The Candid Eye

October 4, 2010

Home truths for Rahul Gandhi!

In what is clearly an indictment of PV Narasimha Rao, one of India’s greatest Prime Ministers, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi declared a couple of weeks ago that the Babri Masjid would have been saved if a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family had been in active politics at that time. Though Mr Gandhi has belatedly tried to make some amends, this incident has once again brought to the fore the feudal mindset of members of the Nehru-Gandhi family, their insecurities (which prevent them from acknowledging the contribution of leaders outside their family) and their persistent efforts to distort historical truths.

Rahul Gandhi Family - Courtesy : in.com

Since Mr Gandhi has sought to give us a glimpse of what would have been if a member of his family had been at the helm in December 1992, here is a summary of this family’s track record when it did hold the political reins. Let us begin at the beginning. Acting on the advice of Lord Mountbatten, the first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, gave Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel the task of integrating all the 565 princely states in the Indian Union. Even as Sardar Patel set about his task, Nehru, in a display of pettiness typical of this family, moved “Kashmir Affairs” from the Department of States to the Ministry of External Affairs, which was under his charge. Patel executed his responsibility in a clinical and ruthless manner and successfully completed the gigantic task of stitching together 564 princely states into the Indian Union. Nehru took on the responsibility of integrating one princely state (Jammu & Kashmir) and we all know the consequence – this has remained India’s most problematic State for the last 60 years.

But Nehru’s Kashmir blunders did not end here. In October 1947, Pakistan sent in thousands of heavily armed tribesmen into Jammu & Kashmir in a bid to capture it by force. After Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession, the Indian Army marched in and began pushing back the intruders who had captured Baramulla and cut off power supply to Srinagar. Even as our gallant soldiers were driving out the intruders, Nehru cried halt to the Army operation and, much against the advice of Sardar Patel, took the fateful decision to lodge a complaint against Pakistan before the United Nations Security Council on January 1, 1948.

With this single act, Nehru demoralised the Army (which wanted just a few more days to throw out the intruders), allowed Pakistan to retain 30,000 square miles of illegally occupied territory in Jammu & Kashmir and internationalised the Kashmir issue. So, while Nehru made a mess of the Kashmir issue, Patel coaxed, cajoled or bamboozled recalcitrant princes like the Nizam of Hyderabad and a couple of pro-Pakistan princes on the Gujarat coast to fall in line and accede their territories to India. But for Patel’s firmness, we would have lost Hyderabad and the coastal areas of Gujarat to Pakistan in1948 itself and Hyderabad, in the words of the Sardar, would have become an “undigested lump” in India’s belly.

Let us now examine the report card of another member of this family – Mrs Indira Gandhi.

In 1975, Mrs Gandhi imposed an internal Emergency and turned a vibrant democracy into a dictatorship. Her Government wrecked the Constitution through a series of horrendous amendments, jailed most of her political opponents under draconian laws, ordered forcible sterilisation of men in the reproductive age group and sent bulldozers to drive out the poor from the cities. All this would never have happened if a non-Nehru-Gandhi had been the Prime Minister.

Thereafter, between 1980 and 1984, Mrs Gandhi’s Government offered tacit support to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale just to spite the Akalis and allowed him to store deadly weapons in the Golden Temple. When things went out of control, she ordered the Army to march into the shrine, causing huge loss of human life and hurting the pride of the Sikhs. Thereafter, Mrs Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards leading to a pogrom in which more than 3,000 Sikhs were lynched in Delhi and other parts of northern India at the behest of Congress leaders. None of this would have happened if a non-Nehru Gandhi had been the Prime Minister between 1980 and 1984.

Coming to the era of Rajiv Gandhi, his approach to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) eerily resembled the Sikh militancy story. This too ended in the tragic deaths of hundreds of brave, young soldiers and the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. All this would never have happened if a non-Nehru-Gandhi had been Prime Minister between 1984 and 1989.

There are several other decisions taken by members of this family, which have resulted in much social, economic and political strife. For example, Rajiv Gandhi succumbed to pressure from the Muslim clergy and amended the law to deny maintenance to divorced Muslim women after the Shah Bano case. Thereafter he felt compelled to appease Hindu sentiment and so had the Ram Temple in Ayodhya unlocked and a ‘shilanyas’ performed. Yet, Mr Rahul Gandhi showers abuse on Narasimha Rao and expects us to believe that the family that blessed the ‘shilanyas’ would have saved the masjid! The list is endless.

However, since Mr Gandhi has sought to run down Narasimha Rao, we need to ask ourselves whether members of this family have ever had the civility to acknowledge the contribution of national leaders from outside this family, be it Sardar Patel, BR Ambedkar or Narasimha Rao. When Narasimha Rao became Prime Minister we had mortgaged gold to the Bank of England because we had run out of foreign exchange. By the time he completed his five-year term, he had laid the foundation for India’s emergence as an economic superpower. I shudder to think what would have been India’s fate if instead of the cerebral Narasimha Rao, a Nehru-Gandhi had been the Prime Minister between 1991 and 1996!

Narasimha Rao, along with Mr Manmohan Singh, not only gave India hope but also unlocked the creative genius of Indians, which had been bottled up during the era of the Nehru-Gandhis. The Nehru-Gandhis will never acknowledge this, but we do not have to be so ungrateful. Now that Mr Rahul Gandhi has sought to besmirch the image of Narasimha Rao, we must demand the appointment of a Truth Commission to document the commissions and omissions of every Prime Minister so that our post-independence history, which is currently corrupted by the mythology promoted by the Nehru-Gandhis, becomes a more honest narrative.

Source : The Pioneer

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September 6, 2010

How the UPA robbed us of Rs2,80,795 crore

An excellent article by R Jagannathan appeared on DNA.

The number in the headline is the amount of money looted by the UPA government from taxpayers and investors since 2004. And all this is from just one sector: petroleum.
The only difference between a Ramalinga Raju, who raided Satyam’s cash chest to bankroll his infrastructure dreams, and the government, which dipped into public sector assets to finance its re-election, is this: Raju cannot legislate away his crimes. Government can.
Let’s go back to the first number: Rs2,80,795 crore. I owe this piece of info to my colleague Mayank Aggarwal, who had put in an RTI query to the ministry of petroleum and natural gas asking them how much money was transferred from profit-making oil companies to loss-making ones to fund the subsidisation of kerosene, cooking gas and diesel (among other things).
The answer he got was frightening. Between 2004-05 and 2009-10, the three most profitable oil and gas companies (ONGC, GAIL and Oil India) were summarily asked to hand over Rs1,12,592 crore to three loss-making oil marketing companies.
That’s nearly three times the current year’s central outlay for NREGA, the flagship social security scheme of the UPA. But even Rs1,12,592 crore wasn’t enough to staunch the bleeding of Indian Oil, BPCL and HPCL. Over and above the robbery of three profit-making oil companies, the government had to raid the taxpayer’s chest for another Rs1,68,203 crore over 2005-10 (paid through oil bonds) to ensure the marketing companies stayed afloat.
Now, let’s restate the full extent of the skullduggery. To ensure that oil prices did not rock its electoral boat, it transferred Rs1,12,592 crore from publicly-listed profit-makers to the loss-makers, but there’s a procedural complication here.

Politicians & Corruption

Cartoon Sourcehttp://lifesacomicstrip.blogspot.com/2009/09/politicians-and-money.html
The government itself owns majority stakes in these profit-makers, so the real extent of money transferred from private investors is equal only to the level of public shareholding in these companies.
Since the public shareholding is 25.86% in ONGC, 21.57% in Oil India and 42.18% in GAIL, private investors were cheated of Rs29,991 crore in the process. That’s their share of profits in ONGC, Oil India and GAIL that got transferred to the marketing companies. Investors in these three companies can approach Sebi and ask it to take action against the promoter (the government) for corporate misgovernance and misappropriation of shareholders funds.
To be sure, this is not a point that has not been made before. What we are now clear about is the exact extent of the government’s bad politico-economic decisions that investors and taxpayers finally ended up paying for.
Misgovernance and fraud is built into the public sector primarily because politicians use public assets for private ends, including financing their own re-election.
Let’s also remember, the Rs2,80,795 crore scandal is only the tip of the iceberg. If we add up the subsidies handed over to fertiliser companies, farmers and the Food Corporation of India (a substantial part of the grain mountain that is now being fed to rats), the losses will be truly stupendous.
The best thing the UPA did recently was thus to move towards oil price deregulation, but we are going to continue to pay for past follies. A case in point is the Direct Tax Code (DTC) that was recently cleared by the Union cabinet. Originally touted as a big deal for taxpayers, it has been reduced to a minor concession, thanks to past overspending.
The original idea behind the DTC was to move to a tax system that was transparent and easy to administer, but the UPA cannot afford it anymore. A mountain of work has, thus, yielded a mouse. After producing two draft codes for public discussion, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has more or less opted for incrementalism rather than radical change.
The initial proposal was simple enough: give taxpayers a large dose of tax relief, lump all exemptions into one package, and make the tax system less complicated. If Mukherjee had stuck to that goal, taxpayers would have surrendered small reliefs here and there and gained big on tax slabs and choice of tax-free investment avenues. But now Mukherjee’s DTC is a pale shadow of its former self.
Under the original draft proposal, taxpayers in the higher brackets would have saved more, as the idea was that the lowest rate of 10% would cover incomes upto Rs10 lakh. The middle rate of 20% would apply to incomes in the Rs10-25 lakh bracket, and the top rate of 30% to incomes above Rs25 lakh. As things stand now, the tax-free bracket merely moves up from Rs1.6 lakh to Rs2 lakh.
The 10%, 20% and 30% brackets also shrink to Rs 2-5lakh, Rs5-10-lakh and Rs10 lakh plus.
This is incrementalism at its worst, and Pranab-da has missed a golden opportunity to empower taxpayers. Having robbed them in the past, he cannot play Robin Hood now.

The number in the headline is the amount of money looted by the UPA government from taxpayers and investors since 2004. And all this is from just one sector: petroleum.
The only difference between a Ramalinga Raju, who raided Satyam’s cash chest to bankroll his infrastructure dreams, and the government, which dipped into public sector assets to finance its re-election, is this: Raju cannot legislate away his crimes. Government can.
Let’s go back to the first number: Rs2,80,795 crore. I owe this piece of info to my colleague Mayank Aggarwal, who had put in an RTI query to the ministry of petroleum and natural gas asking them how much money was transferred from profit-making oil companies to loss-making ones to fund the subsidisation of kerosene, cooking gas and diesel (among other things).
The answer he got was frightening. Between 2004-05 and 2009-10, the three most profitable oil and gas companies (ONGC, GAIL and Oil India) were summarily asked to hand over Rs1,12,592 crore to three loss-making oil marketing companies.
That’s nearly three times the current year’s central outlay for NREGA, the flagship social security scheme of the UPA. But even Rs1,12,592 crore wasn’t enough to staunch the bleeding of Indian Oil, BPCL and HPCL. Over and above the robbery of three profit-making oil companies, the government had to raid the taxpayer’s chest for another Rs1,68,203 crore over 2005-10 (paid through oil bonds) to ensure the marketing companies stayed afloat.
Now, let’s restate the full extent of the skullduggery. To ensure that oil prices did not rock its electoral boat, it transferred Rs1,12,592 crore from publicly-listed profit-makers to the loss-makers, but there’s a procedural complication here.
The government itself owns majority stakes in these profit-makers, so the real extent of money transferred from private investors is equal only to the level of public shareholding in these companies.
Since the public shareholding is 25.86% in ONGC, 21.57% in Oil India and 42.18% in GAIL, private investors were cheated of Rs29,991 crore in the process. That’s their share of profits in ONGC, Oil India and GAIL that got transferred to the marketing companies. Investors in these three companies can approach Sebi and ask it to take action against the promoter (the government) for corporate misgovernance and misappropriation of shareholders funds.
To be sure, this is not a point that has not been made before. What we are now clear about is the exact extent of the government’s bad politico-economic decisions that investors and taxpayers finally ended up paying for.
Misgovernance and fraud is built into the public sector primarily because politicians use public assets for private ends, including financing their own re-election.
Let’s also remember, the Rs2,80,795 crore scandal is only the tip of the iceberg. If we add up the subsidies handed over to fertiliser companies, farmers and the Food Corporation of India (a substantial part of the grain mountain that is now being fed to rats), the losses will be truly stupendous.
The best thing the UPA did recently was thus to move towards oil price deregulation, but we are going to continue to pay for past follies. A case in point is the Direct Tax Code (DTC) that was recently cleared by the Union cabinet. Originally touted as a big deal for taxpayers, it has been reduced to a minor concession, thanks to past overspending.
The original idea behind the DTC was to move to a tax system that was transparent and easy to administer, but the UPA cannot afford it anymore. A mountain of work has, thus, yielded a mouse. After producing two draft codes for public discussion, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has more or less opted for incrementalism rather than radical change.
The initial proposal was simple enough: give taxpayers a large dose of tax relief, lump all exemptions into one package, and make the tax system less complicated. If Mukherjee had stuck to that goal, taxpayers would have surrendered small reliefs here and there and gained big on tax slabs and choice of tax-free investment avenues. But now Mukherjee’s DTC is a pale shadow of its former self.
Under the original draft proposal, taxpayers in the higher brackets would have saved more, as the idea was that the lowest rate of 10% would cover incomes upto Rs10 lakh. The middle rate of 20% would apply to incomes in the Rs10-25 lakh bracket, and the top rate of 30% to incomes above Rs25 lakh. As things stand now, the tax-free bracket merely moves up from Rs1.6 lakh to Rs2 lakh.
The 10%, 20% and 30% brackets also shrink to Rs 2-5lakh, Rs5-10-lakh and Rs10 lakh plus. This is incrementalism at its worst, and Pranab-da has missed a golden opportunity to empower taxpayers. Having robbed them in the past, he cannot play Robin Hood now.

December 14, 2009

A spicy menage a trois!!

Filed under: Congress,Indian Media,Nehru — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
Tags: , , , , ,

At the stroke of the midnight hour when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.’

Those powerful words, memorable to everyone who loves India, were uttered by the father of the modern nation, Jawaharlal Nehru, when the country became independent more than 60 years ago.

Behind this famous ‘tryst with destiny’ speech lay a deeply personal fight to escape the domination of the British Raj, a struggle all the more meaningful because of Nehru’s private life.

Special relationship: Lord and Lady Mountbatten with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru

Special relationship: Lord and Lady Mountbatten with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru

For the handsome widower had formed a more than usually deep bond with, of all people, the beautiful wife of the chief representative of the occupying power, Edwina, Lady Mountbatten.

If you came across their romance in a novel, you would dismiss it instantly as fiction.But the fact is the couple shared an extraordinary love. Their deep attachment lasted from the moment they met in 1947 in New Delhi until the day Edwina died 13 years later.

It was such a meaningful relationship that even Lord Mountbatten himself found it best to turn a blind eye.

Nehru Edwina Smoking

Nehru Edwina Smoking

Perhaps he even encouraged it, so that he could benefit from any insight into the Indian mind that his wife could pass him at this pivotal time in their history.

This fascinating personal intrigue was to have been the basis of a new film, Indian Summer, starring Hugh Grant and Cate Blanchett as Lord and Lady Mountbatten.

But so concerned are the Indian government to protect their favourite statesman’s reputation that, after nine months of costly pre-production in Delhi, filming has been dramatically ordered to cease.

Indian politicians have demanded to see the script to know just how explicitly the relationship will be portrayed.

But what is the real story? Certainly, there are aspects of Lady Mountbatten’s early life that will shock India’s ruling elite.

The spoiled favourite granddaughter of a Jewish financier close to the royals, Edwina Ashley was the richest and most glamorous deb of her time.

Ostensibly it was the perfect match, but…..

Read the entire article here.

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Nehru-Edwina Saga put off under goverment pressure

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