gfiles magazine

November 10, 2014

From the Editor
Was the roadmap drawn by the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, accurate? Did Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi play a constructive and dynamic role in the freedom movement? Was Indira Gandhi’s stint as Prime Minister of India in the post-Independence era defensible? Delving into the past invariably yields a million debates. Innumerable books have been written on countless aspects of history. It behoves us to keep this in mind in the current context—Prime Minister Narendra Modi is rousing everybody over the contributions of Mahatma Gandhi, Vallabhbhai Patel, Nehru and Indira. Who was more beneficial, Patel or Nehru? Should Indira be condemned for butchering democracy in the party and the country? There are many schools of thought, fiercely jousting away.

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SEBI: Turning a blind eye

COVER STORY
regulator defiant companies

SEBI operates less as a regulator and more as a puppet in the hands of those wielding power. Unless the pressure to act comes from the top, it desists from action. The crackdown on DLF is a case in point.
Recently, SEBI cracked down on India’s biggest realty company, DLF. It barred six of its top executives, including promoter-chairman KP Singh, from entering the securities market for three years. Most critics hailed the judgment. On social media, there were comments that the stock market regulator had finally found its teeth.
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‘Public participation in government projects is very much possible’

TALKTIM

Senior Karnataka IAS officer Bharatlal Meena is known for taking innovative steps. Wherever he has been deployed, he has left deep imprints of his work and innovative thinking. Now he is Principal Secretary in the Agriculture Department where he has taken many far-reaching decisions that are going to revolutionise the department in coming days. Venugopalan spoke to him in Bengaluru to know more about his plans. Excerpts:
gfiles: You are known for taking innovative steps for development in a majority of the posts you held. What are the initiatives for which you should be remembered as Principal Secretary, Agriculture?


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Nehruvian economy A rootless wonder!


Jawaharlal Nehru’s flawed economic policies have left a nation finding it difficult to realise its potential even more than 65 years after Independence  

As the first Prime Minister of independent India, who enjoyed uninterrupted power for 17 long years (1947-64), Jawaharlal Nehru was expected to leave a formidable political, administrative, and economic legacy on which future India was to be built upon. Politically, it should have been strong grassroots democracy based on Panchayati Raj institutions. Administratively, there should have been a paradigm change from a colonial command system to a democratic participatory framework of governance. Economic development should have been people-centred, opting for ‘production by the masses’ instead of ‘mass production’. In all these, Pandit Nehru failed and left a flawed legacy which the country is even now finding difficult to cope with.



The Truth About Nehru

The Indian National Congress is in terminal decline. Even if we take a charitable view and hope for a miraculous revival at some stage, it is definitely in a temporary state of debilitation. These are testing times and challenge the loyalty of the faithful to the hilt. The easiest targets are the leaders, whose policies and performance can today be adjudged with the wisdom born out of hindsight.

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Trendsetter Nehru


Nehru had always been far more conscious of his image abroad than in the country, which he could take for granted. The people of India loved and adored him so much that he could get away with anything. He knew the political advantages of having a favourable image abroad; it had given him a head start over all other leaders in the freedom movement. Nehru had spent long years wandering in England and the Continent, conversing with the great minds of the West, Bernard Shaw, Romain Rolland, Andre Malraux, Marcuse, Albert Einstein and so many others. No other leader had so many friends and admirers abroad. Even after he became the Prime Minister, Nehru carried the permissive Western traditions of his father’s aristocratic establishment to Teen Murti House, the massive, red sandstone building where the British Commander-in-Chiefs had lived.

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A hit once in a while but mostly misses

Not only does the Competition Commission of India suffer from internal conflicts, sits role, as defined in the Competition Act, is a bundle of contradictions
The Competition Commission of India (CCI)—the competition watchdog—has a reputation for more misses than hits. Half the people and companies indulging in unfair business practices are beyond its mandate; as far as the other half is concerned, a good number of cases it books gets closed after investigations because of internal contradictions.

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Facing up to crises

Ashok Chandra, a 1959-batch UP cadre IAS officer, has had a fulfilling career. He served in various posts during crucial periods and always emerged with flying colours
Uttar Predesh is a very big State. In my opinion, the State needs to be divided into more manageable areas of administration—Western UP, Eastern UP or Bundelkhand, so that people can focus more on implementation of policies,” says Ashok Chandra, a 1959-batch UP cadre IAS officer. He should know because he served at various levels in the Uttar Pradesh government for close to 15 years before moving to the Centre for 11 years with a five-year stint as adviser to the Afghan government in between.



Heightened volatility

The recent correction in the market, mainly due to the renewed concerns over slowing global growth, and the current lull might suggest that the best days of the market are over for now. Some macro-economic factors are also weighing down market sentiment. The uncertainty due to the winding of the QE3 programme and possible interest rate hikes by the Fed may compel investors to take a cautious approach. The days to come may witness heightened volatility due to mounting concerns over ebola, European slowdown, and cut in IMF and World Bank forecasts for global economic growth.


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Reaching the point of ‘mukti’

Someone once asked me, “What’s the point of mukti or liberation? How is it useful?”I said, “First tell me, does your life have any use? Does it have any value for this existence? If you died right now, actually it would be ecologically very useful. Good manure! Liberation is not about social utility. It is about the life process itself.”




New ministers clueless

need for orientation
Narendra Modi is facing a tough challenge within his Cabinet. As the days are passing, it appears that some of the newly appointed ministers have not fully acquainted themselves with the intricacies of the ministries. Recently, some top professionals went to meet an important Cabinet minister from Andhra Pradesh. They explained the issues before the ministry and suggested buying equipment on a wet lease instead of a dry lease. To this, the minister, without understanding the difference between wet and dry lease, said, “Why buy wet equipment first and then spend money on drying them?”

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Designs on government

business plans to permeate the system
How to make inroads into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office is the biggest challenge for business houses that have never been BJP supporters or sympathisers. With the change of government, it is imperative for most business houses to keep track of matters  and make friends within the government and the party. There are ways to do this if a business house has resources at its disposal. The most influential business houses have come up with a new formula.

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Azad’s sitting pretty

set to retain RS seat

Ghulam Nabi Azad, an Opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha, is one politician who has always been important ever since he joined politics. He knows how to sail even in rough weather. He has been Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir and a Member of Parliament from Maharashtra. Azad’s forte is his organisational skills, having been AICC general secretary for a record nine times and a member of the powerful Congress Working Committee for 18 years. He has been a minister in the cabinets of Rajiv Gandhi, PV Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh.

Pracharak makeover

Bric-a-brac
men & mice

new enthusiasm among workers

If you had ever met an RSS pracharak (a dedicated full-timer) before the advent of Narendra Modi, you may have had an image of a jhola chaap social worker who keeps himself busy working for the organisation. Now, the situation is changing; pracharaks are being appointed Chief Ministers, they hold meetings with top CEOs. These powers are being bestowed on them by Modi. It all started when he made the RSS’ top brass happy and took over the reins of Gujarat as the  first pracharak Chief Minister.


The Doordarshan circus

..by the way

The Prasar Bharati Board is a hilarious arena to watch the great circus of its officers. It appears that Prakash Javadekar, the Minister for Information and Broadcasting, is completely dependent on the advice of professionally untrained and incompetent advisers and is still not able to make out who should run this highly technical and sensitive department. The top name in circulation is that of an officer on deputation, ADG (Ops) Ranjan Mukherjee, who is trying to get the coveted post of member (personnel) of the Board. According to informed sources,

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Driving force

...by the way


The government seems to be sitting on a volcano and as is the norm with volcanoes, no one knows when it will blow. The volcano is the hired taxi system supplied by government contractors and allotted to ministers and secretaries of the Government of India. After the close of production of Ambassador cars, the Central government shifted to the Maruti SX4. Also, most of the government vehicles are not owned by the government.



Haryana’s hunt for Chief Secy

..by the way

Who will be the new Chief Secretary of Haryana? Shakuntala Jakhu, the present Chief Secretary, will retire on November 30. It is likely to be a tough decision for newly elected Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar as he has a limited choice. There are officers who can fill the post but they are currently Secretaries in different departments of the government. Sanjay Kothari, a 1978-batch IAS officer, is working as Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training. Ajit M Sharan is a 1978-batch officer working as Secretary, Sports and Youth Affairs. Ashok Lavasa, a 1980-batch IAS officer, is working as a Secretary in Environment while Anuradha Gupta, a 1981-batch officer, is on an international deputation.



Who is the PMO boss?

...by the way

There is a strange situation developing in the PMO, or so it appears. Everybody is discussing a particular case but nobody dares to divulge any details. The media is conscious of it too but is abstaining from writing about it as there is no one to authenticate the facts. The matter concerns Nripendra Misra, a 1967-batch IAS officer from Uttar Pradesh and a former Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). He is currently Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. The coveted position is the prime window to reach Narendra Modi. All government work is routed through Misra.



October 11, 2014

His Master’s Choice

Cover Story
cbi political tool

When institutions of faith crumble, it hurts. As Peter F Drucker says, “No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organised in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.” As the saying goes, “There are no good or bad regiments but Colonels.” If the man in command is good, the regiment will be good. If he is bad, the regiment will be bad. This holds true for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Each of its leaders changed the organisation’s orientation, independent character, credibility and goodwill.


‘Smart Cities’ Urban Agenda or Utopia?

Governance
urbanisation mg devasahayam

India is fast heading towards a 50:50 rural-urban distribution of population slated for the middle of the present century. Tamil Nadu has already achieved this and other states would soon follow. Such countrywide distribution would mean that in another three-four decades India’s urban dwellers would exceed the combined population of the US and Europe. These habitats are not mere buildings and amenities, but meant for people with flesh and blood to live and work.


Service above all

FIRST STIRRINGS 
deo dutt sharma

all his life he has been like a sailor on a ship called destiny, which invariably called at the right ports. A structural engineering topper from IIT Roorkee, specialising in the impact of earthquakes on buildings, the Indian Administrative Service was not even in Deo Dutt Sharma’s plans in the early 1970s when he joined the Uttar Pradesh Public Works Department (PWD) as an Assistant Engineer at Rae Bareli. Subsequently, he was promoted as Executive Engineer. As luck would have it, because of his outstanding career record, he was interviewed  and found suitable by the UPSC to join the IAS in the 1985 batch of the UP cadre.    


The Inimitable Prime Minister

GOVERNANCE
new paradigm mk kaw

Like many of my compatriots, I have seen and judged Narendra Modi from widely different perspectives. There was a time when I saw him as a mass murderer who had engineered or, at the very least, permitted the anti-Muslim riots. He was portrayed by some as a lackey of the Adanis and the Ambanis, ready to oblige them going out of the way, and then travelling in executive jets for his election campaign at their expense. He was labelled as a dictator who treated his ministers with contempt and was an incipient Hitler.


NSEL scam:Accounted Loot

EXPOSE
scam jignesh shah

Jignesh Shah is out on bail. But the Enforcement Directorate is still working on the case of financial irregularities and fraud against the Shah-promoted National Spot Exchange Limited (NSEL). It has released a notification listing the properties attached by the Maharashtra Government linked with the `5,600 crore NSEL scam. The Directorate is still not able to unearth the alleged unaccounted wealth of some promoters, like former NSEL Director Sunil Daga Khairnar. Whether this step will lead to the return of money of duped investors remains to be seen. In an exclusive, Ajit Ujjainkar brings you the list of the offenders.


Men at the receiving end?

MY CORNER
gender amitabh thakur

Recently I filed a writ petition in the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court, praying for the formation of a National and State-level Men’s Commission to look into specific men-oriented issues and problems. The focus of the petition is on the unique problems being faced by males. It says that the petitioner fully understands, realises and appreciates the fact that in society at large and particularly in Indian society, women in general occupy a more difficult place vis-à-vis their male counterparts.


Buoyancy will persist

STOCK DOCTOR
dr gs sood

Two recent events vindicate my view on the market being in a secular bull run with intermittent corrections coming in. One, the rating upgrade and the other, the Supreme Court’s cancellation of allotment of coal blocks. The market may have run ahead of fundamentals but the uptrend will continue to sustain, more due to earnings’ expansion than due to expansion of earnings’ multiples. The fundamentals, of course, have started to catch up, as reiterated by an upgrade of India’s sovereign rating by international rating firm Standard & Poor (S&P) from negative to stable.