Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mother of all mining scams in Odisha: Rs 30,00,00,00,00,000-Sep 28, 2011

Mother of all mining scams in Odisha: Rs 30,00,00,00,00,000

FP Staff Sep 28, 2011

This could be the mother of all mining scams, and this time it’s in Odisha, a State which accounts for over 30 percent of India’s iron ore deposits.

A CNN-IBN investigation has exposed a mining scam estimated at Rs 3 lakh crore, a scale that dwarfs the Bellary mining scam in Karnataka and the Goa mining scam exposed by Firstpost recently.

The investigation by Jajati Karan has established that illegal mining flourishes in Odisha’s Keonhjar distric. Five companies have been charge-sheeted for illegal mining by the Odisha government’s vigilance department. Illegal mining operations in three companies – Serajuddin Mines, Rungta Mines and Indrani Patnaik Mines – were caught on camera by the CNN-IBN team. (Watch the video here)

The Odisha mining scam is estimated at Rs 3 lakh crore. Raman Kirpal/ Firstpost

These were among the 243 mines where work had been suspended after an uproar in the Odisha Assembly in 2009.

Yet, today, the illegal mining continues.

At Balda, at the Serajuddin mines, truckloads of iron ore could be seen emerging from the main gates, all of it mined illegally. Even at night, the CNN-IBN team found trucks leaving loaded with the illegally mined iron ore.

At Unchabali, the CNN-IBN team trekked past pillars marking the Indrani Patnaik Mines to the top of a hill where it caught images of illegal mining at a grand scale.

At Jajang, at the Rungta Mines, the team sneaked a camera in for a few minutes to uncover even more illegal mining.

According to the State Vigilance chargesheet, the illegal iron ore mining at these three mines alone has caused the loss of a staggering Rs 2,352 crore to the state exchequer.

Anup Patnaik, Director, Vigilance, says: “Show cause notices have been served on the owners of all the mines that we are investigating. We have also seized their materials, and told them that mining cannot continue till our case is over.”

Independent estimates have valued the illegally mined iron ore at Rs 3 lakh crore. Each tonne of iron ore fetches the mining company nearly Rs 8,000, while the State government gets a measly royalty of Rs 78 per tonne.

The Mines Department of the Odisha government, however, defends the charge-sheeted mine owners.

Says Manoj Ahuja, Secretary, Steel and mines: “The royalty has been paid for, so it’s not illegal in that sense. There are no accounts that somebody has done illegal mining.” At worst, it is a violation of a technical norm, he adds.

Last year, the Indian Bureau of Mines issued a show-cause notice to these mines, but took no further action. Till date, 13 minor officials have been arrested, but none of the senior functionaries have been touched.

In April this year, the Odisha High Court finished its hearing over the demand for a CBI inquiry into the mining scam, but reserved its orders. Activists believe that only an independent and impartial inquiry can reveal the extent of the alleged nexus between mine owners, politicians and bureaucrats

RTI activist Biswajit Mohanty, who has filed a PIL calling for a CBI inquiry into the illegal mining in Odisha, points out that the mining scam was exposed accidentally in 2009, when a ruling BJD MLA asked an innocuous question to the Assembly. The reply exposed the mining scam. (Watch Mohanty’s interview to CNN-IBN here.)

The government was then forced to order an inquiry, and the vigilance department conducted an enquiry. But Mohanty argues that the theVigilance Department is ill-equipped and incompetent to investigate a scam of this magnitude.

“It doesn’t have jurisdiction, it cannot investigate beyond the State’s border”, which he says is critical because even the Central Ministry is involved.”They have to be investigated, and it cannot be done by the Vigilance Department.” In addition, he points out, the case has international ramifications because the ore has been exported to other countries, principally China.

“All of us have challenged this enquiry order on the simple ground that it lacks jurisdiction, it lacks competence, it lacks adequate manpower and infrastructure,” Mohanty adds. “We believe it is a cover-up by the State government to protect the miners and allow illegal mining to continue.”

The scam also highlights the issue of “intergenerational equity” which the Supreme Court has highlighted in an earlier vedict, Mohanty noted.

“The State and the Centre have to decide how much of mining can be permitted within, say, 25 years or 50 years or 100 years… At the rate at which leases have been given, we don’t expect resources to last beyond 25 years. This kind of a policy cannot be permitted,” reasons Mohanty.

A debate on what it is about mining scams that cuts across all States and parties.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

An RTI query has revealed that Manmohan Singh's ministers have spent Rs 42 crore on foreign travel in the last one year.Sep 28, 2011

Union ministers spent Rs 42 cr on foreign travel in 2010-11
TNN | Sep 28, 2011, 01.23AM IST

An RTI query has revealed that Manmohan Singh's ministers have spent Rs 42 crore on foreign travel in the last one year.

NEW DELHI: The government spent about Rs 42 crore on foreign travel by Union ministers in the last one year, the cabinet secretariat said in response to an RTI query. While Cabinet ministers spent Rs 37.16 crore on their foreign visits, ministers of state spent about Rs 4.76 crore.

The total spending by the public exchequer was Rs 41.82 crore for the year 2010-11. The expense incurred by ministers was given to activist S C Agrawal after instructions from chief information commissioner Satyananda Mishra who directed the disclosure. Agrawal had sought to know from the cabinet secretariat the travel details of Union ministers for the last three years but he was told that the information was "scattered" across different ministries and he would have to collect it from them separately. When the matter reached the Central Information Commission, the cabinet secretariat reiterated its position.

The secretariat also noted that to collate the information, a large volume of records and documents would have to be scrutinised which would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority.

"While we tend to agree with the submission made by the respondents (cabinet secretariat), we think it would be in the interest of transparency if some key information about the domestic and international travel by Union ministers could be maintained centrally in cabinet secretariat itself, especially since the pay and accounts office under it is responsible for all accounting details for payment of salary and reimbursement of their travel expenditure," Mishra said in his order.

3 Indian-origin scientists in White House honors list of 12 for contribution in US's growth in d field of Science,technocology n innovations- 28, 2011

Three Indian-origin scientists in White House honors list of 12

Chidanand RajghattaChidanand Rajghatta, TNN | Sep 28, 2011, 02.25AM IST

There are three Indian-origin poeple among a select dozen named by President Obama to receive the National Medal of Science, and for Technology and Innovation, the highest honor bestowed by US government on scientists, engineers and inventors.

WASHINGTON: Three distinguished scientists of Indian-origin -- two inventors and a researcher - figure in a celebrated White House honors list this year, broadly underscoring India's continued contribution to American science and technology streams. Two of them are IIT-ians, alumni of the academically elite Indian Institute of Technology.

New York University's Srinivasa SR Vardhan, Purdue University's Rakesh Agarwal, and North Carolina State Univeristy's B Jayant Baliga are among the select dozen named by President Obama to receive the National Medal of Science, and for Technology and Innovation, the highest honor bestowed by the US government on scientists, engineers and inventors.

"Each of these extraordinary scientists, engineers, and inventors is guided by a passion for innovation, a fearlessness even as they explore the very frontiers of human knowledge, and a desire to make the world a better place," Obama said in a statement on Tuesday following the release of the honors list. "Their ingenuity inspires us all to reach higher and try harder, no matter how difficult the challenges we face." The recipients will receive their awards at a White House ceremony later this year.

Scientists and researchers of Indian-origin have occasionally featured before in the White House honors list, but this is the first time that three have been recognized in a single year in a list typically dominated by US-born and -educated scientists. Among the rare awardees of Indian-origin are Calyampudi R.Rao (Vardhan's mention who was recognized in 2001 for mathematical and computer sciences), and Arun Netravali (2001 for technology).

Steve Jobs, Gordon Moore, David Packard and Dean Kamen are among the legends who have won the technology medal, while several science medal recipients have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.

Srinivasa S.R. Varadhan, an alumnus of Presidency College, Chennai and Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkota, won the award for his work in probability theory, especially his work on large deviations from expected random behavior, which has revolutionized this field of study during the second half of the twentieth century and become a cornerstone of both pure and applied probability. The mathematical insights he developed have been applied in diverse fields including quantum field theory, population dynamics, finance, econometrics, and traffic engineering, the White House said in its citation.

Rakesh Agarwal, an alumnus of IIT Kanpur, was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for "an extraordinary record of innovations in improving the energy efficiency and reducing the cost of gas liquefaction and separation. These innovations have had significant positive impacts on electronic device manufacturing, liquefied gas production, and the supply of industrial gases for diverse industries," the citation said.

B.Jayant Baliga, an alumnus of IIT Chennai, won in the same category for development and commercialization of the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor and other power semiconductor devices that are extensively used in transportation, lighting, medicine, defense, and renewable energy generation systems.

Electoral Reforms, which in simple language means an attempt to clean up a political system that is a awash with black money and criminalized culture

Elections have become the biggest source of corruption:We are ready to conduct internal party elections. SY Qureshi-28/9/2011

Elections have become the biggest source of corruption: SY Qureshi

Sreenivasan Jain, Updated: September 28, 2011 01:15 IST

New Delhi: Chief Election Commissioner, Dr SY Qureshi speaks to NDTV's Sreenivasan Jain on the challenges from a corrupt electoral system and that it is ready to conduct internal party elections.

Sreenivasan Jain: The anti-corruption movement has now signaled a new target - Electoral Reforms, which in simple language means an attempt to clean up a political system that is a awash with black money and a criminalized culture. But this could prove to be a greater challenge than the Lokpal Bill. Because it involves political parties attempting to self-correct and that as we know is not an easy thing.

Joining me today is someone who is spear heading attempts towards electoral reforms and that's the Chief Election Commissioner Dr. Qureshi. Thank you very much indeed sir for joining us. Just before we get into the specifics I think it's important for people to understand how critical electoral reforms are and the way in which our electoral systems have got corrupted. In the overall debate over corruption some feel that this, in fact, is the root cause of all corruption.

SY Qureshi: Absolutely. You know the elections have become the biggest source of corruption because the money that you spend at the time of election is much beyond the legally prescribed limit. Now obviously the candidates who win are in a hurry to get that money back, with an interest probably, and that is how corruption begins. So the logic of having a higher ceiling in the law is that it should be over money power. So we all feel, in fact all political parties at different times have expressed their concern that money power is getting out of control. But the only problem is that it has become a competitive phenomenon. If one party spends a lot of money, then the other person also has to spend a lot of money. Whether it is money or criminals, both are competitive phenomena. If a criminal is put up as a candidate by one party the other party feels very disadvantaged. They feel they have no chance until a bigger dada is put up against them.

Sreenivasan Jain: Yes they use the expression winnability as a euphemism, and under this umbrella of winnability all these acts are perpetrated. I will come to the money part in a bit but want to first concentrate on the criminal aspect of it. You said that parties talk about being willing to make changes that they want to fix these things, but in reality very little happens. Now for the first time it seems like the Government has decided that they want to try and take some steps to fight corruption and criminalization that they are planning to bring in some reforms. Some would argue that they are doing this in a peaceful way. They are just bringing in one aspect of the reforms first, which is that under the existing laws you are barred from fighting elections only if you are convicted. But now what they are saying is that even if you are charge-sheeted, or if charges have been framed against you in a number of what are classified as heinous crimes then you will be barred...

SY Qureshi: Yes

Sreenivasan Jain: Do you feel that that is an important step?

SY Qureshi: I think this is the most important of all other reforms that we've been talking about. Because we know of people accused of very serious crimes, with charges pending against them in crimes such as rape, dacoity, murder, kidnapping, being in politics. The proceedings go on for 30 years and in the meantime he becomes the minister, he becomes powerful, he becomes the government... and he may be exonerated. But the point is that..

Sreenivasan Jain: But now even if these charges are against him he will be barred.

SY Qureshi: Yes. You know the response that we get from all of the political parties. They all oppose our reform proposal by the way. And the reason they gave me is that the law of the land states that everybody is innocent until proven guilty. Fair enough. And that on the eve of the election false charges may be forced on them. True enough. But the question has been debated by jurists and legal experts. 12 years ago a law commission, which has all the jurists, recommended a way out, which was that at least those cases where the court of law has framed the charges should be considered. You may not believe an FIR but a court of law is independent. At the time of framing of charges there is application of judicial mind.

Sreenivasan Jain: Yes, so the fact that they have framed a case means there has been application of judicial mind and that there may be some substance to the charges

SY Qureshi: Yes. Also, I would like to ask a counter question with regards to the second point that everybody is innocent unless proven guilty. There are over 4 lakh prisoners in prisons around India today. About 2 lakh 68 thousand are still to be convicted. They are under-trial, but they are innocent. Now these innocents are losing four of their fundamental rights - right to liberty, freedom of movement, freedom of occupation and right to dignity. If you can take away four fundamental rights of an under-trial then what is the big deal about the candidates? Contesting an election is not even a fundamental right.

Sreenivasan Jain: Also there has been another safeguard that's been talked about. In the event that these people do decide to fight the elections then there's a method by which their cases can be speeded up and a verdict can be delivered within a stipulated period of time.

SY Qureshi: Well that is an alternative if it can be ensured. But we know from experience that it is easier said than done and that that doesn't happen. Election petitions are also supposed to be deposed by the High Court within one year. But except for the Kerala High Court no other court has been able to dispose a case even in four years in some cases.

Sreenivasan Jain: So what you are saying is that as far as the concerns of these political parties, the ones that they have raised, they're saying that they could face charges framed against them falsely to implicate them if you were to bring this in. You are saying firstly that this is something which the Law Commission and senior jurists have considered, and they still feel this is important and you are also saying that fighting election is not a fundamental right so they shouldn't be so agitated about it given that a large amount of under-trials are already facing this. But the other thing that people always raise is that the nature of the offence which debar you and whether, political offences and offences of that nature should be included. But in these cases you have clearly zeroed-in and identified only serious offences. These are waging war against the nation, a conspiracy to wage war, murder, rape, kidnapping, dacoity, and any statement that provokes enmity between communities. Only those charged with those particular sections will be debarred.

SY Qureshi: We are not saying that you go out for every case. We have only included serious offences, whose which will lead to imprisonment of 5 years or more. And we have also provided a third safety clause, which is that cases should have been filed at least six months before the elections. So if it's a false case then the damage is undone.

Sreenivasan Jain: But this is a concern that will have to be addressed somewhere down the line. This fear that the false cases will be foisted is something one keeps hearing again and again from political parties, we know that does happen. Some mechanism will have to found around that.

SY Qureshi: Yes. That is for the jurists to discuss and find a way out of. I think our present formulation recommended by our Law Commission and Election Commission for years...

Sreenivasan Jain: And which the present Government seems pretty clear to go ahead with...

SY Qureshi: Yes and in fact I'm very happy that the Government has decided to go ahead with this reform as a starting point. If they can take it through then it will be a great achievement.

Sreenivasan Jain: The other big area for reform is money power and the vast amount of black money that's getting poured into these elections. Now some attempts at reform have happened, not thanks to political parties but activism of either the Election Commission or groups that are working outside the system. This activism has caused the parties to file their income tax returns. They now have to file affidavits, demonstrating how much they have spent in terms of elections. They make for fascinating reading and a lot of them are available on your website. You find that political parties are, and I am sorry to use this term, lying through their teeth. These affidavits have false information. They claim that they only spent 50% of their election expenses. So how do you then check this money power problem?

SY Qureshi: You have put your finger on a very important point, money power. Virtually all politicians start their political carrier or term on a falsehood in terms of the IT return that they file. Most of them are false. And we know that crores are spent and they keep telling us, in our drawing rooms they tell us, but we must have evidence. On record they only show a few lakhs. For instance recently when 5 states went to polls - Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, Pondicherry and West Bengal, we analyzed the returns that they filed. Earlier there was a demand that our ceiling was unrealistic and that we should make it realistic or remove it all together.

Sreenivasan Jain: Yes, it was revised briefly.

SY Qureshi: Yes we revised it from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 16 lakh to take care of inflation.

Sreenivasan Jain: And for Lok Sabha it has gone up to Rs. 40 lakh from 25lakh.

SY Qureshi: That's right. So then we thought that we will give them more levy, more money to spend, Rs. 16 lakh. But the average return that we have is 50%. Now if someone is going to talk about rationalizing the ceiling we are not going to make it Rs. 60 lakh from Rs. 16 lakh. We would rather make it Rs. 8 lakh from Rs. 16 lakh if that is what you are actually spending. So what are you quarrelling with?

Sreenivasan Jain: So what does one do? Even if one tries these attempts at transparency political parties are not honest about it. What options do we have?

SY Qureshi: We have the enforcement, we will have to tighten it. We did not have the infrastructure in the Election Commission to monitor on a permanent basis. We would deploy election expenditure observers during elections. For 2 to 3 weeks they would all go back. But we have created a new division and we have got senior officers from income tax service. We have regular contact with the Central Board of Direct Taxes so that we can monitor the situation and keep an eye on it throughout the year. Then we came up with new expenditure guidelines which we first tried in Bihar and fine tune them on the basis of the Bihar experience for the 5 states. They worked rather well, but then it made us even more unpopular with the political parties because we came down heavily on them. The way we seized money left, right and centre, Rs. 73crore in 5 states, Rs. 60 crore in just one state alone. And that shows the magnitude. For every crore that we seized we must have checked 40 to 50 because we had that kind of control but since that mush money was in circulation much more must have gone through..

Sreenivasan Jain: so in a way you are trying to your best to be vigilant, tough and try and police elections as they are happening.. But at the end of the day there's only so much you can do and ultimately political parties will have to self-correct..

SY Qureshi: Yes and I see a ray of hope in what we saw in Kerala. Form Tamil Nadu we went to Kerala. In Tamil Nadu every party without exception talked about the money problem. We went to Kerala and we asked what is the state of money problem they said what money problem - we have no money problem at all. We were surprised we asked them how come, you are in the same zone you are next to Tamil Nadu and you probably may have more money, petro dollars included maybe. They said the voters of Kerala are very smart they don't go by money considerations so why waste money? If that kind of situation can be developed and we feel if we can use voter education..

Sreenivasan Jain: That's very important. I think to create a culture almost an antipathy towards bribed as a voter is important. But what about political parties themselves? Shouldn't they also self-correct?

SY Qureshi: Absolutely they should self-correct but the thing is we keep talking about self-correction and it's easier said than done. It doesn't happen. It doesn't happen, if somebody takes the lead for instance, there was one important leader who announced two years ago that criminals will not be given ticket for instance, we were very happy. Now we will see what happens in the election. Similarly if some party can take the initiative that people with any dubious record will not be allowed, somebody has to make a beginning but as you said that winnability becomes the prime consideration.

Sreenivasan Jain: And how tough can you get on all these different counts when you find political parties not keeping or at least forget the promises but at least the guidelines which you've led out when you talk of filing your expenditure being honest about that, or your income tax returns and all those things. You can take strict actions against them if they've found to have lied or if they've found to have falsified records.

SY Qureshi: Yes, for exceeding their expenditure ceiling, it's a corrupt practice. They'll lose their seat.

Sreenivasan Jain: But here they are not exceeding, at least according to their own data under spending. Is there anything you can do about that? Because clearly as you said those are false accounts, false records.

SY Qureshi: Among our regulations, there is a building mechanism there. They are trying to under report their activities which they undertake for campaigning. We have started maintaining shadow accounts. We try to video graph everything that is happening on the ground for instance in 14 days of campaign period they have to report expenditure 3 times. When they come with their report and say that they have held 3 public meetings, each costing Rs. 5000, we have video evidence available, we show them the mirror. Look this meeting could not have cost you Rs. 5000; this might have cost you Rs. 2 lakh. So when we confronted them with that kind of evidence they admitted and immediately they added to the account. But that was possible because they could still correct those accounts. Suppose we discover something later after the results have been announced, then of course it becomes a matter of the long....

Sreenivasan Jain: Did you find any anomalies during these recent elections in terms of the gap between what they were claiming and what they were spending and were you able to take action?

SY Qureshi: Enormous, and that is when we confronted them and they immediately corrected the account.

Sreenivasan Jain: Okay. So that is possible.

SY Qureshi: Even now 50% of the sealing was reported as the actual expenditure . we are collecting evidence because they file their returns in due course, within 30 days of the election and we are trying to analyze if we can still catch some discrepancies, then we'll take action.

Sreenivasan Jain: Dr. Qureshi, in conclusion I want to ask you that some believe the most deepest and most significant aspect of electoral reform is parties practicing inner party democracy which is once again not exactly mouthing platitude for the sake of it but following the norms that they themselves have led down in their own constitutions which used to have regular elections to have all office bearers elected by the grass roots from top to bottom, to ensure that there is transparency in the selection of candidates. Now again we know that just simply doesn't happen. But do you believe that it is the most critical area of electoral reform. And is that an area which again should fall under the purview of the election commission.

SY Qureshi: In a way it does because the condition of their registration include this clause in their own constitution that number one they'll uphold the constitution of India and they'll abide by the principal of secularism, democracy. Now if they abide by democracy, there has to be an inner-party democracy...

Sreenivasan Jain: This at the moment there isn't at all. I mean barring one or two honorable exceptions as a rule one doesn't see that in any party.

SY Qureshi: they are supposed to conduct a periodic election, report the new office bearers to us and sometimes they ask for some relaxation for the reasons that they can explain and we have been allowing that to happen and by and large how genuine those elections were, I cannot comment on but they have been filing.

Sreenivasan Jain: Dr. Qureshi we all know how elections are conducted in political parties, we know how leaders are elected. Even going through some of the records, they filed on your own website, I was reading them, and it makes so fascinating reading in election after election, party after party it says chosen either through consensus or through election consensus. In every case its consensus, it's a polite way of saying we all know who the boss is, no one stands against that person; its very much a one man or one woman party situation. In that event, as you said, you don't know how these elections are conducted, do you believe that even in internal elections of political parties should be monitored by the election commission?

SY Qureshi: It's a suggestion worth considering because at least it'll create credibility in public mind that the elections are fair. Some of it, I believe were made by a couple of political parties when they tried to engage ex-election commission officials...

Sreenivasan Jain: The youth congress elections are monitored by a group of former election commissioners like Mr. Lyngdoh and so on.

SY Qureshi: Obviously Mr. Lyngdoh and his group is involved in monitoring this election, I would certify them as free and fair. Because these people have proven....

Sreenivasan Jain: But again that gives political parties a scope for making these decisions on a voluntary basis. Some would argue that to bring in to the bouquet of reforms, the law which says that all internal elections must be monitored by the election commissioner.

SY Qureshi: Well, if that happens, it'll be very good, good for the credibility of our democracy, that is a call that Parliament has to take.

Sreenivasan Jain: But that's a challenge that the EC if that was to be accepted, you would be happy to take up that challenge?

SY Qureshi: For us to conduct the party election is a child's play because we conduct the biggest elections, if I tell you the size of our election, its mind boggling. You know, we have more voters than all 50 countries of Europe and all 20 countries of South and Central America put together.

Sreenivasan Jain: It's always been my heartfelt belief that it's a miracle and it's something that we are extremely proud of, one of the most remarkable aspect of our democracy. But I'm saying that this is something that as you said that if it was to be considered by the govt., passed by parliament, then even this aspect of the functioning of political parties could come under the election commission's preview.

SY Qureshi: It'll be very, very healthy for Indian democracy, you know while we feel that we are a rotten nation, corrupt and all that, I don't feel that all is negative about our country. The way people line up to Election Commission of India to see what magic we have, how vibrant our democracy is, how wonderful our elections are. Right now, today in this building, there is a team from Nigeria with 5 of their commissioners here to study and in that context when whole world looks upon India as a benchmark democracy, these corrections if they can happen they'll really enhance the prestige of the country worldwide.

Sreenivasan Jain: Let's be realistic Dr. Qureshi, will political parties will ever agree to any of this or are we just talking in Utopia.

SY Qureshi: I rather keep saying that the level playing field is the main consideration and which is why the competition began. they want level playing field, some we could do with enforcement, some can be done voluntarily, our effort will be as much as possible to be voluntary by self-regulation but wherever we feel it's not feasible then we have to come up with enforcement and whatever laws that we have, we are using to the fullest but sometimes people accuse of we being toothless, now that is where we need teeth and the teeth has to be given to us by parliament only. We hope that time has come, it's a defining moment in India, and this is the time when politicians, our leaders should come up with a formula which will take care of these problems once and for all.

Sreenivasan Jain: Two last things I want to end on which have become somewhat contentious in terms of electoral reforms, one is this business of right to recall. Do you think it's necessary?

SY Qureshi: Right to recall to my mind and to our considered view on the EC is not feasible. For a country of India size, it'll be alright it may be alright for a municipal election or a panchayat, that you get together 50 signatures. Now 50,000 people for instance, if they were to say that Vasu's election was not good and he didn't perform, how do we go about verifying those signatures and then conducting the election and how many election shall we have. Every now and then when we have election in phases, we are accused of a prolonging, that election people are suffering from election fatigue.

Sreenivasan Jain: Okay. So on right to recall you're saying that serious logistical considerations which make it impractical in a country as the size of India, the other one is state funding of elections. That's something which political parties are all clambering for.

SY Qureshi: No but let me first deal with the first question itself. We have a very positive solution also to offer. Right to recall probably the need arises when you feel the candidate you chose turn out to be a big fraud. You just hate him. If in the first place the quality of the candidate can improve and we feel that voter education plays a lot of role. We have a realistic situation in India where in certain constituencies there are only 20%, 30% people vote. Now 30 % people, particularly in urban areas, in the first place they don't go out to vote and then they are critical of their representatives. In their drawing room, they criticize the politicians and the govt. They have no business, no moral right to talk about corruption and politics when you have not...

Sreenivasan Jain: Gone out and cast your vote. I couldn't agree with you more.

SY Qureshi: Taking it further in the recent elections where turnout was 80-84%, obviously people will be more representative of the people. So in the first place some cleaning can happen as we seek to do through electoral reform, I think the need for right to recall will be obviated.

Sreenivasan Jain: Second point, state funding of elections, most political parties, politicians if you ask them want it, you're against it, why?

SY Qureshi: We have had meeting with political parties in the past, not that most of them want it, some want, and some oppose it. Some may have been opposing it. But we find, more and more coming in favor of it, we are totally opposed to it, the simple reason that it is not the white money that we are after, it is the black money. Now Rs. 16 lakh is the sealing, state funding will go to the extent of all Rs. 16 lakh, I underwrite all your expenses to the extent of Rs. 16 lakh but I'm not going to support you for your Rs. 5 crore which you're planning to spend in black money, how will we check it. So that is the issue.

Sreenivasan Jain: And that comes back what a lot of these reports have always said like the Indrajit Dutta Committee report that says that while it may recommend state funding, it's only on basis of the fact that political parties practice inner party democracy, there is financial transparency, only then can you have it. You can't place the cart before the horse. Dr. Qureshi thank you very much indeed for joining us and speaking so candidly is now going to become the next big area of national debate on corruption. Thanks very much indeed Sir.

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Sindri plant revival report after BIFR nod-it may take about a year in bringing the entire project on surface.(I HOPE HFC BARAUNI FACTORY ALSO REVIVE)

Sindri plant revival report after BIFR nod

TNN | Sep 27, 2011, 01.04PM IST

SINDRI: Groundwork for preparing a detailed project report for revival of the closed Sindri fertilizer factory (SFF) will begin only after getting a green signal from the Board for Industrial & Financial Reconstruction (BIFR).

Joint secretary of the fertilizer ministry Shamlal Goyal said although paper work for setting up steel and urea plants along with a captive power plant in Sindri was going on, it may take about a year in bringing the entire project on surface.

Talking to newspersons after visiting the SFF premises and the township, Goyal said the revival issue was still with the BIFR, which has fixed November 15 as the next date of hearing. "There are many formalities including clearance of dues of creditors to be completed before finalization of the proposal," the official said.

The Union government has decided to hand over the assets of the closed factory to the SAIL for setting up steel and urea plants. The official, however, was noncommittal over the question of rehabilitation of town residents. "Nothing in this regard has come before the government and once groundwork for setting up the plants start, this issue can also be included in the list of considerations. But it will be too premature to say anything in this regard at this moment," he said.

On the shortage of urea in Jharkhand and Bihar, the bureaucrat denied any scarcity in the country. Nearly 75% quantity of the total requirement of urea is produced indigenously where as the rest 25% is imported.

"This year we have imported urea in much higher quantity than the requirement. The crisis, if any, is because of delay and other discrepancies in distribution which we are looking into. The farmers need not worry for urea," he added.

Earlier, talking to the representatives of FCI, VSS Employees Welfare Association, Goyal said providing accommodation facility on lease to all the former employees was not feasible. Intuc leader Ajay Kumar requested the official to consider making high pressure coal gasification the main feedstock for the proposed urea plant as Sindri was situated in a coal belt.

Raising questions over the policy of retaining retired officials, Kumar said despite the central government's decision to consider redeploying those former employees who had more than 10 years of service left at the time of closure of the factory, the management was not hiring them. He also raised the issue of lapses in security arrangements of the factory and alleged that assets worth over Rs 100 crore had already been stolen from the factory and there was no complaint to police in this regard.

Monday, September 26, 2011

कॉरपोरेट मीडिया की दलाली पर पहली किताब आयी…Corporate media,Dalal Street.शुक्र है कि 2010 में नीरा राडिया कांड हुआ। इससे पहलेपेड न्यूज घोटाला हो चुका

कॉरपोरेट मीडिया की दलाली पर पहली किताब आयी…/शुक्र है कि 2010 में नीरा राडिया कांड हुआ। इससे पहले 2009 में बड़े पैमाने पर पेड न्यूज घोटाला हो चुका था। इन दो घटनाओं से मीडिया में कोई नयी बात नहीं हुई। हुआ सिर्फ इतना कि जो छिपा था, वह दिखने लगा।
26 September 2011

यह किताब राजकमल प्रकाशन से अभी अभी छप कर आयी है।

♦ दिलीप मंडल

शुक्र है कि 2010 में नीरा राडिया कांड हुआ। इससे पहले 2009 में बड़े पैमाने पर पेड न्यूज घोटाला हो चुका था। इन दो घटनाओं से मीडिया में कोई नयी बात नहीं हुई। हुआ सिर्फ इतना कि जो छिपा था, वह दिखने लगा। अब भारत में मीडिया उपभोक्ताओं का एक हिस्सा अब पहले से ज्यादा समझदार है और अपनी राय बनाने और चैनलों और अखबारों को समझने के लिए बेहतर स्थिति में है। इसके लिए हमें खास तौर पर नीरा राडिया का शुक्रगुजार होना चाहिए। यह बताने के लिए कि देश कैसे चलता है और मीडिया कैसे काम करता है।

मीडिया के संदर्भ में नीरा राडिया कांड अपवाद नहीं है। पब्लिक रिलेशन और लॉबिंग के क्षेत्र में तेजी से उभरने वाली नीरा राडिया के टेलीफोन कॉल इनकम टैक्स विभाग ने रिकॉर्ड कराये थे। नीरा राडिया के महत्व का अनुमान लगाने के लिए शायद यह जानकारी काफी होगी कि वे देश के दो सबसे बड़े औद्योगिक घराने – टाटा समूह और रिलायंस इंडस्ट्रीज लिमिटेड यानी रतन टाटा और मुकेश अंबानी के लिए एक साथ काम करती थीं। नीरा राडिया जिन कंपनियों का पब्लिक रिलेशन संभालती हैं, वह काफी लंबी है। यह बातचीत दूसरे कॉरपोरेट दलालों, उद्योगपतियों, नेताओं के साथ ही पत्रकारों से की गयी थी। इस बातचीत के सार्वजनिक होने के बाद मीडिया की छवि को लेकर कई गंभीर सवाल खड़े हुए हैं। खासकर इन टेपों में पत्रकार जिस तरह से आते हैं और लॉबिंग तथा दलाली में लिप्त होते हैं, उसके बारे में जानना सनसनीखेज से कहीं ज्यादा तकलीफदेह साबित हो सकता है। खासकर उन लोगों के लिए, जिनके मन में समाचार मीडिया को लेकर अब भी कुछ रुमानियत बाकी है, जो अब भी मानते हैं कि तमाम गड़बड़ियों के बावजूद समाचार मीडिया लोकतंत्र का चौथा स्तंभ है। इन टेप से यह बात भी निर्णायक रूप से साबित होती है कि चैनलों और अखबारों में जो छपता-दिखता है, उसका फैसला हमेशा मीडिया संस्थानों में नहीं होता।

इस कांड की सबसे पॉपुलर व्याख्या यह है कि मीडिया में कुछ मछलियां पूरे तालाब को गंदा कर रही हैं। मीडिया वैसे तो शानदार काम कर रहा है लेकिन कुछ लोग यहां गड़बड़ हैं जिनकी साजिश भरी हरकतों की वजह से मीडिया बदनाम हो रहा है। इस कांड को लेकर मीडिया की प्रतिक्रिया चुप्पी बरतने से लेकर कॉस्मेटिक किस्म के उपाय करने के दायरे में रही। इस कांड में लिप्त पाये गये पत्रकार आम तौर पर अपने पदों पर बने रहे, लेकिन कुछ पत्रकारों को नौकरी गंवानी पड़ी तो किसी का कॉलम बंद हुआ तो किसी को कुछ हफ्तों के लिए ऑफ एयर यानी पर्दे से दूर रखा गया। इसे व्यक्तिगत कमजोरी या गड़बड़ी या भ्रष्टाचार के तौर पर देखा गया। लेकिन राडिया कांड मीडिया के कुछ लोगों के बेईमान या भ्रष्ट हो जाने का मामला नहीं है। भारतीय समाचार मीडिया स्वामित्व की संरचना और कारोबारी ढांचे की वजह से कॉरपोरेट इंडिया का हिस्सा है। कॉरोपोरेट इंडिया के हिस्से के तौर पर यह काम करता है और इसी भूमिका के तहत मीडिया और मीडियाकर्मी दलाली भी करते हैं। मीडिया के काम और दलाल के रूप में इसकी भूमिका में कोई अंतर्विरोध नहीं है। कॉरपोरेट पत्रकार का कॉरपोरेट दलाल बन जाना अस्वाभाविक नहीं है।

वैसे भी इस बहस को राष्ट्रीय एजेंडे पर लाने की कोशिश हुई है कि लॉबिंग को कानूनी तौर पर मान्यता दे दी जाए। इसे भ्रष्टाचार के समाधान के तौर पर पेश किया जा रहा है। टेलीविजन पर इसे लेकर कार्यक्रम और बहसें हो रही हैं, लेख लिखे जा रहे हैँ। सीएनएन आईबीएन चैनल में इस बारे में आयोजित राजदीप सरदेसाई के एक कार्यक्रम में तो फर्जीवाड़ा करके यह बताने की कोशिश की गयी कि देश के लोग लॉबिंग को कानूनी रूप दिये जाने के समर्थक हैं। इसके लिए फर्जी ट्विटर एकाउंस से 5 मैसेज भेजे गये और सभी मैसेज लॉबिंग के पक्ष में थे। जब एक ब्लॉगर ने यह चोरी पकड़ ली और इंटरनेट पर इसे लेकर शोर मचने लगा, तो राजदीप सरदेसाई ने सॉरी कहकर मामले को निबटाने की कोशिश की और कहा कि कोशिश की जाएगी कि आगे ऐसी गलती न हो। यह मामला भूल-चूक का नहीं था, क्योंकि सभी फर्जी ट्विटर मैसेज लॉबिंग के समर्थन में भेजे गये थे।

यह राजदीप सरदेसाई की नीयत या बेईमानी का सवाल नहीं है। यह कोई गलती या चूक भी नहीं है। कॉरपोरेट मीडिया यही करता है क्योंकि वह यही कर सकता है। कॉरपोरेट सेक्टर अगर चाहता है कि लॉबिंग को कानूनी रूप दे दिया जाए तो मीडिया का दायित्व बन जाता है कि वह इसके लिए माहौल बनाए। अगर मीडिया ऐसा न करे, तो उसे अपवाद कहेंगे। कॉरपोरेट मीडिया भारत के उद्योग जगत के साथ एकाकार है और दोनों के हित भी साझा हैं।

यह छवियों के विखंडन का दौर है। एक सिलसिला सा चल रहा है, इसलिए कोई मूर्ति गिरती है तो अब शोर कम होता है। इसके बावजूद, 2010 में भारतीय मीडिया की छवि जिस तरह खंडित हुई, उसने दुनिया और दुनिया के साथ सब कुछ खत्म होने की भविष्यवाणियां करने वालों को भी चौंकाया होगा। 2010 को भारतीय पत्रकारिता की छवि में आमूल बदलाव के वर्ष के रूप में याद किया जाएगा। देखते ही देखते ऐसा हुआ कि पत्रकारिता का काम और पत्रकार सम्मानित नहीं रहे। वह बहुत पुरानी बात तो नहीं है जब मीडिया को लोकतंत्र का चौथा स्तंभ कहा जाता था। लेकिन आज कोई यह बात नहीं कह रहा है। कोई यह बात कह भी रहा है तो उसे पोंगापंथी करार दिया जा सकता है। मीडिया की छवि जनमाध्यमों में भी बदली है। एक समय था, जब फिल्मों में पत्रकार एक आदर्शवादी, ईमानदार शख्स होता था, जो अक्सर सच की लड़ाई लड़ता हुआ विलेन के हाथों मारा जाता था। अब पत्रकार मसखरा (आमिर खान की पीपली लाइव) है, विघ्नसंतोषी (अमिताभ बच्चन की पा) है, दुष्ट (रण) है। वह अमानत में खयानत करने के लिए आता है।

मीडिया का स्वरूप पिछले दो दशक में काफी बदल गया है। मीडिया देखते ही देखते चौथे खंभे की जगह, एक और धंधा बन गया। मीडिया को एंटरटेनमेंट इंडस्ट्री के साथ जोड़ दिया गया और पता चला कि भारत में यह उद्योग 58,700 करोड़ रुपये का है। अखबार और चैनल चलाने वाली कंपनियों का सालाना कारोबार देखते ही देखते हजारों करोड़ रुपये का हो गया। मुनाफा कमाना और मुनाफा बढ़ाना मीडिया उद्योग का मुख्य लक्ष्य बन गया। मीडिया को साल में विज्ञापनों के तौर पर साल में जितनी रकम मिलने लगी, वह कई राज्यों के सालाना बजट से ज्यादा है।

पर यह सब 2010 में नहीं हुआ। कुछ मीडिया विश्लेषक काफी समय से यह कहते रहे हैं कि भारतीय मीडिया का कॉरपोरेटीकरण हो गया है और अब उसमें यह क्षमता नहीं है कि वह लोककल्याणकारी भूमिका निभाये। भारत में उदारीकरण के साथ मीडिया के कॉरपोरेट बनने की प्रक्रिया तेज हो गयी और अब यह प्रक्रिया पूरी हो चुकी है। ट्रस्ट संचालित “द ट्रिब्यून” के अलावा देश का हर मीडिया समूह कॉरपोरेट नियंत्रण में है। पश्चिम के मीडिया के संदर्भ में चोमस्की, मैकचेस्नी, एडवर्ड एस हरमन, जेम्स करेन, मैक्वेल, पिल्गर और कई अन्य लोग यह बात कहते रहे हैं कि मीडिया अब कॉरपोरेट हो चुका है। अब भारत में भी मीडिया के साथ यह हो चुका है।

मीडिया का कारोबार बन जाना दर्शकों और पाठकों के लिए चौंकाने वाली बात हो सकती है, लेकिन जो लोग भी इस कारोबार के अंदर हैं या इस पर जिनकी नजर है, वे जानते हैं कि मीडिया की आंतरिक संरचना और उसका वास्तविक चेहरा कैसा है। लोकतंत्र में सकारात्मक भूमिका निभाने की अब मीडिया से उम्मीद भी नहीं है। चुनावों में मीडिया जनमत को प्रभावशाली शक्तियों और सत्ता के पक्ष में मोड़ने का काम करता है और इसके लिए वह पैसे भी वसूलता है। हाल के चुनावों में देखा गया कि अखबार और चैनल प्रचार सुनिश्चित करने के बदले में रेट कार्ड लेकर उम्मीदवारों और पार्टियों के बीच पहुंच गये और उसने खुलकर सौदे किये। मीडिया कवरेज के बदले कंपनियों से भी पैसे लेता है और नेताओं से भी। जब वह पैसे नहीं लेता है तो विज्ञापन लेता है। टाइम्स ऑफ इंडिया जैसे अखबार विज्ञापन के बदले पैसे नहीं लेते, बल्कि कंपनियों की हिस्सेदारी ले लेते हैं। इसे प्राइवेट ट्रिटी का नाम दिया गया है। मीडिया कई बार सस्ती जमीन और उपकरणों के आयात में ड्यूटी की छूट भी लेता है। सस्ती जमीन का मीडिया अक्सर कोई और ही इस्तेमाल करता है। प्रेस खोलने के लिए मिली जमीन पर बनी इमारतों में किराये पर दफ्तर चलते आप देश के ज्यादातर शहरों में देख सकते हैं।

मीडिया हर तरह की कारोबारी आजादी चाहता है और किसी तरह का सामाजिक उत्तरदायित्व नहीं निभाता, लेकिन 2008-09 की मंदी के समय वह खुद को लोकतंत्र की आवाज बताकर सरकार से राहत पैकेज लेता है। मंदी के नाम पर मीडिया को बढ़ी हुई दर पर सरकारी विज्ञापन मिले और अखबारी कागज के आयात में ड्यूटी में छूट भी मिली। लेकिन यह नयी बात नहीं है। यह सब 2010 से पहले से चल रहा था।

2010 में एक नयी बात हुई। एक पर्दा था, जो उठ गया। इस साल भारतीय मीडिया का एक नया रूप लोगों ने देखा। वैष्णवी कॉरपोरेट कम्युनिकेशंस की मालकिन नीरा राडिया दिल्ली की अकेली कॉरपोरेट दलाल या लॉबिइस्ट नहीं हैं। ऐसे कॉरपोरेट दलाल देश और देश की राजधानी में कई हैं। 2009 इनकम टैक्स विभाग ने नीरा राडिया के फोन टैप किये थे, जो लीक होकर बाहर आ गये। नीरा राडिया इन टेप में मंत्रियों, नेताओं, अफसरों और अपने कर्मचारियों के साथ ही मीडियाकर्मियों से भी बात करती सुनाई देती हैं। इन टेप को दरअसल देश में राजनीतिशास्त्र, जनसंचार, अर्थशास्त्र, मैनेजमेंट, कानून आदि के पाठ्यक्रम का हिस्सा बनाया जाना चाहिए। इन विषयों को सैकड़ों किताबे पढ़कर जितना समझा सकता है, उससे ज्यादा ज्ञान राडिया के टेपों में है।

क्या उम्मीद की कोई किरण है?

ऐसे समय में जब मीडिया पर भरोसा करना आसान नहीं रहा (अमेरिकी मीडिया के बारे में एक ताजा सर्वे यह बताता है कि वहां 63 फीसदी पाठक और दर्शक यह मानते हैं कि मीडिया भरोसे के काबिल नहीं है…) तब लोग क्या करें? यह मुश्किल समय है, इससे इनकार नहीं किया जा सकता। लेकिन इस दौर में नागरिक पत्रकारिता का एक नया चलन भी जोर पकड़ रहा है। एक महत्वपूर्ण बात यह है कि मीडिया-कॉरपोरेट और नेताओं के रिश्तों के बारे में अखबारों, पत्रिकाओं और चैनलों पर खबर आने से पहले ही राडिया कांड राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर चर्चा में आ चुका था। मास मीडिया को लेकर बहुचर्चित और प्रशंसित ‘एजेंडा सेटिंग थ्योरी’ यह कहती है कि मीडिया किसी मुद्दे पर सोचने के तरीके पर हो सकता है कि निर्णायक असर न डाल पाए लेकिन किन मुद्दों पर सोचना है, यह मीडिया काफी हद तक तय कर देता है। तो राडिया-मीडिया कांड में ऐसा कैसे हुआ कि मीडिया में कोई बात आये, उससे पहले ही वह बात लोकविमर्श में आ गयी। नीरा राडिया के बारे में मुख्यधारा के मीडिया में पहला लिखा हुआ शब्द ओपन मैगजीन ने छापा। टीवी पर इस बारे में पहला कार्यक्रम इसके बाद सीएनबीसी टीवी18 चैनल पर हुआ, जिसे करण थापर ने एंकर किया। इसके बाद द हिंदू ने इस बारे में पहले संपादकीय पन्ने पर और बाद में समाचारों के पन्ने पर सामग्री छापी। आउटलुक ने इस बारे में कई ऐसे तथ्य सामने लाये, जिनका ओपन ने भी खुलासा नहीं किया था। मेल टुडे और इंडियन एक्सप्रेस ने भी इस बारे में छापा। हिंदी मीडिया की बात करें, तो दैनिक भास्कर के दिल्ली संस्करण में दो पेज की सामग्री छापी गयी। एनडीटीवी ने बरखा दत्त को सफाई का मौका देने के लिए 47 मिनट का एक कार्यक्रम किया (एक घंटे का कार्यक्रम 13 मिनट पहले ही अचानक समेट दिया गया)। इससे पहले तक, जब मुख्यधारा के मीडिया में कोई भी राडिया-बरखा-वीर-चावला कांड को नहीं छाप/दिखा रहा था तो लोगों को इसकी खबर कैसे हो गयी और यह मुद्दा चर्चा में कैसे आ गया?

यह संभव हुआ इंटरनेट इस्तेमाल करने वालों की सक्रियता की वजह से। जब कॉरपोरेट मीडिया राडिया कांड के बारे में कुछ भी नहीं बता रहा था तो लोग इंटरनेट पर पत्रकारिता कर रहे थे और इस कांड से जुडी सूचनाएं एक दूसरे तक पहुंचा रहे थे। फेसबुक, ट्विटर, ब्लॉग, यूट्यूब आदि मंचों पर यह पत्रकारिता हुई। यह पत्रकारिता उन लोगों ने की जिन्होंने शायद कभी भी पत्रकारिता की पढ़ाई नहीं की थी, लेकिन जो किसी मसले को महत्वपूर्ण मान रहे थे और उससे जुड़ी सूचनाएं और लोगों तक पहुंचाना चाहते थे। यह नागरिक पत्रकारिता है। इसमें कोई गेटकीपर नहीं होता।

नागरिक पत्रकारिता ने दरअसल पत्रकारिता की विधा को लोकतांत्रिक बनाया है। इसमें पढ़ने या देखना वाला यानी संचार सामग्री का उपभोक्ता, सक्रिय भूमिका निभाने लगता है। पत्रकारिता के तिलिस्म को तोड़ने में इसकी बड़ी भूमिका है। ट्विटर और दूसरे सोशल नेटवर्किंग साइट के जरिए आज अपनी बात पहुंचाना पहले की तुलना में काफी आसान हो गया है। जो बात मुख्यधारा में नहीं कही जा सकती, वह इन माध्यमों के जरिए कही जा सकती है। परंपरागत पत्रकारिता के भारी तामझाम और खर्च से अलग यह नयी पत्रकारिता है।

पश्चिमी देशों में नयी मीडिया की ताकत टेक्नोलॉजी के विस्तार की वजह से बहुत अधिक है। अभी भारत में इंटरनेट शुरुआती दौर में है। इंटरनेट तक पहुंच के मामले में भारत दुनिया के सबसे दरिद्र देशों की लिस्ट में है। लेकिन भारत में भी इसकी ताकत बढ़ रही है। गूगल के अनुमान के मुताबिक, भारत में इस समय इंटरनेट के 10 करोड़ से ज्यादा उपभोक्ता है। चीन के 30 करोड़ और अमेरिका के 20.7 करोड़ की तुलना में यह संख्या छोटी जरूर है, लेकिन भारत इस समय इंटरनेट के सबसे तेजी से बढ़ते बाजारों में से एक है।

इसके आधार पर अंदाजा लगाया जा सकता है कि नागरिक पत्रकारिता का असर यहां भी बढ़ेगा। मुख्यधारा के मीडिया की सीमाएं हैं और वहां जगह न मिलने वाले समाचारों को इन वैकल्पिक माध्यमों में जगह मिलेगी। मुख्यधारा के मीडिया से अलग रह गये समुदायों के लिए भी यह वैकल्पिक मंच बनेगा। ऐसा होने लगा है। यह सही है कि ऐसा पहले शहरी क्षेत्रों में होगा और कम आय वर्ग वाले शुरुआती दौर में इस पूरी प्रक्रिया से बाहर रहेंगे। इसके बावजूद संचार माध्यमों में लोकतंत्र मजबूत होगा। प्रेस और चैनल की तुलना में यह कम खर्चीला माध्यम है।

इस तरह के वैकल्पिक माध्यमों को लेकर कुछ चिंताएं भी हैं। इस माध्यम की बढ़ती ताकत के साथ ही इंटरनेट पर कॉरपोरेट क्षेत्र का दखल भी बढ़ रहा है। ज्यादा संसाधनों के जरिए वे छोटे मंचों और नागरिक पत्रकारिता करने वालों की आवाज को दबाने की कोशिश करेंगे। प्रतिरोध को वे अपने दायरे में समेटने की कोशिश भी करेंगे। विकिलीक्स के मामले में दुनिया ने देखा कि लोकतांत्रिक कही जाने वाली सरकारों ने किस तरह सूचनाओं और सूचनाएं देने वालों का दमन करना चाहा। भारत में सरकार का चरित्र पश्चिम की सरकारों से ज्यादा अनुदार है और इंटरनेट पर पहरा बिठाने की कोशिश यहां भी होगी। सूचना और जनसंचार माध्यमों का लोकतांत्रिक होना समाज और देश के लोकतांत्रिक होने से जुड़ी प्रक्रिया है। इन उम्मीदों, चिंताओं और आशंकाओं को बीच ही मीडिया के संदर्भ में राडिया कांड को देखा और पढ़ा जाना चाहिए।

dilip mandal(दिलीप मंडल। सीनियर टीवी जर्नलिस्‍ट। सक्रिय फेसबुक एक्टिविस्‍ट। कई टीवी चैनलों में जिम्‍मेदार पदों पर रहे। इन दिनों अध्‍यापन कार्य से जुड़े हैं। उनसे पर संपर्क किया जा सकता है।)

I am a Kashmiri. I have not come here to talk politics. Kashmir's suffering is my suffering too: Rahul Gandhi-26/09/2011

Kashmir's suffering is my suffering too: Rahul Gandhi

Srinagar: "I am a Kashmiri. I have not come here to talk politics. The pain and suffering of this place is my suffering as well," Rahul Gandhi told university students at an interactive session here Monday.

Kashmir's suffering is my suffering too: Rahul Gandhi

The Congress general secretary is on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir to convince the youth to join the party.

"I am not here to make a political speech. I have come to learn and understand how best I can help the people here," he said.

"My grandmother was killed when I was just 14 and my father was killed when I was 21. Pain and suffering is not something I cannot understand", Gandhi said.

A large gathering of students listened patiently before the interactive session started at the Kashmir University.

Kashmir's suffering is my suffering too: Rahul Gandhi

In a visibly relaxed atmosphere, a student told him: "I lost my father when I was just five. Why don't you do something for us if you say you are also a Kashmiri? Kashmiri students are harassed and intimidated in other parts of the country where we go to pursue studies. Unemployment is growing and there are no avenues for professionals and educated people."

Rahul Gandhi took questions with a smile, though some of them were pointed and carried the anger of the local youth.

"I am not somebody who came here and will forget what you have told me. I will ensure that big corporate houses come here and create employment avenues in IT and other sectors.

"In a year or two, you will realize what I am promising you today was true. I have a Kashmiri origin and I deeply relate to that origin.

"I hold interactions with youth throughout the country as it is the youth who shall lead India to a better tomorrow," Gandhi said.

Kashmir's suffering is my suffering too: Rahul Gandhi

After his interaction with the students of Kashmir University, Rahul Gandhi paid obeisance at the nearby Hazratbal Shrine, which houses the holy relic of the Prophet Mohammad. Hazratbal is the holiest Muslim shrine of Jammu and Kashmir.

Earlier, he addressed a large gathering at the public park in Kargil town of Ladakh region.

Rahul Gandhi promised to use his clout to have the much-hyped tunnel made across the Zojilla Pass in Ladakh, which would ensure that the desert region of the state remains connected with the rest of the country year round.

Heavy snowfall in the Zojilla Pass blocks the Srinagar-Leh highway for nearly six months every year.

Source: IANS

Apple: Samsung got 'caught' mimicking iPad-Samsung has been accused by Apple of intentionally designing d Galaxy Tab 10.1 with the Apple iPad in mind

Apple: Samsung got 'caught' mimicking iPad

By: Luke Hopewell September 26, 2011 8:44 AM PDT

Samsung has been accused by Apple of intentionally designing the Galaxy Tab 10.1 with the Apple iPad in mind.

Presenting arguments to the New South Wales Federal Court today, Apple's lawyers alleged that Samsung has designed its Galaxy Tab 10.1 to look, feel and operate like the iPad and iPad 2 and, in this instance, has been caught in the act. Samsung will "have a go at launching a product and if they get caught out [infringing patents], they'll design around it," Apple's legal counsel said.

Apple originally took Samsung to court in Australia in August, claiming that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 infringed on patents used for the creation of the iPad. Samsung, for its part, claims that Apple was basing its case on the U.S. version of the device and offered up three Australian models for study, agreeing to push back the release of the device to market. Apple claims that the devices it received were hurriedly stripped of contested features in an attempt to dodge the litigation and enable the release of the product.

Read more of "Samsung accused of designing iPad clone" at ZDNet Australia.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Things to never do on Facebook-Your online interaction could cast long, dark shadows offline. Don’t make Facebook and Twitter your emotional gutter-

Things to never do on Facebook

Reema GehiReema Gehi, TNN | Sep 25, 2011, 09.00AM IST

Your online interaction could cast long, dark shadows offline. Don’t make Facebook and Twitter your emotional gutter.

There is a set of guidelines to follow in a relationship, and then there is another set to be followed when exposing your personal life on a social-networking site. A breach of these could result in the shocking tragedy of Malini Murmu, the 23-year-old IIM student who committed suicide after reading her former boyfriend's tactless status update: "Feeling super cool today. Dumped my new ex-girlfriend. Happy Independence Day."

The onus of Malini's actions does not rest solely on her ex-boyfriend's keyboard happiness; there is more to the matter than meets the eye. However, this is an immense cause of concern about the far-reaching effects social-networking sites can have on people's lives. Especially since people tend to have more 'courageous' online personalities than offline ones.

Clinical psychologist Alina Philip says, "Much like the media, social networking sites reach everybody. Therefore, we need to follow ethics and be extremely sensitive to what goes up on them. "

Admit it
As much as social networks allow us to stay connected with people across the demographics, they are partly superficial.

And we get to be pretentious. Most status updates and pictures are to show how witty you are, how much fun and interesting your life is, how deep you are - basically a concentrated effort to dictate a perception of the unique snowflake that is you.

While there is nothing wrong in this, tread carefully when relationships with others are involved. Making and maintaining relationships need effort, time and direct communication - and all of it invested offline.

Clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Varkha Chulani, says, "There's a fine line between sharing of information and emotional exhibition." "Love you darling. Muah", "Thanks for last night", "We need to talk" and "I think your sister is fat" does not need to make it on the Wall. These conversations are best had person to person. And if this is not the kind of thing you would say to his/her face, it makes it all the more cowardly to say it online.

Like Philip says, "Would you go to the middle of Azad Maidan screaming that you have broken up? Then why publicise on Facebook? Your personal space is your personal space. Respect it. Do not make a mockery out of it. Maintain the sanity of your relationship."

This extends to changes in relationship messages. From Single to Taken to It's complicated, it's less of sharing of good news and more of hungering for attention. Wouldn't it be wiser to decide on the status of your relationship after you've finished fighting and decided mutually on it?

Also announcing the cementing of your relationship through status change can be awkward if you have not had 'the talk' offline first. Otherwise ABC is happily 'in a relationship' with XYZ, but XYZ hasn't really changed her status from Single.

Be a suit
Taking office gossip and team rivalry online will not reflect well on your resume. Even here, it is better if you solve your problems face-to-face rather than resort to vague sarcastic comments on their status messages and photos.

And no matter how bad your day has been, don't bitch about a client or boss on your blog and Twitter. You may have a friend who knows a friend, who knows the boss. Besides, your future employers could be online and they will think twice about hiring a person with no discretion.

Keep it positive
A rule of thumb is to announce only the positive - a new job, a celebration or new degree. Steer clear of washing dirty linen in public. Do not talk about your bad day at work or your unpleasant marriage. Remember: 500 friends of friends do not need to know.

Pictures have ceased to be snapshots for posterity and grown into frames of exhibitionism. And here you need to be more careful. What seemed funny when you were drunk and in college, will not be as ticklish when you land a job, or when you wake up sober. When the pictures are of somebody else, the responsibility is greater.

You do not know what could land a friend or colleague into trouble and it is best to avoid uploading any picture or video that brings even a shadow of doubt. Happy smiling family pictures may be boring, but they are less likely to land you in a lawsuit.

Pictures of you with your arm around a bikini-clad babe, or shirtless dude after a break-up point less to you being cool and more to you being lame. "This reflects that you are providing solace to yourself that you have a good life, while revealing emotional instability," says Chulani.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A fast-growing India can expand the boundaries of global economy/Will help rebuild Afghanistan: PM at UN-25/9/11

India’s growth can expand global economy: PM at UN

Varghese K George , Hindustan Times

United Nations, September 24, 2011

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addresses the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York.

Showcasing India’s economic growth and clout, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) that “a fast-growing India can expand the boundaries of global economy.” Despite a global financial crunch, India is growing at close to 8 per cent, second only to

* Will help rebuild Afghanistan: PM at UN


Addressing the UNGA after a gap of three years, the PM said trends in US, Japan and Europe are “affecting confidence in world financial and capital markets.”

Singh said declining global demand and availability of capital, increasing trade barriers and mounting debts are threatening the international system.

“Questions are being asked about the efficacy of the Bretton Woods institutions (International Monetary Fund and World Bank),” he told the UNGA.

The prime minister warned against protectionist measures as a response to the global economic crisis, which he said has “deepened even further,” since 2008, “in many respects.”

Calling for better coordination of macro economic policies of major economies, Singh said: “We should not allow the global economic slowdown to become a trigger for building walls around ourselves through protectionism or erecting barriers to movement of people, services and capital.”

Singh, widely considered a votary of globalisation, called the attention of world leaders to its flipside.

“Today we are being called upon to cope with the negative dimensions of... globalisation and global interdependence."

He said the world had taken for granted the benefits of globalisation and it is time the UN asserted its development agenda to “ensure balanced, inclusive and sustainable development for vast sections of humanity.”

Singh also made a pitch for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council for India, calling for “reform and expansion of the Council to reflect contemporary reality… and enhance its credibility”.

The PM also made a strong rebuttal of the Western military intervention in Libya to dislodge Muammar Gaddafi, saying “societies cannot be reordered from outside through military force.”

India has been critical of military attacks under the ‘right to protect’ doctrine that allows international intervention to protect civilians even at the cost of national sovereignty.

The NATO-led attacks on Libya in March was the first time the 2005-doctrine played out in a conflict theatre.

Bihar to raise discount on sale of Khadi clothes from 10 per cent to 20 per cent on the centenary year in Bihar-Sep 24,2011

Bihar to raise discount on sale of Khadi clothes

PTI | 07:09 PM,Sep 24,2011

Patna, Sep 24 (PTI) Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today announced that the Bihar government would increase the discount on sale of Khadi clothes from 10 per cent to 20 per cent on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti. "We have decided to double the discount on Khadi from 10 per cent to 20 per cent on the centenary year in Bihar," Kumar said while addressing the 87th foundation day of Akhil Bharatiya Charkha Sangh here. He also advocated for revival and renovation of 82 committees and organisations which were existing in Bihar."We will give a grant of Rs 50 crore for the purpose," Kumar said. Chief Minister said the state government would give separate grants for modernisation of Loom, 'Charkha'. The state government would also take all possible steps for reformation in the designs of Khadi and would work with the national-level institute for modern designs, he said."The government will also tap market for Khadi," he said. Kumar asked the 'Khadi Gramyodyog Board' Chairman Tripurai Sharan and Industry department's Principal Secretary C K Mishra to take effective steps to evolve an action plan for creation of job avenues in Khadi Gramodyog and place the action plan before the Agriculture cabinet for approval. PTI AJK SUS

Bihar has caught the eye of people abroad: Sushil Kumar Modi/

Bihar has caught the eye of people abroad: Sushil Kumar Modi

Abhay SinghAbhay Singh, TNN | Sep 25, 2011, 12.42AM IST

PATNA: The economic and other transformations happening in Bihar under the Nitish government have caught the imagination of scholars and decision-makers in the developing countries of the Afro-Asian region, including terror-torn Pakistan, as well as developed Europe.

Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi, chairman of the empowered committee of state's finance ministers on goods and service tax (GST), said this here on Friday after his return from an official tour of four countries of the European Union as head of 40-member Indian delegation. He, during his extended tour as an individual invitee to a global meet held in London, addressed the plenary session of an international conference jointly organized by London School of Economics (LSE) and Oxford University on September 20 under the aegis of International Growth Centre (IGC).

IGC had selected the theme of "Transformation to Developed State by 2015: Challenges Ahead" for discussion by Modi and others. The discussions were also marked by an interactive session. Over 350 delegates from 12 countries, besides scholars and policymakers, took part in it. Prior to the plenary session, the participants held discussions and shared experiences over the dominant theme "From Failed State to Effective State" for three days.

Modi added, "Bihar is on the mind of people internationally. It became evident when a Pakistani delegate at the IGC plenary session invited me to her country. She requested me to speak on the transformations happening in Bihar. She told me people in Pakistan would like to share my experiences about Bihar on building an effective state."

"The request made me feel that Bihar had finally begun to move towards its goal and a position in the category of developed states within India. More than that, we have become a model and an inspiration for many Third World countries," Modi said.

Modi said that wherever he went around Europe and UK, people of Indian origin inquired with dismay about the general situation in India, including scams, and changes occurring in Bihar. In one curious case, Modi's taxi driver, who had seen TV footage and clippings on the recent police lathi charge on women at Noorsarai in Nalanda district, asked him about it.

"I was not even aware of the incident. People come to know about India and also Bihar through global media," Modi said, adding: "But Bihar, with all its inherent problems, was high in popular esteem."

Nitish Kumar to launch his Seva Yatra in November-

Nitish Kumar to launch his Seva Yatra in November

* Advani's rath yatra plan stuns BJP GenNext
* BJP works out details of Advani's proposed yatra
* Baba Ramdev begins his anti-graft yatra in UP
* Team Anna slams political yatras 'against graft'

Amidst announcements of a series of yatras by various politicians and activists in the country, now Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has also decided to launch one in his state.

Kumar on Tuesday announced to go on a Seva Yatra in November marking first anniversary of his re-election to the office he heads.

The chief minister plans to camp in all districts of the state for three days during the yatra, which was expected to last more than 100 days.

His yatra would be an attempt to get a first-hand assessment of the development work his government has been doing. Kumar's supporters feel that it was his way of keeping a hand on the pulse of the people.

Earlier, senior BJP leader L.K. Advani announced to begin a yatra against corruption soon after Anna Hazare made it public that he and his associates intended to travel across the nation to create awareness against corruption. Even before they could act, yoga guru Baba Ramdev embarked on a 1 lakh km long yatra from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday.
Post comments on this story

Patna | September 22, 2011
Nitish ji has already done a good job. He needs to continue with it with greater gusto, as there are areas where greater thrust is required. His proposed yatra may not yield the desired fruit. People believe in the work rather in showbiz.

Read more at:

3-day fast rocks 30-year bond-Narendra Modi owes his political existence to Advani , who promoted him all along and solidly stood by hisprotege25/9/11

3-day fast rocks 30-year bond

Ajay Umat & Harit MehtaAjay Umat & Harit Mehta, TNN | Sep 25, 2011, 07.00AM IST

It was during the dark days of Emergency of 1975 that a dynamic 25-year-old RSS pracharak came in contact with LK Advani , then a top leader of Jan Sangh . Lalji , as LK Advani is known in his close circles , instantly recognized the organizing skills of this go-getter , who would later emerge as one of BJP's tallest and the most controversial leaders . Narendra Modi owes his political existence to Advani , who promoted him all along and solidly stood by his protege in every single crisis he faced .

The relationship flourished as Modi continued to impress Advani time and again . The defining moment Modi's career came when he masterminded BJP's thumping victory in the Ahmedabad civic body elections in 1987 - it was for the first time the party tasted power in Gujarat's No. 1 city .

An old timer recalls how Modi left a group of top leaders spellbound when he bared the gameplan for Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation polls . Some of them gave a detailed account of Modi's presentation to Advani .

In 1991, it was Modi who suggested to Advani that he should contest for Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar , having lost the last elections from New Delhi in 1984. Gandhinagar was until then represented by Modi's peerturned-foe Shankersinh Vaghela . It was a masterstroke as BJP cadres got charged up in the state and Vaghela was relegated to the fringes . The relationship grew with Advani frequently visiting Gujarat after becoming an MP from the state .

The clincher was yet to come . This was the time when the Babri movement was gaining momentum . Advani shared with Modi the idea of reviving Somnath temple as an epitome of Islamic oppression over Hindus and a symbol of Muslim invasions . The idea soon took form of a rathyatra , which changed Indian politics in an irreversible way . Modi was chosen as Advani's 'sarthi' , who minutely planned his mentor's rathyatra in Gujarat .

BJP gained enormously , especially in Gujarat . The party , which dumped Chimanbhai Patel-led Janata Dal , stormed to power with two-thirds majority in 1995. While Keshubhai Patel nudged Vaghela out of the CM's race , Advani added a third angle - Modi was made the party's general secretary in charge of organization .

It was with Advani's blessings that Modi emerged as a 'super CM' even as he ran the government from the back seat . Complaints against Modi were stonewalled by Advani till Vaghela's dramatic 'Khajuraho revolt ' which led to the fall of Keshubhai government in 1996. All anti-Modi forces within BJP identified the 'super CM' as the source of all trouble . It was almost decided that Modi be sent to BJP's Assam unit . T he mentor saved the day for his shishya and minimized the damage by negotiating a Punjab-H aryana-H i m a c h a l P r a d e s h posting for M o d i , w h o used the opportunity to develop a pan-I ndia network . Vaghela's Rashtriya Janata Dal was crushed in 1998 as Keshubhai was sworn in as CM for the second term - a period ridden with droughts , Kandla cyclone and a Kutch quake which shook the foundation of his government . The last straw was BJP's defeat in five successive assembly by-elections including Sabarmati , which fell in Advani's parliamentary constituency . When dissidence grew against Keshubhai , Advani pitch-forked his shishya to the CM's chair . Modi landed in Gandhinagar out of the blue in October 2001. Till then , Modi had not contested a single election and had no administrative experience . But, Advani's lobbying got him the top job much to the chagrin of senior party leadership . When the riots took place in early 2002, Lalji continued to back his man when many senior partymen , including the then prime minister AB Vajpayee and Gujarat governor Sundar Singh Bhandari , wanted to show Modi the door . As union home minister , Advani vehemently defended Modi and police action in the parliament .

The first cracks in the threedecade-old relationship surfaced in 2005 when Modi maintained a stoic silence during Jinnah controversy when Advani was under severe attack from the RSS . Tension grew further when during mid-way of the campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls in 2009, Modi began projecting himself as a proxy PM candidate , as few expected Manmohan Singh to come back to power . Next , came a series of public meetings in Gujarat when crowds , after having heard Modi with rapt attention , would leave en masse just when Advani rose as the last speaker .

Matters came to a head in the first week of September . Advani discussed his proposed anti-corruption yatra with Modi in detail , including the possible locations to flag it off. Advani had suggested that the yatra should begin on October 2 from the Mahatma's birthplace , Porbandar . As he was waiting for Modi's word , the ageing mentor was taken by surprise when he heard about Modi's Sadbhavana Mission . Advani took this in his stride as he was heard praising Modi at the 3-day Sadbhavana fast , where the Gujarat CM projected himself as a statesman acceptable to everybody . Once the fast was over , Modi conveyed to Advani that he should start his yatra from Bihar . Plus, the RSS advised Advani to stay out of the PM race .

The guru has now hit back by ending a 20-year streak of being at Somnath , to commemorate the launch of his first rathyatra . Modi, who had planned a big rally on the same day , came to know from the newspapers that Advani had also refused to attend the Somnath trust meeting , of which both are members , on September 30. The bigger shock came when Advani decided to extend an invitation to the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar , another PM candidate who dislikes Modi, to flag off his rathyatra on October 11.

Apart from a breakdown in a 30-year-old relationship , it is also a game-plan in power-play for year 2014 which has gone awry for Modi.

Narendra Modi vs Nitish Kumar/Nitish Kumar to flag off Advani's 'rath yatra'in Bihar-September 24, 2011

Nitish Kumar to flag off Advani's 'rath yatra'

Press Trust of India, Updated: September 24, 2011 20:33 IST

Patna: Putting at rest speculation over his participation in senior BJP leader L K Advani's 'rath yatra' in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today announced he would flag off the event from Sitab Diara in Saran district on October 11 to mark birth anniversary of Jay Prakash Narayan.

Hinting at the controversy surrounding Home Minister P Chidambaram in 2G spectrum row, Mr Kumar urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to clarify his position before the people.

"I will go to Sitab Diara, the birth place of late Jay Prakash Narayan and flag off Advaniji's yatra against corruption on October 11," Mr Kumar told reporters.

He said BJP President Nitin Gadkari had contacted him over phone three days ago and he accepted Mr Gadkari's request to flag-off the yatra.

"It is a matter of happiness that Mr Advani is embarking on the yatra from the village of Lok Nayak Jay Prakash against corruption. I also welcome Mr Advani," the chief minister said.

To a question on 2G controversy and Mr Chidambaram, the chief minister said the Prime Minister should clarify his position before the people of India.

"There is an air of confusion among the people of the country about what were the notes sent to the Prime Minister from the Union Finance Ministry," he said.

Mr Kumar said what had happened during UPA-II was "slowly being uncovered" with the "details of several agreements coming up day after day."

On Bihar, Mr Kumar claimed properties of corrupt public servants were being confiscated and schools opened after taking legal action under Bihar Special Court Act.

Nitish Kumar to flag off Advani's 'rath yatra'in Bihar-it was perfectly- timed with the UPA-II government facing several scams. September 24, 2011

Nitish Kumar to flag off Advani's 'rath yatra'

Press Trust of India, Updated: September 24, 2011 20:33 IST

Patna: Putting at rest speculation over his participation in senior BJP leader L K Advani's 'rath yatra' in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today announced he would flag off the event from Sitab Diara in Saran district on October 11 to mark birth anniversary of Jay Prakash Narayan.

Hinting at the controversy surrounding Home Minister P Chidambaram in 2G spectrum row, Mr Kumar urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to clarify his position before the people.

"I will go to Sitab Diara, the birth place of late Jay Prakash Narayan and flag off Advaniji's yatra against corruption on October 11," Mr Kumar told reporters.

He said BJP President Nitin Gadkari had contacted him over phone three days ago and he accepted Mr Gadkari's request to flag-off the yatra.

"It is a matter of happiness that Mr Advani is embarking on the yatra from the village of Lok Nayak Jay Prakash against corruption. I also welcome Mr Advani," the chief minister said.

To a question on 2G controversy and Mr Chidambaram, the chief minister said the Prime Minister should clarify his position before the people of India.

"There is an air of confusion among the people of the country about what were the notes sent to the Prime Minister from the Union Finance Ministry," he said.

Mr Kumar said what had happened during UPA-II was "slowly being uncovered" with the "details of several agreements coming up day after day."

On Bihar, Mr Kumar claimed properties of corrupt public servants were being confiscated and schools opened after taking legal action under Bihar Special Court Act.

Old age home for gays comes up in Gujarat village- Sep 24, 2011

Old age home for gays comes up in Gujarat village

PTI | Sep 24, 2011, 09.23PM IST

VADODARA: An old age home for gay men, perhaps the first such centre in Asia, has come up in neighbouring Narmada district of Gujarat.

The old age home at Hanmenteshwar village, located on the banks of Narmada river, was inaugurated yesterday and named after late American writer Janet who generously donated funds for the project.

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, main architect behind the project, said, "I decided to name it after Janet as she had contributed a lot in its set up. She was like any other ordinary person... and that added more beauty to the project, which was initiated in 2009."

The centre was inaugurated by Janet's sister Carlafine, who accompanied by her husband, flew down from US for this purpose.

Gohil belongs to the royal family of former princely state of Rajpipla. He is the only known person of royal lineage in modern India to have publicly revealed that he is a gay.

"The home can accommodate 50 elderly homosexuals," said Gohil, scion of the 650-year-old Rajpipla dynasty.

The project has been developed under the auspices of Lakshya Trust, a community-based organisation founded by Gohil, known as India's gay prince, to provide support and promote HIV/AIDS prevention among gay men.

Gohil hoped his project would remove misgivings about homosexuals and help in promoting a society where people from different sexual orientation can co-exist peacefully.

He said he was happy that a priest of a temple located near the home attended the inauguration ceremony along with his family which is a "good sign" and indicated towards changing mindsets.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Presenting a new and improved Bihar 23 September 2011

Q&A with Founder of ‘I Paid a Bribe,’ India’s Anti-Corruption Online Movement-21/9/11

In Asia: Weekly Insight and Features from Asia

The Asia Foundation
In Asia Collage

Q&A with Founder of ‘I Paid a Bribe,’ India’s Anti-Corruption Online Movement

September 21, 2011

India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with an average GDP growth of about 9 percent over the past several years. Yet corruption remains a pressing problem in the nation of 1.2 billion – Transparency International ranked India 87th out of 178 countries on perceptions of transparency and integrity last year – and a serious drag on the economy and society at large. Meanwhile, the Jan Lokpal Bill, an anti-corruption proposal which has received significant public support and media attention in recent months, reveals a society that is increasingly frustrated over the corruption they see their government representatives engaged in. Ordinary citizens are increasingly raising their voice through innovative social media outlets like, a website that allows citizens to report bribes they were forced to pay. The public response has been overwhelming, with over 14,300 reports across 453 cities and 21 governmental departments recorded since it started in 2010. The Asia Foundation’s Economic Reform and Development program fellow, Katherine Loh, spoke with T.R. Raghunandan, the founder behind the initiative, to discuss its role in curbing corruption in India.

Why is tackling corruption such an important issue in India?

Corruption has a huge economic cost in India. First, where there is corruption, it makes legitimate transactions difficult. Second, it perpetuates mis-governance by destroying any incentive for the government to reduce red tape. As long as systems are slow and convoluted, government officials and politicians can demand bribes to make life easier. Third, it creates a system where distrust pervades our everyday life; where we are suspicious of our government and it is suspicious of us in turn. Fourth, the widespread manifestation of “petty” corruption breaks the spirit of ordinary people, who lose the stomach to fight and get used to enduring bad services and paying bribes to procure them. And, the fact that corruption creates wealth for a few through unjustified means also erodes our values and damages our lives in many ways.

What inspired you to start

The idea of emerged three years ago and has evolved over time. It started with a discussion between the co-founders of Janaagraha, Ramesh, and Swati Ramanathan and a board member, Sridar Iyengar, as a simple means of tracking the market price of corruption. This was more humorous than anything else. In fact, two years back, a small experimental website was put up to test the concept. Then over time, we worked on the idea extensively and added a lot more features, mainly to channel people’s views and provide advisory services to them such as FAQs. We launched the new website in August 2010.

How has rising internet penetration in India enabled IPAB to function as a platform for improving governance?

In India, we are witnessing a phenomenon by which the internet has become a rallying point for mass movements against corruption. has been at the forefront of this phenomenon, because we provide space for citizens to report their stories and experiences with corruption. However, we do recognize that we can only reach people who have access to the internet – still the minority in India. However, this number is likely to grow rapidly and therefore, our influence is likely to spread even more. We are also working on developing a mobile interface through which people can report their stories, including in local languages. However, the internet can only facilitate a demand-driven movement for better governance. Content is very important and that is what we believe is a challenge; to separate the wheat from the chaff on the internet, so to speak, and make specific recommendations to improve governance by reducing red tape and increasing transparency.

What are your thoughts on the debate around the hotly debated Lokpal Bill?

The Lokpal Bill proposes to establish a potentially powerful anti-corruption institution, but its scope is limited to acts of corruption committed by public servants. To me, while the Lokpal Bill will be a significant and important step forward, unless we broaden the definition of what constitutes “corruption” under Indian law, many corrupt practices will still slip under the radar. Concentrating on cleansing the public sector alone without controlling the corruption rampant in the private sector will have a limited effect because the private sector will continue to contaminate the private sector. Another weakness in India is that we do not have an asset recovery law; therefore earnings of the corrupt are not compulsorily forfeited to the government.

India needs to align itself with an internationally accepted, stricter standard of defining corruption. In international practice, corruption amounts to much more than bribery of public servants. The UN Convention Against Corruption (2005) recognizes 12 circumstances that amount to acts of corruption. Some of those, such as bribery in the private sector, bribing a foreign national in another country, and concealment of wealth, to name a few, are not considered crimes in India. Now that India has ratified the convention, we will need to strengthen several laws, such as the Benami Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, to better detect, prevent, and punish corruption.

As of Sept. 14, 2011, IPAB showed that Rs. 491,043,426 (US $10.3 million) in bribes has been paid. So, what is the market price for corruption?

The original idea was that the website could become a simple means of tracking the market price of corruption – a kind of market mandi ( Hindi word for business or market) price prediction mechanism. However, the afterthought was that such an effort could be much more powerful. The website has moved beyond only giving the market price for corruption to undertaking detailed analysis of process workflows, identifying corruption prone processes, and suggesting reforms that eliminate these.

IPAB informs visitors that their reports “will, perhaps for the first time, provide a snapshot of bribes occurring across your city.” What are the most common institutions people pay bribes to? Have you seen any changes at all in these institutions (or at least an expressed willingness to correct the problem), or better yet, any impact on governance as a result of the data you’ve captured?

Most bribes are paid to the police department. However, these are minor, petty bribes rarely exceeding Rs. 1,000. In the Department of Stamps and Registration however, larger sums of money are paid in bribes, making it one of the most corrupt departments.

IPAB believes in systemic change and hence our solutions lie more on taking the processes online and terminating human interface and thereby reducing corruption. We also believe in educating citizens on government processes and services and think that government websites can be a vital source of such information – provided it is informative, detailed, and user-friendly.

We are willing to work hand in hand with the government in order to design systems, write new regulations, and help design similar reforms. Since the government has many good people working within it, reactions to our work have been positive. For example, through our findings on the Transport Department of Bangalore and subsequent engagement with then Transport Commissioner, Mr. Bhaskar Rao, we have helped the department revamp its citizen charters as well as redesign its website to make it more user-friendly. We have continued our engagement with officers to reduce corruption in the department.

More recently, this June we were invited by the Chief Secretary of Karnataka to make a presentation before the officials from the Transport Department, Department of Stamps and Registration and Electricity Supply. The presentation focused on corruption in these departments and possible recommendations to reducing such corruption. This was a real highlight for all of us at IPAB.

Based on many of the reports posted on, it seems that the culture of bribery is perpetuated by a public that often believes that it cannot get anything done without paying. How does one go about breaking this cycle?
It’s true. Corruption has become even a behavioural issue to a great extent. People have become habituated towards paying bribes and accept it to be part and parcel of society. The need for change must come from within each individual and only then can we expect the menace of corruption to reduce. That can happen through a variety of ways. Deterrents such as improved vigilance and stringent punishments can increase the perception of risk and people will desist from corruption. But that is not a complete solution. Simplifying processes does away with bottlenecks and therefore reduces the number of corruption prone processes. Finally, it’s like littering; when a critical mass of people is found to be not corrupt, then the others conform to that behaviour.

You also have a feature called “I didn’t pay a bribe,” where people can tell their stories of refusing to pay bribes. How has this worked so far?

Corruption in our country also persists because of citizens’ lack of education and awareness of government processes and services. Hence, we have a FAQ section which provides answers on how to procure various government services. We also have the 10 commandments on how to resist paying bribes. These are simple yet effective methods which have been compiled from citizen responses on the website. In this way, we embolden the people to stand up to corrupt officials.

How does this technology-driven approach to combating corruption fill a void where traditional methods of fighting corruption have been less successful?

Although technology penetration in India is limited, it has managed to create a great impact, especially with the middle class and the youth. As mentioned earlier, India is witnessing a phenomenon by which the net has become a rallying point for mass movements against corruption. This opportunity needs to be leveraged in order to get the best out of the situation. The urban Indian, often said to be the “cynical Indian,” is in most cases tech savvy. A technology-driven approach can tap into this population. Social media like Facebook and Twitter have brought the people of the world a lot closer. However, the real impact will be seen when we move into using mobile phones to tackle corruption.

When you launched last August, did you get push back from anyone who might benefit from such bribes?

No. We received a very good response not only from the public, but the government as well.

Similar initiatives are popping up in China and other countries inspired by your site. What advice would you give to others who would like to emulate your idea in other countries?

We feel proud that we are considered a role model in China. We believe that the basic idea behind our website, of getting people involved in a citizens’ effort to reduce corruption, can be used elsewhere too. For that, we have prepared a collaboration policy that we offer to interested groups in other countries. So far, citizens and NGOs from 12 countries have approached us for assistance and we are in discussions with them. The key to success is to provide a basket of services to both the people and the government, and to constantly evolve new strategies to use communication services optimally for creating a swarm-like resistance to corruption. We also believe that not only is it important to provide a space to citizens, but we must also educate them on the techniques of resisting corruption. It is also important to work with the government, because there will always be good people within the government who are willing to tackle corruption effectively by getting rid of red tape and simplifying procedures.

Right now, the site is primarily for urban corruption. Are there plans to make this platform available to the rural sector (or those who may not have easy access to computers or the internet) via mobile technology?

It’s true that rural residents in India for the most part don’t have access to the internet. While IPAB may have made its mark online, we are acutely aware that we are accessible only to 6 percent of the Indian population. Our next step is to take our services to larger numbers of people through mobile devices.

You also founded Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy, a non-profit organization that works toward improving the urban quality of life by increasing citizen participation in government. How has this project been going?

Janaagraha has several different programs, ranging from increasing voter turnout in local, state, and urban elections and empowering citizens, to creating safer neighborhoods and holding local governments and elected representatives accountable for providing public goods and services. The most significant success for Janaagraha has been the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). Janaagraha lobbied for an ambitious urban initiative at the national level, and played a key role in the design of the mission. JNNURM is the largest urban initiative in India’s history with a huge funding program for 65 cities. Two of the reforms in JNNURM namely Citizen Participation Law and Public Disclosure Law have been crafted by Janaagraha.

Read more about Janaagraha’s programs.

Topics: Corruption | International development | Technology & Development

Countries: India

Thursday, September 22, 2011

HC rejects PILs seeking recovery of fast costs from GUJRAT CM, citing newspaper articles that Rs 60 crore was spent for the function.- 22/9/11

HC rejects PILs seeking recovery of fast costs from CM

TNN | Sep 22, 2011, 05.15AM IST

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court on Wednesday rejected two PILs demanding recovery of money spent on the three-day event of Sadbhavana fast from chief minister Narendra Modi. The judges refused to entertain the PILs and dubbed them "premature" and lacking credible information. One Vikalp Trust and a self-professed businessman Rajesh Mota moved the high court citing newspaper articles that Rs 60 crore was spent for the function.

And if it was not a public function, the amount should be recovered from the chief minister Modi. After the government pleader Prakash Jani argued that these PILs were not maintainable because the mandatory provision that if PIL is to be filed on basis of newspaper report, the information is required to be tested personally by the litigant. This was not done in these cases.

Hence the PILs should be dismissed, argued Jani The litigants tried to convince the court that they would cross-verify the details and come up with the information during next hearing, but court was not ready to grant them time. Instead, the bench of acting Chief Justice A L Dave and Justice J B Pardiwala showed them a newspaper article stating that the petitioner trust had filed the PIL to gain cheap publicity. By pointing out to this article, the judges said that should the court take cognizance of it.

When the lawyers argued on veracity of the article, the judges commented, "Do not rush to court like this with newspaper cuttings. Don't think that we are averse to public interest litigation. We are equally concerned. We take cognizance of a postcard and initiate PIL proceedings-...But you should have tested the information first."

When the court expressed inclination of imposing fine on litigants, the lawyers requested to withdraw the PILs. The high court disposed of the PIL and made oral remarks, "Had we thrown away your petitions directly, it would have given an impression that the court is coloured."

Catch 32: Poor, and well below misery line-Sep 22, 2011

Catch 32: Poor, and well below misery line

TNN | Sep 22, 2011, 06.12AM IST

The poor can't have a life. That's what Planning Commission's new definition of urban poverty implies in Delhi. In order to keep body and soul together on Rs 32 per day - the per-person spending limit for being judged poor - in these times of double-digit food inflation, they must forgo other necessities like a roof above their heads. The bus ticket is a luxury, and education for children a vain hope. When medical emergencies arise, two square meals become an indulgence and debts mount. Jayashree Nandi & Prerna Sodhi take a look at life near the new poverty line


Lugging 30kg domestic gas cylinders up floors is not a job for someone his age, but Jha still does it to support his large family. He earns around Rs 1,500 a month but after paying Rs 800 as rent, his income is not enough to see the household through the month. "Fortunately, one of my sons started working recently and he is also contributing to the family's finances. That helps pay my grandchildren's tuition fees and our expenditure on food. I can't imagine a person living on Rs 32 these days. Just a cup of tea costs between Rs 5 and Rs 7 here," he says. Jha's family of 12 spends around Rs 2,000 per month on tuition fee and food. He charges Rs 3 to deliver one cylinder and manages to deliver 15 to 18 cylinders in a day.


Singh says he spends more than Rs 32 on his baby alone everyday, "for his milk and his food" . Another Rs 1,500 goes towards rent. Having spent two years in Delhi, Singh says he finds the city expensive. He now spends Rs 1,800 per month on food and says the cost has been shooting up due to inflation. "The cost of vegetables has been particularly high. At least food should be within reach of the poor." With villagers steadily migrating to Delhi for livelihood, Singh worries about the future. "From whatever I earn everyday, I have to pay Rs 40 to my employer. In winter, we have no option but to go back to the village because there is no work here. So, I feel the Rs 32 benchmark for determining poverty is unjustified," he says.



A prefabricated bridge section, open to rain and wind on two sides, is home to these brothers' 10-member family. Saving money is out of the question, and with no hope of paying off their rising debt that's already exceeded Rs 15,000, they often go without a meal. Two sisters in the family suffer from psychological conditions that need regular medication, but keeping everyone fed is more important. "We go hungry when we can't buy a meal. How did the government arrive at the Rs 32 limit?" says Khayum. They spend around Rs 150 per day on their meagre meals comprising mainly chapatis or rice with some vegetables or pulses. And when the earning brothers are sick, the family runs up some more debts at the grocer's . Their biggest dread? The day construction starts on the bridge and they are made to leave.


There is no way she can bring her family's daily expenditure below Rs 100, says Shanti Devi. The street food vendor has been passing through a really bad patch ever since her husband met with an accident and stopped earning. Her two sons have grown up eating only the oily fare she sells from her stall near Angoori Bagh - bread pakoras and paranthas with tea. The sole breadwinner of her family, she earns Rs 150 a day. But when she fell sick recently, her daily medical expenditure also added up to the same amount. "To eat, or fill up your stomach with medicines? That is the dilemma that my family goes through often," she says. Inflation has affected this vendor most cruelly. While she is trying hard to break out of poverty, price rise is making things difficult.


"Just Rs 32? I spend Rs 40 daily just to buy milk for my four children. Even the most ordinary rice costs at least Rs 20 these days. And I am not even counting other expenses like travel, education and rent," says Tiwari, who has a kachori stall near Yamuna Vihar. The family of six pays a rent of Rs 1,500 a month for a room in Sonia Vihar. The children's education at a private school costs Rs 275 each. "Most of the time we are under debt and cannot manage small expenses," says Tiwari, who came to Delhi two years back with the hope of earning more than what his farmer father ekes out of their land in UP. But it is a rare month when he can send some money back home, and then it is not more than Rs 500

A migrant who came to Delhi two-and-a-half years ago for his livelihood, Suleiman is one disappointed man. Not only is his income meagre, he finds himself reduced to a social outcast. The Rs 50 or so he earns in a day pays for his meals but there's little left over to send his daughter back in the village. Suleiman can't afford to pay rent and stays under an overbridge near Angoori Bagh with other ragpickers. "A roadside meal in Delhi does not cost less than Rs 20. I have no money left over for anything else." Suleiman says he has no way of going back and now his health is also beginning to fail. "I had come to Delhi with a reference, but I lost the address. Circumstances forced me to become a ragpicker. My wife left me around six months ago. I have little hope left now."