Category Archives: Politics

At Make-In-India Show, Mangalyaan is a Star

At Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make-In-India” event, the success of Mangalyaan, or Mars mission, was held up as an example of the country’s potential.

“Nobody can question the talent of our people, especially after yesterday’s Mars mission. The parts of the Mangalyaan were made in small factories in India. it proves there is no death of talent,” PM Modi said, a day after he witnessed Mangalyaan successfully enter the orbit of Mars.

Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani had earlier said Mangalyaan had shown what India can achieve. “India’s Mars mission cost less than Rs. 7 per km, which is less than the cost of travel by an auto in major Indian cities,” he said.

On Wednesday, PM Modi had also marveled that the mission cost less than a Hollywood movie.

ICICI bank chief Chanda Kocchar also referenced Mangalyaan. “Today, with a lot of pride we can all stand here and claim that it is India’s indigenous technology on Mars. This was achieved in just $74 million,” she said.

Mangalyaan is the cheapest inter-planetary mission ever. At Rs. 450 crore, it costs just about Rs. 4 per person in India.



Let’s Imagine! Imagine Charlie Chaplin not being the legendary comedian that he was. Or Arnold Swarzeneger not the action icon we all know him as. Imagine Sachin Tendulkar not being the celebrated cricketer but a regular 9 to 5 school teacher or if electricity was never invented. What would it be like if Newton had never discovered the Law of Gravity or Einstein had not made those elaborate inventions? What if Elvis continued driving trucks or Satyajit Ray wasn’t an illustrious story teller? Difficult and rather unfamiliar and absurd hypothesis! Would these people be still famous, brilliant and celebrated if they were not in their chosen professions? What would have our lives been like in the absence of these people or their world changing contributions to humanity? The answer can only be left to one’s imagination and with no certainty can anyone claim that they be who they are today or what would our existence been like, if these men were not true to their calling.


Now for a moment, let’s imagine a bit further. Would Sahara India have avoided the existential crisis, they are in today, had they not chosen to provide a sound, secure & lawful financial structure to a stratum of the society who has always stood ignored amongst the tall claims of social and economic development? What would the lives and future of these millions of depositors would have been like if they didn’t have a secure medium to invest and save and flourish? What would the future of the children growing in these millions of households have hold? Would they be educated? Would there be employment for the unemployed or the less skilled or the poor? Would there have been economic empowerment for the have nots who do not have the means or the sanction to even hold a bank account or a legitimate Id? Would the chief of Sahara India, Subrata Roy, have saved himself the witch hunt by a National Regulator or avoided jail had he chosen to create a lush empire and focused on serving himself rather than serving the people? Such a swarm of hypotheticals starting with just one simple question, “Imagine?”

Sadly, there are no simple answers. Only simple questions. The answers are complex, unfathomable and lead down to a road of nefarious possible motives, juxtapositions & outcomes. SEBI’s motives juxtaposed with the Court’s senseless brickbat blows on the Sahara Chief only adds insult to the common man’s understanding of productive regulation and fair justice. Even more dangerously, the imagination of SEBI and the Courts have taken a turn for the worse and seem to be more heavily invested in feeding their own egos, their illogic and mindless banter rather than using that imagination to serve and secure.

Currently, SEBI has been claiming that investor accounts provided by Sahara are fictitious and the regulator’s independent verification has failed to make any headway. SEBI so far has been able to repay less than 1 crore rupees to OFCD investors even though its been 18 months since Sahara deposited 5,120 crore rupees with the market watchdog. Interestingly, in 2008, Sahara had paid back around 4 crore depositors under strict supervision of Reserve Bank of India. The central bank, then, did not stumble upon any such fictitious account and the OFCD issue had almost same set of investors. So is SEBI imagining these investors as fictitious or is it disguising its incompetence. To further add to the comedy of errors, the Supreme Court has expressed its displeasure over SEBI’s tardy pace in verifying these investor accounts in Sahara’s OFCD issue. I can only imagine the embarrassment the courts must be facing at the hands of the regulator’s malfunction. And who is paying the price for all this mockery. The innocent, the lawful and the poor!

Let’s tax our imagination one more time and explore another set premise. What if Sahara is innocent? What if the Sahara supremo is being wrongfully accused and punished? Is SEBI acting in the best interest of the depositors or is it blinded by its punitive sense of dominion? What would it be like if SEBI realized and acknowledged that these investors in question are for real? What would it be like if there was no Sahara to begin with? Are these questions that have real and heavy implications or are they just plain rhetoric?

The answers can only be left to unfold as time and events pass by. The outcomes would be real and the consequences can either set unhealthy & dire precedents or can pave way to a truthful, mindful and fair premise. Just

Mayawati asks Dalits, Muslims to vote unitedly for BSP

Addressing a largely-attended election meeting here, the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said no change has come in economic condition of Dalits and minorities during the over 50-year rule of Congress and six years of BJP at the Centre.

It was only the BSP that could address the grievances of the Dalits, the poor and the minorities, she said and urged the people to vote for her party.

Attacking BJP, she said it was the party of capitalists and “dhanna seths with whose money the elections were being fought”.

“If the party wins it will work for those who paid for their election expenses,” she said.

Coming down heavily on BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, she said he had now started talking about his Dalit root, but had not so far specified which caste among the Dalits he hailed from.

Slamming Modi over the 2002 riots, she said the country would be plunged into communal riots and would be destroyed if Modi even by mistake becomes the prime minister.

She said there was neither communal amity nor law and order in Uttar Pradesh and held the SP government responsible for the Muzaffarnagar riots, in which “both Muslims and Hindus had suffered”.

Listing out the “works” done by the government when she was in power four times in the state, Mayawati said good work for “sarva samaj”, especially the Dalits, minorities and the poor of the upper castes, would be extended to the whole country, if BSP got the reins of government at the Centre.

She said as many as 17 Muslims had been given BSP tickets for the Lok Sabha polls, and claimed in Firozabad she had to change the nominee after the SP “government wrongly put the party’s Muslim candidate in jail and harassed another Muslim hopeful” forcing her to give the ticket to a kshatriya.

Taking a dig at RLD candidate Amar Singh, she said he was bringing “dancers and singers” from Mumbai to woo the crowds, and added while these artistes could provide entertainment, they could not get votes for Singh.

Mayawati said, “He destroys whichever party he goes to. Even Ajit Singh (RLD chief) himself will not be able to win with Amar Singh around him,” she said.

Mayawati ended her speech with a fervent appeal to her supporters to send enough members to the Lok Sabha so that a “Daughter of the Dalit class can become the Prime Minister”.

European Commission says corruption costing EU 120bn euros annually

Brussels: Presenting a first ever report of its kind on European Union, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said that there was “no corruption-free zone” across Europe and all the 28 member states witnessed corruption on one or the other levels.

The report that was prepared after an intensive study conducted across all 28 states says that corruption costs the 28-member bloc 120 billion euros, that is, $162 billions which can cater to the bloc’s annual budget.

Talking to a news conference, Malmstrom said that enough was not being done to counter graft.

“There are no corruption-free zones in Europe… We are not doing enough. And this is true for all member states,” she said.

“Corruption undermines citizens’ confidence in democratic institutions and the rule of law, it hurts the European economy and deprives states of much-needed tax revenue,” said Cecilia Malmstrom, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.

Describing the extent of corruption across the EU as “breathtaking” in a Swedish daily, Malmstrom said that corruption was eroding the trust in democracy and draining resources from legal economy.

“The extent of the problem in Europe is breathtaking, although Sweden is among the countries with the least problems,” she wrote.

The report found corruption is generally more present at local and regional levels, and that in some EU countries it is especially frequent when it comes to obtaining heath care services, or in the construction and promotion of real estate projects in urban areas.

Inflated government contracts are a particular problem, Malmstrom said. Government-financed procurement of goods and services accounts for 20 percent of all spending in the European Union, the commissioner said, and studies indicate that up to a quarter of the money expended may be siphoned off by corruption.

As for the private sector, four of 10 companies quizzed in one survey consider corruption an obstacle to doing business in the EU, Malmstrom said.

“A huge amount of money is lost here,” she said. “If you don’t condemn corruption because it’s immoral and how it erodes democratic legitimacy, at least for economic reasons there is good case to do more.”

The money Europeans pay in taxes is too often misspent to purchase goods and services that don’t give citizens a proper return for their money, she said.

With Agency Inputs

Source :

Nido Taniam’s death: Kejriwal joins protest, assures action

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday joined the Northeast students at Jantar Mantar to protest against the death of Arunachal boy 19-year-old Nido Taniam.

On Monday, Kejriwal had assured a delegation of Northeast students in the capital that he would join their protest for speedy justice for Taniam.

Last Wednesday, Taniam, a B.Sc student at Lovely Professional University in Jalandhar, was on his way to a friend’s house in Lajpat Nagar when he got into a scuffle with several men, who commented on his appearance. Taniam was found dead at his relative’s house in Green Park Extension the following day.

Addresing the protesters at Jantar Mantar, Kejriwal hit out at Delhi Police as he said that they ordered majesterial inquiry and the truth will come out in three-four weeks. “Why was an FIR registered two days after Nido’s death? How can Delhi Police conduct independent inquiry when they are among the accused?” asked Kejriwal as he assured that the truth will emerge from the magisterial inquiry in 3-4 weeks.

“Nido’s fight is not for the people of Northeast but for the whole nation. Delhi’s criminal justice system should be fixed to make Delhi a safer place for everyone and for people of Northeast,” the Delhi CM said.

Kejriwal further announced to include the history of Northeast India in the syllabus of Delhi. The Delhi CM also asked the delegation of protesters to form a committee and they will declare it as the official committee of Delhi government. “You give us the suggestions and we will implement it,” he said.

Delhi’s education minister Manish Sisodia said: “From next session Delhi school books will include history of Northeast India. The education department will inform Delhi people about people of Northeast.”

Kejriwal’s move comes a day after Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi visited Jantar Mantar and spoke to demonstrators protesting the death of Taniam.

Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP says will probe corruption charges against Congress leaders

With Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal all set to become the Chief Minister of Delhi, all eyes will be on the activist-turned politician whether he will walk the talk and order probe into corruption charges involving Congress leaders.
ytutrutryMaking his party’s stand clear, AAP leader Yogendra Yadav told a television news channel that his party would certainly not stop the party to initiate a probe against the Congress leaders, whose name have cropped in various scams, even if the government collapses.

Underlining that AAP doesn’t have any alliance with the Congress and it will rely on its 28 MLAs in the Delhi Assembly, Yadav reiterated that from the beginning they have maintained that the probe against Congress and BJP leaders involved in various scams will be pursued.

Interestingly, the AAP is forming the government in Delhi with outside support from Congress, so every move of the party will be watched carefully.

Being critical of the Congress party, senior AAP leader Prashant Bhushan also said that given the Congress’ track record it is to be seen how long the coalition government lasts.

Making it clear that AAP won’t accept any of Congress’ conditions and implement its own agenda and fulfil promises, Bhushan said, “If Congress and BJP join hands to pull down our government, it’s their wish.”

“Given the past track record of the Congress party, I don’t expect that our government will survive for long… One month, four months or six months, it is to be seen,” Bhushan said.

AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal is set to be Delhi’s seventh chief minister after staking claim Monday to take power with Congress backing — amid vocal doubts about the government’s stability.

Without acknowledging the support of Congress’ eight legislators, a visibly confident Kejriwal asserted that the Aam Aadmi Party, which has 28 seats in the 70-member assembly, had the majority to rule Delhi.

Kejriwal is set to be Delhi’s seventh chief minister after staking claim Monday to take power with Congress backing — amid vocal doubts about the government’s stability.

Without acknowledging the support of Congress’ eight legislators, a visibly confident Kejriwal asserted that the Aam Aadmi Party, which has 28 seats in the 70-member assembly, had the majority to rule Delhi.

The 45-year-old Magsaysay award winner will be facing enormous public expectations as he led AAP to a stunning victory capitalising on people’s disillusionment with mainstream political parties.

Kejriwal is likely to have little over two months’ time to deliver on his immediate priorities as model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha polls are set to come into force in March.

His running of government will be watched carefully as he led AAP to the victory in the December 4 Assembly polls, criticising the “corrupt” Congress government on almost all aspects.

Kejriwal defeated Congress Sheila Dikshit by over 25,000 votes.

Obama’s Syria pitch: How pivotal a moment for the U.S.?

Obama makes his case for intervention in national address tonight

When U.S. President Barack Obama takes his case for a strike against Syria to the American people tonight, he will be making a pitch to a country where many are at best only lukewarm toward the thought of intervening in a civil war that has taken more than 100,000 lives.

On Monday, a poll by The Associated Press found that most Americans oppose even a limited attack on Syria. That response comes even though they’ve been told — repeatedly — by the administration that doing nothing, particularly in the face of apparent chemical weapons use, would risk national security and ignore a humanitarian crisis of immense proportions.

The current debate — which will officially make its way to the U.S. Congress later this week — brings with it questions over the extent to which a country where many seem weary with war intervenes or isolates itself from the world stage.

And it also leaves open the question of whether the Syrian crisis is another in a long line of pivotal moments for the largest military and economic power in the world.

“Is it a referendum on isolationism versus interventionism — yes it is, and that’s an ongoing conversation in America,” says Peter Loewen, a political science professor and director of the Centre for the Study of the United States at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.

“But the pendulum has swung more towards isolationism than ever in the last 15 years.”

Loewen sees several factors playing into that swing: the U.S. experience and “lack of apparent success” in Afghanistan and Iraq, the fact that “Syria is a particularly messy case,” and the nature of domestic politics at the moment. Read More