Saturday, 18 October 2014

Needed: Minimum 50% Modipower, not 20% (Sunday Guardian)

M.D Nalapat is the Editorial Director of The Sunday Guardian.

hose familiar with Yes Minister know how easy it is for bureaucrats to house-train ministers through saccharine phrases. Preening in the midst of what is outwardly an adoring group of senior officials, ministers may be forgiven for going along with the bureaucracy's prescriptions on what they should do, no matter that such an approach would perpetuate a situation in which 300 million citizens of India are desperately poor and a further 400 million have lifestyles far below what is adequate by any reasonable standard. Narendra Modi was elected to power on a break with the Nehruvian "slow speed" past, and for this to happen, not just the PMO but key ministries such as HRD, Defence, Commerce, Energy, Home and Finance need to act as prime movers.
To those outside the cool shades of governmental authority, there is as yet little sign of substantive change in the functioning of some ministries. Segments of the Modi government function as though they were a mix of just 20% Narendra Modi, 40% Atal Behari Vajpayee and 40% Manmohan Singh. Instead, the mix of governance in all branches of government needs to be at least 50% Modi, with this component rising to 90% by the end of the Prime Minister's first term in office. There should be space for even a very few aspects of the Manmohan model. Despite his frequently not doing what the situation demanded (usually because of opposition from his own party), there are elements in Manmohan Singh which are admirable, such as his dignified and democratic refusal to react in public to those who delivered even the sharpest of barbs against him. Together with Home, the Finance Ministry is key to the success or otherwise of Prime Minister Modi's efforts at doubling the rate of growth from the present 5%.
Thus far, there seems to have been less than total success in "unleashing the animal spirits" present within productive forces. If prices have fallen, the cause for that is not RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan's murderous (for domestic companies) tight money policy, but a global decline in commodity prices. Unfortunately, so total is North Block's support for the text-bookish and job-killing RBI Governor, that it may have shelved the proposal to have an Appellate Authority (the FSLRC) for banks and others to appeal to should they encounter RBI decisions that are whimsical and growth-killing, as indeed is the norm at Mint Road these days. Indeed, both SEBI as well as other agencies have such checks, and North Block should not permit Rajan to be left unhindered in his determination to ensure the defeat of the NDA in 2019 because of the failure of the economy to create enough jobs.
And as for black money in external havens, if even Rs 100 crore of that has returned from havens abroad, that fact is yet to be revealed. There is anyway little point going to Swiss banks asking for details of accounts held by Indian nationals during the present year, as since 2010, most of those with black money have removed their funds from such accounts and placed it in safer locations such as Macau. What is needed is to get Swiss banks and other tax havens (many UK-controlled) to give details of dodgy bank accounts held during the entire previous 15 years, something which tracking technology makes possible. Next, to locate within a single Unified Black Money Command agencies such as the intelligence wings of the Income-Tax department, the DRI, the Finance Ministry, the ED, the FIU and the CEIB, thereby reversing the present situation where (except in rare cases) these agencies do not, as a matter of routine, work closely with each other the way they should.
Including the economic wings of the IB and R&AW, such intelligence wings should be significantly expanded and given more latitude to investigate cases. A senior officer of integrity and competence should be put in charge of such a "Unified Black Money Command Authority", with responsibility to track such funds across the globe, including those parked in the names of foreign nationals who are relatives of looters back home. Prime Minister Modi needs to succeed in bringing back much of such cash before 2019.
The Income-Tax Department is the single biggest reason why few sane individuals wish to invest in India (because of the legal authority given to officials to make arbitrary and often vindictive and subjective estimates of income earned and tax due). For the next two years, the I-T department should focus near-exclusively on government servants, especially those at senior levels. How many of their children are studying abroad, and who is paying for their tuition? How many times have spouses made foreign trips or indeed air journeys within the country, and what are the properties actually acquired by the official and his close relatives? If Prime Minister Modi is to succeed in clearing away the rot in the country, he needs to first cleanse the stables of government. Focusing the attention of the Income-Tax Department on government officials, past and present, as well as Central and state ministers and ex ministers across the country would help in identifying those whose expenditure is far greater than declared income. It is not just toilets that need to be built and cleaned, but the sewer that the governance system in India has become. But for that to happen, key ministries will need to work with at least 50% of the efficiency shown by Narendra Modi himself, rather than the 20% which seems the average among too many in his present team.

Video: NewsX 65 per cent voter turnout in Haryana till 5pm

By 4:30 PM, nearly 65 per cent voters had cast votes, officials said.BJP is contesting for the first time on its own and is eyeing to wrest power from the ruling Congress.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Video: NewsX Nation at 9: Two north-eastern youth beaten up

Two youths from the northeast were allegedly attacked by eight persons at Sikanderpur here, police said on Thursday.The incident took place on Wednesday night when the victims, Aayug and Alato, were thrashed by eight youths belonging to Sikanderpur village over some issue, station house officer of DLF Phase 1 police station said

Video: NewsX Jaya: 6 angles, 6 reporters live on NewsX

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa walked out of Bangalore jail on Saturday after spending 21 days in the disproportionate asset

Video: NewsX Jaya: analyses, the corruption paradox

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa walked out of Bangalore jail on Saturday after spending 21 days in the disproportionate assets case. She was convicted by a lower court in the case. On Friday, the Supreme Court granted her bail. 

Video: NewsX Can Jaya beat 10 year political exile?

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa walked out of Bangalore jail on Saturday after spending 21 days in the disproportionate assets case. She was convicted by a lower court in the case. On Friday, the Supreme Court granted her bail. 

Video: NewsX Nation at 9: Governemnt tells SC, 'Can't disclose names of account holders'

Finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday that the Modi government was not reluctant to reveal the names of account holders in accordance with the existing law.

Defending the government's move in Supreme Court, Jaitley said the details of people under investigation for having black money account can't be revealed till chargesheet has been filed in court.

Video: NewsX EU court's decision on LTTE

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Prime Minister Modi, give us maximum governance (Sunday Guardian)

M.D Nalapat is the Editorial Director of The Sunday Guardian.

Overall, the people of India believe Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi to be honest, which is why they have taken seriously his promise of "Minimum Government and Maximum Governance". This columnist was among the many thousands who witnessed the swearing in of the Modi Council of Ministers on 26 May, and was a trifle disappointed that the list contained so many who were from the past. While these worthies are all honourable men and women, they have done little of note during the previous two decades, and seem unlikely to offer a very different result this time around. Nothing which has taken place (or more importantly, not taken place) during the four months after the swearing in indicates that this forecast is incorrect. Were key ministries to function with even 50% of the efficiency shown by the Prime Minister's Office, the country would visibly be getting transformed even during this short period. Unfortunately, at least to those outside the comfortable shades of high office in the Modi dispensation, it would appear that their average level of efficacy is less than 20% of what the Prime Minister is achieving in the fields in which the PMO is directly bestowing attention. India is too big a country to be looked after by a single individual, and unless the ministers working for Prime Minister Modi ensure that they approach his standards of probity, direction and efficiency, the public mood is likely to sour well before the 2019 elections. Indeed, such a reversal of mood appears to have already begun.
The Prime Minister needs to ensure that every official be asked to retire by age 52 if not judged good enough for Additional Secretary grade, and at 55 if not made Secretary by then. Indeed, such necessary suggestions are not new, but have been made by Veerappa Moily in his reports on administrative reform. 
Voters expected Narendra Modi to trawl not just within the civil service (an institution that shares a goodly share of the blame for the missed opportunities and the errors in policy that the people of India are suffering from), but within civil society in his selection of key personnel to fill slots important for welfare and for security. This far, appointments made have largely been limited to the same list of retired and serving officials who have been functioning in one capacity or the other in and around the dovecotes of office in Delhi for decades. Narendra Modi has the desire to ensure that India glides into a 21st century quality of governance rather than its present 19th century officialdom. Hopefully, as he finds his feet in the quicksand which is congealed within Raisina Hill, Prime Minister Modi will ensure that his team acquires a zest which matches his own level of excellence, rather than seem like components of a Vajpayee II government or in parts, even that of a Manmohan III. The Prime Minster needs to implement such reforms as merging the IAS and the IPS into a combined service after 20 years of being in office, and mandating that each official should specialise in a particular department (such as counter-terrorism in the case of the police departments) rather than be shifted around in the manner of rolling stones. The IFS and the IRS are already specialised, and hence does not need to get included in such a list. The complexity of the present means that the generalist model of the past is not only not relevant, but is harmful to good administration these days. Modi needs to ensure that every high-level vacancy in the Central government gets advertised on the PMO website and that 25% of such posts be filled from outside the Central services, just as 25% of envoys should be from outside the pool of officials, rather than the 100% favoured by Manmohan Singh, who was never able to make the transition from bureaucrat to politician and showed this bias every day that he held office.
Importantly, the Prime Minister needs to ensure that every official be asked to retire by age 52 if not judged good enough for Additional Secretary grade, and at 55 if not made Secretary by then. Indeed, such necessary suggestions are not new, but have been made by Veerappa Moily in his reports on administrative reform, as others have been made by reports on railway reform by Anil Kakodkar or police reform by the Padmanabhaiah committee. Modi has the capacity to ensure that such reforms get carried out, and hopefully he will.
Voters in India do not as yet see the change that they expected when they cast their ballots in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, but in the next two years, hopefully they will. In the meantime, what is needed is for the Prime Minister to each day take forward his promise of Minimum Government and Maximum Governance. In such a task, his Cabinet colleagues and those others he has chosen for high office need to function in a way which matches not their past record of performance, but Modi's (and the voters) expectations of excellence.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Bharara, other US officials ‘assisted those behind court-summons to Modi’ (Sunday Guardian)

MADHAV NALAPAT  New York | 11th Oct 2014
ppointed to the post by US President Barack Obama, Preet Bharara, the Prosecuting Attorney for the Southern District of New York, "played a key role in facilitating the issuance of a court summons directed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi" during the latter's 26-29 September visit to New York, according to key office-holders in the city and in New Jersey. They claimed that the organisations responsible for the plaint, which resulted in the summons were, according to them, "assisted by Bharara and other US officials in the drafting of the documentation presented to the court", which is located within his territorial jurisdiction in New York City. These sources claim that the groups responsible for the summons have been in regular touch with key US officials in New York and Washington during the process of preparation of the complaint against Prime Minister Modi to the US court and that the fact that summons was about to be issued "was known to the Obama administration well in advance of the event".
On 25 September, just as the special Air India aircraft ferrying the Prime Minister to New York stopped over in Frankfurt for refuelling, the Federal Court of the Southern District of New York issued a summons in his name, asking for a response by 15 October. "The summons violated all canons of due process in the US", a key official in New Jersey pointed out, saying that "no chance was given to the other side to make a representation, nor was there any hearing on the merits of the matter before an action as drastic as the issuing of a summons to an incumbent Head of Government of a friendly state". Although some officials in his entourage wanted the Prime Minister to signal his displeasure by cancelling his US trip and returning to Delhi, Prime Minister Modi himself reacted coolly and opted to face the situation head on by proceeding as scheduled to New York. It was subsequently made clear by the Obama administration that because he was Head of Government of a sovereign state, Prime Minister Modi had immunity from such legal procedures, and that therefore the summons was infructuous. However, there were anxious moments amongst Indian officials in Frankfurt and Delhi when word was first received of the controversial move on the part of the US federal court.
An official in Washington claimed that the decision by the federal judge "was the result of a nudge" from Bharara. However, those tracking the mediagenic US attorney in NYC say that on the contrary, "Preet Bharara is very respectful of law and procedure and would never seek to influence a judge". However, they are silent on accusations that he is personally familiar with those responsible for the plaint, or that he assisted in its preparation.
Prosecuting Attorney Bharara has prosecuted nearly 40 citizens of Indian origin in his five years in office, and detractors ascribe this bias (in a context where those of Indian descent are far from being the major depredators on Wall Street) to his linkages with pro-Khalistan elements, according to a retired official. A source claimed that Bharara knew officeholders of the Coalition Against Genocide (CAG), as well as Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), two organisations who for several years have concentrated their fire on Narendra Modi. These organisations, according to a former official detailing developments in the case, were instrumental in getting the American Justice Center to file a case in the New York Southern District Federal Court under the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Victim Protection Act, both of which empower such courts to conduct trials in cases of human rights violations taking place, even if outside the US. The allegations made in the plaint relate to the 2002 riots in Gujarat, and have been shown to be false by successive courts and investigations in India since that period. Such absence of evidence of Modi's culpability has been explained away by his detractors as being due to his "influence", although that Narendra Modi had such a decisive hold over Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh during the term in office of the UPA may be news to both of them. Interestingly, both the SFJ as well as the CAG have multiple contacts with US-based ISI officials and agents, and have an opaque funding structure.
The ISI and its friends have been particularly active on Capitol Hill, encouraging a host of NGOs to lobby with the US Congress to try and get passed House Resolution 417 in November 2013, which targets India on the ground that the country suffers from an "absence of religious freedom". None of the Representatives who voted for such a resolution appear to believe that there is any absence of such freedoms in countries such as Saudi Arabia or in China, given that it is only India which has been specifically targeted in the resolution. Not surprising, in view of the ISI link to the lobbying process behind its introduction and attempted passage. Nearly four dozen US Representatives backed the resolution, which in effect singles out Hindus as a bloodthirsty and violent group which routinely oppresses minorities in India.
The Obama administration has thus far looked with a benign eye on such India-bashing, itself authoring (through the State Department) an annual report on religious freedom, which consistently brackets India as a country where religious freedom is under threat, with the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the 2002 Gujarat riots and the 2007 Kandhamal anti-Christian riots in Orissa coming for special mention. These reports are based on the Religious Freedoms Act of 1999, which created a "US Commission on Religious Freedom", which while sparing countries where actual discrimination takes place (but where the US has extensive business interests), targets India extensively. This Commission was behind the 2005 decision to revoke the US visa earlier given to then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, a ban on entry nullified only by his becoming Prime Minister of India on 26 May 2014.
Interestingly, during September 2013, both Manmohan Singh as well as Sonia Gandhi were issued summons by US courts during visits, on the ground that they were complicit in protecting those responsible for the 1984 riots. Those charges collapsed because in the case of Manmohan Singh, he was not in office when the riots took place, while the case against Sonia Gandhi folded because there were no actual victims among the plaintiffs. In the case filed against Prime Minister Modi, these defects were rectified. He was in office (as CM) during the 2002 riots, while thus far two plaintiffs have come forward who have claimed to have suffered losses during the 2002 riots, both from Anand in Gujarat. They have been named in court documents as Asif and "Jane Doe". According to a senior New York-based official, ISI-affiliated organisations in NYC are making efforts at tracking down others in Gujarat willing to be enlisted in the ongoing effort to malign Prime Minister Modi.
That officials in the Obama administration knew of the court process before summons were issued and kept the matter from India, and according to sources, actively participated in the process of preparing plaints against Prime Minister Modi. This indicates that the Obama administration is a divided house, with President Obama himself laying out the red carpet for the PM, even as some officials connive at getting a US federal court to issue a summons against him, despite the absence of a hearing or any other kind of enquiry about the genuineness or otherwise of the charges made in the American Justice Center complaint.
Certainly the ISI and its friends will continue to try and use US courts and the extra-territorial laws in that country to throw mud at a political leader who has captured the imagination of the Indian people in a manner not seen since Indira Gandhi.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Video: NewsX Khurshid - Need to engage with Sri Lankan government

Salman Khurshid said need to engage with Sri Lankan government and India must raises ISI’S Lanka plot and all issue should be dealt in balanced manner.

Video: NewsX Haryana government validates Vadra DLF's land deal in Shekhopur Gurgaon

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday urged the Election Commission to look into Haryana government's approval of a land deal involving Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra.

Video: NewsX Tamil parties and allies rise in revolt

PM Modi all set to visit Sri Lanka and he will address Sri Lankan parliament and Huge row over Modi’s upcoming Lanka Visit Tamil leader said Modi government loosing faith of Indian tamils.

Video: NewsX Exclusive details of proven charges against Jayalalithaa

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa was on Saturday sentenced to four years in prison after being convicted in an Rs.66-crore disproportionate assets case by a special sessions court in Bangalore. Three others were also convicted in case. Jayalalithaa, chief of the AIADMK, was also asked to pay a fine of Rs.100 crore. Her conviction has triggered massive protests across the state, with AIADMK workers targeting DMK supporters.

Video: NewsX Nation at 9 #PakTerrorState- Unspoken ISIS terror coup in Pak?

The US and PM Modi’s trillion dollar quest (Sunday Guardian)

M.D Nalapat is the Editorial Director of The Sunday Guardian.
PM Modi during a breakfast meeting with CEOs in New York, US on Monday. PTI
f India is to be taken seriously as a great power, its economy needs to expand from the present level of $2 trillion to $10 trillion, a fact understood by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which is why he has made "Make in India" his signature tune. What he needs to do is to ensure that a trillion dollars of investment flows into India over the next five years. That will not be easy, for decades of bad policy have resulted in a clogging and a hardening of the arteries of progress, such that every now and again, the economy gets a heart attack, thus far none fatal, but getting there. India is probably the least competent major power on the globe when it comes to the management of the economy. It is a coal superpower, having vast reserves of what is termed as "black gold" for its value in the production process, but a succession of bad policies has resulted in a slew of court verdicts that have sent the industry into paralysis, so much so that this country has joined the ranks of the biggest importers of coal, getting the resource from countries that have more rational systems of economic administration.
Across the country, manufacturing units have been shut down, several for lack of power, others because of tax policies designed by economic ministries and institutions that focus on smothering growth rather than encouraging it, with the Nokia plant at Chennai as an example. This was the largest mobile handset manufacturing plant in the world, churning out $6 billion of output, much of which comprised of exports. However, tax demands resulted in its closure, a situation which ought to have been avoided. It is true that there is much fiddling of accounts on the part of companies sending products for export, with the result that exports get under-invoiced and imports grossly over-invoiced, especially with equipment, the difference going off to offshore banking accounts. However, authorities in India have been selective and arbitrary in their measures against such transfer pricing frauds.
This is where a better relationship with the US can help. The Treasury Department can be requested to help get data on companies that export products to dummy companies, which almost immediately sell them at much higher prices to genuine overseas buyers. Several of the companies to which exports from Indian entities are being made, at least on paper, are located in offshore banking centres such as the Bahamas.
Were the Department of Revenue Intelligence to live up to its name (rather than, as now, often functions in a manner totally bereft of intelligence), it could very easily identify the fake entities to which exports flow, immediately to get resold at the actual market price. Rather than thrive under the patronage of high officials and politicians, those responsible need to get booked for the crime of seeing to destroy the economy. Instead, they occupy honoured places on committees set up to improve economic performance. The Ministry of Finance needs to work harder to fulfil Prime Minister Modi's promise to the nation that he would be ruthless in dealing with the bulk depredators creating black money. In what must be causing concern to Modi, neither have the names of those already identified as having huge stashes of unaccounted money abroad been released, nor has any individual of note been proceeded against, even while the venerable Special Investigation Team (appropriately called "SIT", as that is what they seem to do best) labours on in its mission of identifying those who are the major holders of black money. If all that the SIT does is have sittings, then by the end of a year since it was set up, it should perhaps be re-constituted with individuals who may be more effective in tracking black money.
Prime Minister Modi paid great attention to US corporates during his visit, and this is as it should be, for these entities are collectively possessing more than $2 trillion of cash that they can deploy across the globe. Without compromising its core interests, such as remaining the prime source of affordable medicines to the poor across the globe, India needs to put in place a regulatory structure that monitors rather than constricts. All the rules and procedures added on in layer upon layer by successive governments have not eliminated black money. Indeed, each fresh policy, each new institution, has only made matters worse. What is needed is to fulfil the campaign pledge of "Minimum Government", for that is the only path to the objective of Maximum Governance. Taxes, regulations and interest rates need to be lowered for the economy to boom in a way never seen since 1947.
Should Modi succeed in his stated goal, a goodly chunk of that $2 trillion could flow into India, giving jobs and hope to tens of millions.