Sunday, September 01, 2013

TV 18 mass firng episode

crowdsourcing throws this light

The people to blame for this mess are Raghav Behl and his deputy Sai Kumar, who now drives in a Jaguar. They expanded the business and their fancy to grow big no bounds. In a presentation during the launch of Forbes, Raghav presented his empire as if he was Rupert Murdoch - he said he controls most of the television in the country with a hint of arrogance in his voice. Well, is he to blame? Who doesn't get carried away with the power that media yields.
Soon after they bought the Tata Press assets, they realised they bought a lemon by ICICI Ventures (It also sold a lemon to Wipro - remember a retail chain stores?). The press was antiquated and that buy almost marked the beginning of the downturn of the group. While the deal was being inked, a senior member of Raghav's team talked to an ex-Tata Press employee who expressed surprise over the group buying it. He didn't want to talk too much as they were hiring him and did not want to sound negative. He asked them to do proper due diligence. But, the lure of growing big won. They tried hiring Jaideep Bose, the editor of TOI for over Rs 3 crore a year or twice of what he was getting paid. Bose didn't join and saved himself from the current bloodbath.
With the muck hit the roof, Raghav was on his knees seeking money from only one person who could afford to bail about such an inefficient business - someone with pot loads of money and who desired to keep a foot in the media and entertainment space - Mukeshbhai.
But, unlike Raghav, Mukesh knows that the bottomline of any business is the bottomline. Despite, Raghav's claim of losing advertising revenue or poor market conditions, the bottomline of Network18 has actually improved last quarter and it has made profits. Talk to any media analyst, they will tell you that after the clean up of costs, Network18 will indeed be a good business to buy Now that CNBC and IBN have brand recognition, it won't be tough to scale up with a few crores of investment and hiring the right talent when the market swings up again. For now, the bleeding and the mad expansion in the last few years stands corrected.
It is sad that so many unsuspecting young journalists lost their jobs because of a Raghav, who was himself a budding journalist a few decades ago and who struggled to build his business. The loss of face is the biggest for him - he ambitions have been rudely castrated and he is just a menial worker who now has to follow the whims and fancies of his bosses of a company that he still thinks he owns.

Modi express has derailed this media gravy train.. Imagine the influence of Twitter and Facebook on the business of these media companies. There is hardly any journalism left now. its all about making money. I feel really bad when I see these news media people start reporting based on twitter nowadays without doing their on research.
Congree pampered these media fools for so long at taxpayer's expenses by giving them monster ad revenue on the family birth and death anniv.. now That will soon change.

Canadian jee, looks like you have been away from the country too long. Rs 50,000 a month allows journalists to barely rent a flat, pay for transport and phone bills which most companies don't reimburse. If you have school-going children you barely make ends meet. Yes, they are no poverty line, but journalism is a high investment profession. The amount we have to spend on going about our daily work is something very few other professions have to deal with. Even sales people get petrol money.
As a young reporter with a leading Delhi daily, I was paid a piddly Rs 16 k and expected to cover half-a-dozen beats and that involved travelling, and at a considerable speed. On a given day I would travel the length and breadth of the city twice over, terrified by male bosses who thought nothing of screaming down expletives at you.
All those taking the high horse about the media, need to know the inside story. So many of us lose our jobs because we don't do our bosses' bidding. You never hear of us. How many times have you people taken a principled stand on a social issue and risked losing your livelihood? I come from a middle class family, a low salary throughout my career, and spending on professional needs from my pocket means I have next to no savings.
Incidentally, Rolls Royce has launched a new model in Maharashtra today, the vehicle is worth Rs 4 crore to Rs 6 crore. The company is not worried about the devaluation of the Rupee because the "niche market" it targets will not be affected :) Affected will be people who drive their small cars bought on loans, two-wheelers or the Metro to work. Dont cheer too much. They are coming for you next.

Headless chickens

so govt plans to ban gmail for govt employees after snowden controversy
such a kneejerk reaction
there are people who do not know how to use emails, are afraid of using emails, are not interested in using emails, consider it beneath their dignity to use emails, never reply on emails - and here I am talking about fairly senior people...

thought would just collate reaction of "peepul" on such a move

Why pinpointing Google? Yahoo, Microsoft all have servers in US. And does Government care to ensure every employee gets an email id from nic? They can't use free email ids, and no other alternative exists. E-governance is yet to take off. Govt. Should have their host email add instead of G-mail. Plus they should have software against Spying... But Better Late Than Never, They are taking small steps to fight against wrong doings of US Govt. It would be a good move for world to follow.. Using any vendor supplied software over internet has the same problem. It explains why US Department of Defense uses ADA based operating system when this language is not taught anywhere   

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Department of personnel and training aka DoPT

posted by a colleague at our community page on facebook

Its almost a year since I got selected. Also today is civil services day. Here's what I've learnt in a year
1. Distance of dopt from c-sec metro station is 10 minutes usually, but it can take up to 30 minutes around 26 January

2. When Parliament is in session, no work is done at dopt

3. If you want to avoid people tell them their file is in different department.

4. Also you can say I am busy I have to go in a meeting. Via gayatri mishrs director dopt

5. The middle level management at dopt works at second floor while secretaries are at 1st floor. Nobody from any floor wants to see common people.

6. When people are calling with their problems, just don't pick up the phone. Also don't make an rti tab on your website

7. Also I learnt lots of unrelated stuff like how to make gajar ka halwa and other stuff my mother has been trying to teach me for years

8. Lastly, rules can bite you in the back when you are least expecting

Friday, March 21, 2008

New colonialism?

From: Karthiks03
To: News articles
Date: Tue, Feb 5 2008 5:46 pm

Who's Afraid of Mideast Money?
The men who manage the region's sovereign wealth funds are using the billions
from Persian Gulf oil revenues to change the face of global finance

by Emily Thornton and Stanley Reed

Deep inside a fortress of government ministries in Kuwait City, Bader M. Al
Sa'ad moves billion-dollar chunks of wealth around the world like chess pieces.
Slim and stately, the head of the Kuwait Investment Authority manages $213
billion on behalf of his government. His portfolio, one of the biggest
so-called sovereign wealth funds in the world, is constantly replenished with
money that flows into Kuwait in exchange for the oil that flows out. As prices
top $100 a barrel, Kuwait's coffers are swelling.

With portraits of the emir and crown prince looming above Al Sa'ad's desk, one
might expect the 50-year-old money manager to be tight-lipped about his
investment strategy. But Al Sa'ad, who has held his post for just four years,
is in a chatty mood. He says he wants to invest more in China and Brazil and
other hot emerging markets—and less in Britain and France. He's also keenly
interested in leveraged buyouts and wants to spend at least $4 billion on big
stakes in blue chip companies, especially American ones, on top of the roughly
$17 billion he already holds. He's even interested in U.S. mortgage-backed
securities, a contrarian play if there ever was one. Al Sa'ad says he has about
15% of the fund in emerging markets, hedge funds, and private equity, up from
almost zero when he started. "We have been quiet for a while," he says. "But
now we are knocking on doors."

Pounding is more like it. Sovereign wealth funds from the Persian Gulf are
changing the face of global finance in ways that unnerve many Westerners. In
recent months Gulf funds have bought large chunks of Citigroup (C), the private
equity giant Carlyle Group, semiconductor heavyweight Advanced Micro Devices
(AMD), planemaker European Aeronautic Defense & Space (EADS), and many other
big companies. Gulf funds are also getting into leveraged buyouts, sometimes
alongside private equity firms and sometimes by themselves—despite having
little experience operating companies. "Large sovereign wealth funds have
become major players in private equity, not only as investors but also as
competitors," says David Rubenstein, a founder of Carlyle, which sold a 7.5%
stake to an Abu Dhabi fund in September. Soon, says Gregory A. White, managing
director at Thomas H. Lee Partners, "they will be the industry. We will be
working for them."

BusinessWeek recently paid visits to four of the region's most powerful money
managers: Kuwait's Al Sa'ad and Dubai's Sameer Al Ansari, Soud Ba'alawy, and
David Jackson. Their rise from relative obscurity has been breathtaking; rarely
have so few come to control so much, so quickly.

The fund managers insist that Western businessmen and politicians have nothing
to fear. Al Sa'ad ticks off a well-rehearsed list of reasons why CEOs should
rejoice at the prospect of having Kuwait as a major shareholder. Reason 1: His
fund will agree to multiyear lockups, providing long-term capital. Reason 2: Al
Sa'ad expresses concerns to CEOs behind closed doors, not in the press. "If I
were a CEO, I'd look for stability," he says.

But recent actions by some funds belie those soothing sentiments. The $50
billion Qatar Investment Authority, run by Qatar's Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamad
bin Jassim bin Jabir al-Thani, is working with hedge fund activist Nelson Peltz
to shake up British beverage company Cadbury Schweppes (CSG). Dubai Holding was
so aggressive in its pursuit of OMX Group of Sweden last summer that it ran
afoul of regulators there. Even companies that do business with Gulf funds are
on alert. Dubai International Capital, which manages a $12 billion fund for
Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, flabbergasted Wall Street
last fall when its chief, Sameer Al Ansari, shot off letters to Morgan Stanley
(MS), UBS (UBS), Goldman Sachs (GS), Citigroup (C), and other top investment
banks asking them to pony up $50 million each for a new fund or risk losing
future business. Several, including Goldman and UBS, complied. "So far," says
Roger Altman, chairman of Evercore Partners (EVR) and a former U.S. Deputy
Treasury Secretary, "sovereign wealth funds have been more stabilizing than
otherwise. But everyone is waiting to see how this evolves."

Combine the Gulf funds' new, tougher tactics with their staggering wealth and
relative inexperience managing companies, and you have the potential for
trouble. Six Gulf states—Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi
Arabia—account for nearly half of the world's sovereign wealth fund assets.
They control some $1.7 trillion, as much as all of the hedge funds in the world
and more than the $1 trillion private equity industry—and Morgan Stanley
predicts the total will grow by about $400 billion annually over the next
several years. There's even talk that Saudi Arabia may soon unleash a new $500
billion-plus fund. Bankers estimate that Gulf funds earned about $180 billion
from their sovereign wealth fund investments in 2007—more than half of the $315
billion they collected in oil and gas revenues.

Wall Street veterans worry in particular that Gulf funds are moving too far,
too fast into private equity. Buying and running companies is vastly different
from taking passive stakes in them. Even seasoned pros like Henry Kravis of
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts have trouble managing a company when its industry hits
the skids, debt payments become untenable, and key people jump ship. Nemir A.
Kirdar, CEO of Bahrain money management firm Investcorp, says Gulf funds
"should rely on professionals." In November, some bankers labeled Qatar's fund
an "amateur" after it backed out of a $19 billion deal for British grocery
chain Sainsbury at the 11th hour. "They've given Middle Eastern investors a bad
name," says one.

The Gulf funds' lack of experience shows in their compensation practices.
Historically, they've been unwilling to pay anywhere near as much as private
asset managers for top talent, a tendency that has hampered their recruiting
efforts and led to high turnover. Al Ansari acknowledges that the Gulf region
is "very talent-poor." A senior banker in Dubai says "90% of the people who
work in the region are second-rate. Only very recently are experienced
individuals coming in."

Such problems wouldn't be so worrisome but for the fact that these massive
funds are situated in a handful of tiny, oil-rich city-states in one of the
world's most volatile regions. The tiny Gulf emirates rely on the U.S. military
for protection from the likes of Iran and Iraq—and they rely on guest workers
for much of their labor. It's a precarious situation, to say the least.

The Gulf funds, meanwhile, are nervously preparing for the day when the oil
money stops flowing. For decades they mainly used the currency reserves that
piled up from oil sales to buy safe investments like U.S. Treasury bonds. Now
funds are trying to build the foundations for new, diversified, post-oil
economies. To do that they must take more risk.

Kuwait's Al Sa'ad feels intense pressure to generate returns, satisfy his
political bosses, and gain Wall Street's respect. In the 1990s, the fund, which
receives about 10% of Kuwait's revenues annually, lost as much as $5 billion in
Spanish investments just as plunging oil prices and the fallout from the 1991
Gulf War left the government struggling to balance its budget. "We want to
restore [our] name as a professional, global money manager," he says. The fund
already generates profits about the size of Kuwait's national budget, but he
plans to double its assets.

Al Sa'ad has long sought to outmaneuver markets. His father, Mohammed, was a
successful merchant, but finance mesmerized Al Sa'ad, the seventh of 10
children, from a young age. After graduating from Kuwait University in 1980
with a degree in accounting, he got a job as a foreign exchange trader with a
local bank, picking up new moves in the U.S. during training stints at Chase
Manhattan in New York and the First National Bank of Chicago. In the 1990s, a
local investment bank tapped Al Sa'ad to expand its merchant banking division,
and his attention shifted to buyouts. In 2003 Kuwait's Finance Minister asked
him to run the emirate's investment fund, already one of the biggest portfolios
in the world. Al Sa'ad, intrigued with the idea of managing money, accepted. He
asked to take a pay cut, he says, to reduce the salary gap with his

Al Sa'ad keeps the hours of any high-stakes money manager. He typically gets
into the office at 7 a.m. and leaves around 3:15 p.m. to have lunch with his
wife, Ola Al Mutairi, deputy editor of the women's magazine Osrati, and his
five children. Then it's back to the office for several more hours. So far, Al
Sa'ad has enjoyed success; his fund returned 13.3% in the fiscal year ended in
March, 2007. But he isn't content. "We can be more dynamic," he says.

The fund seeks to keep the vast majority of its returns in line with
traditional market benchmarks like stock and bond indexes—60% of the portfolio
is in stocks—while putting a sliver into riskier ventures like private equity
and hedge funds. In 2006 it paid $720 million for a chunk of the initial public
offering of Beijing's Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, a deal Al Sa'ad
says kept him up at night. "If something goes wrong, I'll be under fire," he
says. (ICBC's stock has zoomed 156% since the IPO.) Last year the fund invested
$300 million in Texas utility TXU alongside private equity giants KKR and TPG.
But Al Sa'ad is taking private equity slowly. He admits the fund's 400
employees, mostly civil servants who had limited contact with major buyout
firms until recently, don't know how to operate companies. "We don't like to
own 100% of businesses," he says.

By contrast, Sameer Al Ansari, manager of Dubai International Capital's
relatively small $12 billion fund, displays some of the swagger of a private
equity king. A compact, athletic man, Al Ansari, 45, wears designer suits and
does business not from a drab civil service complex but sleek, sun-drenched
quarters high up in a gleaming office building. His investment capital comes
from Sheikh Mohammed's umbrella company, Dubai Holding, which invests 30% of
its cash flow in Dubai International Capital and other funds.

Born in Kuwait of Palestinian parents and brought up in Britain, Al Ansari
graduated from Loughborough University in 1985 with a degree in accounting and
financial management. In demand as an Arabic speaker who could make sense of
numbers, he soon moved to Dubai to take an accounting job with Ernst & Young.
His work in cleaning up Dubai Aluminum, a large government company beset by
problems, attracted the attention of Mohammed Gergawi, a close confidant of
Sheikh Mohammed and now chief executive of Dubai Holding. Gergawi hired Al
Ansari to be chief financial officer of the Sheikh's executive office, where he
helped straighten out the ruler's sprawling business interests and set up Dubai
Holding, which now manages most of those assets. After Al Ansari expressed
alarm that almost all of the Sheikh's wealth was tied up in real estate,
Gergawi gave him the go-ahead to set up Dubai International Capital, to

Despite his lack of buyout experience, Al Ansari has jumped in headlong,
allocating about 60% of his portfolio to private equity. (A quarter is devoted
to stakes in large companies and 15% to emerging markets.) In addition to
co-investment deals with private equity firms, he has engineered six solo
buyouts, including wax museum operator Tussauds Group, which he bought from
Charterhouse Capital Partners for $1.6 billion in 2005. (Less than two years
later he sold Tussauds to Blackstone Group for $2 billion in cash and a 20%
stake in an entertainment company valued at more than $200 million.) Last year
Al Ansari, who still speaks with a clipped British accent, nearly scooped up
his beloved Liverpool soccer club, but lost out to a North American group that
included buyout mogul Tom Hicks.

Al Ansari, like Al Sa'ad, seeks to double the size of his portfolio in a couple
of years. To boost his firepower, he has taken on lots of debt from such banks
as HSBC (HBC), Barclays, and Royal Bank of Scotland. His Global Strategic
Equities Fund, which now holds stakes in Sony (SNE), HSBC, and EADS, borrows $4
for every $1 of its own money. The fund also buys derivatives to limit its
losses. One former employee says: "Dubai plays a very shrewd game." But he
worries that "it's leverage on leverage on leverage."

Al Ansari spends much of his time hunting up deals abroad. When he's in Dubai
he typically spends 10 hours a day in the office, mostly taking meetings with
investment bankers and private equity people pitching ideas. He says he's
invited to three to six social events a day and usually goes to one or two.
"Dubai is a work-hard, play-hard kind of place," he says—for better and for
worse. "My career has gone from good to great in the past two years, but my
personal life from bad to worse." Al Ansari's two sons, 17 and 14, live with
him, while his daughter, 10, lives with his ex-wife. Over lunch at a Lebanese
restaurant near his office, he confesses that trotting the globe for buyouts
has only added to his exhaustion.

Looking for help in coming up with new deals, Al Ansari last year began
courting hedge funds. With the help of JPMorgan Chase he agreed last November
to a $1.1 billion, 9.9% stake in Och-Ziff Capital Management (OZM). Al Ansari
met with Och-Ziff founder Daniel S. Och several times in New York and London;
the two sealed their bargain over dinner at the swank New York restaurant
Daniel in a private, glass-walled room overlooking the kitchen. When Och
visited Dubai after his firm's November, 2007, IPO, Al Ansari took him to the
Al Muntaha restaurant, which rests 700 feet above the Gulf on top of the Burj
al Arab Hotel, where rooms start at $2,000 a night. The two talked of Al
Ansari's hopes to tap Och's global team for co-investment ideas and deal
research, while helping Och-Ziff raise money in the Gulf. "We are very pleased
with the relationship at this point," says Och.

Some financiers in Dubai think Al Ansari is in over his head. "He's a very
smart guy, but he's not a fund manager by training," says one. While Al
Ansari's people say privately that the fund is making 20% annual returns,
bankers are skeptical. "I question what that's based on," says a senior
Dubai-based investment banker, noting that the portfolio's private equity
investments might not be easy to sell in today's turbulent markets. Moreover,
the stock prices of EADS and HSBC are down some 20% and 10%, respectively,
since Al Ansari bought them, while Och-Ziff has tumbled 23%. Al Ansari stresses
that his big stock positions are hedged with derivatives. If HSBC's stock sinks
further, he says, he might buy more. Och-Ziff, he insists, is misjudged.

For all the fixation on returns, sometimes a sovereign fund manager's larger
strategic goals are just as important. Soud Ba'alawy, 46, a former Citigroup
vice-president in Dubai, was tapped in 2000 to become chief investment officer
of Sheikh Mohammed's office. His duties have since expanded greatly; he's now
chairman of Dubai Group and the point man for the ruler's quest to turn the
tiny emirate into the Wall Street of the Middle East. "We want to be the'
financial services company in the region," says Ba'alawy of the Dubai Financial
Group, one fast-growing wing of Dubai Group that he wants to take public this
year for as much as $12 billion.

Unlike the British-tinged Al Ansari, Ba'alawy is still very much a man of the
region. In Dubai he wears the traditional white robe and headdress and fasts
during the month of Ramadan even when he's on the road chasing deals, which he
says is 70% of the time. Intensely private, he resists talking about how much
money he manages (insiders peg his returns at around 20% annually), much less
his family life. He has two young daughters, but as to the rest he says "Our
personal lives are our personal lives." Ba'alawy, a Dubai native, obtained a
chartered accounting qualification from a small London school in the mid-1980s,
and then returned to Dubai to work for his father's printing business. He
joined Citigroup in 1990, rising to treasurer for the Gulf region. "I always
loved markets," he says. "I wanted to be in the financial sector from the

In 2000, while at Citi, Ba'alawy met Gergawi, the sheikh's right-hand man, who
was then running a real estate project called Dubai Internet City. Ba'alawy
joined that effort but left a few months later to set up an investment office
for the ruler that quickly mushroomed into what is now called Dubai Group, the
conglomerate that includes hotel management and financial services.

Over the past two years, Ba'alawy has been wooing financial institutions around
the globe to join that growing empire. Using the cachet of his boss, Sheikh
Mohammed, as an entrée, Ba'alawy has snapped up a 40% stake in Malaysia's Bank
Islam and a 15% chunk of Oman's Bank Muscat. In December, Ba'alawy raised
eyebrows when he slapped down $1.1 billion for a 25% stake in Cairo investment
bank EFG-Hermes—just two weeks after being contacted by its owner, private
equity firm Abraaj Capital, which had paid $500 million for it the previous
year. Ba'alawy insists EFG is worth the hefty price.

Ba'alawy's biggest deal came in September, when he agreed to take a 19.9%, $2.1
billion stake in Nasdaq, part of an effort to bulk up the emirate's new Dubai
International Financial Exchange, which had languished since its 2006 launch.
The deal capped a flurry of maneuvering that started with Ba'alawy's March
offer to take a stake in Sweden's OMX Group. But OMX declined and quickly
accepted a $3.7 billion offer from Nasdaq. On Aug. 9, Ba'alawy's team quietly
took steps to snatch up a 27% stake in OMX shares with the help of investment
banks, a move that brought a reprimand from Swedish regulators. The idea, says
someone close to the deal, was to make sure Dubai would be taken seriously.
Later Dubai made a formal $4 billion offer for OMX, enraging Nasdaq but
quelling the Swedish authorities.

A standoff between Ba'alawy and Nasdaq CEO Robert Greifeld seemed likely. But
Ba'alawy changed course, reasoning that Nasdaq's big-name brand might be more
valuable than OMX. In a series of meetings with Greifeld in New York, London,
and Stockholm, the two hammered out a complex deal in which Nasdaq would buy
OMX, Dubai would take a stake in Nasdaq, and Nasdaq would take a stake in the
Dubai exchange, which would carry the Nasdaq brand. The terms were approved by
U.S. regulators in December. "Nasdaq is coming to a market that is still
virgin," says Ba'alawy. "They will become an important catalyst for change." A
banker involved in the transaction says Dubai was willing to pay a stiff price
for a move it considered strategic.

Ba'alawy's team works late hours in the same new building as Al Ansari's crew.
One former staffer complains of a "chaotic" atmosphere and high turnover. "The
priorities change constantly," he says. "People find it very difficult."
Ba'alawy can be brusque, too. He recently barked at a new European recruit
during a staff meeting for "needless playing with your BlackBerry to show how
important you are."

Westerners are still fairly rare at Gulf funds, some of which have existed
since the 1950s. David Jackson, the 41-year-o

Why new gen pakistanis hate us?

The answer lies in what they are being taught. here is an example :

March 27, 2005

Click to learn more...
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The myth of history

By Prof Shahida Kazi

History is a discipline that has never been taken seriously by anyone in Pakistan. As a result, the subject has been distorted in such a way that many a fabricated tale has become part of our collective consciousness

DOES mythology have anything to do with history? Is mythology synonymous with history? Or is history mythology?

Admittedly, the line between the two is a very fine one. From time immemorial, man has always been in search of his roots. He has also been trying to find a real and tangible basis for the legends of ancient days — legends that have become a part of our collective consciousness. As a result, we witness the quest for proving the existence of King Arthur, the search for whereabouts of the city of Troy, and many expeditions organized to locate the exact site of the landing of Noah’s Ark.

During the ‘60s and the ‘70s, there was a worldwide movement to prove that the ‘gods’ of ancient mythologies did actually exist; they came from distant galaxies; and that mankind owed all its progress to such alien superheroes. Several books were written on the subject.

We, in Pakistan, are a breed apart. Lacking a proper mythology like most other races, we have created our own, populated by a whole pantheon of superheroes who have a wide range of heroic exploits to their credit.

But the difference is that these superheroes, instead of being a part of a remote and prehistoric period, belong very much to our own times. A seemingly veritable mythology has been created around these heroes, their persona and their achievements, which is drummed into the heads of our children from the time they start going to school. So deep is this indoctrination that any attempt to uncover the facts or reveal the truth is considered nothing less than blasphemous.

Here are some of the most common myths:

Myth 1
Our history begins from 712AD, when Mohammad bin Qasim arrived in the subcontinent and conquered the port of Debal.

Take any social studies or Pakistan studies book, it starts with Mohammad bin Qasim. What was there before his arrival? Yes, cruel and despotic Hindu kings like Raja Dahir and the oppressed and uncivilized populace anxiously waiting for a ‘liberator’ to free them from the clutches of such cruel kings. And when the liberator came, he was welcomed with open arms and the grateful people converted to Islam en mass.

Did it really happen? This version of our history conveniently forgets that the area where our country is situated has had a long and glorious history of 6,000 years. Forget Moenjo Daro. We do not know enough about it. But recorded history tells us that before Mohammad Bin Qasim, this area, roughly encompassing Sindh, Punjab and some parts of the NWFP, was ruled by no less than 12 different dynasties from different parts of the world, including the Persians (during the Achamaenian period), the Greeks comprising the Bactrians, Scthians and Parthians, the Kushanas from China, and the Huns (of Attila fame) who also came from China, besides a number of Hindu dynasties including great rulers like Chandragupta Maurya and Asoka.

During the Gandhara period, this region had the distinction of being home to one of the biggest and most important universities of the world at our very own Taxila. We used to be highly civilized, well-educated, prosperous, creative and economically productive people, and many countries benefited a lot from us, intellectually as well as economically. This is something we better not forget. But do we tell this to our children? No. And so the myth continues from generation to generation.

Myth 2
Mohammad Bin Qasim came to India to help oppressed widows and orphan girls.

Because of our blissful ignorance of history, we don’t know, or don’t bother to know, that this period was the age of expansion of the Islamic empire. The Arabs had conquered a large portion of the world, comprising the entire Middle East, Persia, North Africa and Spain. Therefore, it defies logic that they would not seek to conquer India, the land of legendary treasures.

In fact, the Arabs had sent their first expedition to India during Hazrat Umar Farooq’s tenure. A subsequent expedition had come to Makran during Hazrat Usman’s rule. But they had been unsuccessful in making any in-roads into the region. Later on, following the refusal of the king to give compensation for the ships captured by pirates (which incidentally included eight ships full of treasures from Sri Lanka, and not just women and girls), two expeditions had already been sent to India, but they proved unsuccessful. It was the third expedition brought by Mohammad Bin Qasim which succeeded in capturing Sindh, from Mansura to Multan. However, because of the Arabs’ internal dissension and political infighting, Sindh remained a neglected outpost of the Arab empire, and soon reverted to local kings.

Myth 3
The myth of the idol-breaker.

Mahmood Ghaznavi, the great son of Islam and idol-breaker par excellence, took upon himself to destroy idols all over India and spread Islam in the subcontinent.

Mahmud, who came from neighbouring Ghazni, Central Asia, invaded India no less than 17 times. But except Punjab, he made no attempt to conquer any other part of the country or to try and consolidate his rule over the rest of India. In fact, the only thing that attracted him was the treasures of India, gold and precious stones, of which he took care and carried back home a considerable amount every time he raided the country. Temples in India were a repository of large amounts of treasure at the time, as were the churches in Europe, hence his special interest in temples and idols.

Contrary to popular belief, it was not the kings, the Central Asian sultans who ruled for over 300 years and the Mughals who ruled for another 300 years, who brought Islam to the subcontinent. That work was accomplished by the Sufi Sheikhs who came to India mainly to escape persecution from the fundamentalists back home, and who, through their high-mindedness, love for humanity, compassion, tolerance and simple living won the hearts of the people of all religions.

Myth 4
The myth of the cap-stitcher.

Of all the kings who have ruled the subcontinent, the one singled out for greatest praise in our text books is Aurangzeb, the last of the great Mughals. Baber built the empire; Humayun lost it and got it back; Akbar expanded and consolidated it; Jahangir was known for his sense of justice; Shahjehan for his magnificent buildings. But it is Aurangzeb, known as a pious man, who grabs the most attention. The prevalent myth is that he did not spend money from the treasury for his personal needs, but fulfilled them by stitching caps and copying out the Holy Quran. Is there any real need for discussing this assertion? Anyone who’s least bit familiar with the Mughal lifestyle would know how expensive it was to maintain their dozens of palaces. The Mughals used to have many wives, children, courtiers, concubines and slaves who would be present in each palace, whose needs had to be met. Could such expenses be met by stitching caps? And even if the king was stitching caps, would people buy them and use them as ordinary caps? Would they not pay exorbitant prices for them and keep them as heirlooms? Would a king, whose focus had to be on military threats surrounding him from all sides and on the need to save and consolidate a huge empire, have the time and leisure to sit and stitch caps? Let’s not forget that the person we are referring to as a pious Muslim was the same who became king after he imprisoned his won father in a cell in his palace and killed all his brothers to prevent them from taking over the throne.

Myth 5
It was the Muslims who were responsible for the war of 1857; and it was the Muslims who bore the brunt of persecution in the aftermath of the war, while the Hindus were natural collaborators of the British.

It is true that more Muslim regiments than Hindu rose up against the British in 1857. But the Hindus also played a major role in the battle (the courageous Rani of Jhansi is a prime example); and if Muslim soldiers were inflamed by the rumour that the cartridges were laced with pig fat, in the case of Hindus, the rumour was that it was cow fat. And a large number of Muslims remained loyal to the British to the very end. (The most illustrious of them being Sir Syed Ahmed Khan.)

Furthermore, the Muslims did not lose their empire after 1857. The British had already become masters of most of India before that time, having grasped vast territories from both Hindu and Muslim rulers through guile and subterfuge.

The Mughal emperor at the time was a ruler in name only; his jurisdiction did not extend beyond Delhi. After 1857, the Hindus prospered, because they were clever enough to acquire modern education, learn the English language, and take to trade and commerce. The Muslims were only land owners, wedded to the dreams of the past pomp and glory, and when their lands were taken away, they were left with nothing; their madressah education and proficiency in Persian proved to be of no help. As a matter of fact, it was a hindrance in such changing times.

Myth 6
The Muslims were in the forefront of the struggle against the British and were singled out for unfair treatment by the latter.

Not at all. In fact, the first ‘gift’ given to the Muslims by the British was in 1905 in the form of partition of Bengal (later revoked in 1911). The Shimla delegation of 1906 has rightly been called a ‘command performance’; the Muslims were assured by the viceroy of separate electorates and weightage as soon as their leaders asked for them. After that, he Muslim League came into being, established by pro-British stalwarts like the Aga Khan, Justice Amir Ali, some other nawabs and feudal lords. And the first objective of the Muslim League manifesto read: “To promote feelings of loyalty to the British government.”

The Muslim League never carried out any agitation against the British. The only time the Muslims agitated was during the Khilafat Movement in the early ‘20s, led by the Ali brothers and other radical leaders. Not a single Muslim League leader, including the Quaid-i-Azam, ever went to jail. It was the Congress which continued the anti-British non-violent and non-cooperation movement in the ‘30s and ‘40s, including the famous ‘Quit India’ movement, while Muslim League leaders continued to denounce such movements and exhorted their followers not to take part in them.

Myth 7
The Muslim League was the only representative body of the Muslims.

It is an incontrovertible fact that it was only after 1940 that the Muslim League established itself as a popular party among the Muslims. Prior to that, as evident in the 1937 elections, the Muslim League did not succeed in forming the government in any of the Muslim majority provinces. In those elections, out of the total of 482 Muslim seats, the Muslim League won only 103 (less than one-fourth of the total). Other seats went either to Congress Muslims or to nationalist parties such as the Punjab Unionist Party, the Sind Unionist Party and the Krishak Proja Party of Bengal.

Myth 8
Allama Iqbal was the first person to come up with the idea of a separate Muslim state.

This is one of the most deeply embedded myths in our country and the one which has been propagated by all governments. In fact, the idea that Muslim majority provinces of the north-west formed a natural group and should be considered a single bloc had been mooted by the British as far back as 1858 and freely discussed in various newspaper articles and on political platforms. Several variations of the idea had come from important public personalities, including British, Muslims and some Hindus. By the time Allama Iqbal gave his famous speech in 1930, the idea had been put forward at least 64 times. So, Iqbal voiced something which was already there, and was not an original ‘dream’. After his speech at Allahbad was reported, Allama Iqbal published a ‘retraction’ in a British newspaper that he had not been talking of a separate Muslim sate, but only of a Muslim bloc within the Indian federation.

Myth 9
The Pakistan Resolution envisaged a single Muslim state.

The fact is that none of the proposals regarding the Muslim bloc mooted by different individuals or parties had included East Bengal in it. The emphasis had always been on north-western provinces, which shared common frontiers, while other Muslim majority states, such as Bengal and Hyderabad, were envisaged as separate blocs. So, it was in the Pakistan Resolution. The resolution reads: “The areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the north-western and eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute independent states, in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.”

Leaving aside the poor and ambiguous drafting of the entire resolution, the part about states (in plural) is very clear. It was only in 1946, at a convention of the Muslim League legislators in Delhi, that the original resolution was amended, which was adopted at a general Muslim League session and the objective became a single state.

Myth 10
March 23, 1940 is celebrated because the Pakistan Resolution was adopted on that day. The fact of the matter is that the Pakistan Resolution was only introduced on March 23 and was finally adopted on March 24 (the second and final day of the session).

As to why we celebrate March 23 is another story altogether. The day was never celebrated before 1956. It was first celebrated that year as the Republic Day to mark the passage of the first constitution and Pakistan’s emergence as a truly independent republic. It had the same importance for us as January 26 for India. But when Gen Ayub abrogated the constitution and established martial law in 1958, he was faced with a dilemma. He could not let the country celebrate a day commemorating the constitution that he had himself torn apart, nor could he cancel the celebration altogether. A way-out was found by keeping the celebration, but giving it another name: the Pakistan Resolution Day.

Myth 11
It was Ghulam Muhammad who created imbalance of power between the prime minister and head of state, and it was he who sought to establish the supremacy of the governor-general over the prime minister and parliament.

When Pakistan came into being, the British government’s India Act of 1935 was adopted as the working constitution. And it was the Quaid-i-Azam himself who introduced certain amendments to the act to make the governor-general the supreme authority. It was under these powers that the Quaid-i-Azam dismissed the government of Dr Khan Sahib in the NWFP in August 1947 and that of Mr Ayub Khuhro in Sindh in 1948.

Besides being governor-general, the Quaid-i-Azam also continued as president of the Muslim League and president of the Constituent Assembly.

It was these same powers under which Mr Daultana’s government was dismissed in Punjab in 1949 by Khawaja Nazimuddin, who himself was dismissed as prime minister in 1953 by Ghulam Mohammad.

However, in 1954, a move was started by members of the then Constituent Assembly to table an amendment to the act, taking away excessive powers of the governor-general. It was this move which provoked the governor-general, Ghulam Mohammad, to dismiss the Constituent Assembly in 1954, and thereby change the course of Pakistan’s history.

These are some of the myths that have been drummed into our heads from childhood and have become part of our consciousness. There are scores more, pervading our everyday life. And there are many unanswered questions such as:

• What is Pakistan’s ideology and when was the term first coined? (It was never heard of before 1907.)
• Why was Gandhi murdered? (He was supposedly guarding Pakistan’s interest.)
• What is the truth about the so-called traitors, Shaikh Mujeeb, Wali Khan, and G.M. Syed?
• What caused the break-away of East Pakistan?
• Why was Bhutto put to death?
• Are all our politicians corrupt and self-serving?
• Why does our history repeat itself after every 10 years?

The answers to all these questions require a thorough study of history, not mythology. But history unfortunately is a discipline that has never been taken seriously by anyone in our country. It’s time things changed.

Monday, March 10, 2008

B K Nehru on IAS

The Civil Service In Transition


B. K. Nehru
(former Indian ambassador to the U.S.)

Article based on lecture delivered at the
India International Centre, New Delhi
on 15 October 1999

It is not possible to run any kind of government whether a dictatorship or a monarchy or a democracy without a large number servants of the State to ensure that the orders of the Ruler are carried out. Prior to the emergence of democracy, which in itself is a relatively new form of governance, the Ruler appointed his servants from among his courtiers, relatives, and favourites. They were responsible to him and held their office at his pleasure.

A modern Civil Service, with its well-defined regulations, defining what qualifications its members should have, how they should be chosen, the duties they have to perform and their own rights regarding their salaries, their security in service and the like, is linked with democracy and the Rule of Law which is one of its prime functional features.

The first step towards the establishment of a Civil Service seems, however, to have been taken by the Bourbons. This idea was further improved by Napoleon who formalised the system of Prefects (corresponding to our Deputy Commissioner or Collector) and created the three "grands corps" which further extended the functions of the civil services and gave them a high position in society. It is perhaps this ancestry that has made the Civil Service in France, the best organised, the best trained and the most respected of such organizations. It is not by accidents that two of the five Presidents of the Fifth French Republic have been career civil servants.

The history of the Indian Civil Service starts with the East India Company. It was as early as 1800 AD that Lord Wellesley realising that the administrators of the Empire required high education, expertise, and character established the College of Fort William where every employee of the company was to be sent for a three-year course of education of the standards of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Among other subjects taught were ethics and international law, and in addition, Indian history and oriental languages. The Directors, however, while accepting the proposal decided that the college should be in England. This is how that, for a whole half-century and more, all members of the Civil Service were educated and given special training at the East India College at Haileybury. The method of recruitment was by competitive examination but the method of entry was by nomination of the Directors. In 1853, the competition became an open one -- a full seventeen years before the Home Civil Service could do the same.

The examination for the ICS took place in London and the curriculum, according to which the merit of the candidates was determined was such that Indians had little chance of competing successfully unless they were rich and had studied at a school in England. The constant demand of the Indian National Congress since its birth in 1885 was to increase the numbe of Indians in the ICS. Consequently first the curriculum was widened and then in 1922, a parallel examination began to be held in India. The end- result was that at the time of the transfer of power, half the members of the ICS were Indians.

In the long period in which the ICS had developed, the methods of recruitment and training, the duties, the division of responsibilities, and the salaries had all been very well worked out and standardised. What the methods of recruitment and training were half a century ago would best be illustrated by my own story. Having graduated from Allahabad University, I was sent to England to study Economics, Political Science and the Law with the objective of joining the ICS. Three quarters of the Indian students in England had the same objective; less than a quarter achieved it.

The competitive examination was a joint one for the Diplomatic, the Home, the Indian, and the Colonial Services. The age limit was between 21 and 24 thus giving everyone three chances. The total of the marks for the examination were 1,900. Of this 500 were compulsory for testing out your knowledge of, and ability to write, English and your general knowledge, which included sciences of various kinds. 300 marks were reserved for the Viva Voce and for the remaining 1100 , you could choose any subject on earth from Astronomy to Zoology. This meant, in effect, the equivalent of two university degrees.

The Viva Voce was designed to test personality, moral values, and awareness of what was happening in the world, reactions to problems and situations and the like. The obvious question for me to be asked was that, considering that half of my family was in jail, how was it that I wanted to serve the British Government. My answer was that I wanted to see for myself whether my being in the ICS would help my people. If I found that it would not, I would resign. This earned me 277 marks because what was expected of an ICS officer was truth, courage, honesty and integrity and not cringing sycophancy.

After having been chosen, you had to undergo one or two years' probation in England according to whether you had taken the London or the Indian examination. This period was spent at Oxford, Cambridge, or the School of Oriental Studies in London. It consisted principally of studying Indian Law and procedures, mostly criminal and the Law of Evidence, getting an idea of the revenue system, reading Indian history and learning the language of the province to which you had been assigned. Thereafter, there was one final examination which included, among other things, your ability to ride a horse!

The real training started on one's arrival in India. The new recruit was put in the charge of a Deputy Commissioner or Collector. These trainers were specially selected for their interest in, and capacity for teaching the newcomer not only what his duties were, but to instill into him the proud traditions of the service he had joined. He was also taught what his behaviour should be, how he should acquaint himself with the culture, customs, desires and difficulties of the people in the villages, how to make and keep the revenue records, and how to try both criminal and revenue cases.

It was the custom that the trainer invited his new Assistant Commissioner to stay with him. (This was not free of charge, the standard rate for the paying guest, when I arrived in 1934, was Rs. 150 per month, all inclusive.) The constant company of the teacher with the pupil made it a guru-chela relationship. It is a thousand pities that the custom disappeared soon after Independence; no two Indians ate the same food! My guru took me with him on his tours, his inspections, his courts, his shikar (which was seldom), to play tennis at the club, and to whichever function he was invited. Apart from this, it was instilled into me, that as a member of the ICS, my integrity, financial, moral and ethical, was to be beyond suspicion. Every action of mine should therefore be fair, just, helpful and kind. There was to be no fear or favour in my actions or decisions and no listening to sifarishes of which I would get plenty. I had to be firm but always polite and courteous. I had to remember that I was not a ruler of the people, but their servant, working for their benefit. I also had to realise that no matter how insignificant I might regard myself to be, in this small rural district, I was a very important person. Whatever I did was expected to be the right and correct thing to do. I had, therefore, to be specially careful.

Thereafter followed the routine training -- treasury training for three months in the hills for the summer, six months of "settlement training" when I started as a labourer pulling the "jarib" or iron chain with which the fields were measured and was gradually promoted to the rank of tehsildar. During this period, I was prohibited from returning to headquarters and was to go from village to village to know the people by living among them. I was given training for six months as a class-I Magistrate followed by six months of "judicial training" as a subordinate judge, second class. Thereafter I was ready to be given independent charge as Sub-divisional Officer.

The IAS probationer of today gets a far wider and variegated training than I, like my pre-Independence colleagues, ever did. They are far better equipped to handle the far more complicated issues of today. But I have some doubt whether there is today the kind of character-building that I got in the first few months of my service, when I was taught what justified my very existence -- that I was there to serve the people. This had to do with humanity and devotion, give them justice within the law, do everything I could to help them improve their condition and to all this without committing even a single act of doubtful integrity.

Times have changed and with them has changed totally, the position of the all-India services. How completely and drastically this has happened can
best be illustrated by my describing four incidents. One was during British
times; the second, during the regime of Jawaharlal Nehru, when the Rule of
Law was still strictly enforced; and the other two are relatively recent.

Sometime in the 1930s, the Finance Member -- as cabinet ministers were then called -- ordered a new carpet for his office. The price of the carpet was more than the regulations permitted. The excess was detected by audit and the Accountant General, Ganga Ram Kaula, ordered that it should be recovered from the member's salary. The Finance Member was up in arms and wrote an angry letter to the Auditor General saying, "Ganga Ram Kaula is unfit to be an Accountant General". But that was all. Not only was Ganga Ram Kaula eventually promoted to be the first Indian Auditor General but also honoured with a knighthood.

The second case, to which I was a witness was that the Finance Minister T.T.Krishnamachari asked the Chairman of the Central Board of Revenue, Arun Roy, to show him the income tax returns of a particular individual. Arun Roy said that he was sorry he could not do so because they were secret documents. T.T.K was one of the most powerful ministers India has had, with a highly explosive temper and a vengeful nature. He asked, "Haven't you seen them yourself ?" Arun's answer was he had. The next question was, "You are my subordinate, aren't you ?" The answer: "Yes, sir, I am." Question: "How is it then that I can't see what you have seen?" The answer was that the Chairman of the Board of Revenue was a member of the Income Tax Department, but the minister was not. The minister was furious, but could do absolutely nothing. Arun Roy was promoted to be Economic Secretary in the Finance Ministry and later to be the Auditor General of India.

Now take two relatively recent cases. A young IAS officer went to the minister concerned with the request that the orders for his transfer should be delayed by a few months. The minister asked him what his category was. The officer did not understand what "category" meant. The minister explained that service officers were divided into three categories -- A, B, and C. Category A obeyed orders without ifs and buts. Category B raised objections when they thought the orders were against the law, but eventually agreed to carry them out. Category C consisted of those who stuck to their objections and refused to do what the minister wanted. Category A officers alone were of any use. Now and again, category B was also acceptable, but he had no use for category C at all. "Now, tell me to which category do you belong?" The poor officer, who apparently belonged to category C, said goodbye and walked out.

The second case is that of a cabinet minister bringing with him luxury items worth several lakhs from a visit abroad. The Assistant Commissioner at the airport asked for the duty to be paid. The minister's clerk said that these goods belong to the minister. They should be let in duty free. The officer could not accept that interpretation of the law. The duty was paid but within a week was transferred from Delhi to Chennai.

I shall try to describe how, when, and why this revolutionary change took place. There are many reasons for this change. Historically, the first is that the Indian National Congress was highly prejudiced against the ICS and the Indian Police Service. Given the history of the struggle for freedom, this was not surprising. Most freedom fighters did not understand that the service at whose hands they suffered was performing its duty to implement the law. The law was not made by the members of the services. It was made by the Viceroy and the Secretary of State for India in London. Nobody could have stated the difference between making the law and enforcing it better than the judge, C.V. Broomfield of the ICS who sentenced Mahatma Gandhi to six years' imprisonment in 1923. The last sentence of his judgement was, "If the course of events in India makes it possible for the Government to reduce the period and release you, no one will be better pleased than I."

Occasionally they did understand the difference but the masses did not. When my mother was arrested in 1942, the police officer who came to arrest her begged "Mataji," as she was universally called, to pardon him for what he was doing. Mataji told him that he was doing nothing to be pardoned for. His duty was to arrest her because she had broken the law; her duty was to break the law. Both of them were doing nothing more than carrying out their "dharma."

Most of the leaders who became who became ministers after Independence, had very little experience of administration and sometimes none at all. The only such experience that Prime Minister Nehru had had was one year's tenure as chairman of the Allahabad Municipality. They did not understand that the good laws that were about to pass would not automatically enforce themselves. Good governance required a competent, efficient, and disciplined machine, known as the Civil Service, to do so.

The only leader who understood the importance and the essentiality of the All India Services was Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. In a letter to the Prime Minister on April 27, 1948, he said, "I need hardly emphasize that an efficient, disciplined, and contented service, assured of its prospects as a result of diligent and honest work is a sine qua non of sound administration under a democratic regime even more than under an authoritarian rule. The service must be above party and we should ensure that political considerations, either in its recruitment or in its discipline and control, are reduced to the minimum, if not eliminated altogether." He also saw the importance of organizing the Civil Service on an All-India basis with the Central Government having a considerable say in the recruitment, training, and career of its members, as a counter-balance to the emergence of the centrifugal forces that have repeatedly torn apart the political unity of our country. These proposals were strongly opposed by the Chief Ministers of the states who wanted no interference with their authority and wished then, as they do now, to have pliable officials who could be manipulated more easily than members of the All India Services. In his speech to the Constituent Assembly in October 1949, the Sardar said, "The Indian Union will go. You will not have a united India if you do not have a good All India Service which has independence to speak out its advice -- if you do not adopt this course, then do not follow the present system, substitute something else." Sardar Patel did ultimately succeed in forcing his proposals down the throat of an unwilling Constituent Assembly. All the articles designed to ensure the independence and the security of the services and to prevent any political interference with them, find themselves in the Constitution because of Sardar Patel.

The Prime Minister, as he gained experience of how in actual fact the ICS worked, was fairly soon converted fully to the the Sardar's point of view. During his long tenure of office, no politician dared to interfere with the functioning of the services or bully them into breaking the law. For the first quarter-of-century of our independence, the All India Civil Services continued to function as before.

There had, however, been one change. One of the complaints against the ICS was that it drew "fat salaries," and we were pledged to reduce them. The salaries of the ICS were fixed at very high levels in order to prevent the ICS becoming corrupt in an environment of corruption, both among the Indian rulers and the servants of the Company. These salaries started at Rs. 450 per month for the new entrant and went up to Rs. 4,000 for a Secretary to > the Government of India and a judge of the High Court. They had never been revised during the previous ninety years of rise in prices, so that instead of remaining fat, they became lean. Nevertheless, to fulfill the pledge, they were reduced to Rs. 350 for the entrant and Rs. 3500 for the seniormost posts. Coupled with this, there was steady inflation while rates of income tax were gradually raised to absurdly high levels.

Simultaneously with this, we adopted the policy of nationalising, not only "the commanding heights of the economy," as Jawaharlal Nehru wanted, but also of anything that any minister, Central or State, desired. The industry that was left in private hands was so strictly controlled that virtually nothing could be done without government sanction. The license-quota-permit-raj started and when a senior minister of the Union Government started selling these across the table, corruption started to become a way of life. Be it said to the ninety years old tradition of the ICS, that it did not, for a very long time, in spite of their salaries having become meager, become parties to this dishonesty. Corruption descended to the Civil Services from the top and did not do so till it had thoroughly soaked the political world.

Why has the politician been opposed to the independence of the Civil Services from the very beginning and why has he become as corrupt as he is now? The answer to both questions lies in the Indian Constitution. That Constitution is based on ideas which are still not acceptable to the vast majority of the Indian people although they might be acceptable to the tiny minority which has received a westernised education. Those ideas are democracy, equality, secularism, human rights and, above all, the Rule of Law. All these ideas are of foreign origin and they are contrary to our traditions.

Our tradition of government has, for thousands of years, been that of "Raja and Praja." They were in full practice in 1947 in the Princely states and accepted by the people. The powers of the king are absolute, the wishes and desires of the king are the law which the "praja" cannot question and has to obey. One of his prerogatives, never questioned, is to levy whatever taxes he likes and to take whatever proportion of the revenues of the state for his personal use. Nor was it unusual for the king and his courtiers to accept, and indeed demand, presents or gifts for getting favours in return. There is nothing strange about this because the whole world which, till not so long ago, was ruled by Kings and Emperors had the same traditions as ours. The control over the absoluteness of the King started in England with the Magna Carta in 1215 AD, when the King was forced to hand-over a few of his powers to a handful of his nobles. The movement for the transfer of power from the King to the people took, in England, well over seven-hundred years. These years included civil wars, revolutions, and regicide. We in India, on the other hand, suddenly jumped from the absolute power of the Viceroy to all power being transferred to all the people. If King John had given all his powers to the people in 1215 AD, it is doubtful that England would have ever emerged from chaos.

While we go on priding ourselves at being the largest democracy in the world, the fact is that the only part of democracy that we have really understood and adopted is that every citizen of India has the right to vote. But that in a democracy, the laws passed by the representatives of the people have to be obeyed by every citizen, has not yet been accepted. The concept of the common man is that by casting his vote, he is electing a Ruler, and as the Ruler is all powerful, he can do whatever he wishes, including transferring a part of the public revenue to his own pocket. It is his orders that have to be obeyed and not those of the bureaucrat. The laws that are passed in Parliament in the State Assemblies are not meant to be enforced on the elected representative of the people, his family and his supporters. It is for this reason that most laws are passed without a quorum being present in the House.

In this context, where does the civil servant fit in ? His function is to implement the law. This is regarded by the politician as a check on his power and that check is unacceptable to him. There is, consequently, a continuous war between civil servants who try and live up to the democratic concept of the Rule of Law. For the minister, it is only category "A" officers who are worthwhile. But ideal civil servants are expected to belong to category "C".

The weapon used to bend civil servants to the minister's will is frequent transfers which ruin a man's life and that threat has changed much of the transferees from category C to A. Once having said goodbye to one's conscience, it would be foolish not to also become a partner in the loot that is so easily available. There is unfortunately no denying the fact that an increasing number of civil servants are now corrupt.

Sardar Patel wanted a civil service without political interference, but he forgot to place any limit on the Chief Minister's power to transfer officers. In developed democracies, there are such limitations. In Britain, senior officers cannot be transferred without the orders of the Prime Minister, who will not, by convention, act except on the advice of the Secretary of the Civil Services Department. In India, it is the custom, both in the states and has now crept into the centre, to transfer dozens of civil servants whenever a government is changed.

The other factor which has changed the position of the civil service is the spread of corruption at all levels throughout the country. Not too long after Independence the whole country seems to have changed its religion. The worship of God was replaced by the worship of Mammon. The economic policies we adopted, the strict control over private industry and the totally absurd rates of direct taxation placed enormous powers in governmental hands and gave both, the politicians and the bureaucrat, an opportunity to make money.

As the cost of elections goes on increasing and the size of monetary pool goes on getting smaller as a result of liberalisation, the source of money becomes increasingly objectionable. The very large size of our constituencies make it imperative to raise money for fighting elections. According to recent calculation, the money required by a candidate for the election to the Lok Sabha is Rs. 1.3 crore. That money has to be procured somehow, and those who make it available, now consist largely of members of the underworld, shady characters and criminals of all kinds. Inevitably, the nexus between the politician, the criminal, the corrupt businessman, and the corrupt civil servant gets stronger year after year. Our democracy remains "of the people" but it is neither "by the people" nor "for the people."

Till about twenty years ago, one could say with confidence that there was hardly any member of the IAS who was dishonest or corrupt. These days, I gather that over half of the IAS have joined the politicians in corrupt practices. (They may, if they wish, seek satisfaction in the fact that among the politicians, the percentage on a conservative basis, is well over 80 percent.) It is a matter of credit to the strength of the IAS tradition that they resisted the temptation for so long. This break in the tradition has been helped by the fact that it is only about 50 percent of the IAS who are appointed on the basis of merit through competitive examinations. The other half come through reservation of all kinds and promotions from the State Services. Furthermore, the competitive examination can now be taken by members of some classes till they are well over 30 by which time there is little likelihood that they will be affected by the tradition of the service they join.

The result of all this is two-fold. One is that our system of governance is no longer democratic. The people still elect their MPs and MLAs, but the elected Rulers, who are now getting increasingly accepted as being above the law, are more interested in themselves than the welfare of the people. We abolished 500 or so Maharajas in India but have instead created almost ten times that number of Kings !

Things have come to such a pass that only the other day in the state of Haryana, an MLA along with his supporters, which included muscle men and his security guards, entered the office of a Deputy Commissioner and demanded that he should do something or the other. The DC said that he could not oblige because the Election Commission had temporarily forbidden it. Thereupon, after some abuses, the poor DC was manhandled. In any democratic country, the whole lot of people who were involved would have been immediately arrested on the orders of the Deputy Commissioner, tried for contempt of court, and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. The only thing the poor DC could do was to run to the Chief Minister who did order a case to be registered against the MLA. This was the last that was heard of the matter. How, in circumstances such as these, can the Deputy Commissioner enforce the law?

The position of the Indian Police Service is even worse because they are not regarded as the implementors and enforcers of the law, but members of the private army of the Chief Minister. It is not only he alone whose orders have to be obeyed without question, but the desires and wishes of his wife, children, and grandchildren, have also to be attended to. The crimes committed by the members of the "Royal family" are numerous. Apart from taking bribes or fees for favours done, a practice very common indeed, they range from kidnapping for ransom, to rape and murder. If the crime is so open that some action has to be taken under public pressure, the evidence is so tampered with, that not even a prima facie case can be made out and taken to court.

Furthermore, the prime duty of the police now seems to be not to protect the common man from crime but to protect the VIP and see to it that he is not discomfited in any way. The definition of VIP has also become very liberal, most MPs and MLAs seem to be included ex officio in that category. It is often said that of the 60,000 policemen in the Delhi Police, no less than 40,000 are employed on VIP duties. Given all these circumstances, is there any wonder if a larger proportion of the Indian Police Service than of the IAS have joined the criminals?

The discontent that leads to rebellion, anarchy, and chaos, has many reasons. But the chief reason is our failure to provide to our people that liberty, justice and equality which our Constitution was designed to give them. There is no shortage of good laws we have passed, but we have destroyed the means by which these laws can be implemented.

In order to restart the machine to implement the laws, many fundamental changes have to be made, and can be made without any difficulty if there is the political will to change the existing situation. But that will does not exist. There have been three important reports by commissions appointed by previous governments which have made recommendations that would help in restoring the Rule of Law. The first was the Administrative Reforms Commission, presided over by no less a person than Mr. Morarji Desai. Yet another commission, presided over by Mr. Justice Sarkaria, suggested many valuable reforms which could help greatly in improving our system of governance. The third was the Dharma Vira Commission which would have enabled the police to perform their real functions. These reports have been gathering dust over the years without any action being taken.

Then there have been lying, with the Government of India, for years, proposals for the Supreme Court to amend the basic legislation enacted in the 1860s which, antiquated and out of date as it now is, prevents the administration of justice. There are proposals from the Election Commission to prevent criminals from becoming our representatives. There are proposals from the Law Commission, to change all kinds of laws. Several governments have, over the years, introduced a Lok Pal Bill, but have had to withdraw it.

Our last government, presided over by none other than the present Prime Minister, announced bravely that they would appoint a commission to suggest amendments in the Constitution. A former President of India, the highly respected R. Venkataraman, was appointed Chairman. And then nothing happened. Why did nothing happen ? Because MPs of their own coalition told those who started the move that they would not stand by such ideas. After all, they had the democratic system of governance with all powers vested in the elected representatives of the people. Why did their government want to destroy democracy ? The explanation for their apathy is simple. The corrupt and criminal caucus in our legislatures is so strong that it can block any change which reduces even slightly the unlimited power that they today enjoy.

I have two great fears about the future. One is that it might happen one day when a criminal with some popular support might turn around to say these black-gowned salaried lackeys have no authority to pass judgement over the elected representatives of the people. In a democracy, the people are sovereign. If they have said, by electing him, that he is not guilty, these paid employees have no right to question their decision. If this ever happens, the chaos will be complete.

The other fear I have is that this theory of absolute power which has succeeded in destroying the Civil Service is now beginning to interfere with the autonomy of the Armed Forces. The last time this political interference was started by Mr. Krishna Menon, the country had to pay a very heavy price. Not only did our Army which had never lost a war, have to bear a shameful defeat, but the consequences were even greater. We had to retreat from the policy of non-alignment which we had preached to the world for so long. Not only did we have to beg for foreign help but had, at least temporarily, to do what they desired.

For the next 35 years, no minister dared to interfere with the appointments postings and promotions of the personnel of the defence forces. Some ministers did try but were warned off by the Generals. For the last two years, there have been disturbing rumours of interference and the much more disquieting news is that the Chiefs of Staff have been weak enough to allow this to happen. If the rumours are true, the elected representatives of the people might get a few more votes, but the defence forces will lose the capacity to defend us and the sovereignty of our country.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Railway, Labor & Left

Today's Indian express carried an interesting article
For first time, railwaymen vote to elect unions, derail Left
Vikas Dhoot
Posted online: Thursday, December 06, 2007 at 0000 hrs Print Email
AIRF which traces roots to V V Giri & JP sweeps polls, CITU union ends up sharing power in only one of 16 zones

AIRF says our union not against reforms which will help us
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NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 5: Last week, the country’s largest employer, Indian Railways, elected its official trade unions for the first time by secret ballot. And if the results are any indication of the working class mood, the Left better sit up and take note.

Because the union that swept the Railways elections across the country is the All India Railway Men’s Federation (AIRF) that traces its roots to former President V V Giri, Jaya Prakash Narayan and had George Fernandes as its chief when the Railways went on strike in 1974.

Of the sixteen zones, the CPM-affiliated CITU’s railway union, Dakshin Railway Employees’ Union, won enough votes to be recognized in only one zone — Southern Railways. There too, the union could only muster 33 per cent of the valid votes and will have to share power with the AIRF union that got 38 per cent of the votes.

The AIRF won recognition status in all but one of the sixteen zones — while they emerged as the only recognised union in four zones, they won joint recognition with the Congress party’s National Federation of Indian Railways’ (NFIR) unions in nine zones. The NFIR was set up by the Congress’s INTUC after Independence.

Ironically, the BJP-affiliated Bharatiya Railway Mazdoor Sangh, whose controversial recognition by the NDA government in 2002 actually led to the courts asking for elections by secret ballot, won in just one zone — North Eastern Railways.

“The results are a clear sign that the workers have rejected the politically-affiliated trade unions. Unlike others, we don’t take money from political parties and function in a democratic manner with every functionary being elected by secret ballot,” says Shiva Gopal Mishra, AIRF’s assistant general secretary.

Although AIRF is not in favour of any privatisation that works against railwaymen’s interest, they are not against reforms — unlike the Left unions. “As a responsible trade union, our first goal will be to strengthen the Railways, so we are all for moves that help the Railways run more efficiently and give better customer satisfaction,” Mishra said

Monday, February 27, 2006

My wish list for Budget

So Budget is in the air.Anone who is patient enough to follow indian Newspapers daily must have read by now dozens of Budget wishlist by people.So here is one by me also:

There is always very little for ordinary persons. why the FM has time only to meet industry associations before and after the budget, and not ordinary persons. If he did, i would like to ask him why people should pay income tax at all. People have to increasingly make their own arrangements for health, security and pension, while their tax money goes to fund the bureaucracy.

2.I also wonder how the FM is quick to borrow concepts such as Fringe Benefit Tax and Value-Added Tax from the developed world, but won’t borrow the Social Security concept to provide a safety net to honest tax payers who have a substantial chunk of their income lopped off by the FM and then continue to fork out substantial chunks for municipal and state levies and duties.

3.Ordinary people are tired of the government gouging more taxes from honest taxpayers instead of cracking down on corruption in the tax collection machinery and to improve realisation from lucrative cash generating professions and businesses such as doctors, lawyers, restaurants and jewellers. They also expect this to happen without offering carrots to dishonest persons in the form of amnesty schemes.

4. i am also sick of reading reports like so much corore spent on this development head in this village.Stop this.When you are spending 100's of crores on a scheme.Spend a few lakhs,create a website with photgraphs of all tangible assets created,clear map to that palce,view of that place before and after construction and photos of people using that facility.
I know this can also be manipulated,but here things can be cross checked and we can get rid of at least a few ghost schools or ponds or hospitals.

5. Make it clear to govt employees of all PSUs that he have no locus standi to worry about gain and loss of Nation as long as they are promised job security.So that Bigger banks can be created to take on with private banks and Govt can come out of Airlines Bussiness in which it very wrongly enterd in the firt place by Pt Nehru by taking a well functioning Air India from JRD Tata.

6. It is really astonishing that after writing so many financial softwares and managing big Finance companies we Indains are not yet able to create a national Databse for all taxable transactions.Connecting Share market,banks,IT department,ports and real property market is very far fetched thing;As tihngs stand today if you relocate from one part of country to another IT department doesn't have any peerto peer connection between different zones to check yor past records.

7. In all the technical education institutes and management institutes ( there are some 10 lakh students in this category).Make it compulsory to quote PAn no of your parents while depositing fees or disclose your source of money(such as loan etc.)

8. Same thing for all going abroad or buying consumer durables more than worth 1 lakh.

9.For god's sake impose tax on big agriculturists.Don't use this income to fend your revenue deficit but create irrigation infrastructure from this money by creating a separate fund.

Friday, February 24, 2006

A whistleblower from page 3 community

From Indian Express:

Home > Columns
The cowards we worship
Jessica Lall’s murder is the murder of everything we thought we had become

Suhel Seth On that fateful night about seven years ago, a girl was shot dead in front of 400 people: men and women who are the ones society often hails and fetes. For their intelligence and their achievement. For their sense of fair-play and for their ability to distinguish between right and wrong. How horribly wrong we all were.

Jessica Lall’s murder was a heinous crime, but it nestled within the domain of crime. The acquittal of her murderers is a sin against humanity: the judge who delivered the verdict, the police force which could not prove the crime, the public prosecutor who could not get a conviction and, more importantly, each one of us will sleep a little less lightly. The acquittal is a testimony of the fact that in this country, the rich and the powerful get away with anything they wish to.

The case dragged on for seven years. Innumerable man-hours have gone down the drain and all we have at the end is a battery of smirking lawyers who managed to win an acquittal for their clients. What happens if they too suffer one day at the hands of insensitive yet powerful louts? Because that is what we have become. Louts who have not a care in the world and who believe that escapism is the way to duck accountability. The judgment is symptomatic of what ails our judicial system and it underlines that the time has indeed come to reform our judicial system and processes: to ensure that witnesses cannot turn away, because when they become hostile they help in letting a murderer off the hook, put him back on the streets.

Two of the accused have fathers who play roles in public life. Our ire should equally be directed at them. Manu Sharma’s father cannot be allowed to be in the Congress party and occupy a ministerial office in Haryana when his own son has been charged with such a serious crime. I know people will say he was not proven guilty. But this is exactly the point. Do we wish the India of tomorrow to run only on the strength (or apparent weakness) of its judicial system or has the time come for some serious introspection?

The vice president of a multinational bank mows down a guard in Mumbai and when caught, asks the ubiquitous question: ‘‘Do you know who I am?’’ Of course, we do and this is the response that society needs to deliver. We need to put men like Manu Sharma and his ilk on a shame-and-shun list. These are people who need to be ostracised. But will that happen? I am afraid not. And only because we are essentially a nation that is slowly feeding on a diet of cowardice.

We are scared all the time. We are scared to rock the boat, we are scared of the establishment, we are scared of the eventual social fallout and we are scared that we might suffer. So in our selfishness it is fine to allow the 75-year-old father of Jessica Lall to weep himself to death every time he is awake. Only because we must not suffer — either now or in the future. This speaks volumes of the value-erosion that we are slowly witnessing. An erosion that is happening only because very few Indians today have the courage to stand up and be counted on things that matter. So we will mourn an illegal demolition, we will shout against power cuts and excessive electricity bills, we will raise our voice against the Bangaru Laxman type of corruption, but when it comes to real issues affecting real people, we will turn away.

Jessica Lall had many friends. But only when she was alive. Her colleague at the bar, Shayan Munshi, also turned hostile. Corporate leaders, who had just arrived at Tamarind Court post a CII event, preach governance and ethics and yet none of them had the personal courage to own up to a crime they must have seen. There were senior police officers who, besides being transferred out of the state, have done nothing else. No one in the establishment has been brought to book and that is the real tragedy.

The police blames the citizen, the judiciary blames the law, the citizen blames lawlessness — each stakeholder sacrificing his or her responsibility and in the process creating an even stronger wimp land out of India. And like we forgot the BMW case and Priyadarshini Matoo or, for that matter, Nitish Katara and several other such cases, we will forget Jessica too. And like those who died in the Uphaar tragedy only to be grieved by their families alone, in Jessica’s case too, we will see a habitual forgetfulness set in that will make no one cringe.

This, to my mind, is the real fallout of a flawed system. Can we do anything about it? I believe we can. This paper has shown that courage in journalism is a powerful weapon: it is a powerful influence, it can shape opinions. Shape them so that they are stubborn enough to stand up to the pressures of the rich, the powerful and the insensitive. I guess, once again, the time has come for us to seriously examine the Jessica Lall case not as the murder of a hapless girl who refused drinks to some louts but instead as a murder of everything that we thought we had become. A nation at the cutting edge of knowledge; a nation that reeked of quiet confidence and a value system that we were slowly coming to embrace.

Jessica’s father is not the only man who weeps today. All of India must. Only because if we don’t shed tears and express anger and disgust, we will slowly be co-opted by a system which is wretched and corrupt.

With due apologies to Shakespeare, there is something seriously rotten in the state of India. And this time the blame lies not in our stars but in ourselves.

The writer is CEO of Equus Redcell Advertising