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EDITORIAL

Another blast

On Wednesday, Delhi met with anther terrorist bomb blast, this time again outside the Delhi High Court at Gate Number 5. Eleven persons have been killed and 76 wounded some grievously, in an RDX blast put in a suitcase. This is the 19th attack of the terrorists in Delhi during past 15 years. Home Minister said in the Parliament that Delhi had become a target of the terrorists. In May last, an explosion had occurred almost around the same place following which the Delhi police claimed it had obtained some clues about the culprits. But the Government never disclosed who the culprits were, to which organization they belonged and whether they were prosecuted formally or not. However, the Congress spokesperson Digvijay Singh had quipped at that time his usual rhetoric that he did not rule out the hand of Hindu extremists behind the explosion. No Congress leader or the Government contradicted him. But according to an. .....more

Broadening relationship

Universities in modern times are not just study and research institutions but something more than that. They are required to widen the vision of youth community by interacting with like-minded counterparts all over the world with the view of universalizing human relationship and values. The recently organized interactive session on "Indo-US Cultural Relations" by the Business School (TBS) and the Department of Political Science of Jammu University at TBS Conference Hall, with the American Centre, New Delhi, is a manifestation of the new vision. Usually we are under an impression that foreign missions in our country or our missions in foreign countries are supposed to work only within the boundaries. .....more

Delhi belly is shaken

By Sudhansu R Das

Fresh terrror attack on India's political capital after a gap of three months has shaken the country again. Everything was fine in the morning and people still had the festival hang up. Suddenly, the high intensity bomb tore apart the morning calm of Delhi and took nine innocent lives and injured 47 . .. . ...more

Tackling black money

By Joginder Singh

A young politician, from Andhra, who was hoping, to become the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, to succeed his late father, has been ordered to be investigated for his assets by Andhra Pradesh High Court by the CBI for allegedly amassing of huge wealth and money laundering Delivering its verdict on the writ petitions filed by Congress minister P Shankar Rao and TDP leader K Yerrannaidu, . ...more

Fall of a fixer

On The spot
By Tavleen Singh

On a Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Delhi not long ago I happened to be seated next to Amar Singh. We met after more than three years. In this time he had become estranged from his political mentor, Mulayam Singh, and suffered such severe kidney problems that a transplant had become necessary. These misfortunes appeared to have resulted in his rich and powerful friends falling away so it did not surprise me that he looked subdued and gloomy compared to the old, ebullient Amar Singh I had once known well. He sat down silently in the seat next to mine with a nod of acknowledgement. ... ....more

EDITORIAL

Another blast

On Wednesday, Delhi met with anther terrorist bomb blast, this time again outside the Delhi High Court at Gate Number 5. Eleven persons have been killed and 76 wounded some grievously, in an RDX blast put in a suitcase. This is the 19th attack of the terrorists in Delhi during past 15 years. Home Minister said in the Parliament that Delhi had become a target of the terrorists. In May last, an explosion had occurred almost around the same place following which the Delhi police claimed it had obtained some clues about the culprits. But the Government never disclosed who the culprits were, to which organization they belonged and whether they were prosecuted formally or not. However, the Congress spokesperson Digvijay Singh had quipped at that time his usual rhetoric that he did not rule out the hand of Hindu extremists behind the explosion. No Congress leader or the Government contradicted him. But according to an email received by two TV Channels, the Harakatu'l-Jihad-e Islami has owned the responsibility of Wednesday's blast.
Many questions are asked about the explosion. After May explosion, the security authorities had said that more CCTVs would be installed at the High Court premises as it was a very sensitive place. But this remained on paper or on the lips of authorities. The security apparatus like hand screen etc. at the gate is reported to be dysfunctional. The entire security performance at the sensitive place is reported to be of lackadaisical nature without any semblance of seriousness in performing the duty assigned to security personnel. The day of explosion, meaning Wednesday was specifically chosen to make the blast because this is the day fixed by Delhi High Court for admission of PIL application and hence a large number of people would be exposed to the fatal explosion. This is precisely what happened.
The Wednesday explosion is a message to the Government that consequences of hanging Afzal Guru can be much more disastrous than what it might imagine. Sending a message through exploding RDX is a classical method of terrorist to terrorize a democratic state. This is the result of half-hearted handling of terrorist cases in this country; this is the result of dragging on the justice in cases of acute criminality. We have now the Tamilnadu assembly asking for amnesty to the killers of Rajiv Gandhi and J&K Government almost asking same thing in the case of Afzal Guru. Trying to draw political mileage out of terrorism and criminality is what helps terror spread its tentacles deep in this country. We have never heard of the punishment given to any of the indicted persons in 19 cases of bomb blasts in Delhi during past 15 years even if the court verdict holds them responsible for terrorist act.
This is not the way how our country can counter terrorist attacks on civilians and soft targets. A vacillating Government is no answer to determined terrorism. An elected government is answerable to the people and if the security of the people is left to intentional jeopardy, the Government loses the right to govern. Ouster of the Home Minister or any other senior functionary in security chapters on account of this or that terrorist attack is a meaningless exercise. Government should not focus on persons but on institutions. The institution of vote bank is the greatest threat to the very survival of our democracy because it is the biggest hindrance to the Government in dispensing quick justice. For ensuring their vote banks, political parties can go to any length of compromising with any and all including elements patently inimical to the state. That is what has been reported in the matter of Naxalism and Maoism. The Government has to make introspection because the cancer is spreading in ranks within. After every terrorist blast, the Home Minster and others concerned with security arrangements make bold speeches of upgrading security measures, inducting more sophisticated weaponry and communication system in police and things like that. No leader, much less the Prime Minister or the Home Minister speaks of reforming our political culture, breaking vote-bank jinx, universalizing secularism by suppressing reservation concept, sensitizing the nation to the dangers of compromising and national security. How can the state control terrorism when the ruling coalition loses no time in projecting the opposition as the bastion of communalism? This is a divisive strategy and the result is self evident, terrorist attacks, sabotage, disruption of law and order and destabilization of the state.

Broadening relationship

Universities in modern times are not just study and research institutions but something more than that. They are required to widen the vision of youth community by interacting with like-minded counterparts all over the world with the view of universalizing human relationship and values. The recently organized interactive session on "Indo-US Cultural Relations" by the Business School (TBS) and the Department of Political Science of Jammu University at TBS Conference Hall, with the American Centre, New Delhi, is a manifestation of the new vision. Usually we are under an impression that foreign missions in our country or our missions in foreign countries are supposed to work only within the boundaries of politics and diplomacy. The world of art, culture, economy, human relationship etc. are not projected as the realms of equal if not of more importance to the nations of the world. In regard to Indo-US relations, the foremost important aspect is of two biggest democracies of the world trying to accommodate views and aspirations of a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. This is a great experiment in inter-societal relationship aimed at raising human life to higher levels through viable peaceful means. Once, a sadist said in lighter mood that "the US has no past and India has no future." This perverted thinking did persist for some time with certain circles, but what is obtaining now falsifies all derogatory cliché like these. India and the US have voluntarily taken upon themselves the task of exemplifying the positive and constructive vision of the future of mankind. Jammu University has made a small but commendable contribution in its own way to that end.

Delhi belly is shaken

By Sudhansu R Das

Fresh terrror attack on India's political capital after a gap of three months has shaken the country again. Everything was fine in the morning and people still had the festival hang up. Suddenly, the high intensity bomb tore apart the morning calm of Delhi and took nine innocent lives and injured 47 innocent people in front of the gate No.5 of the Delhi High court at 10.14 AM. TV journalists leaped into action as they repeatedly said the Delhi police was informed about the terror attack and there was also intelligence input supplied well in advance. The media had promptly reported people have reported to police.about the abandoned bag well in advance. The question is whether the life of innocent people in Delhi are in safe hand. It is not known whether such negligence is due to sheer inefficiency, lethargy or fatigue. A few weeks back terrorist attack on India’s financial capital Mumbai took 21 lives, injured 141 people and left behind many orphans, widows and helpless people.
India cannot percolate its growth benefit unless it nips terrorism in the bud. It is not only the loss of lives and livelihood but terrorism has created huge trust deficit in the society. For a developing nation like India the cost of security checks, man power and loss of productivity hours is too much a burden on this country. US long war against terrorism is one of the reasons for its economic slowdown which causes ripples in other economies also. Though there has been no authentic survey to estimate the damage due to terrorism across India, the loss will run into billions of dollar if we take into account the damage to economic assets, relief and rehabilitation packages, various forms of compensations, death of elite security personnel, cost of deployment of forces, huge productivity loss, burden of orphans and widows on families, loss due to closure of small business, damage to property, loss due to bandh, migration of people, cost of acquisition of sophisticated anti terrorist weapons and upgradation of surveillance technology etc. Mr V K Saraswat, the Scientific Advisor to the Defense Minister reportedly said India should include unmanned battle field, single command center, unmanned ground aerial and underwater vehicles, unmanned tank and gun mounted robots, high powered laser, microwaves, particle beams and anti satellite weapons. All these futuristic weapons will not hide India’s inability to collect grass root level human intelligence on terrorist network across the country. In a span of five years from August 2003 to November 2008 more than 21 terrorist attacks in India took nearly 2000 lives and injured three times more than the number of death. The terror attacks on India's fiancial capital was meticulously planned in Pakistan to damage India’s financial capital which fetches 40% of foreign trade, collects 60% of custom duty, 40% of income tax, 20% of central excise and generates $ 10 billion corporate tax. Terror attacks on Mumbai has already triggered migration of Mumbai residents to nearby Pune, Nashik, Solapur and Kolhapur cities.
Similarly, maoist violence has affected lives and livelihood in 182 out of India’s 626 districts. The productivity loss in those districts is huge as violence affects small economic activities, tourism, trade, banking, academic session, infrastructure and collection of minor forest products etc. Over the years maoist leaders have successfully channeled the tribal reaction to poor governance and corruption in back ward districts into violent guerrilla activities. The maoist leaders can also offer an alternate economic model for tribal development and win election with the support of the tribal. Bihar Chief Minister who is known for his anti hero image has made visible change in his state. He has attached palatial mansions of corrupt officials and converted them into schools and nurshing homes. Orissa's bachelor Chief Minister Naveen Pattnaik follwed suit by attaching buildings of one corrupt official recently. There are so many buglows which can be attached for development of schools and hospitals. If politicians undergo a transformation from bad to good they can do wonder because a nail can easily remove a nail. In order to consolidate the gain from economic growth, the Union government has to strengthen its internal security. The first step should be to dismantle the present recruitment procedure and evolve some new mechanism to pick up quality people on the basis of merit only. Safety of the innocent citizens should get the priority over religion, caste and language.

Tackling black money

By Joginder Singh

A young politician, from Andhra, who was hoping, to become the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, to succeed his late father, has been ordered to be investigated for his assets by Andhra Pradesh High Court by the CBI for allegedly amassing of huge wealth and money laundering Delivering its verdict on the writ petitions filed by Congress minister P Shankar Rao and TDP leader K Yerrannaidu, the Andhra Pradesh High court said financial misdeeds involved huge government largesse and corporate dealings including huge investments as part of the quid pro quo arrangement for the largesse and benefit received by the investors from the state government. Rao alleged that Jagan’s income which was only Rs.11 lakh in March 2004, had now gone up to Rs.43,000 crore.
It directed the CBI to register a case under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, Prevention of Corruption Act and Prevention of Money Laundering Act. It gave liberty to CBI to bring under the scanner even those who are not a party to this writ petition, thus enabling the the CBI a free hand to probe the alleged role played by public servants and bureaucrats as well in this quid pro quo arrangement.
From May 2004 onwards, Jagan floated a number of companies “wherein quid pro quo investments have been made out of the benefits received by the investors/beneficiaries from the decisions of the state government in various forms like SEZs, irrigation contracts, relaxation/permission for real estate ventures, mines etc, besides payment of huge premium amounts in the shares and invested in the companies by such beneficiaries.,” the order said.
The Bench held that “the money so paid is nothing but corrupt money attracting Section 3 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. The investigation by the income tax authorities with respect to assessment orders of Jagathi Publications (publishers of Sakshi newspaper) for the year 2008- 09 shows huge unexplained cash credit.
Stating that the face value of the shares of some companies were escalated by as much as 35 times, the Bench said Jagan is “directly or indirectly connected with some of the companies which are showing phenomenal growth” and that it is necessary to ascertain the “role of individuals/ firms/public servants” in his group companies.
Stating that the material available supports a thorough probe into all aspects of the financial misdeeds on charges of corruption and moneylaundering, the division Bench said there are also “criminal conspiracies and commission of other related offences involving huge investments by local and foreign companies” including some located in tax-haven countries like Mauritius.
Former chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy extended huge benefits in the form of allotment of lands, mineral rights, licences, SEZ rights to develop ports all along the eastern coast, permission for star hotels and complexes in and around Hyderabad and other major cities the state Corporates and individuals who benefited from these favours were made to invest kickback amounts into individual and corporate businesses of Jaganmohan. On account of the quid pro quo arrangement, Jagan’s income rose from Rs 11 lakh in 2004 to Rs 43,000 crore by the time of YSR’s demise.
The young politician had approached the Supreme Court against the probe ordered by the High Court. The Supreme Court has rejected the same, saying that the High Court order is a reasonable one.
“I came to know that some DMK men said they were not bothered by it as it was like little water spilling out of a pot full of water,” she said.
The Supreme Court has more than once pulled up the government for withholding information on black money stashed in foreign banks, saying it is not just limited to tax evasion but a “mind boggling crime” amounting to “theft” and “plunder” of national wealth having security ramifications. Does the approach of the Government mean that any powerful politician, suspected of store his ill gotten wealth,, can do so by keeping it in a Foreign Bank, as has been happening so far.
Corruption and black money are the two sides of the same coin, co-existing side by side. Most micro and macro socio-economic problems faced by our nation have the same deep, underlying inter-connection.
The way, the things are going on, and the wealth of the politicians has been increasing proves only what Truman once said that “ YOU cannot get rich in politics,unless you are a crook, further adding, that I never give them hell. I tell them the truth and they think that it is hell.
The problem in our country, is that treat economic crime, and looting of the public and people’ money, as something not very serious. We do not look down on economic thieves, as we do, in so far, as bulrgalrs are concerned.
In a first of its kind move, the Swiss government has agreed to tax black money held by UK citizens in Swiss bank accounts for the first time, while still hiding their identity.According to a a report, the deal could see between 3 billion pounds and 6 billion pounds a year being handed to British Government.
The agreement is a part of the British Government’s latest efforts to track down and tax money hidden in offshore bank accounts.
It follows a similar deal agreed earlier between Germany and the Swiss authorities. No doubt, it is a land mark deal . The world has obviously changed for tax evaders, as a few years ago, nobody would anticipate such an agreement, to tackle tax evasion.
The world has changed for Brish Tax Evaders, Meanwhile, David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said, “The historic agreement will enable us to collect billions of pounds from those who have for too long evaded their responsibility to pay UK tax by abusing Swiss banking secrecy.”
For decades, Swiss banking laws have provided complete secrecy to foreigners operating bank accounts there.
The account holders have been able to use the accounts to hide money from the own tax authorities, without even having to pay any Swiss tax.
From 2013, the Swiss will tax the bank accounts of UK citizens and transfer the money directly to the Treasury, but without revealing the identity of the account holders.
The least that Government of India, can do to tackle the menace of Black Money is to negotiate with the Swiss a similar agreement, so that more than on third of the Indian Black money could be got to India, in the beginning.

Fall of a fixer

On The spot
By Tavleen Singh

On a Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Delhi not long ago I happened to be seated next to Amar Singh. We met after more than three years. In this time he had become estranged from his political mentor, Mulayam Singh, and suffered such severe kidney problems that a transplant had become necessary. These misfortunes appeared to have resulted in his rich and powerful friends falling away so it did not surprise me that he looked subdued and gloomy compared to the old, ebullient Amar Singh I had once known well. He sat down silently in the seat next to mine with a nod of acknowledgement by way of greeting. I assumed that, like me, he was one of those travelers who likes to sleep and read on flights so I went back to reading my book while he flicked silently through a newspaper. It was only when the meal service began that he initiated a conversation. I asked about his health and he said that the kidney transplant had worked well but he had to be very careful not to eat or drink the wrong sort of things. When I looked pointedly down at his plate of spicy kebabs he smiled wanly and said that he would have to go home and take a whole lot of pills to compensate.
Once we got talking he talked about lots of things. I gathered that he was bitter about the manner in which he had been ousted from the Samajwadi Party. He hinted that his only crime was his closeness and loyalty to Mulayam Singh. This had made his family jealous now that his brother and son are both in politics. He reminded me that it was really because he had been able to interpret Mulayam Singh’s political ideas to important people in the drawing rooms of Delhi and the glamorous parties of Bollywood that Mulayam had achieved the status of being recognized as a national leader. I agreed that this had indeed been the case and reminded him that I had been witness to the transformation.
When I first met Mulayam Singh (through Amar Singh) he was no more than a small time politician with some very odd ideas about the world. He told me during that first meeting that he believed India was a poor country only because Narasimha Rao’s Government (in power then) had taken loans from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. His ideas on politics and foreign policy were equally bizarre and it was Amar Singh who later explained that he was a simple man who did not always understand complex issues.
Amar Singh translated Mulayam’s ideas not just for me but for so many important people in Delhi and Mumbai that it was not long before famous movie stars and rich industrialists started flocking to Lucknow to share in Mulayam’s ‘political vision’. Among them were Godrejs, Ambanis and most notably Amitabh Bachchan himself. Unfortunately, Amar Singh’s huge social and political skills changed him as a person. When I first met him he was a small time power broker operating on the outer edges of political Delhi. He was humble, helpful and full of jokes. This changed when he became Amitabh Bachchan’s confidante and constant companion. After he went on to become a permanent star on page 3 I saw him less and less. Once when I ran into him at a Bollywood party, in a garden by the sea, I noticed that he was the centre of attention despite the presence of major movie stars and glamorous socialites. Everyone paid court to him and everyone seemed to want to be seen as a close friend of his. In Delhi he took to meeting only people who were politically important and rich and although he never stopped sneering at the ‘cocktail party crowd’ he was always at the parties he sneered at. He was fawned over and feted and his style of living changed dramatically.
Now whenever I saw him he traveled in expensive foreign cars and wore expensive foreign things. He spent so much money on ‘renovating’ his Government bungalow in Delhi that people started to gossip about how he had suddenly come into so much money. He attributed it, whenever he was directly asked, to his businesses doing very well but this did not end the gossip and his reputation changed from being a powerbroker to a ‘wheeler-dealer’. His growing arrogance with journalists who asked difficult questions and his patent desire to always be seen only in the company of rich and powerful people lost him many of his old friends. When his rich and famous friends fell away after his rift with Mulayam Singh he seemed to disappear entirely from page 3 and public life. On the flight to Delhi he did not speak much about personal matters but hinted that he was hurt by the distances that had grown between him and his most famous friend, Amitabh Bachchan. When it came to his political future he said he was often in Uttar Pradesh holding meetings and rallies which he said were well attended. I gathered that he was eager to hitch his small bandwagon to a larger one and that he was already negotiating with different political leaders.
Amar Singh’s problem was that he forgot, somewhere along the way, that he derived his celebrity from Mulayam Singh’s political power and that on his own he was seen not so much as a political leader but a fixer. In Delhi’s political circles fixers are tolerated but rarely respected so it should have surprised nobody that when they took him off to Tihar jail last Tuesday there were few tears shed for him. Even the BJP, whose MPs he allegedly bought to save Dr. Manmohan Singh’s first government, seemed more interested in nailing the beneficiaries of his largesse than in what happened to him. As for friends from happier days there seemed to be no sign of them. Television reporters who waited outside Tihar Jail to record every moment of his incarceration said the only people who had come with him were members of his immediate family. As someone who knew Amar Singh in the old days before he became drunk with political power and celebrity it made me sad to see him so alone in his time of trouble. But, when a fixer bites the dust in political Delhi there are, alas, never many mourners around. That is how it has always been.



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