Vande Mataram

Monday, November 29, 2010

Performance Does Matter!

Good show by Nitish & Sushil would be an understatement come to talk of the landslide victory they've earned in the recently concluded assembly elections in Bihar. Surviving a lot of rug pulling, this coalition of JD(U) and BJP came to power in 2005. Laloo was a force to recon with in Bihar at that time, despite his administration being a farce and his wife working in a literal kitchen cabinet. Not only corruption charges those include the infamous fodder swindle, Bihar was left to lurch in the dark with Governmental apathy, planned subversion of the rule of law, scant respect for reasonableness, with lantern being the electoral symbol of Laloo, though.

Nitish Kumar had to start from scratch, and he had a good partner in Sushil Kumar Modi, fortunately. Their administration successfully kept away the bickering of party men and concentrated on good governance. The one good thing they have done to dispose of pending cases is pretty much corporate-like. They had a weekly review with all District Magistrates and encouraged fast-track justice. Police, which was virtually non-existent in Laloo (un)rule, was resurrected and now it is policing the state with the due spirit of the uniformed services.

Education, which was ignored in toto  during Laloo's regime, was also given a lease of life. The root cause for not sending children to school was found to be kidnappers and pathetic condition of schools. Kidnappers were dealt with sternly and infrastructure of education institutions was improved duly. They incentivized attendance by given the school going children free bi-cycle, food and money to buy uniform and books.

There was a cry earlier in 2009 that the money given for uniform and books were misused. Books had to be purchased, since parents of children without books were duly questioned by Government officials. An allegation that parents bought  substandard dress materials for uniforms and take the rest of the money for their expenses. This too was proved wrong by statistics. (Yeap, they tracked that also!)

Good roads,, non-existent for a couple of decades, were laid and transportation became physically affordable. The unnecessary freebies were scrapped. The Laloo type get-togethers were stopped. (Earlier Laloo used to take bags of wheat,  sufficient hen and goats to villages, cook them there and eat with those people during weekends. The villagers were suitably educated that they would get such a good food so long as Laloo remains in power. Laloo's paradise was such.)

But the JD(U)-BJP combine chose the growth path, of course with initial troubles of change management, but they were firm on their goal to get the state on par with others. There is another angle to this vigorously followed growth path. Nitish Kumar didn't have a caste base, nor Sushil Modi had a core Hindu base. This lack of vote bank made them understand the fact that they had to work and prove take the people's confidence to survive in politics. (Nitish had to depend on Sharad Yadav for core caste votes. Modi married a Christian lady hence could not take core Hindu support for granted.)

So, the underlying message of the mandate given to Nitish-Sushil duo in 2005 was to perform or perish. They performed and deformer Laloo perished. This stands proof for a behavioral theory discussed at length in management schools. People would innovate better and work harder when survival matters. This case also could be added to the case study bank on Managerial Behavior in management schools.

Another lesson we could gain from this victory is the handling of the bureaucracy. The man with a master brain behind the excellent execution of this growth idea is N.K. Singh a former Secretary to the Government of India. Singh was instrumental in getting things done with the bureaucracy and materializing the development dream of Bihar. Lesson learnt: Give the ideas and target. Leave the modus operandi to bureaucrats. Constantly check the progress.  Wonders will happen! Why not due development?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Broadening the Spectrum of 2G scam

There is another shocking revelation in the media, related to Telecom licensing that the Home Ministry had a mole in its internal security department, who was passing on classified information to outsiders. The further probing of this issue brings to light the beneficiaries include telecom companies who had benefited from critical information he passed on to them on the issue of number portability of mobile phones. The arrested IAS officer,  Ravi Inder Singh a Director in internal security arm of MHA, was also handling matters pertaining to BlackBerry's encoded services. A Kolkata-based businessman Vineet Kumar, who was allegedly acting as a broker on behalf of Mr.Singh, was also taken into custody.

Police submitted at the court that Mr.Singh was using four mobile phones out of which one mobile connection was on his name and rest of the three numbers were procured through fictitious identities. The officer had secreted those three mobile phones and stopped using them on November 16 after he came to know from Sanjeev Arora, a Vodafone company manager, that calls were intercepted on those phones. This manager may also be brought under the ambit of the investigation. People who have to nail the wrong doers have been doing the fundamentally wrong things.

Ravi Inder Singh is accused of having links with public persons and mediators and was misusing his official position for his personal gains. He did not stay in his official quarters but was residing in a guest house in posh Greater Kailash area of south Delhi. The investigating agency submitted before the court that Singh’s wife who is a homemaker, without any known/declared source of income, had opened an A/C in Bank of Maharashtra in which she has mentioned the guest house’s address as her residential address. Rs.21 lakhs were deposited in that account.  Who paid for this extravagance? Vineet, the broker known as businessman!

Also, Singh is said to have had the pleasure of being entertained with the fair brigade in lieu of his 'services'.

Well, the RIM (Blackberry company) had distanced itself from this man. The tainted officer is expected to speak a lot to the Police, which might spell trouble for many of the corporate and political behemoths. The slapping factor here is that the companies involved are telecom businesses, and the information leaked were of importance to telecom. Would there be a link between this and the Spectrum-gate? We may find some, in the course of free & fair investigation.

There is another scam that hit the heads and headlines couple of days ago. The LIC HF, PNB and other institutions have been involved in a millions of rupees worth (estimated at Rs 42750 cr) cash for loans offer from the realty corporations. Some top officials of the involved financial institutions and banks were arrested, with a promise of more to come.

Here we need to look at it in a multi-dimensional way.
  • The Spectrum licenses were given away at throw away prices to realty firms, overlooking the telecom firms. Mediatrixes were involved in this case.
  • The telecom companies have been beneficiaries of Ravi Inder Singh's secrets for sex and cash scam. A mediator was involved in this case.
  • The corporate home loan for cash scam involved realty firms and a firm Money Matters Financial Services Ltd. acting as mediator. 
Given these three scams have a couple of dimensions in common like middlemen, realty and telecom sectors (not obviously though), the investigative agencies should try to ascertain whether there are any connections between these three separate looking scams, to find out a probably mammoth plot to loot the public money. Nothing could be ruled out now. Investigating the possible inter-relation of these scams would not cause any harm as the basic thumb rule of any criminal investigation is "Disbelieve the obvious". The obvious picture is that these three are separate scandals.

A shrewd investigation would bring out all the hidden truths, provided we don't have any extra-constitutional meanderings as in the case of Bofors fame Q, to get away kinsmen and loyal partners in crime .

People who are trained and paid to ensure right doings, do all the wrongs for some extra bucks and greedy f**ks. This raises questions not on the training system of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy, but on the basic moral lessons right from elementary schools. We don't have moral educators, aka grand parents, at home nowadays thanks to the nuclear family system. We are so concerned about the good marks shown in school report cards, than good marks made in the society. Unless we shed the ambivalence towards morality, we have to live with such highly educated criminals at the high offices of the nation. Vande Matharam!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Spectrum-Gate: What now?

Finally, after prolonged inertia and attempted goof ups under the cover of cover ups by the UPA, the 2G spectrum allocation scam is officially out in the public. The minister concerned A.Raja maintains his claim of innocence, audaciously though, despite being neck deep in the flowing proofs of his wrong doings. He claims to have taken the PM, a man known for his honesty, integrity and probity through, inter alia, his frugal lifestyle, on board on whatever he did in the process of awarding the 2G license. This strengthens the suspicions raised by whistle blowers and opinion builders those include Dr. Subramanian Swamy, Mr. Rajeev Nambiar and others.

Dr.Swamy had written to the PMO on this issue and there had been delays even in replying to his letter. Rajeev Chandrasekar, entrepreneur-politician-MP, had also written to the PMO, but PMO resorted to inertia in this case also. The opposition parties have now raised a high decibel cry and stalled the Parliament, but initially they were either not aware of the grandi pecunia involved or were busy with other political activities. The AIADMK was the only political party to raise voices right from the day of the inking of spectrum deal. The nation's principal opposition party the BJP too had joined the chorus later, effectively vociferous though.

To start with, in 2007, the DoT has issued guidelines for the auction of 2G Spectrum. But within months, Raja had ruled out auction in the 2G spectrum. The reason he cited was that a favorable level playing field for the existing GSM players would be created through auction. If he was so interested in an evenly leveled playing field for all players, he should have ensured in the first place that all the bidding players were competent in the game they were expressing interest to play.

The Unitech Group of companies and Allianz Infratech, to name a couple, were realty companies as stated in their MOA and AOA. Hence they could not be awarded licenses for any telecom related businesses. So, they should have got approval from the Ministry of Company Affairs  and the Company Law Board to change the AOA and get new nomenclature to be eligible for participating in the telecom license auction. Though no auction was held, these companies should have done the aforesaid to be eligible to apply for licenses under the infamous movie ticket method of first-come-first-served basis.

These companies are said to have been veils for the real beneficiaries. The real beneficiaries are believed to have been Raja's cronies in his party (should have been said the other way round), the businessmen having dubious trade history who were so closely connected to the first family of DMK. The licenses were awarded at 1/10th of the prevailing market value, the process followed was illegible, the modus operandi smacked undue haste. The licensees sold parts of those contracts to another company for a higher price, which in turn sold that stake to another company, thus weaving a web of legit looking business transactions.

Raja had told in 2007 when he ruled out auction that the Government has the annual license fee for its revenue. So, was he hinting at that time that he was going to give away these licenses for stanza (not even a song!)? Well, he dragged the PM into this by stating that the PM had suggested the revenue from annual fee logic to give away these licenses without auction. The PM had not responded to this till now. This adds fuel to the suspicion that the PM has allowed this to happen whatever be the reasons attributed to the palpable inertia.

The corporates who tried to bring this loot to light were silenced by the minister, as evident from one of the bidders S-Tel was silenced with daring threats from A.Raja. The reason S-Tel went to court might not have been to expose the corruption or to get the dealings clean, but Raja 'advising' them to keep quiet triggers the 'trillion Rupees' question that why Raja was afraid of facing them in the court, if everything went by the letter and the spirit of the law book.

Contrary to the popular belief money has not been looted from the national exchequer in this case. The money that has to come to the national exchequer has been routed through illegal means, inter alia, to the coffers of vested interests who rule a part of the nation. The vested interests and their mouth pieces brush this trillion rupee scam as non-existent. Their argument is that the CAG report says the loss to the national exchequer is notional and not real, so the said scam is imaginary, fanciful and conceptual. They'll have to look for absolute nitwits to take this argument.

In investment jargon notional means "The value of a derivative's underlying assets at the spot price. In the case of an options or futures contract, this is the number of units of an asset underlying the contract, multiplied by the spot price of the asset."
What was the spot price of the spectrum when it was given away? Going by the S-Tel bid we can have a safe bet of Rs.6000 crores, yet negotiable for further hike as per prevailing market value. But that license was given away for Rs.1600 crores to an unknown, ineligible, incompetent bidder, who simply sold part of that license for a higher price. What was the quid pro quo in giving away a diamond mine for peanuts? Ignorance? Impossible with the advises, cautions and suggestions given by the PM, the TRAI, the FM and the secretaries of the ministry. Habitual swindling is the root cause for this mammoth scam.
While delving into the details a lot of shocking revelations about this loot come in our way. Those information question the very basis of the ground the Prime Minister stands before the world. Honesty. The common man can say "I don't care Ram or Ravan rules as long as I get my meals three squares a day" and live on. But the ruler should not brush aside untenable happenings in his territory with this infamous "Don't care" attitude of the Aam Aadmi. Honest people must lament and honest leaders like Dr.Manmohan Singh should act. 

There are reports now that Ratan Tata wanted Telecom out of Dayanithi Maran's reach. Anyone would wish so as we have seen how Maran threatened TATAs during his tenure as telecom minister during UPA-I. Before targeting Tata for taking the unfair route to check unfair people out, we need to ask an important question. Why are mediators allowed to influence the decisions of the Prime Minister right from setting up his administrative team? Given fact that the PM represents the first family of the Congress in the Government, can't the K-family and the S-family sit, talk and get things done?

Evidences have come out now to suggest strongly that the K-family was not comfortable with Dayanithi Maran getting key responsibilities in the UPA-II. There are conversations reported in the media now believed to have been taken place between two mediatrixes of the Congress and the DMK. (
This is now getting confirmed with the DMK distancing itself from Maran's acts during his tenure as Telecom Minister in UPA-I, while still having Raja standing  by him in public. This further proves that the immediate K-family wanted to cement its hold by keeping even the sons and siblings of his late lamented 'conscience' at comfortable distance. Family feud is not the topic I choose to discuss here, but the family loot. 

The regional political rivalry between the AIADMK and the DMK is cited as the reason for the former's stringent stand  on this issue. If such reasons have to be attributed to the raised voice of the opposition parties, what reasons would be attributed to the silenced voices of the affected and the preferred silences of the friends and beneficiaries.

Given to understand that anybody with enough money can influence the Government's decision at any level and to any extent leads us to question the trustworthiness of this Government. How are we to trust such people with the security of the nation? What would be the fate of the nation if 'anything' could be done with the money power? Q-branches may not worry because they have South American bananas to live in. The worry now is about the people who are born and brought up in this nation and nowhere to go? What are the answers we have to give the generations to come when we teach them to be truthful and practice the right opposite?

Now the ruling coalition refuses to setup a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the scam. Legal experts and parliamentarians assert that JPC was successful in the past two decades to bring out the truth in many scams. The argument that the Public Accounts Committee would look into the scam and the CAG report is deliberate procrastination to get the guilty off the parliamentary inquiry.

The PAC would look into the accounts of the previous years and thus would do only a post mortem analysis of the scam. The PAC inquiring into the spectrum-gate would take years unless it is given a special mandate to inquire the current CAG report, keeping the regular business pending. It would be better in the interest of timely justice to have a JPC set up. Otherwise the guilty would either flee or would successfully tamper with the evidences to get off the hook.

There is a management adage "When you cannot commit on something, form a committee." The Government is not in a position now to commit on anything in this issue as there is chaos in the modus operandi of the spectrum-gate. So, better form a Joint Parliamentary Committee, Mr. PM. I trust Dr.Manmohan Singh, as he is still an honest man at heart in this head-to-foot corrupt UPA. TINEA factor works for him very well. *TINEA => There Is No Effective Alternative.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Thamizh blog!


I've started to write in my first language Thamizh here.

Your bouquets and brickbats are welcome.