The next session of Parliament will be held in November-December.
The BJP lost two back-to-back parliamentary elections to the Congress in 2004 and 2009, but the UPA's second stint in power has been plagued by corruption scandals that have forced ministers and other leaders to resign.
"This seems to be an attempt by the BJP to spearhead the anti-corruption campaign at a time when the public sentiment is such," said Subrata Mukherjee, professor of political science at Delhi University. "The party is trying to move away from its religion-based politics and emerge as a responsible national party, and at the same time, capture middle-class support, which is very critical."
This is also a move by Advani, a former deputy prime minister of India, to reassert his waning influence over the BJP, he said. "His role in the BJP has now itself become very limited and it seems his style of politics has failed."
Advani had carried out a rath yatra in 1990 to rally support for building a temple in place of a mosque in Ayodhya, a campaign that helped catapult the BJP to the centre-stage of national politics and eventually come to power in 1998.
Mukherjee, however, added that this time Advani's rath yatra was unlikely to boost his party's electoral prospects. He said the Hazare campaign was not just against the government but against the entire political class, of which the BJP itself is a part.
Advani on Thursday also objected to the arrest of two former BJP members of Parliament (MPs) in an alleged scam relating to the payment of money to opposition lawmakers to abstain from voting during a confidence motion in 2008. Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahabir Singh Bhagora were arrested on Tuesday.
On 22 July 2008, some BJP MPs had waved wads of currency notes in the Lok Sabha ahead of the trust vote, saying they were given the money to abstain from voting.
"Whatever was done was done as per constitutional norms," Advani said on Thursday. "If anything was wrong, I would have stopped them."
Liz Mathew and PTI contributed to this story.

Business Line ND 08/09/2011 p-1
11 killed, 76 injured in bomb blast outside Delhi High Court
20-member NIA team begins probe; court targeted second time in 3 months Our Bureau New Delhi
NEW DELHI, SEPT 7:


Terror struck the Capital again on Wednesday when a high-intensity blast outside the Delhi High Court claimed 11 lives and injured 76 people. The toll is likely to rise.
The bomb, suspected to be placed in a briefcase, exploded at 10-14 a.m. near Gate No 5 when around 200 people were waiting to get entry passes. The deafening explosion left a small crater at the site. Sources said no CCTV had been installed in the area.
In May, the High Court was targeted when a low-intensity bomb went off in the parking lot. No one was injured in that explosion. The Special Secretary (Internal Security), Mr U. K. Bansal, said the preliminary probe indicated the possible use of nitrate-based explosives laced with PETN (pentaerythritol trinitrate). The probe is now being handled by a 20-member National Investigation Agency (NIA) team.
The Home Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, said the blast was of “high intensity” and called it a “terrorist act”. He said intelligence pertaining to threats from certain groups was shared with the Delhi Police in July.
Some media houses claimed to have received a mail purportedly written by Bangladesh-based terror outfit Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami (HuJI) claiming responsibility.
Appealing to people to fight the scourge unitedly, the President, Ms Pratibha Patil, and the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, said the country would not succumb to pressure from terrorism. The Prime Minister sanctioned an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh each from the National Relief Fund to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 1 lakh to the seriously injured.
In a significant move, the Chief Justice of India, Mr S. H. Kapadia, reviewed the security arrangements at the Supreme Court, the Delhi High Court and other court complexes. He visited the blast site and only briefly adjourned the court proceedings.
In contrast, both Houses of Parliament adjourned for the day after news of the blast came in. The Opposition, including the BJP and the Left, condemned the blasts and took the Government to task for “intelligence failure” and not strengthening security despite the May “dry-runs”.
Training guns at Mr Chidambaram, the Opposition said six terror attacks had taken place since he took office and none of these had been solved.

Business Line ND 08/09/2011 P-1
Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz fired
Reuters San Francisco


The Yahoo Inc Chairman, Mr Roy Bostock, fired the CEO, Ms Carol Bartz, over the phone on Tuesday, ending a tumultuous tenure marked by stagnation and a rift with Chinese partner Alibaba.
The CFO, Mr Tim Morse, will step in as interim CEO, and the company will search for a permanent leader to spearhead a battle in online advertising and content with rivals Google Inc and Facebook.
On Tuesday, Ms Bartz's efforts of reviving stalled growth and competing with up-and-coming rivals were abruptly halted after Mr Bostock called with the bad news.
"I am very sad to tell you that I've just been fired over the phone by Yahoo's Chairman of the Board. It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward," the outspoken CEO said in a two-sentence email to employees obtained by Reuters.
The decision to oust Ms Bartz was reached by an unanimous vote of Yahoo's eight independent directors late last week, according to a person close to the company. Ms Bartz, and Yahoo co-founder Mr Jerry Yang, who are also on the board, did not participate in the vote, the person said.

Business Line ND 06-Sep-11 P1
CBI arrests Janardhana Reddy in Karnataka illegal mining case
In 14 days judicial custody; Obulapuram Mining Corpn MD Srinivasa Reddy too held
Our Bureaus Hyderabad/Bangalore


The large-scale illegal mining in Karnataka, which is spilling over to Andhra Pradesh, has started taking its toll, with the first arrests by the CBI of Mr Gali Janardhana Reddy, a mining baron and former Tourism Minister of Karnataka, and Mr B.V. Srinivasa Reddy, Managing Director of Obulapuram Mining Corporation (OMC).
In an early morning swoop on the palatial 'Kuteera', residence of Mr Reddy in Bellary town, about 350 km from Bangalore, a 12-member team of the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) took into custody Mr Janardhana Reddy. They also questioned his wife Aruna Lakshmi.
The CBI brought Mr Janardhana Reddy and Mr Srinivasa Reddy,  his brother-in-law, to Hyderabad, produced them at the Nampally Court, where they were remanded to 14 days judicial custody.
The investigating agency found Rs 3 crore in cash and 30 kg of gold and what it called incriminating documents in the searches at the 'Parijatha' residence of Mr Reddy in the posh Race Course Road in Bangalore. They seized documents and Rs 1.5 crore in cash from the OMC chiefs residence.
Four personal helicopters of Mr Janardhana Reddy were impounded in Bangalore, Bellary and Hyderabad, on grounds that they were 'benami', or owned by one o£ Mr Reddy's companies, sources said.
The powerful Reddy brothers — Janardhana, Somasekhara and Karunakara — allegedly built their fortunes from illegal mining. They operate in both Karnataka and Andhra' Pradesh. They face several cases and the former Lok Ayulcta- of Karnataka, Mr Santosh Hegde, presented a voluminous report recently, detailing the illegal mining activity,
The CBI Joint Director, Mr V.V. Lakshminarayana; said the duo has been arrested under the Prevention of Corruption Act
The Reddy brothers are facing cases in Andhra Pradesh and the OMC operations had run into trouble with various court cases against it, and the CBI itself registering a case in 2009 on allegations of illegal mining and irregularities in allotment of mining leases in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh.
The CBI action comes a day after the Reddy brothers' close associate and former minister, Mr B. Sreeramulu, resigned from his Karnataka Assembly.

Business Line ND 29-Aug-11 P1
Anna Hazare ends fast; says poll reforms next on agenda
Pitches for educational reforms, environment protection; to fight for farmers, labourers Our Bureau New Delhi


Social activist Anna Hazare's 13-day-old fast for the passage of a Jan Lokpal Bill finally ended on Sunday when the Gandhian accepted coconut water mixed with honey from two girls at the Ramlila Grounds in New Delhi.
"We have only won half the battle," Mr Hazare said, while addressing thousands of his supporters who had gathered at the Grounds.
"Electoral reform is next on my agenda... I have only deferred this fast, not given it up. There should be the 'right to recall an elected representative and the ballot paper should have a column with the 'right to reject" if there is no suitable candidate," he said, reading out his future course of action from a piece of paper.
FIGHT FOR CHANGE
Mr Hazare also talked about educational reforms, and of taking up the cause of farmers and labourers as well as environment protection. "We have to think over these things in the fight for change. We should not keep quiet even if the whole of Jan Lok-pal Bill is passed," he said.
He thanked Parliament for supporting his three demands, but made it clear that 'people's Parliament* was bigger than the 'Parliament in Delhi'. Dismissing charges that his campaign was against the Constitution, he said that change must come through Constitutional means.
Team Anna also reiterated that the 'movement1 had not ended. "We hope that the Government convenes a special session of Parliament within a month's time to pass the Lokpal Bill," said senior lawyer Mr Prashant Bhushan, a member of Team Anna.
Mr Hazare was admitted to Medanta Medicity in Gurgaon, under the care of cardiologist Dr Naresh Trehan, even as celebrations broke out across the country.
The Law Minister, Mr Salman Khurshid, a key negotiator with Team Anna, defended the Government's handling of the issue. He told a news channel that there may have been "errors of judgment" in handling Hazare's fast, but that there were no mistakes.
On questions raised over the Prime Minister's 'weak' leadership, Mr Khurshid said, "Every step was led by him and every decision was led by him... For four days, he sat there almost like he was in a control room monitoring every step...."
The Parliamentary Standing Committee that is looking into the Lokpal Bill is headed by Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi. Among the other 31 members are Mr Lalu Prasad, Mr Ram Vilas Pas-wan, Mr Manish Tewari, Mr Ram Jethmalani, Mr Amar Singh and Ms Deepa Dasmunshi,

The Hindu ND 24/08/2011 P16
Prime Minister appeals to Hazare to end fast
'Ready to request Speaker to refer Jan Lokpal Bill to panel'
B. Muralidhar Reddy.


NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday extended an olive branch to anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare amid growing concern at the hitter's health condition on the eighth day of his indefinite fast. Dr. Singh announced that the government is prepared to request Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar to formally refer Team Anna's Jan Lokpal Bill also to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for their "holistic consideration along with everything else."
In a letter to the 74-year old veteran social campaigner, who has caught the imagination of several sections of society, Dr. Singh appealed to the former to call off his protest and also made it known that the government could formally request the Standing Committee to "try, subject to its discretion and the necessity to reflect deeply and spend adequate time, on an important Bill, and fast track their deliberations to the extent reasonably feasible."
The Prime Minister's appeal came a day ahead of a meeting of the floor leaders of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha convened by him and a scheduled debate in the Lok Sabha on corruption under a rule that does not entail voting.
Dr. Singh's letter followed hectic parleys among senior United Progressive Alliance (UFA) leaders and Ministers throughout the day and noisy scenes in both Houses of Parliament that adjourned for the day without transacting any official business.
The government also named senior Minister Pranab Mukherjee to open channels of communication with Mr. Hazare's core team. The
Manmohan Singh move came following murmurs of dissent within the UFA over the manner in which key government negotiators, including Kapil Sibal and P. Chidambaram, handled the situation with Team Anna.
A meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party under the chairmanship of Mr. Mukherjee on Thursday is expected to witness some frank exchange of views.
The Lokpal Bill introduced on August 4 is before the Standing Committee with a mandate to it to submit its recommendations within three months. Legally, nothing precludes the committee from taking note of any input outside the Bill's provisions.
Last week, Congress MP Parveen Singh Aron submitted a copy of the Team Anna bill to the committee for a meaningful discussion. Spelling the rationale behind the intent of the government to petition the Speaker to formally refer the Jan Lokpal bill to the Committee, Dr. Singh said it was in keeping with the sentiment of his team that the Jan Lokpal Bill version should be before Parliament.
Emphasising the point on "parliamentary supremacy and constitutional obligations’ in matters of legislation, the Prime Minister said there was no objective of Mr. Hazare and the government on dealing with scourge of corruption in society.
".All options are open before the Standing Committee.
Undoubtedly, they would be entitled to consider, in detail and clause by clause, subject to their discretion, not only the Bill introduced by us but the Jan Lokpal Bill and other versions like those prepared by Ms. Aruna Roy," Dr. Singh's letter said.
Chairman of the Standing Committee on Personnel Affairs Abhishek Manu Singhvi said it would be their endeavour to complete their task as early as possible. He made the assertion two hours before the Prime Minister's Office released the text of Dr. Singh's letter.
The next meeting of the committee is to be held in September first week.

Financial Express 23 Aug 2011
Open to talks on Lokpal Bill 9% growth possible PM
Kolkata:


Far from New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chose the IIM-Calcutta campus on Monday to extend an olive branch to Team Anna and end the row that threatens to spin out of control. “The government is open to a reasoned debate on the Lokpal Bill and on all issues,” Singh said at the golden jubilee function.

“The parliamentary panel examining the Bill can propose changes....There are differences of views on the Bill details,” he said. He added his government was open to talks and was trying out all means to address the crisis.

But the government, he said, didn’t have any magic wand to instantly solve all problems, including corruption.

He added that a Lokpal was not enough to check corruption, calling for judicial reforms and a comprehensive restructuring of government procedures to “clean up the system”.

“Creation of Lokpal, as an institution, will no doubt help but will not solve the problem. We must particularly address the problem,” Singh told the IIM-Calcutta fraternity in the presence of West Bengal governor M K Narayanan and chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Singh said “a law to govern government procurement” will be instrumental in increasing transparency.

“Many countries have laws on government procurement. We propose to introduce legislation along these lines,” he said. “Many of the controversies that have arisen in the recent past arose because of the inadequacies of our regulatory institutions,” he said. “The aam aadmi faces corruption when he has to pay a bribe to facilitate ordinary transactions with the government,” he said, pointing out that he had asked a group of ministers to look into the issue.

Dispelling apprehensions about slower growth rate, Singh said he was confident the country would grow at 9% and that if it could maintain that pace, it would become the third-largest economy in the world by 2025.

During the two decades that followed economic reforms in 1991, India has transformed itself as one of the fastest-growing emerging markets in the world, Singh said. “If we can continue to grow at this rate, we are well-positioned to be the country with the third-largest GDP by 2025,” he said. But he admitted the economy has slowed down compared with last year, and that growth rates are expected to be “around 8% or a little more, at best.”

Earlier, the prime minister had said that a 9% target is feasible only if some difficult decisions are taken. On Monday he said that since the country has already achieved about 8.2% in the 11th plan period, a transition to 9% might seem not very difficult. “However, it is in fact a very ambitious target given the current global economic situation, which is full of uncertainties about the prospects in industrialised countries and their implications for global capital markets,” Singh said.

Reiterating that “many difficult challenges” need to be overcome to achieve the transition to 9% growth, Singh said that some of these challenges are themselves the consequence of rapid growth and the structural changes that it brings.

Singh added that many countries like Japan and Korea had grown rapidly at 9-10% for two or three decades before slowing down. While India is capable of “repeating the performance of this group of Asian countries”, it has to remember that it will not happen automatically, “by simply proceeding on a business as usual basis”.
Later in the day, at the convocation of IIT Kharagpur, Singh said sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and information technology alone cannot solve problems. The country needs to develop the soft skills necessary to multiply output and productivity. It also needs “managerial and technical software to power the next generation of growth and development in each sector of the economy.”

Hindu 18 Aug 2011 p-9
Rajya Sabha turned into court


 As their Lok Sabha counterparts watched from the gallery, Rajya Sabha members made history by converting the Upper House into a court for the first time ever to hold impeachment proceedings against Justice Saumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court.
The only difference from a normal day's work in the red-carpeted Upper House was a “bar” at the main gate of the entrance, not visible to the Press Gallery located right above it. The “bar” faced the Chairman's podium at the opposite end and Members had to crane their necks to look at Justice Sen, who was dressed in a charcoal black suit and a pinstriped tie, his salt and pepper hair swept back.
The bar was meant to symbolise restriction of access to a non-Member. In fact, as soon as Justice Sen had completed his defence after a stern Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari asked him to wind up as he had surpassed the allotted time of 90 minutes, he was asked to remove himself from the Upper House.
Justice Sen was assisted by counsel who stood behind him and could be viewed intermittently on the closed circuit TV, passing on files and relevant notes from a pile on a makeshift rostrum before the judge.
Justice Sen had been held guilty by a three-member panel appointed by Mr. Ansari.
Mr. Sen became only the second judge against whom impeachment proceedings have been taken up by Parliament. In the first instance in 1993, the Lok Sabha took up an impeachment motion against Supreme Court Judge Justice V. Ramaswami.There are two related counts of misconduct against Justice Sen — that he misappropriated money received in his capacity as receiver appointed by the High Court and, second, that he misrepresented facts with regard to the misappropriation before the High Court.

Financial Express ND 17/08/2011 p-4
Hazare held, sent to Tihar
BJP announces nationwide agitation from today
fe Bureau New Delhi:


 Civil society activist Anna Hazare and his associates were taken into preventive custody on Tuesday morning hours before he was to start his hunger strike in support of his version of the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill.
Later, Hazare was taken to Tihar Jail where he will be lodged for the next seven days along with his associates including Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Manoj Sisodia and Shanti Bhushan. However, Bedi was released in the evening.
The arrest, concede government managers, has comprehensively shifted the focus of the Lokpal agitation from being just about the Bill or even corruption, to the larger question of the right to democratic protest.
The Opposition, which, apart from asking that the prime minister be covered under Lokpal, had not cornered the government on the Bill, tore into the Centre on Tuesday, invoking the emergency of 1975, and decrying what Leader of the Opposition hi the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley called, "a murder of democracy both inside and outside Parliament".
Later in the day, the BJP said it would launch a "peaceful" country-wide agitation from Wednesday to protest the UPA's "dictatorship". Demanding immediate release of Hazare and his associates, BJP President Nitin Gadkari said the party workers with muffled mouths would take out silent marches, hold dharna and take out torchlight processions to protest the "dictatorship of UFA, to save democracy and to root out corruption from the country".
Both Houses of Parliament were adjourned for the day by noon, as the Opposition demanded that Prune Minister Manmohan Singh issue a statement on the matter, refusing to hear home minister P, Chidambaram's statement. "This government is being run by the police, not by the prime minister or the home minister. This is a throwback to the days of emergency," said Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj.
The government, which tried to put forward a nuanced argument that Hazare had refused to adhere to the rules pertaining to holding a protest in the crowded central Delhi, had earlier got into ahuddle, with the prune minister headed Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA). Government managers said the meeting "conceded that it was no longer a war on the Lokpal Bill but a media war, a proxy political battle, and the government had failed to put its view across to the people".
Chidambaram, telecom minister Kapil Sibal and information and broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni addressed the media soon after, and spent over an hour presenting the government's point of view. .
"There is a great deal of angst among the people about situations where they have to offer bribes. But surely the Lokpal Bill is only one such answer to this angst. Other answers are related to amending the CVC Act, getting the whistleblower Act in place, the judicial accountability Bill cleared," said Chidambaram. "These issues are too large to be reduced to "my Bill and no other Bil said Sibal.
The home minister strongly defended Hazare's arrest saying the action was taken by Delhi Police after it came to a conclusion that he and his supporters would commit a "cognizable offence" by defying prohibitory orders.
Soni said the way Hazare had recorded a video just before his arrest, to be aired on the event of his detention, showed that "this is not a totally spontaneous or play-it-by-the-ear kind of movement.
Itis a well thought out movement".
Several ruling party MPs conceded that the arrest was a "tactical error" and the expectation that "Hazare would furnish bail was probably misplaced".
Shortly after Hazare's arrest, his campaigner and noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan announced a series of agitational programmes, 'including a march from India Gate to Parliament on Wednesday evening and protest by their supporters on the Delhi streets. He also called upon government employees to go on a mass leave on Wednesday.

Mint ND 16/08/2011 P4
LOKPAL PROTEST
Anna Hazare to start hunger strike today
Activist remains defiant despite permission being denied for protest; prohibitory orders imposed in some areas
BY Liz MATHEW NEW DELHI


The Delhi state administration   denied   permission to Anna Hazare for a hunger strike at a park on Tuesday to call for a strong anti-corruption watchdog, but the activist said he will press ahead.
The administration's decision came as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his Independence Day speech on Monday, said people "should not resort to hunger strikes and fasts unto death" and talk about their differences with the government to parliamentarians, political parties and the media instead.

Hazare wants the Prime Minister and the higher judiciary to come within the purview of the proposed ombudsman, or Lok-pal. The ageing activist had given the government until 15 August to make the change in a draft law to institute the Lokpal, and threatened to go on an indefinite fast at Delhi's Jayaprakash Narayan Park otherwise.

An earlier fast by Hazare had gained popular support and forced the government to include civil society activists in a joint committee to draft the Lokpal Bill, along with some Union ministers. But committee members did not agree on the terms of the Bill, and the government introduced its own version in Parliament this month. In the draft Bill, the Prime Minister comes under its purview once the person leaves office.

Delhi Police said it denied Hazare permission to fast at the park as organizers refused to give an undertaking on the number of people attending and how long it would go on for, among other conditions.

The Press Trust of India reported that prohibitory orders were imposed in some Delhi areas, including Jayaprakash Narayan Park, late on Monday evening.
While opposition parties termed the move undemocratic,

Hazare and his team said the activist will go ahead with his planned fast at the park.

Top leaders of the Congress party, which rules the state of "Delhi and also heads the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre, held several meetings on Monday to assess the situation. Prime Minister Singh met senior party members, including general secretary Rahul Gandhi, the son of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, to chalk out a strategy.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said during the meeting they do not want the party or the government to target Hazare and his team members personally, said a person familiar with the development, asking not to be identified.
"A large section of Congress leaders believe that personal attacks on Hazare, who seems to be enjoying the support of media and a section of the public, will not be good for the party and the government, which have already been in the shadow of corruption charges," said a Congress general secretary, who also requested anonymity.
A day earlier, Congress spokesman Manish Tewari had accused Hazare of corruption on the basis of a 2005 report of a committee that had probed the affairs of some trusts the 74-year-old activist has been associated with.
Another senior Congress leader and a Union minister, however, said the government should be firm and stick to one stand while dealing with the activists. He also declined to be identified.
Earlier in the day, Singh, who became the third prime minister after Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi to hoist the national flag at the Red Fort in Delhi for eight years in a row, said in his speech that the judiciary cannot be brought under the ambit of the Lokpal as this will "go against the independence of the judiciary".
He, however, admitted that many corruption cases have come to light lately.
"We are taking the strictest possible action in cases of corruption that have surfaced," he said. "It is essential that when we consider these issues, we do not create an atmosphere in which the country's progress comes into question. I believe there is no single big step which we can take to eradicate corruption (and) in fact, we will have to act simultaneously on many fronts."
Members of die Congress and its allies have been named in a clutch of corruption scandals since the UPA won the general election in 2009 and formed the national government for a second successive term.
A high rate of inflation has increased the cost of living substantially in this period and hurt the government's image further.
Singh, in his speech, said the country is going through a phase of sustained high inflation. "Finding a solution to this problem will be our top-most priority in the coming months."

Business Standard ND 16/08/2011
Companies may have to disclose more on CSR in annual reports
JOE C MATHEW New Delhi

In a bid to turn companies' management decisions more transparent, the corporate affairs ministry may mandate more disclosures in their annual financial statements and the reports of boards of directors.
The manner in which companies carried out their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities during the year will become part of the annual mandatory disclosure. The details of the policy adopted by the company, the way it was implemented and the result achieved will all be reflected in the report. The proposals are expected to be part of the new Companies Bill, 2011. A debate is still on over whether CSR will be made mandatory in the Bill or not. Recently, Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily had said India Inc needed to develop a culture of voluntary CSR. "CSR cannot be considered only as a charity, it is more of a social business," he had said.
A proposal in the earlier Companies Bill, 2009 to make it mandatory had evoked a heated response from corporations. Companies may escape mandatory expenditure on CSR, but will not be able to escape disclosure. That may serve as an indirect inducement to them to go for CSR, officials said.
Similarly, companies may be asked to develop a risk-management policy reflecting its preparedness to face unforeseen business setbacks. It would list potential risks and possible solutions, an official said. In the case of public companies, the boards will be asked to explain the rationale behind conclusions made in their annual reports to shareholders.
According to a Delhi-based corporate lawyer, many such suggestions are not new to the corporate world. "There are several disclosure requirements mandated by market regulator Sebi for listed companies. By bringing some of these under the Companies Act, the ministry is trying to make the managements more responsible," he said.

Pioneer ND 10-Aug-11 P10
Govt extends RBI Governor's term
PNS NEW DELHI


RBI Governor D Subbarao, who is credited with steering the country through the economic crisis of 2008, has been given a two year extension by the Government to ensure continuity of India's monetary policy at a time when the whole world is reeling under the fallout of the downgrade of the sovereign rating of the US.
"It will be good because at this point of time, extension of the RBI Governor is needed. Though there was time till September, we decided we should do it quickly to ensure that there is no uncertainty," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters after announcement of Subbarao's extension as head of the country's monetary authority.
Subbarao was Finance Secretary before his appointment as the Governor, will continue as RBI chief till September 5,2013. He played a key role in steering the country out of the global financial meltdown following the fall of America's iconic investment banker Lehman Brothers in September, 2008.
"He is doing good job and has already earned his reputation as central bank Governor in the various deliberations of the G-20, where Finance Ministers and central bank Governors meet and take decisions," Mukherjee said.
Subbarao was to retire in September following the completion of a three-year term. The Prime Minister approved the extension to D Subbarao, Governor of RBI, for two years," a PMO spokesman said.
The 61-year-old former IAS officer was appointed the 22nd Governor of the central bank in September, 2008. The continuation of Subbarao at the helm of the, RBI assumes significance as it comes at a time when the Government
and the central bank are gearing up to meet the challenge posed by the economic crisis in several eurozone nations and the downgrade of the US sovereign rating to AA+ from AAA by Standard and Poorss. The downgrade triggered a steep fall in stock markets throughout the world, including the BSE and NSE in India. Subbarao, who steered the country through the economic crisis of 2008, is credited with taking a tough monetary stance to check inflation. It was under his leadership that the RBI increased key interest rates 11 times in the past 16 months to control the rate of price rise, despite stiff resistance from industry.

Mint ND 16/08/2011 P4
LOKPAL PROTEST
Anna Hazare to start hunger strike today
Activist remains defiant despite permission being denied for protest; prohibitory orders imposed in some areas
BY Liz MATHEW NEW DELHI


The Delhi state administration   denied   permission to Anna Hazare for a hunger strike at a park on Tuesday to call for a strong anti-corruption watchdog, but the activist said he will press ahead.
The administration's decision came as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his Independence Day speech on Monday, said people "should not resort to hunger strikes and fasts unto death" and talk about their differences with the government to parliamentarians, political parties and the media instead.

Hazare wants the Prime Minister and the higher judiciary to come within the purview of the proposed ombudsman, or Lok-pal. The ageing activist had given the government until 15 August to make the change in a draft law to institute the Lokpal, and threatened to go on an indefinite fast at Delhi's Jayaprakash Narayan Park otherwise.

An earlier fast by Hazare had gained popular support and forced the government to include civil society activists in a joint committee to draft the Lokpal Bill, along with some Union ministers. But committee members did not agree on the terms of the Bill, and the government introduced its own version in Parliament this month. In the draft Bill, the Prime Minister comes under its purview once the person leaves office.

Delhi Police said it denied Hazare permission to fast at the park as organizers refused to give an undertaking on the number of people attending and how long it would go on for, among other conditions.

The Press Trust of India reported that prohibitory orders were imposed in some Delhi areas, including Jayaprakash Narayan Park, late on Monday evening.
While opposition parties termed the move undemocratic,

Hazare and his team said the activist will go ahead with his planned fast at the park.

Top leaders of the Congress party, which rules the state of "Delhi and also heads the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre, held several meetings on Monday to assess the situation. Prime Minister Singh met senior party members, including general secretary Rahul Gandhi, the son of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, to chalk out a strategy.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said during the meeting they do not want the party or the government to target Hazare and his team members personally, said a person familiar with the development, asking not to be identified.
"A large section of Congress leaders believe that personal attacks on Hazare, who seems to be enjoying the support of media and a section of the public, will not be good for the party and the government, which have already been in the shadow of corruption charges," said a Congress general secretary, who also requested anonymity.
A day earlier, Congress spokesman Manish Tewari had accused Hazare of corruption on the basis of a 2005 report of a committee that had probed the affairs of some trusts the 74-year-old activist has been associated with.
Another senior Congress leader and a Union minister, however, said the government should be firm and stick to one stand while dealing with the activists. He also declined to be identified.
Earlier in the day, Singh, who became the third prime minister after Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi to hoist the national flag at the Red Fort in Delhi for eight years in a row, said in his speech that the judiciary cannot be brought under the ambit of the Lokpal as this will "go against the independence of the judiciary".
He, however, admitted that many corruption cases have come to light lately.
"We are taking the strictest possible action in cases of corruption that have surfaced," he said. "It is essential that when we consider these issues, we do not create an atmosphere in which the country's progress comes into question. I believe there is no single big step which we can take to eradicate corruption (and) in fact, we will have to act simultaneously on many fronts."
Members of die Congress and its allies have been named in a clutch of corruption scandals since the UPA won the general election in 2009 and formed the national government for a second successive term.
A high rate of inflation has increased the cost of living substantially in this period and hurt the government's image further.
Singh, in his speech, said the country is going through a phase of sustained high inflation. "Finding a solution to this problem will be our top-most priority in the coming months."

Pioneer ND 5 Aug 2011 p-9
Anna's magic is wearing off Kalyani Shankar


Given that he may not be able to repeat the success of his earlier hunger strike, Anna Hazare would do well to refrain from threatening the Government. Instead, he should lobby with MPs to include his suggestions
Now that the Government’s version of the Lok Pal Bill is to be tabled in Parliament, the question remains should the civil society activists led by Anna Hazare continue their agitation? And if they choose to do so, what would be the end result? Will the Government bow to their wishes and amend the provisions of the Bill? If it does, what will be the fate of other controversial Bills?
The Government committed a mistake when it included civil society members on joint drafting committee of the Lok Pal Bill. To that extent, it is laudable that the civil society leaders won the first round. However, after convincing the Government representatives on several issues, Team Anna failed to persuade the drafting committee to include the Prime Minister, the higher judiciary and Government servants under the purview of the Bill. So, the Government won the second round while the civil society leaders were left simply to make a lot of noise with Anna Hazare threatening to go on another fast.
The question is how long can this kind of blackmail by the civil society leaders work? Not for long, especially if one were to go by indications that Anna Hazare’s next fast at the Jantar Mantar may not be as successful as his previous fast. The Government has clearly learnt its lesson after the Baba Ramdev incident at Ramlila Maidan. It will not repeat its mistakes by allowing Anna Hazare to once gain fast at Jantar Mantar. Of course, civil society leaders are fuming about this but the fact remains that the Government can easily get away under the pretext that the fast will the city’s disturb law and order situation.
Moreover, Team Anna has not chosen the right time for the second fast. Here is why: Their main demand is that the Parliament pass the Lok Pal Bill by August 15. This is an unrealistic deadline given the country’s parliamentary processes. After being placed in Parliament, the Bill maybe sent to a select committee for a thorough study and this committee cannot be told to come back to the House within a few days, even to please Team Anna. Moreover, the final shape of the Bill is the prerogative of Parliament and not Team Anna. Civil society activists cannot usurp the rights of the parliamentarians. At the most, they can persuade political parties to include some amendments.
Team Anna is also experimenting in new avenues by conducting a so-called referendum in the constituency of Union Minister for Human Resourec Development Kapil Sibal, who was one of the main architects of the Government Bill. Although they called it a referendum, it was only an opinion poll. One does not know how accurately the survey was carried out. Therefore, before acknowledging the results the Government should be wary of signalling that it has yielded to the activists, as this could pave the way for a similar survey route for the future Bills. Also, does Team Anna itself believe a referendum should be the way for controversial Bills in the route? This is a dangerous trend especially since there is nothing to prevent some other group from using the same tactics to get what they want.
So, what are the main points of criticism levelled by the activists against the Government’s version of the Lok Pal Bill? First is that the public cannot file complaints and they can only be sent to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha or Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, who in turn would forward it to Lok Pal who does not have the powers to take suo motto note of complaints. Second is that the Lok Pal will be an advisory body and no power to prosecute guilty officials. Third, regarding the composition of the Lok Pal, only three members are required to be retired judges and there is no provisions for members from other backgrounds. Fourth, the complainants will face severe punishment if their complaints turn out to be false. Fifth and most importantly, the Prime Minister and the higher judiciary will be outside the purview of the Lok Pal.
The civil society activists’ Jan Lok Pal Bill however seeks to repeal the Central Vigilance Act and merge it with the Lok Pal but this would defeat the purpose of the law as entrusting both powers of investigation and prosecution to a single agency is not a good idea.

The Jan Lok Pal Bill also provides that no complaint can be dismissed without hearing. This too may become problematic as the Lok Pal may not have the time and resources to determine the admissibility. Moreover, the Jan Lok Pal gives sweeping powers to the Lok Pal over and above the judiciary, the executive and the legislature. For this provision to be implemented, fundamental features of the Constitution will have to be amended.
Clearly, there is a long way to go before the Government and civil society activists get on the same page. However, it would be best if Team Anna leaves it to the parliamentarians for now. Later, it can lobby with them to include their recommendations.

Pioneer ND 5 Aug 2011 p-9
UPA has failed on foreign policy front
Mired in multiple scams at home, the UPA has failed to bravely confront foreign policy challenges, writes CP Bhambhri


 Immersed in multiple scams at home, the Congress-led UPA Government has failed to deal with foreign policy challenges which are staring the nation in the face. It is a well known fact that foreign policy cannot be left hanging in the air but the politically weak and shaky Government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has failed give it appropriate time and attention.
During her visit to India for the second round of the India-US Strategic Dialogue, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pontificated that it’s time India take on a leading role in the region. Ms Clinton also observed that much of 21st Century history will be written in Asia which, in turn, will be influenced by the strategic partnership between the US and India, and India’s relationship with its neighbouring countries. Of course, her statement about India’s role as a leader in the region has raised the hackles of the Pakistani leadership.
That apart, what is worth noticing, is that her visit to the subcontinent from July 18 to 20 coincided with two major crises hovering over the Obama Administration: the debate over raising the US debt ceiling and the US’s strained relationship with ally Pakistan. These reflect on the US’s declining strategic and economic supremacy. Moreover, its decision to withdraw forces from Afghanistan would also affect peace and security in the region.
Though Mr Singh warned Ms Clinton that US withdrawal from Afghanistan ‘could hurt India’, his comments went unnoticed. Yet, consequences of American withdrawal from Afghanistan are grave, since that would leave India and Pakistan to fight it out as they both seek to establish their own areas of influence in war-torn Afghanistan.
It is one thing to sermonize that India should continue to play positive role in the nation-building processes of Afghanistan, and another side of the reality is that Americans are leaving a divided and strife-ridden country where Pakistan is waiting to extend its control. Clearly, Ms Clinton had nothing to assure India, the US’s most important strategic partner, either in the area of post-America withdrawal from Afghanistan or on nuclear trade except to reassert that Indian Nuclear Suppliers’ Liability Act is inhibiting American firms to engage with India.
The real explanation for flatness of India-US talks from July 18-20 is crisis-ridden America is not in a position to provide global leadership and crisis-riddenUPA Government has no capacity to keep away Pakistan’s interventionist strategies in Afghanistan. Not only this, the Hamid Karzai Government is also moving step by step towards disintegration an it will be a tragedy for South Asia if Afghanistan becomes a battleground among various tribes the Talibans and other fundamentalist groups. Ms Clinton’s visit to India and Pakistan did not yield any result and our weak Prime Minister could not reciprocate to Ms Clinton’s rhetoric that ‘India should lead’ Asia.
The visitor from America and her Indian hosts were found quite inadequate in making appropriate foreign policy choices because both countries do not have political capabilities to fulfil their promises either on trade in the area of nuclear supplies or laying down the foundations of appropriate framework for post-America withdrawal situation which will develop in Afghanistan.
While India-US Strategic Dialogue has not borne any fruits or broken any new path in foreign policy, the visit of Foreign Minister of Pakistan Hina Rabbani Khar has constructively resulted in establishing new confidence building measures. Indian foreign policy makers had very modest expectations from Ms Khar’s visit and the talks have laid down the foundations for ‘future dialogue’ between the two neighbouring countries which have a great burden of history over their shoulders?
Ms Khar referred to ‘history of hostilities’, and asserted that ‘new young generation of Pakistan aspires friendship with India’. Ms Khar expressed her desire for a new era of ties and stated, “The dialogue process should be uninterrupted and uninterruptible, keeping in building trust and be result oriented”.
Foreign policy discussions between India and Pakistan on July 27 have been conducted in a very special context and situations facing both the countries. Indian Government from 2009 to 2011 has been compelled to ‘engage’ itself with domestic politically divisive issues, Pakistan is in trouble because its relationship with the US have deteriorated. It was revealed clearly when Americans withheld $800 million aid to its ‘most important strategic ally’. And the American war on Afghanistan compelled it to accord the status of ‘non-Nato ally’ to Pakistan.
This new special status brought a lot of goodies to Pakistan from America. Americans are clearly dissatisfied with ‘anti-terrorism’ operations taken by Pakistan especially on the eve of American withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan.

Mint ND 27-Jul-11 P12
India, Pakistan hold 'cordial, positive' talks before foreign ministers' meet
Special Correspondent
BY ELIZABETH ROCHE NEW DELHI


 India on Tuesday described talks with Pakistan before a meeting between foreign ministers of the two countries as "very cordial and positive".

The Indian foreign ministry statement came as Pakistan foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar arrived in Delhi for discussions with her counterpart S.M. Krishna. The Krishna-Khar meeting on Wednesday, the first ministerial level discussions in a year, is aimed at furthering a tentative peace process to bridge the trust deficit caused by the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Soon after her arrival, Khar told reporters she hoped India and Pakistan had "learnt lessons from history, but are not burdened by history and we can move forward as good, friendly neighbours who have stakes in each other's future and both the countries understand their responsibilities to the region and within the region".

Ahead of Wednesday's meet, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao met her counterpart Salman Bashir to discuss confidence-building measures aimed at increasing people-to-people ties.
These include expanding travel and trade across divided Kashmir by increasing the frequency of bus services connecting Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, and Poonch and Rawalakot, besides adding to the number of trading points across the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir into Indian and Pakistan-administered regions.

Krishna and Khar are expected to announce some of these steps to impart momentum to the current dialogue process, which was begun in February, at the official level. The dialogue focuses on the many disputes between India and Pakistan, including the more than six-decade-old conflict over Kashmir. The picturesque Himalayan territory, the cause of three of the four wars between India and Pakistan since 1947, is administered by the neighbours in parts but claimed in full by both.

India broke off a four-year-old peace process with Pakistan after 10 terrorists belonging to Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba raided multiple locations in Mumbai, in November 2008. At least 166 people were killed during the siege.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said the Rao-Bashir talks were "very cordial and positive".

"They reviewed the progress in talks between different ministries and organizations of the two countries in the preceding months. The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan will be briefing the external affairs minister of India and the foreign minister of Pakistan respectively, of the discussions," he said.

Former foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh interpreted the positive assessment of the talks to mean that "nothing controversial came up in the discussions. When they say 'free and frank' it usually means problems between the two sides were discussed. This, I think, means no contentious issues were discussed and the atmosphere of the talks was cordial".

On the possibility of Khar, who at 34 is the youngest and the first woman foreign minister of Pakistan, being able to provide the impetus for a breakthrough on problems bedevilling India-Pakistan ties, Mansingh expressed doubts as "it is the Pakistani military that controls foreign policy where India is concerned. So there is not much expectation she will be able to engineer a breakthrough. Both sides will attempt to keep the dialogue going that will reassure the international community" that the nuclear-armed neighbours are not close to war, Mansingh said.

C.U. Bhaskar, head of the National Maritime Foundation think-tank, said with the Pakistani military's position eroded after the US conducted a secret raid on 2 May to kill Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, "positive talks with India would suit them".

Hindu ND 21 July 2011 p-13
Air India bound to pay Mangalore crash victims' kin Rs. 75 lakh each: court
Special Correspondent


 There can be no differential treatment between rich and poor in payment of compensation

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday said the National Aviation Company of India Limited (Air India) was bound to pay a minimum compensation of Rs.75 lakh to the legal heirs of each of the victims killed in the May 22, 2010 Mangalore crash.

Justice P.R. Ramachandra Menon made the observation while declaring that Abdul Salam and Ramla, parents of 24-year-old B. Mohammed Rafi, were entitled to a minimum of one lakh SDR (Special Drawing Rights equal to Rs. 75. lakh) as compensation based on the Montreal Convention. case of death.”

Tribune 13 July 2011
Manmohan inducts 8 new faces, axes 7
Jairam elevated but loses Environment, Khursheed takes over Law from Moily in much-anticipated Cabinet rejig; Trinamool’s Dinesh Trivedi gets Railways, Beni Prasad Verma Steel
New Delhi, July12


 Controversial minister Jairam Ramesh was today elevated to the Cabinet rank and shifted from the high- profile Environment Ministry and Veerappa Moily replaced by Salman Khursheed as the Law Minister in a substantive reshuffle of the Union Council of Ministers in which several ministers continued to hold additional charge of some key portfolios.

Significantly, after carrying out the much-talked about exercise, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said this was the last reshuffle before the next Lok Sabha elections.

However, he made it clear that he has kept two slots vacant for the DMK, whose two ministers resigned under a cloud.

Manmohan Singh did not touch the ‘big four’ - Finance, Home, Defence and External Affairs -and also kept four ministries, including the Telecom and the Civil Aviation, as additional charge.
Ramesh, who stoked controversies by his handling of environment issues with his proactive approach, gets the Rural Development Ministry from where Vilasrao Deshmukh has been shifted to Science and Technology and Earth Sciences.

In another significant change, Manmohan Singh also took away the Law portfolio from M Veerappa Moily in the light of several embarrassments to the government in the Supreme Court and brought Salman Khursheed in the ministry. Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi has been elevated to the Cabinet rank and given the important Railways portfolio, which was left vacant by Mamata Banerjee after she became the West Bengal Chief Minister.

Beni Prasad Verma becomes a Cabinet minister for Steel, a portfolio he earlier held as Minister of State with an Independent charge.

The eight new entrants and three others who were elevated to the Cabinet rank were sworn-in by President Pratibha Patil at a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan in the presence of a host of dignitaries, including Vice-President Hamid Ansari, the Prime Minister, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj.

With today's changes, the strength of the Union Council of Ministers goes up to 68 with eight inclusions and seven resignations.

The other new faces in the Council of Ministers are Jayanthi Natarajan who gets Environment and Forests, Dibrugarh MP Paban Singh Ghatowar (DONER), Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyaya (Health and Family Welfare), Alwar MP Jitendra Singh (Home), Milind Deora (Communication and IT) and Rajiv Shukla (Parliamentary Affairs).

Today's exercise, however, left two ministers --- Srikant Jena and Gurudas Kamat --- not entirely satisfied over their elevation as Ministers of State with Independent charge.

Talking to reporters after the swearing-in of the 11 ministers at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Singh said the reshuffle reflects a "balance necessary between various states, consideration of efficiency, consideration of continuity" in the government.

"As far as I am concerned this is the last reshuffle before we go to polls (in 2014)," he said, adding that "this exercise is as comprehensive as possible." Asked whether he anticipated problems after the reshuffle because of some ministers being unhappy, Singh said: “There are bound to be problems when there is some redistribution of portfolios. We have taken into account the best interests of the country."

Jena and Kamat, unhappy over the reshuffle, did not attend the swearing-in ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Ministers who have been dropped from the Cabinet are MS Gill (Statistics and Programme Implementation), BK Handique (DONER), Kantilal Bhuria (Tribal Affairs), Murli Deora (Corporate Affairs) and Dayanidhi Maran (Textiles).

Ministers of State for Steel and Rural Development A Sai Prathap and Arun Yadav, respectively, were also dropped.

While Maran had resigned last week in the wake of his being named in the 2G scam, 74-year-old Deora had offered his resignation citing his age and had reportedly sought a berth for his son Milind.
The Prime Minister said two ministerial slots have been kept vacant for the DMK. "It is part of our coalition dharma...I hope their decision will be coming soon," he said. Asked about shifting of controversial Jairam Ramesh, the PM said he has been "given more extensive responsibility. His experience will be better utilised in this portfolio." Queried why Rahul Gandhi was still not included in the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister said, "I requested him several times to join the Cabinet but he has said he has responsibilities in the organisation."

The restructuring exercise appeared incomplete with additional charge of Textiles and Water Resources being given to Anand Sharma and PK Bansal, respectively. Sharma retains Commerce and Industry and Bansal Parliamentary Affairs. HRD Minister Kapil Sibal continues to hold additional charge of Telecom, while Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi retains additional charge of Civil Aviation. Kishore Chandra Deo, veteran Parliamentarian from Andhra Pradesh, made it to the Cabinet for the first time to be the second minister from the state after Jaipal Reddy. Jena, who nursed a grudge when he was made Minister of State in 2009, has got a promotion being given Independent charge of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

However, he continues to be MoS in Chemicals and Fertilisers where DMK’s MK Alagiri continues to be a Cabinet minister.

The lone Congress MP from Chhattisgarh Charan Das Mahant makes a debut as MoS in Agriculture and Food Processing.

Gurudas Kamat has been shifted from Home and Communication ministries to a new ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation with an Independent charge. He too was unhappy. Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed has been also been allocated the HRD portfolio. Ministers of State V Narayanasamy and Ashwani Kumar shed Parliamentary Affairs portfolios which have gone to new entrant Rajiv Shukla and Harish Rawat, who retains MoS for Agriculture and Food Processing.
Minister of State for Shipping and Railways Mukul Roy has been divested of the Railways portfolio. — PTI

The Hindu ND05-Jul-11 P7
HIV/AIDS-affected demand passage of Bill
Aarti Dhar NEW DELHI:


 Even as the Centre reiterated its commitment to fight the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, which acts as a barrier for accessing services, and also push the epidemic underground, around 300 people living with HIV/AIDS staged a dharna here on Monday demanding the immediate tabling of the HIV/AIDS Bill in Parliament.

The Bill has been pending with the government since July 2006.

The protesters marched to the Vigyan Bhavan where the Prime Minister addressed a two-day national convention of Zilla Parishad chairpersons and Mayors on HIV/AIDS, organised by the Forum of Parliamentarians on HIV/AIDS.

People infected with and affected by HIV face widespread discrimination ' in different spheres of life. HIV positive '.people are removed from jobs and refused medical treatment even in emergency situations. Children, whose parents are HIV positive, are often refused education, even if they are not infected with the virus. The proposed Bill aims to protect people from discrimination, both in the public and private sectors. However, it has been five years since the Bill was first finalised, and is yet to be introduced in Parliament.

"Urgent steps need to be taken to protect the rights of the HIV positive people, and passing of the much delayed HIV/AIDS Bill is an essential step in that direction," said Hari Shankar of the Delhi Network of Positive People.

Addressing the elected representatives at the grassroots levels, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the government was committed to fighting this stigma on all fronts by involving all sections of society. "We can help them live with dignity and get access to education, employment as well as health care without discrimination," he said.

He said the more critical challenge before the government was to facilitate a favourable environment for uptake of the services. "This needs confronting the social norms which reinforce negative behaviours. I emphasise that we need to promote open and healthy discussions "on HIV and AIDS and issues of sexual health through various forums."

- However, Mr. Azad said the epidemic could not be fought only through medical interventions or public health measures. "It has large socio-economic implications since it affects the most vulnerable sections of society. We also need to address issues of social exclusion of marginalised communities and need to reduce gender inequalities and violence which put women at greater risk of HIV."

Business Line ND 05/07/2011 P-6
Harun Rashid Khan appointed RBI Deputy Governor
Our Bureau Mumbai

The Government has appointed Mr Harun Rashid Khan as Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India.

Following this appointment, the RBI now has four Deputy Governors. Besides Mr Khan, the other Deputy Governors are Dr K.C. Chakrabarty, Dr Subir Gokarri and Mr Anand Sinha.

Mr Harun Rashid Khan fills the vacancy created due to the superannuation of Ms Shyamala Gopinath on June 20. The central bank traditionally has four Deputy Governors, with two of them being from the RBI and the other two being external candidates a senior commercial banker and an eminent economist.

Mr Khan will be in charge of Central Security Cell, Department of External Investments and Operations, Department of Government

and Bank Accounts, Department of Payment and Settlement Systems, Foreign Exchange Department, Internal Debt Management Department , and Inspection Department, the RBI said in a statement.

Prior to being appointed as the Deputy. Governor, Mr Khan was Executive Director of RBI since October 2007. He looked after Department of External Investments and Operations, Foreign Exchange Department, Internal Debt Management Department and Department of Government and Bank Accounts.

Meanwhile, Mr G. Padmanabhan assumed charge as Executive Director of RBI on Monday. As Executive Director, he will look after Department of Information and Technology, Department of Payment and Settlement Systems and Foreign Exchange Department.

Mint, ND 4/07/2011 P-S
DIFFERENCES PREVAIL
Political parties back Lokpal Bill in monsoon session of Parliament
BY ANUJA & RUHI TEWARI
NEW DELHI


 All political parties have backed the government's move to introduce a Lokpal Bill in the forthcoming monsoon session of Parliament, even though some of them differed on the proposed provisions.
With this, the stage is set for fresh political action on promulgating a Lokpal Bill that was first initiated in 1968. It will also help the organized political class regain control from civil society over the debate on providing legal safeguards to contain corruption in public office.

"The government should bring before the next session of Parliament a strong and effective Lokpal Bill following the established procedures," said an all-party resolution issued after the meeting.
The all-party meet was convened by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UFA) government at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's residence to initiate discussions on the Bill and take views of political parties ahead of formulating the final draft that would be presented in Parliament.

In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the government was committed to a Lokpal Act, providing for "strong, effective and quick institutional arrangement for tackling corruption in high places" and was keen on bringing it before Parliament in the monsoon session. Singh, however stressed on the need for the "widest possible consensus".


"While a good law and a strong institution are necessary to tackle the problem of corruption, these alone would never suffice... The institution of the Lokpal has to work in harmony with other institutions and laws and it has to function within the framework of the basic structure of our Constitution.," the Prime Minister added.


The meeting was attended by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Union ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P. Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, M. Veerappa Moily, Salman Khursheed and Pawan Kumar Bansal. Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and heavy industries minister Praful Patel (both from the Nationalist Congress Party), and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's T.R. Baalu were among the UFA constituents to attend the meeting.

From the opposition, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani, leaders of opposition in both Houses Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, Janata Dal (United) Chief Sharad Yadav, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury, Communist Party of India's Gurudas Dasgupta and D. Raja as well as Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad were among those present.
The Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party were represented by S.C. Mishra and Ram Gopal Yadav, respectively.

"We clearly said we (BJP) are in favour of a strong and effective Lokpal... We want the government to bring an improved Bill in the monsoon session of Parliament and send it to the standing committee," said Swaraj. "We have differences with the government's draft Bill on provisions like selection of Lokpal, its jurisdiction, etc., but we did not specify them here since we want to do it in Parliament."

The government had constituted a joint drafting committee with representatives from the Union cabinet and civil society in April this year, following a campaign against corruption led by activist Anna Hazare.

However, despite nine meetings, the joint drafting committee continues to differ over key issues such as inclusion of the Prime Minister and the judiciary under the ambit of the Lokpal and the method of appointment and removal of the Lokpal.
Over the past week, Hazare and his team met senior political leaders of various parties to garner support for their version of the Bill.

Business Line ND 4/07/2011 p-9
PM's focus needs to change


Henry Ford is credited with having denounced history as bunk, and most politicians in India at least would nod heartily in agreement with that fatuous notion. One would, however, expect a Prime Minister like Dr Manmohan Singh to think otherwise and to recall the journey since 1991, as he spoke to a select group of editors in what an editorial in this paper called his “talk show”.
Even on a second reading of his observations, sprinkled liberally with the usual homilies, one does not get the slightest whiff of a reckoning with the recent past in which he played such a critical role.
Learning from the past

When he expressed the worry that a besieged government could derail growth, he seemed unmindful of the passage of time; India in 2011 is not the India of 1951 or for that matter, 1991. If he had asked two decades ago to be allowed elbow room to foster progress, he would have made sense from a national viewpoint.

 For a country close to defaulting on its international obligations, who could have denied the government of the day the space to prevent a disaster?

History is not nostalgia or bunk if one learns its lessons well. For a government now wallowing in the comfortable knowledge that the economy is on song with swelling foreign exchange reserves, buoyant revenues, and the promise of the second highest rate of annual GDP in the world in the current fiscal, 1991 may appear like a childhood best forgotten. But remembering the journey would illuminate the current destination all the better.

And for Dr Singh's team (or, to use the inversions of television's talking hairdos, Team Dr Singh) the past should be all the more important, because today's key personnel were yesterday's protagonists as well.

On the verge

Twenty years ago, Dr Singh as Finance Minister aided by Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Governors like Mr S. Venkitaramanan and Dr C. Rangarajan at the Reserve Bank of India, pulled India away from the abyss by securing critical aid from the IMF that gave it some breathing space.

To the credit of the policymakers under the late Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, they made good use of the elbow room that the IMF funds gave them. They put in place a programme of macro-economic stabilisation that was, in just a couple of years, to turn leading economic indicators into the black.

What did those reforms influence? The first was government finances. All through the preceding decade the gap between revenues and expenditures that had widened alarmingly was financed by tapping into household savings through heightened statutory requirements; by September 1990 the SLR for banks had reached 38 per cent of net demand and time liabilities.

Profligacy spread like a disease to the external sector as short-term debt flows, aided by a policy that discouraged equity, added to the current account deficit of 3 per cent of GDP by the start of the 1990s. The drop in foreign exchange reserves to $1 billion was inevitable; with the disproportionately large debt obligations, a balance of payments crisis was as inevitable.

No one can deny the role that many policymakers, from Dr Singh on, played in averting the crisis and getting the economy on to its growth path with a raft of policy initiatives down the decade: reducing tax rates, widening the tax base, abolishing licensing, rationalising customs duties and clearing the thicket of arcane regulations, and opening the financial system with caution. The tortoise-like speed may have exasperated NRIs and global investment managers besotted with Wall Street's magical success till September 2008, but it seemed to confirm calibrated reforms were fine.

By 2004-05, after an initial blip when leading indicators seemed to derail yet again, the organised economy was ready to roll, and roll it did for the next five years, a period that coincided with the UPA's first term.

Annual economic growth and output rates seemed to vindicate many of the changes introduced in the nineties.

Cut to the present

When Dr Singh reminds us that growth takes precedence over all else, he assumes the journey begun in 1991 has ended and that the task of government is to simply stay the course.
But in 2011 we are aware that that growth trajectory has been terribly flawed, that it has left behind a vast majority of Indians and that it has, contrary to those who expected otherwise, fostered a viciously smug arrogance among the privileged (and they include more than politicians) who believe that the right to make money equals the right to violate laws, natural resources and democratic institutions.

Dr Singh can do nothing more substantial for economic growth than has been done over the last 20 years. But he can do a lot else by figuring out why his government is feeling besieged.

Hindustan Times ND 1/07/2011 P-8
RAJ KUMAR SINGH TAKES OVER AS HOME SECY
NEW DELHI:


 Raj Kumar Singh took over as the union home secretary after GK Pillai retired on Thursday and said the Centre will confront naxalism in close coordination with state governments. He added that the Centre will continue to focus on two pronged strategy of police action and development projects to deal with Maoists.

Economic Times 30 June 2011 P1"
Manmohan Breaks his Silence but Only Just


Its great that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has broken his vow of silence and is speaking to the media: we can look forward to a more open government.

Singh is correct when he says that civil society - Anna Hazare and his group, Ramdev and his followers, talking heads and Tweeters - is welcome to its views about the Lokpal. But no unelected group can have the last word on it.

This paper suggested that the prime minister should come under the ambit of the ombudsman, just as state chief ministers are responsible to the Lokayukta. We are happy that Singh himself believes this, though he has left the final call to his party.

More important, he has committed to bringing the Lokpal legislation in the monsoon session of Parliament, which begins on August 1.

A trained economist, Singh spoke about growth and savings rates. He hoped that inflation would cool to about 6% by March next year. Asked what he would do to combat rising prices, Singh said, truthfully, that he has no control over global commodity markets, events in the Middle East and crude prices. But he glossed over the fact that when inflation was largely about food prices, the government simply sat on its massive stocks of foodgrain - now around 65 million tonnes at the Centre and states - instead of dumping a large amount in the market to cool prices.

In his earlier avataar as prime minister, Singh staked the fate of the government to push through the nuclear deal. The deal was important for India's policy objectives, but lacked any mass appeal. But today, the prime minister - and his government - are sitting on three pieces of legislation that could have massive political impact.

The first is about the right to food for India's poor. It's pointless to crow about 8% growth and a 34% savings rate when so many people go hungry. If state governments can promise - and deliver - hugely subsidised food to their poor, why can't the Centre pass a law to universalise the right to food?

The second is about mining, one of the worst-run and most exploitative sectors in the country, governed by archaic laws which need to be changed but haven't been. A draft promising a share of mining revenues or profits to people adversely affected by the activity, is gathering dust somewhere.

The third is to revamp the land acquisition legislation to make sure that the government stays out of the messy business of buying land for private projects. Land acquisition has become a ticking time bomb in India, with the power to dislodge 34-year-old regimes.

Perhaps characteristically, Singh's silence on all these issues was more eloquent than what he said.

Asked directly about the timing of the ministerial reshuffle, he chose to duck, saying it was an 'ongoing process.' This only means that uncertainty, and the resultant paralysis in policymaking, will continue. Singh has spoken, now he has to act.

Economic Times 30 June 2011 P1"
Young CEOs Add More Zip to Companies than the Old
With fire in belly, fierce ambition & sharp focus, under-50 bosses create more value for their cos
KAUSIK DATTA & KALA VIJAYRAGHAVAN MUMBAI


What's common between Ashok Soota and Captain Krishnan Nair, and between Karsanbhai Patel and Uday Kotak? Patel and Kotak started up businesses when in their 20s consumer goods marketer Nirma and Kotak Mahindra Finance, respectively. Soota waited till he was in his 50s before turning entrepreneur and co-founded IT services firm MindTree (he recently quit to start a new venture); Nair founded the Leela chain of hotels in his 60s. So who are more successful in business — young guns with fire in their belly, or dyed-in-the-wool leaders who have been there, done that and are still doing it at an age many prefer to bow out?

Soota and Nair are examples of entrepreneurs who blossomed late. And Indian industry also has a smattering of professional CEOs who are leading companies in their 60s and even 70s. At the same time, a clutch of younger, nimbler-footed leaders with fire in their belly and searing growth on their minds are making their presence felt.

It’s a debate that’s guaranteed to provoke extreme reactions: Do young turks at the helm we’ve decided to give CEOs under 50 the benefit of youth — make better leaders than battle-scarred, hardened old hands (those over 55)?

There are no easy answers to that, but a quick survey of BSE 100 companies throws up an interesting — if contentious — conclusion: that companies run by under-50 CEOs create more value than their senior counterparts. CEOs above 55 years have managed to grow their companies’ wealth by an average 4.33% over the past year; those under 50 in contrast have given average returns of 26.4%.

Needed Both Youth & Experience

R Suresh, who heads executive search firm Stanton Chase International’s India operations, does not think age is a “hard-stop for right candidates”. But he does concede that “the golden age for a CEO in mid-sized companies or in a service industry is 40-45”.

Suggest to some of India’s veteran head honchos that they’re over the hill, and they will be quick to point to the advantages of experience particularly in core sectors like manufacturing and infrastructure.

“No young leader in India has the bandwidth to run all businesses of a diversified conglomerate like Larsen & Toubro,” thunders AM Naik, the feisty chairman of the engineering and construction giant. “L&T needs a leader with experience, energy, knowledge and sound networking to fuel growth,” he adds.

Leaders like Naik, ITC’s Yogi Deveshwar and Ratan Tata all past 65 and still executive chairmen have often had to face flak for their reluctance to let go of the reins. The counter to such criticism, says Janmejaya Sinha, Asia-Pacific chairman of The Boston Consulting Group, is that chronological age is not relevant.

Of course, young CEOs are more successful than their old counterparts, says Sinha. But young, for him, are those who “have the mental agility to learn and are ready to re-invent themselves every three to five years”.

Nitin Paranjpe, CEO, Hindustan Unilever — who himself is under 50 — adds that “the age factor is not important when leading an organisation”. Yet, Paranjpe, 47, will agree that unfettered youth does carry with itself a few advantages — like the ability to take risks without the fear of failure; and a burning ambition to make it big.

“Young CEOs are passionate. Their high aggression enables them to create more value than their senior counterparts,” says Glenn Saldanha, the 41-year-old chairman & managing director of Glenmark Pharmaceuticals.

“Risk-taking ability goes down over a period of time. Without risk, you can get growth of 4-5% but not aggressive growth,” adds Prof Bala V Balachandran, 73, JL Kellogg Distinguished Professor of Accounting and Information Management, Northwestern University, US. But there will always be the likes of E Sreedharan, whose career path will defy the youth-equals-passion theory. An engineer with the Indian Railways, Sreedharan, who will turn 80 next year, spearheaded the unique and challenging Konkan Railway Project after retirement. In 2005, when well into his 70s, Sreedharan became MD of Delhi Metro and went on to complete many sections of the network within the stipulated time and budget.

Against such a backdrop it wasn’t at all surprising when, last fortnight, ITC Chairman Deveshwar decided that internal candidates all in their 50s were best suited to succeed him. Perhaps a combination of youth and experience in various permutations and combinations would be a perfect solution. For instance, 43-year-old Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, has veterans like 63-year-old Debu Bhattacharya heading key companies and functions.

Glenmark’s Saldanha suggests that a young CEO at the helm supported by a senior management team is a sound structure. The senior managers can help pull go-getting CEOs back to earth when they go overboard on the risk front in their testosterone-fuelled quest for growth.

(Researched by Rajesh Mascarenhas. Additional reporting by Saumya Bhattacharya)

Mint ND P-22
A reasonable Lokpal


The past few weeks have seen the process of drafting the Lokpal Bill degenerate into acrimony. Leaving aside the verbal swipes between members of the drafting committee, there are substantial issues at stake. The most important is that of bringing the Prime Minister and other high officials of state under the Lokpal ’s ambit.

This is not a simple “moral” issue of why the Prime Minister should be kept out of the purview of the Lokpal. At one level, there is no reason for this exclusion: The Prime Minister in the cabinet system is primus inter pares, or a first among equals. If his cabinet colleagues can be watched over by the Lokpal, there is no reason why he should not be.

At another level, matters are not as simple as Anna Hazare would have us believe: Today, the most important decisions of a strategic kind on foreign policy, on use and control of nuclear weapons and other vital policy issues are initiated by the Prime Minister. If during the course of executing these tasks, the Prime Minister is “hobbled” (to use an expression a government minister is fond of), it would hit the country hard. This does not, of course, help if an incumbent prime minister is corrupt. Barring a few egregious exceptions, Indian prime ministers have been “clean” but one should not rule out future transgressions.

A more sensible option a compromise would be to fast-track the investigation and prosecution of a prime minister after he demits office. The law should ensure that there are no procedural wrangles in this task.

The problem with the non-official members of the drafting committee is that they have a peculiar worldview  one that blames corruption in India to liberalization and discretionary control by ministers. The latter is true to a great extent, but the great mass of the suffering that ordinary citizens face is at the hands of low-level officials.

Financial Exp 6 May 2011
BJP seeks CBI probe against Chidambaram in 2G case
New Delhi:

The BJP on Thursday launched a campaign seeking to corner the UPA government on corruption by using the PAC report on the 2G spectrum scam. Former finance minister Yashwant Sinha fired the first salvo, demanding that home minister P Chidambaram be investigated by the CBI for his alleged role in the spectrum scam when he was finance minister.

The party, which kicked off what it terms “a campaign against corruption against a government of the corrupt” will be launching a series of public meetings, with the first being held in New Delhi on Thursday. Sinha, who had taken on Chidambaram even earlier, said, “P Chidambaram is a master at obfuscation, and has not been able to explain why he first objected and then later fell in with plans to allocate 2G the way it was. Till his role is probed by the CBI, the investigation into the 2G spectrum allocation will not be complete,” he said.

Chidambaram had, after Sinha’s initial allegations last week, already clarified that, “the note of January 15, 2008, was sent to solely deal with the issue of the charges for spectrum, also known as spectrum usage charges.” The note, he maintained, made three very specific suggestions for raising additional revenue, including price discovery through the auction route.

The BJP’s anti-corruption campaign has been launched also with an eye on the assembly elections in UP, due next year. “We want to know why Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati, who are at each other’s throats in UP, come together to rescue the UPA government at the Centre and protect the corrupt,” BJP president Nitin Gadkari said.

Business Standard 27 April 2011
Arvind Subramanian: What the PM can do about corruption
Reform in economic governance and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s unimpeachable integrity could be the answer
Arvind Subramanian


The Lok Pal Bill and the jailing of the suspects in the 2G scam mean that controlling corruption is back on the radar screen. Two questions merit particular attention today. Is controlling corruption important in India’s current economic circumstances? And what can this prime minister, of unimpeachable personal credentials yet uncomfortably confronted with the recent scandals, do about it?
The relationship between corruption and development is murkier than economists would admit. Yes, in the very long run, institutions that provide good economic governance, which includes controlling corruption, deliver better economic development.

But the operative term is “very long run”. Over less lengthy horizons, the relationship is less clear. A lot depends on what form corruption takes. If corruption is just a low and fixed cost of doing business, it might be less harmful than, say, variable corruption that creates uncertainty for business decisions. Indonesia flourished for a long time under Suharto. Bangladesh has grown quite rapidly for a long period of time (as Shanta Devarajan of the World Bank pointed out) despite scoring very low on measures of governance. And Tamil Nadu has grown rapidly under Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, wizards of equal stature in the dark art of malfeasance.

But for a very different reason Indian development might be particularly prone to being dragged down by corruption. More controversially, one could posit that the Indian development model could be derailed because of corruption. How?

India’s rapid economic growth since the 1980s has been based on defying rather than exploiting its comparative advantage. India has used more intensively its relatively scarce factor of production, skilled labour, and underused its abundant factor, unskilled labour. The reasons include conscious policy choices made early on (emphasising higher education over basic education, taxing domestic manufacturing through licensing, and taxing the hiring of unskilled workers through labour and other laws) and accidents, especially the arrival of IT technologies that Anglophone India, with its networked diaspora, found itself well-positioned to exploit.

Large-scale corruption in India occurs in transactions involving factors in fixed supply such as allocating spectrum, exploiting natural resources (coal) and, above all, acquiring land. Corruption related to land has two consequences: it raises its price and creates considerable uncertainty about dealing in it. Both could dampen investment, not only in manufacturing but also in a large number of services sectors that require land as a significant input: construction, retail, educational institutions and hospitals.

Go back to the Indian development model, and add land as a factor of production. The pool of skilled labour is increasingly being depleted because of the poor state of higher education; the tax on unskilled labour has not been significantly relieved. Now, if land is also going to be a costly factor of production, the Indian growth machine could start sputtering well before the absorption of India’s labour is complete. So tackling corruption should be a high priority because of its disproportionately large and adverse effect on land.

But economics has little to offer by way of prescription for this problem. Deregulation can help, but only up to a point. After all, the state has some functions that it needs to perform — and land use regulation is one of them. If land is to be converted from agricultural to industrial use, those who are currently using it need to be compensated, and environmental norms must be respected. So, a framework for this conversion must be established — and that is a responsibility of the state.

So, what can be done? Controlling corruption is related to the quality of public institutions, including democratic accountability, the bureaucracy, the police and the judiciary. And this quality is determined by history and politics, is generally difficult to change, and is glacially slow when it does. Show me an economist who offers a cure for corruption, and I can show you a quack or a snake-oil salesman.

The Lok Pal Bill under discussion will have limited impact, if any. Convicting and jailing the culprits in the 2G spectrum scam would certainly have some benefits, but, judging by the Indian record on convictions, the prospects for this are not bright. And broader reforms of the police and judiciary are, sad to say, pure fantasy.

So, what can the prime minister do? Not a whole lot. But two possibilities are worth considering, one very narrow and focused, and the other utterly symbolic.

Given the diagnosis that corruption matters at this stage of India’s development because of transactions involving land, this government could revive the effort (which lapsed in 2009 when the previous Lok Sabha was dissolved) at making the legislative framework for land acquisition simple, clear and certain. In addition, a bipartisan political structure modelled on the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers that has been successful in mid-wifing the Goods and Services Tax (fingers crossed) could be created for deciding on important land cases.

The other course of action would rely on the prime minister himself. Any lay person following his career can see that he cares viscerally about two issues: rapprochement with Pakistan along with a settlement of the Kashmir issue and solidifying India’s current economic trajectory, having presided over its early ascent 20 years ago when Narasimha Rao (who could have counted Machiavelli and Chanakya amongst his disciples) was at the helm.
The prime minister has to show that he is willing to stake his personal reputation – draw his Lakshman rekha – on the issues that are dear to him, including the prevention of any major looting of the public exchequer on his watch. It is striking that in the one instance that the prime minister staked his personal reputation – on the India-US civilian nuclear agreement – he not only emerged successful in winning a legislative passage for it, but also considerably enhanced his political standing in the process.

It has been sad to see the prime minister reduced to denying or defending his complicity in the 2G scandal. This government probably needs the legitimising cover of his personal reputation more than he needs to hang on to power.

So, rather than using his unimpeachable personal integrity as a defensive shield, the prime minister should wield it as a potent weapon. He will then not only reign but also rule.
The author is Senior fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics and Centre for Global Development

Hindustan Times ND 5 April 2011   P 1
PAC says Tata candid, pulls up ‘evasive’ Radia

Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) found corporate lobbyist Nira Radia "evasive'' and industrialist Ratan Tata "candid'' when they appeared before it separately in connection with their respective roles in the allotment of 2G spectrum. Panel chairman Murli Manohar Joshi pulled up Radia who reportedly got off to a false start by saying that she was appearing before the PAC at the panel’s “request”. Joshi quickly corrected her, saying she had been issued an “order” to appear before the committee. 
During the meeting he also told her that any discrepancy or wrong statement by her would amount to contempt of Parliament. Radia could only fold her hands in a gesture of compliance. But at the end of two-and-a-half hours, the panel concluded that Radia avoided giving straight answers.
“She was not in a mood to place facts before the committee. When asked about the tapes, she was evasive,'” Joshi told mediapersons later. Radia responses included “I do not know”, “I cannot say this is correct’ and “I do not remember”, Joshi said.
When reminded that she had already accepted before the CBI some of the conversations in the tapes, Radia admitted that she had heard some of them.
The panel then asked her to submit the list of tapes she had heard so that it could also go through them. Once it hears the tapes, it will decide on whether it needs to call her again.
Vaishnavi Communications, which Radia heads, issued a statement claiming that she had “extended her cooperation and offered clarification on all issues”. Unlike Radia, the panel found Tata giving clear answers. On occasions when he said he could not remember something, he told the panel he would provide the answers within a couple of days. During the three hours that he was with the panel, Tata accepted that the voice on the tape (relating to his conversation with Radia) was his. He also admitted having written a letter to DMK chief M Karunanidhi.
In contrast to Radia, he started off on a positive note by saying that he was somewhat apprehensive of appearing before the panel.
Asked if the panel was “satisfied’’ with Tata’s responses, Joshi said the question was of verifying whether the answers were right or wrong. According to a panel member, Tata was not convincing on certain issues such as his claim that he had “loaned’’ R1,600 crore to Unitech and that the amount has been returned to him with interest.