Posts Tagged 'gurumurthy'

Are they just ‘useful idiots’? – S Gurumurthy

Are they just ‘useful idiots’?

S Gurumurthy

21 Jul 2011

http://expressbuzz.com/biography/Are-they-just-%E2%80%98useful-idiots%E2%80%99/296511.html

See this list of seculars and liberals. Justice Rajinder Sachar, author of the famous Sachar Committee Report on the state of Indian Muslims; Dileep Padgaonkar, one of the three interlocutors on J&K appointed by the central government; Harish Khare, the media adviser to the prime minister; Rita Manchanda, the India/Pakistan Local Partner for Women Waging Peace; Ved Bhasin, editor, Kashmir Times; Harinder Baweja, editor (investigations), Headlines Today; Gautam Navlakha and Kamal Chenoy, human rights activists, and; Praful Bidwai, well-known columnist. This is the illustrative list of popular Indian liberals who exert powerful influence over the Indian discourse — be it on Kashmir or secularism or on corruption or communalism or on Narendra Modi or Sonia Gandhi.

But this is not the list of probables for the Padma awards. This is the list of those who have been the guests of Ghulam Nabi Fai, who was arrested three days back by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US for acting as the front man of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). The Washington Times (July 19, 2011) reported that Fai “was arrested Tuesday by FBI agents in a suspected influence-peddling scheme to funnel millions of dollars from the Pakistani government, including its military intelligence service, to US elected officials to help drive India out of the disputed Kashmir territory in South Asia”. Fai was arrested in US not for working to drive India out of Kashmir — as it is not an offence under the US law — but for the offence of funnelling ISI money to buy influence over US officials for Pakistan. Under the Indian law, the case against the Indian liberals in Fai’s list may well be one of sedition if they had known who Fai was, or if they had not, they could be well just his “useful idiots” as a former editor, R Jaganathan, wrote in his brilliant column in firstpost.com. But are they just useful idiots or more?

The 45-page affidavit by the FBI in the case has charged Fai with “conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign principal”. Media reports that the FBI swears in its affidavit that Fai, who floated the Kashmir American Council (KAC), was a front man for Pakistani interests in US in the garb of Kashmiri’s. The reports say that Fai “took dictation from his masters” in Pakistan. The media cites the FBI affidavit to say that Fai received at least $4 million — at some $500,000 to $700,000 every year — to manipulate the Kashmir debate in favour of Pakistan. And this is important. This is where the Indian liberals listed at the opening are party to advancing the designs of Fai. They had been attending the conclaves and meets organised by Fai, at the instance of ISI, to oust India from Kashmir.

The FBI seems to have worked meticulously to link Fai to his masters in Pakistan. It appears to have got the details of some 4,000 e-mail and telephone exchanges with his handlers in Pakistan. An accomplice of Fai seems to have confessed — as a confidential witness for FBI — that Fai was a henchman of ISI. According to the confidential witness, cited by the media, the ISI “created the KAC to propagandise on behalf of the government of Pakistan”. Fai could play this role unsuspectingly because he was originally from India, being born in Kashmir, with a master’s degree from Aligarh Muslim University. After becoming an ISI agent, according to reports, he began to do what Pakistan and ISI directed him to do, namely hold conferences and seminars funded by ISI for which he was sourcing the propaganda material of the ISI. According to the report, the confidential witness seems to have confessed that, “of the statements Fai makes, 80 per cent are provided by the ISI for Fai to repeat and disseminate verbatim. The other 20 per cent of the KAC’s messaging consists of Fai’s own ideas, which have been pre-approved by the ISI”. So Fai is a hundred per cent ISI mouthpiece.

Our liberals figuring in the list participated as important speakers from India in the conventions and seminars organised by Fai, now charged by FBI as an ISI agent. According to reports, Fai, assisted in his objectives by our liberals, was so effective in hurting India’s interests, that, to counter him, the Indian government specially had to appoint Wajahat Habibullah, a Kashmir cadre IAS officer who retired last year, as minister, community affairs, in its embassy in Washington. Imagine. On the one hand, the present media adviser to the prime minister and one of the three present interlocutors of the government on J&K had worked to hurt India’s interests in the way the ISI was conspiring to do, by participating in the seminars organised by Fai and funded by ISI to “drive out India from Kashmir”; and on the other, the government of India was forced to send out an IAS officer from Kashmir cadre to contain that damage. The result is that those who, through Fai, were part of the ISI design, are now part of the UPA government.

But could Fai with his mission to push Pakistan/ISI agenda “to drive India out of Kashmir” include in his efforts such important opinion-makers of India, unless he knew that their views would advance his master’s interests? Why would Fai not call an Arun Shourie? A Cho Ramaswamy? An M J Akbar? An Arnab Goswami? It is self-evident. Their views would stall, not support, the ISI. Undoubtedly, Fai knew that the views on J&K publicly held by our liberals in Fai’s guest list would further the cause of the separatists. Now, is it easy to dismiss that they were just “useful idiots”?

PS: Two of these liberals are still in high positions — one is an interlocutor on J&K appointed by the Centre and the other is the media adviser to the PM. Mr Prime Minister, this is evidence coming, not from our police, but from the FBI in the US, the country you love most! Are you listening?

The writer is a well-known commentator on political and economic issues.

E-mail: comment@gurumurthy.net

Fence is not the border

Fence is not the border
http://expressbuzz.com/opinion/columnists/fence-is-not-the-border/173951.html
S Gurumurthy
17 May 2010 11:09:00 PM IST

Demography is destiny”, said Augustus Comte, a French philosopher of the 19th century. Demography, to use a simple definition, means the religious, cultural, or any secular, composition of a nation’s population. As the French were the first to understand the ideas of nation-state and national interest that originated in the 18th and 19th centuries, they could realise the criticality of demography to a nation-state. History testifies that shifts in ethnic or religious demography materially alter people’s identity, attitudes, nationality and even worldview.

A recent example of what religious demographic shift could do is the separation of East Timor as a Christian state from out of the Muslim-majority Indonesia, simply because 99 per cent Timorese had become Christians. A decade before, it was politically incorrect to talk of religious demography. But, after 9/11, the US-West, which had assumed the end of religion in modern secularity, woke up to the reality of religion. And once the West got alerted, true to its nature, it became serious. It has initiated a number of studies on religious demography, but under the garb of researches into ‘spiritual capital’, a more acceptable form of study into religious demography. A study supported by John Templeton Foundation defines spiritual capital as ‘the effects of spiritual and religious practices, beliefs, networks and institutions that have a measurable impact on individuals, communities and societies’. Is it anything different from religious demography?

Despite the fact India has suffered the most from demographic shifts in the past and continues to suffer even now, to interrogate secular India from the perspective of religious demography is virtually impossible. But an honest inquiry into Indian history will reveal how, in the past, religious demographic shift in any area in India has not only carved that area out of the mainland, but, the separated cousins have even turned inimical to the mother society. Pakistan that separated from India waged two direct wars with India and losing both, it has started a covert war of terror on India. Not many Indians today are conscious that Afghanistan was part of the larger India or that Khandahar was from where Khandari of Mahabharata originated. Afghanistan ruled by Buddhist kings had resisted Islamic invasion for long. See what is Afghanistan today. It is now the land of the Taliban. Viewing anything non-Islamic as un-Islamic, the Taliban have gunned down the Bamian Buddha statues which Mohammed Gaznavi and Nadir Shah had tried centuries earlier but failed. Now, Afghanistan’s geography remains the same. But the Afghans have lost their Buddhist soul in the demographic shift. The Talibanised Afghanistan no more resembles the Buddhist Afghanistan. This is the cultural shift which religious demographic shift causes.

Look at what were today’s Pakistan and Bangladesh a few hundred years ago. The Sind in Pakistan was the birthplace of the Vedas and the Puranas. Of the 52 Shakti Peetas sacred to Hindus, two are in Pakistan; seven in Bangladesh. But a huge religious demographic swing from Hindu majority to Muslim majority saw Pakistan, West and East, move out of India. In the areas that constitute Pakistan now, there was no Muslim population prior to Islamic invasion. The Muslim population was just 1/6 when Moghul emperor Jehangir (1605-’22) ruled, according to his memoirs (Tarikh-Salim-Shahi). But it was the continuing religious demographic shift that saw the Muslims become majority in many parts later. And by 1941, the Muslim population in today’s Pakistan had risen to 80 per cent; the share of Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jain (ie, Indian religions), that constituted the remaining 20 per cent then, has tumbled now to just two per cent. In the areas that constitute Bangladesh today, the colonial officials themselves were stunned when, in the 1872 census, they found Muslims, not Hindus, in majority, despite the fact that even as late as the early 15th century a Hindu King, Raja Ganesh, was ruling Bengal. Jinnah could begin the movement for Partition of India only because he knew that the Muslim majority in West and East would make it a fait accompli. And it did. But, the Partition is not the end of the story.

In the year 1941, the share of Indian religious adherents constituted 34 per cent in the area that is now Bangladesh. But, by 1951, that had come down to 23 per cent and further down to 10.3 per cent in 2001. So the demographic religious shift away from Hindu majority not only divided India physically and carved away over 9.51 lakh sq km of land from the mainland but has also shown that where such shift leads to intolerance, like in Islamic Pakistan and Bangladesh, most of the adherents of Indian religions had to abandon the partitioned geography, and come to the mainland. In contrast, in India, while the share of Indian religious adherents has fallen from 87.22 per cent in 1941 to 84.22 per cent in 2001, that of Muslims has risen from 10.45 per cent to 13.43 per cent. It is not just higher fertility rate of 18.74 per cent among the Muslims (against the national average of 15.93 per cent) as compared to 15.55 per cent among the adherents of Indian religions, that is the reason for the rise. That the rise was also due to infiltration across the border from Bangladesh is the real concern.

This is noticeable in the unusual rise in Muslim population in the border or near border districts of Assam, Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The demographic invasion is manifest in the fact that in this border belt the share of the Muslim population in the country has risen by more than eight per cent since 1951, that is five per cent above the national average rise of three per cent for Muslims. In Assam alone the rise is over eight percent. Likewise in Bengal, the rise in the share of their population since 1951 is 9.5 per cent, that is 6.5 per cent over the national average rise. The border district of Murshidabad in Bengal is Muslim majority (64 per cent); two others, Maladah and Uttar Dinajpur, are nearly so. In Bihar and Jharkhand also the Muslim share of the population has risen by more than eight per cent. This demographic shift is caused by Bangladeshi invasion. A world-class work on Religious Demography of India by the Centre for Policy Studies, Chennai, has brought out these and other critical facts.

The demographic invasion by millions of Bangladeshis has pushed the national border into India along Assam, Bengal and Bihar. It is the very demographic invaders who are being smuggled into the National Register of Indian Citizens in the Census 2011, via the Population Register, to be gifted with uncontested citizenship and decorated with National Identity Cards.

QED: When will secular India realise that demography, not geography, is nation, and demography, not iron fence, is the border?

(N)PR, a fraud, anti-national venture

(N)PR, a fraud, anti-national venture

http://expressbuzz.com/biography/%28n%29pr-a-fraud-anti-national-venture/172091.html

‘The population enumeration in the Census 2011 has nothing to do with the citizenship issues under the citizenship law at this stage, because the census does not involve any preparation of ‘National Population Register’ (NPR) now, but only the collection of information for the preparation of NPR later.’ This is what the Union home minister means in his statement on the Census 2011 in Parliament (May 7). The acute legalism in the minister’s statement conceals the truth and presents a fake view of the population census for the NPR, thus totally whitewashing this ongoing fraud on the nation.

Start with what is undeniably a lie, even forgery. The title ‘National Population Register’ is itself faked. Neither the Indian Citizenship Act 1955 nor the Citizenship Rules 2003 speak of any ‘National’ Population Register. The Citizenship rules talk about just ‘Population Register’. The omission of the prefix ‘National’ here is no accident. It is intentional. This is self-evident from the citizenship rules, which, in the same breath, talk of ‘National Register of Indian Citizens’ (NRIC). The use of the prefix ‘National’ there is intentional in contrast. The reason why the Population Register is not similarly prefixed with ‘National’ as in the NRIC is obvious. The lawmakers knew that the Population Register is not a record of the Indian ‘National’ Population. That is why the Citizenship law titles it as ‘Population Register’, that is, it is ‘PR’, not ‘(N)PR’. But how then did the prefix ‘National’ get forged into the PR to make it (N)PR in the minister’s statement? Will he explain?

Saying that ‘the population census is the total process of collecting demographic, economic and social data’ the minister adds, ‘the particulars in respect of the individuals are kept confidential’. He further says that ‘the particulars collected’ ‘shall be verified’ afterwards under the citizenship law, and cases of ‘doubtful citizenship’ will be dealt with appropriately. Thus, the minister implies — yet not says explicitly — that the ongoing population census is not under the citizenship law, but exclusively under the census law. But, as the analysis here unfolds, the minister’s explanation that what the Census 2011 does is just to collect data for the Population Register and that the verification of the information would take place under the citizenship law later, is patently untrue, why, even a lie. A seer is needed to discover this? No.

The website of the minister’s own home department on Census 2011 uncovers it. The census manual in the website says: “the field-work of the House-listing and Housing Census and the National Population Register are being conducted simultaneously by the same enumerator”. And the answer to one of the FAQs in the website http://censusindia.gov.in/2011-FAQ/FAQ-Public.html says: “The Census is a statutory exercise conducted under the provisions of the Census Act 1948 and Rules made there under. The NPR is being created under the provisions of the Citizenship Act and Rules.” So, admittedly, Census 2011 creates the PR under the citizenship law. And it involves enumeration under both laws — for housing under the census law and for population under the citizenship law. Does the minister’s statement that the census is purely a data collection under the census law just now survive the truth in his own website?

Now test the Union home minister’s statement on the rules under the citizenship law. The data for Population Register (PR) and National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) are collected under the citizenship law and rules, not the census law. The citizenship rules provide for population census thus: the government shall conduct house-to-house enumeration to collect details ‘including the citizenship status’; and the Registrar General of Citizen Registration (RGCR) under the citizenship law shall notify the period and duration of the enumeration. The particulars to be collected for the PR are also mentioned in the citizenship rules. So, the enumeration for PR is prescribed under the citizenship law, not census law. Therefore, the minister’s claim that the enumeration is under the census law and the later verification will be under the citizenship law is patently untrue.

The implication in his statement that the name of the registrar general, who is the authority under the census as well as citizenship laws, may have led to misunderstanding in the sense that he is involved from the side of the citizenship law, is deceptive. This subterfuge conceals the fact that the population details now being gathered are actually under and as prescribed in — but without complying with — the citizenship rules. But for this subterfuge, the minister will have to concede that the query in the ongoing enumeration, the Query No 11, to the effect ‘citizenship as declared’ is not only contrary to the citizenship law, but is actually a fraud on the law. Read on, with some patience as it is all about law.
It is the citizenship rules, not the census law, that provide for both the collection and verification of the population data. It is not that, as the minister pretends, information is collected under the census law now and verification takes place, later, under the citizenship law. Just take one mandate in citizenship rules. The citizenship rules direct that ‘during the verification process, particulars of such individuals whose citizenship is doubtful shall be entered with appropriate remark in the Population Register.’ Unless the enumerators are first asked to notice cases of doubtful citizenship, how will such cases come up for verification at all? But, instead of asking them to notice and record the cases of doubtful citizenship during enumeration, see how the census manual directs the enumerators to fill the space against Query No 11 ‘Nationality for each of the enumerated person has to be asked from the respondent and recorded. …… Please record the nationality of the respondent as declared by her/him for each of the persons enumerated. Do not get into any argument with the respondent regarding this.’(See Para 5.21.1 of general instructions). That is, when the citizenship rules ask for doubtful cases of citizenship to be identified, the census manual to collect details under the very citizenship rules virtually says ‘don’t doubt the respondents on their claim of nationality; just record what they say.’ How then will suspect cases of citizenship be discovered? Clearly, the ongoing enumeration is not intended to discover suspect citizenship, but to suppress them, and make them appear genuine. Can the minister deny that Query No 11, read with the census manual, exposes his lie?
Shockingly, anyone who had entered into India six months before the census, or any one who intends to stay for six months after, becomes a ‘usual resident’ under the ongoing census rules. Such persons, thanks to the census, can declare themselves as Indian citizens in response to Query No 11. And more shockingly, the government proposes to issue ‘National Identity Cards’ to all such people even though under the law, ‘National Identity Cards’ are allowed only for Indian citizens.

Imagine, like Kasab who did the mayhem in Mumbai on 26/11, a Pakistani enters India today and promises to be here for six more months, he is eligible to declare himself as an Indian citizen in response to Query No 11, also get a National Identity Card. He will be an Indian terrorist, not a Pakistani jihadi. According to intelligence sources, some 40,000 Pakistanis have entered India and after throwing their passports away, they have melted into Muslim-dominated areas. Under the Census 2011 they are ‘usual residents’, can declare themselves as Indian citizens and will now get National Identity Cards. After all the enumerators are directed to not to argue with them when they declare their nationality as Indian, and to just write as they claim.

QED: The ongoing population census is undoubtedly an anti-national venture. It is placing millions of timeless bombs all over India. Is the home minister, who seems lost in legalisms, aware?
comment@gurumurthy.net

A Bhadralok Communist

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=A+Bhadralok+Communist&artid=ao92j8QENic=&SectionID=d16Fdk4iJhE=&MainSectionID=HuSUEmcGnyc=&SectionName=aVlZZy44Xq0bJKAA84nwcg==&SEO=

A Bhadralok Communist
[ ]

S Gurumurthy

‘Gana’ as Jyoti Basu who ruled West Bengal as chief minister for 23 long years from 1977 to 2000, was affectionately known at home, is no more. Undoubtedly a versatile politician whose public life lasted six decades, different people will recall Basu in different ways. His adversaries and friends alike will recall him as a practical communist who even undertook a visit to the US, the arch enemy of his party and its ideology, seeking its investment in his state. The official website of the Left Front government brings out his greatest achievement. It eulogises him as the one who perpetuated Communist control over the state apparatus of West Bengal — an indisputable fact. Understanding how he achieved this feat is critical to know Jyoti Basu as a politician as also his mission.
The State website http://www.jyotibasu.net says that Jyoti Basu “is known primarily” for “establishing a seemingly indestructible Communist control over some of the levers of the state-level political power in West Bengal”. The official website says that he achieved this by combining “communist extra parliamentary” political tactic with the parliamentary tactic “aimed at establishing indestructible Communist control”. But could ‘indestructible communist’ control be consistent with parliamentary democratic process? No. It could not be. But a re-reading of the official website makes it evident that what it talks of is not democratic, but “Communist”, parliamentary and extra-parliamentary political tactics.
Here is a telling illustration of how ‘the Communist extra parliamentary political tactic’ is different from democratic parliamentary process. In its editorial dated August 6, 2003 written in the context of the unprecedented violence that marked the panchayat polls in the state which the CPI(M) had won, The Statesman newspaper said it was not “the popularity of the Marxists” that was the reason for the marginalisation of the opposition parties in the elections, but, it was the Marxists’ “expertise in fixing elections by violence, intimidation, and by simple expedient of preventing opposition candidates from filing nominations”. The edit concluded: “it is the prescriptive right of the communists to use any method they choose and if it is a wrong or illegal method, the stigma is instantly washed away when they touch it.” The implication is clear. The Marxists never considered it a sin to fix elections by fraud and violence, and if they did it, no stigma would attach to them! The use of this extra parliamentary tactic along with the parliamentary — read electoral — process is the secret of Jyoti Basu’s success in perpetuating communist control over the State apparatus in West Bengal. But more than this achievement, that he did so without being faulted for it speaks volumes about how an acceptable face can make unacceptable things acceptable to the people who count.
Jyoti Basu was the face of Bengali Communism most acceptable to the Bengali Bhadralok. For the British, Bhadralok meant the ‘well-mannered’ Bengali. But, in the dictionary of Indian politics, it would simply mean the upper castes in Bengal. While in rest of India, with the democratic process deepening with each election, the lower castes’ share of power increased, the Marxist controlled West Bengal had virtually kept out the lower castes and denied their due share in power. Surprised? Here is the evidence. In the governments led by Jyoti Basu between 1977 and 1982, “there were even more Brahmins than in the Congress governments, over 35 per cent; the number of Kayasthas (31 per cent) and Vaishyas (23 per cent) was almost the same as in Congress governments”. What was the share of the Scheduled Castes in Jyoti Basu ministry? Believe it — just “1.5 per cent”. If the “inferior ministers — ministers of state and deputy ministers — were left out”, it would be even “lower”. Stunningly, in Basu’s ministry in 1977 and 1982 “there was not a single Scheduled Caste member of the Council of Ministers”. Yes, not a single one despite West Bengal having the highest concentration of Scheduled Caste population in the whole country — almost 24 per cent (Census 1991). These shocking facts have been brought out in a scholarly work that appears in http://www.ambedkar.org/books/tu2.htm.
The message is evident. The transfer of power from Congress to Marxists had actually made it worse for the lower castes. The reason. Jyoti Basu largely represented the traditional Bengal, contrary to the popular notion that he and the likes of him were products of Marxian modernity. His dress and circle of friends readily identified him with the Bengali Bhadralok and endeared him to the media in Bengal dominated by the Bhadralok, which in turn made him inevitable for the party within. Result, Bhadralok actually dominated Bengali politics more under the Marxists than even under the Congress. The website http://www.jyotibasu.net says that Jyoti Basu was “initially distrustful of parliamentary politics as the politics of the ‘bourgeois talking-shops’”. But that is precisely what his politics substantially ended with. The Bhadralok-led media in Bengal, save exceptions like The Statesman, were understandably comfortable with the tactics of Jyoti Basu government since that preserved the political primacy of the Bhadralok. The national media was content to certify the CPI(M) as secular, which was sufficient to wash off all sins of its extra parliamentary tactics.
The extra parliamentary tactic that Jyoti Basu had bequeathed to the Marxists has sustained them for almost a decade after Basu quit in the year 2000. But things seem to be changing now. Thanks to the aggressive politics of Mamata Bannerjee, the Bengali lower caste political assertion is on the rise. The southern states witnessed such assertion in 1950s and the northern states, much later, in 1990s. But, thanks to Marxist — read Bhadralok — control over West Bengal politics, lower caste assertion has been delayed for almost half a century and has not taken off even today in the State. With the Marxists beginning to falter, the national media too has begun pointing to the Bhadralok character of Marxism in West Bengal which it would not do a day earlier. Analysing the Nandigram issue in Indian Express (March 20, 2007) Yogendra Yadav, a well-known political analyst wrote: “Nandigram did not surprise me…….. In West Bengal, the proportion of upper castes increased in the state assembly after the Left Front came to power. A coincidence? Not if you calculate the caste composition of successive Left Front ministries: About two-thirds of the ministers come from the top three jatis (Brahman, Boddis, Kayasthas)”. Yet, thanks to the very media’s indulgence, Jyoti Basu was not perceived as a traditional Bhadralok politician who did not share power with the lower castes, but, as a Marxian modernist.
But the one area where Jyoti Basu combined the parliamentary and extra parliamentary tactics to keep the lower sections of society satisfied was land reform. Thus, even as Jyoti Basu reserved state power for the Bhadralok, he also ensured that legislative land reforms were supported by extra legislative abrogation of land by the communists for distribution. Thus, Basu secured land for the lower castes but reserved power for the upper castes — a trade-off that retained the Bhadralok primacy in power politics, and also won rural Bengal for the CPI(M). But ironically, this is precisely where the Trinamool Congress is challenging the Marxists. How? The very land, distributing which the CPI(M) became the ideological darling of the people, has now become its nemesis as the CPI(M) forcibly took it back from the people in Singur and Nandigram to give it to the ideological enemies of the party.
But undoubtedly Jyoti Basu knew the art of building and wielding power within, and without altering, the existing social architecture. He was a practical politician, not an idealist nor a statesman. But despite ruling the state of West Bengal for 23 long years Jyoti Basu himself died as an unhappy man because when other parties wanted him as the prime minister of the country in 1996, it was his party which prevented him. Expressing his frustration, not once but twice, Jyoti Basu said that his party’s decision to veto his elevation to the highest political office was a “Himalayan Blunder”. Yet, till now there is no explanation from his party as to why it denied him the high office when the dream of any political party would be to see one of its leaders as the prime minister. The mystique veto of the CPI(M) against its own most popular leader makes Jyoti Basu unique. Thus ends the political saga of Jyoti Basu who made his party acceptable to Bengal but found himself unacceptable to his own party, to lead India!
(S Gurumurthy is a well-known commentator on political and economic issues. E-mail: comment@gurumurthy.net)

Better know, before talking

Better know, before talking

S. Gurumurthy
Last Updated : 07 Aug 2009 12:13:28 AM IST

We have in our country a long but uneven tradition of philanthropy’. Thus lamented Sonia Gandhi at the function in Delhi to give the Indira Gandhi Prize to the American philanthropist Bill Gates. That was on July 25. Two days later, the Wall Street Journal printed, unusually, her whole speech. On July 29, Paul Beckett, a WSJ columnist, taking his cue from Sonia, mocked Indian businessmen for not being even remotely close to matching Gates. He pontificated: “India’s rich, open your wallets”.

Beckett used corporate India to dent the image of India itself, courtesy Sonia. Had she not spoken the way she did, he would not have written the way he did. What Sonia did not know — therefore, Beckett, who borrowed from her, could not — is what differentiates India from the US. American corporates, which almost exhaust America, are co-extensive with it; they account for over 80 per cent of its GDP. Bill Clinton had nicknamed the US ‘America Inc’, namely, the US as the aggregate of its corporates.

US corporate endowments aggregated are highly visible, like their brands. This is to emphasise their nature; not undermine their worth. The US market cap is some 40 times the Indian. Corporate India is insignificant in contrast. Some 400 top private Indian companies account for under six per cent of India’s GDP. This includes all Sensex members.

Sonia is understandably unfamiliar with the practices of traditional India. Indian charity, widely practised at the lowest unit levels down to every home, is socio-religious, not secular, in construct. Traditional India has high charitable propensities and deep philanthropic impulses. Indian religions do not convert others; their charity is therefore less known. Here are some examples of charity where the religious power is manifest.

Look at the charity run by Bhagwan Sathya Sai of Puttaparthi. His work for the poor is unmatched; yet equally unknown. Here are just two illustrations of his work. Anantapur district in Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh was known for water scarcity and water salinity and high fluoride levels in drinking water. Moved by the suffering of the poor, Sai Baba decided to do what the government could not for 50 long years; provide potable drinking water to the whole of Anantapur — yes, for the whole district.

He declared in November 1995, “Today it is ‘Raatlaseema’ (rocky region); it must be transformed into ‘Ratnala Seema’ (land that glitters like diamond)”. It took just 18 months. The work involved laying some 2,000 kilometres — yes 2,000 km — of water pipeline; building 43 sumps of 1.5 lakh to 25 lakh litres capacity; constructing 18 balancing reservoirs of three to 10 lakh litres capacity — where? — on top of hillocks; erecting 270 overhead reservoirs holding 40,000 to three lakh litres; installing 1,500-plus concrete pre-cast cisterns of 2,500 litres capacity, each attached with four taps for people to draw water.

This is how the 9th Planning Commission document describes the initiative. The Sathya Sai charity ‘has set an unparalleled initiative of implementing on their own, without any state budgetary support, a massive water supply project with an expenditure of Rs 3,000 million to benefit 731 scarcity and fluoride/salinity affected villages and a few towns in Anantapur district in 18 months’. Baba’s trusts repeated this feat in fluoride-affected Medak and Mehboobnagar districts. They provided water to some 4.5 lakh poor in 179 villages in Medak, and to some 3.5 lakh poor in 141 villages in the next. The drinking water projects in these districts covered more than 1,000 villages with some 20 lakh people.

Then, he saw the poor in Chennai struggling for water. He declared on January 19, 2002, “Today I have made a new resolve. Madras is suffering from acute shortage of drinking water. The rich can buy water. What will the poor do? I have decided to work towards bringing drinking water to Madras, no matter how difficult and how costly the task”. His central trust took up the construction of a 63-km stretch of the 150 km canal in the Telugu Ganga scheme, left incomplete for want of funds, thus denying water to Chennai. Thanks to Baba, Krishna water reached Chennai, irrigating some three lakh hectares of agricultural land on the way. These projects cost over Rs 600 crore.

The Sathya Sai trusts in Puttaparthi and Bengaluru run world-class speciality hospitals. They have performed some 24,000 cardiac surgeries, 34,000 cardiac cathertisations, 7,000 neuro surgeries, 40,000 eye surgeries, and 600 orthopaedic surgeries and treated millions more — all free. What is absent in these two hospitals is a billing department. The bill for these services might exceed Rs 1,000 crore. Baba’s trusts also run free educational institutions, cultural centres and music colleges. Secular India generously released a stamp to note the charity in Anantapur. Compare it with the Indira Gandhi award to Gates and the encomiums at the cost of India.

Take another religious charity, the Ramakrishna Mission. It runs 197 hospitals and its health-related work serves 85 lakh people annually, including 25 lakh in rural areas; 1,186 educational institutions serve 3.4 lakh students including 1.24 lakh in rural areas.

Take the Swaminarayan movement. Its 14 hospitals serve over six lakh patients annually; it runs 10 schools, eight colleges, 14 hostels; it has built 55 schools in disaster-hit areas; it aids 20 schools financially; gives 5000 scholarships annually. In Punjab, not a single man, woman or child would have gone hungry in the last three centuries, thanks to the langar in Gurudwaras feeding millions every day. Jains run huge charities all over the country. So do religious Muslims and Christians. Even the freedom movement was sustained by philanthropy. Lala Lajpat Rai gave all his properties to the movement; Chittaranjan Das and many others went bankrupt funding the movement. They never expected any Indira Gandhi Award. That is real philanthropy.

Traditional Indian business communities allocate a fixed share of their turnover for charity. The mahamai, an informal charity tax among the Nadars in Tamil Nadu has funded hundreds of the community’s educational institutions. The Nagarathars in Tamil Nadu too, through their mahamai, run huge charities. The Marwaris and others do so through the dharmada. Even today this informal system prevails in non-corporate business in India. So charity is by the community as a whole, not by individuals. But corporate India is unfortunately neither Indian nor American.

This is India, about which Sonia is singularly ignorant even after 40 years of domicile. When she said India has an uneven tradition of philanthropy it only exposed her ignorance, besides exporting it to the WSJ. The result? The WSJ is preaching to Indians about charity; the Indian media reports this nonsense without challenging it.

QED: To talk about Indian traditions, she first needs to know about them.

Black money haunts Congress

Black money haunts Congress

S Gurumurthy

The manner in which a bold initiative to unearth Indian black money lying abroad was aborted by the then Congress Government in the 1980s was suggestive. Then, as now, the party leadership acted as if it had skeletons to hide

Switzerland was accused of giving shelter to black money and there has been a lot of inflow of such wealth from India and other countries of the world.” This is not Mr LK Advani speaking in an election rally but the Swiss Ambassador to India briefing the media in New Delhi last year. The occasion was the 60th anniversary of Indo-Swiss Friendship Treaty. Admitting that Indian black money gets hoarded in his country, he added that the new law in Switzerland would not stop it but control it “up to a certain limit”.

The Swiss diplomat authentically answered the first of the FAQs, that is, whether lots of Indian monies are really stashed away in Swiss banks. Swiss banks are not the only secret destination. There are 37 such shelters in the world, says US Inland Revenue. The secret owners of the monies operate in secrecy — venal businessmen, corrupt politicians and public servants, drug lords, and criminal gangs like the D-company. These slush monies are the financial RDX for terror, besides weapons of mass destruction of national and global finance. That there is secret money is no more a secret. Only the amounts and the owners of that money are secret.

But how large could be such stolen Indian wealth hoarded in Switzerland so far? Specific estimates of this later. Before that, here is a side show, but a relevant one.

An apology would be in order. For, I figure in this show. In late 1980s, at the behest of an English national daily, while investigating a corporate scam, I had attempted to trail the Indian currencies stashed abroad. In the course of the probe, I had contacted Fairfax, a US investigative firm. Impressed by its skills, I persuaded the Government of India to engage the firm for the task. Fairfax agreed to work for a slice of the black wealth uncovered by them as fee. According to the Swiss sources then, the Indian money stashed in Swiss banks was estimated around some $300 billion. That was enough to excite the Fairfax to go for the kill.

But, soon my efforts landed me in jail on March 13, 1987, when the Central Bureau of Investigation arrested me on charges that later turned out to be bogus, but were enough to stop the probe. The whole nation knew then that real reason why rulers struck was their fear that the probe had targeted the Bofors pay-off and secrets monies of the ruling family abroad. Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, moved honest and bold civil servants like Vinod Pandey and Bhure Lal out of the probe and eventually sacked the then Finance Minister VP Singh, who had authorised the efforts.

The chain of events that followed led to corruption emerging as the major issue in the 1989 poll in which Rajiv Gandhi, who had wiped out the Opposition in 1984 election, was defeated, and VP Singh became the Prime Minister. But there is a big lesson in these developments that often goes unnoticed. And that is the way the bold national interest initiative to unearth the Indian black wealth abroad was aborted clearly confirmed that the ruling party was mortally afraid of any probe into secret monies abroad. This fear haunts the Congress even today. That is why the 1987 episode is relevant now.

Now cut to the main story.

Illicit monies are the dirty outcome of modern capitalism. But, after the 9/11 terror attack, the United States realised that not just the buccaneers in business but terrorists like Osama bin Laden could hide their funds in secret havens and use them to bomb the world. Campaigns against dirty money as high security risk commenced with the path-breaking research done by Raymond W Baker, a Harvard MBA and a Brooking scholar. His research was published in a book titled Capitalism’s Achilles Heel: Dirty Money and How to Renew the Free-Market System in 2005.

This set off intense debate in the US as the exposure linked dirty business and black money with terror and national security. Raymond Baker had estimated, using authentic data, tools and reasons, the tainted wealth stashed in banks at $11.5 trillion to which, he found, one more trillion was getting added annually. He added that in the process the West was getting an annual bounty of $500 billion from the developing countries, including India.

Global Financial Integrity, a global watchdog headed by Baker to curtail illicit money flows, has recently brought out detailed estimates of the black money hoarded in secret havens from different countries. GFI research shows that during the period from 2002 to 2006, annually $27.3 billion was stashed away from India, making a total of $137.5 billion for the five-year period (the Executive Report of GFI in http://www.gfip.org on ‘Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries 2002-2006’ Economists’ version). That is, in just five years, Indian wealth amounting to Rs 6.88 lakh crore was smuggled out of India. This gives clue as to how much Indian money would have slipped out of India in the last 62 years, particularly during the Nehruvian socialist regime when the income tax (97.5 per cent) and wealth tax (almost equal to the income earned on investments) together constituted double the income earned!

It is undisputed that the Nehruvian socialist model had forced huge sums of Indian money out of India. So the amount of Indian black money stashed away in the last 60 years — estimated at from $500 billion (Rs 25 lakh crore) to $1400 billion (Rs 70 lakh crore) — do not seem to be wide off the mark. Economists call it flight of capital. This is the Indian people’s money stolen away from them.

See the consequence even if part of it is brought back. A portion of it would make India free from all external debts which is now over $220 billion; India will transform into an economic superpower; some 10 or 15 Indian Rupee could buy a US dollar which today 50 Indian Rupees cannot. A litre of petrol on our roadside would cost some Rs 15 or even less, against today’s 40 plus; the cost of imports in rupee terms would be down to a third or half; India’s entire infrastructure needs can be funded; India will become so energy efficient and cost-competitive that exporters may need no sops at all; India will lend to — presently it borrows from — the world. India’s housing can be funded at affordable cost; rural poverty can be wiped out… The list is endless.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/170858/Black-money-haunts-Congress.html

Unquestioned loot – by S Gurumurthy

Unquestioned loot
S Gurumurthy

First Published : 13 Apr 2009 03:04:00 AM IST
Last Updated :
All that the BJP leader L K Advani had perhaps intended to do — when he took up the issue of Indian black wealth stashed away in Swiss and other secret shelters — was to put the Congress party on the back foot at the time of the elections. But he would never have imagined that the Congress would go so far back as to hit its own wicket.
This is how the play opened. L K Advani told the media: the Swiss ambassador to India has himself admitted that lots of Indian black money gets secretly lodged in Swiss banks; estimates of Indian black money abroad vary from $500 billion to $1400 billion; forced by the economic crisis, the West, that is Germany, France, US and UK, which had winked at the illicit monies in the past, have begun a crusade against Swiss banks and other secret tax shelters to flush out the money; India must join the Western effort to bring back the Indian black wealth from abroad. With elections round the corner, Advani did turn the issue into a political one. He charged that the Congress was not keen to get back the Indian monies lodged abroad. He cited two instances to support the charge. First, despite his writing to the Dr Manmohan Singh in April last year to ask for the names of Indians reportedly mentioned in the secret record of LGT bank — which the German authorities had offered to open free of cost to give to all who asked for it — the government would not press for the Indian names from Germany. Second, he said that in the G20 preparatory meet in Berlin where Germany and France had called for blacklisting of Swiss and other tax havens, the Indian representatives at that meeting never opened their mouth on the issue.

Advani rounded off asking the prime minister to take up the issue of Indian monies stashed away in secret Swiss banks and in other tax havens at the G20 meet at London slated for April 2, 2009. Yet, at the London meet, Dr Manmohan Singh would not utter a word. Had he just said that India would join the G20 efforts, the Advani googly would have gone for a six. But, the Congress party went on the back-foot and hit its own wicket instead. But, why did the Congress hit its own wicket instead of a six? Read on.

“Why this now, at the time of the elections?” asked the Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari, not knowing that Advani had written to the prime minister long before, in April 2008 itself, on the LGT bank issue. Then entered Abhishek Singhvi, the more articulate spokesman of the party. He asked what did Advani do when NDA was in power. Obviously he has not even read Advani’s statement. Advani has only questioned why the Manmohan government is not acting now [in March 2008] in tandem with the West which has begun crusading against secret banking. Only now the West has turned against secret bank funds. So the question why did the BJP, or even the Congress, not act in the past does not arise. More. Singhvi said that “G20 is not the forum for the issue” of Indian black wealth in Swiss banks. Obviously, running between courtrooms and newsrooms, he had no time to follow the media abroad which were full of news about how the main agenda of G20 was about secret banking. He was all at sea. With the first two failing, entered Jairam Ramesh, the campaign manager of the party.

Like Sehwag deploying offence for defence, he wrote a harsh letter to L K Advani saying, “to tell bluntly — Mr Advani, you are lying”. Advani, he charged, was lying on his maths about the estimate of the Indian black wealth at between $500 billion and $1400 billion. These numbers, he said, were drawn from questionable Internet sources! All his shouts meant only this: “Mr Advani, the loot from India is not as big as you make it out to be”. But, when the Swiss Ambassador himself has admitted that ‘lot’ of Indian black wealth was flowing into Swiss banks, where is the need to quarrel over how big the loot from India is — as big as Advani says or as small as Jairam Ramesh thinks? The question is where does the Congress stand on the issue of bringing the hoarded Indian wealth from abroad. The three who shout at Advani are deafeningly silent on that.

The Congress campaign manager cites a well-known economist Bibek Debroy who has questioned Advani’s estimate of Indian black wealth at a minimum of $500 billion. Debroy, usually an agile and meticulous analyst, has erred in this case. He has looked at the wrong version of the right report and reached incorrect conclusions. Both Advani and Debroy have relied on the Global Financial Integrity (GFI) study that has estimated the global black wealth stashed away in tax havens including India’s. There are two versions of the GFI study — one a layman’s version and the other, the economists’ version. Debroy, an economist, seems to have relied on the layman’s version. And L K Advani, not an economist, has relied on the economists’ version. The economists’ version of the GFI study (at pages 29 and 30 supported by charts, specifically chart 18) estimates, in specific numbers the amount of black wealth stashed away from India between 2002-06 at $137.5 billion. If, in five years, the amount could be $137.5 billion (Rs 6.88 lakh crore), the Advani estimate of $500 billion (Rs 25 lakh crore) to $1400 billion (Rs 70 lakh crore) for six decades since 1947 is not wide off the mark. Bibek Debroy who seems to have looked at only the layman’s version of the GFI study, appears to have missed the specific estimate of the annual loot from India at $27.3 billion which only the economists’ version of the GFI report mentions. This is the cause of the dispute on maths. But even otherwise all maths of monies held in secrecy can only be estimates. There can be nothing final about it.

That lots of Indian black wealth is lodged in secret Swiss banks and elsewhere is undisputed. The dispute is no more about the loot from India. But only about how big that loot is. The Congress masks the undisputed fact of the loot by questioning the maths of it. Obviously the party seems frightened about the Indian black wealth abroad becoming an issue once again after 1987 when the Bofors bribe scam broke out. The Congress spokesmen do not seem to be defending their party. They are actually exposing their leader whose connections with her Italian friend Quattrocchi who got bribes from Bofors out of the defence budget of India are well known. They seem to confirm the cynical ones who ask: “Do we expect those who assisted Quattrocchi to run away with the money caught stolen from India to bring back the Indian black wealth from Swiss banks?”

Understand why the Congress chose to hit its own wicket instead of hitting the Advani googly for a six?.

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/print.aspx?artid=rYnAPNoGwgw=