The Hindu: November 7, 2015 03:03 IST
The Rajan touchstone
Chhota Rajan returns to India after 27 years with a profile markedly altered in the time since he fled. From one among the dreaded criminals of Mumbai's underworld, he recast himself as a 'patriotic don', and was helped as such by official handlers, offering occasional cooperation to a section of the Indian security establishment against his archrival, Dawood Ibrahim. He now puts India's law and justice system to the test. Law enforcement agencies investigating Rajan and the courts must deal, and be seen to be dealing, with him in the firmest manner to send the unambiguous message that crime has no role in a democratic society. Assistance extended by Rajan to Indian agencies cannot be seen as anything more than the tactics of a desperado to survive in the criminal world — and certainly not as an act of atonement for a career in crime. Rajan's statements about fighting Dawood and his own love for the homeland are the stuff of riveting spectacle, and should be treated as such. They cannot dilute the Indian state's resolve to fight crime. Rajan, and his former boss Dawood Ibrahim, are from the same stable of criminals who began their assault on Indian democracy. Indeed, that there is an anxiety that Rajan may not be treated as the outright criminal he is, should flag a larger concern.
Rajan's return is also a moment to draw a longer timeline, to determine blurring of lines between organised crime and the rest. In the early years of independent India, political misdeeds, such as the Mundhra scandal, were mostly aberrations. Crime syndicates and robber barons were yet to acquire political/official patronage when the Mumbai underworld began to exploit restrictive import substitution policies and a labyrinthine bureaucracy. Black marketing, gold smuggling and such sundry businesses were still amateur activities when Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Rajan were growing up in Mumbai's lower middle class colonies. It didn't take much time for both to move on from petty crime and join hands to build India's most powerful crime syndicate. Rajan played a key role in the metamorphosis of the Mumbai underworld from knife-wielding smugglers into AK-47-armed syndicates. This is the stuff of legend, but the dons' larger-than-life profiles cannot hide the fact that this could not have been done without complicity among business, political and official circles. This is the reality that should be acknowledged and dealt with if India is to be a durably liberal democracy. With their long tentacles in Indian politics, business and police forces, crime syndicates have had a corrosive effect on the Indian state. When the long arm of the law finally catches up with them, as in Rajan's case, the investigation and justice system must act without fear or favour.
Regarded with great fear or apprehension.
An action or strategy carefully planned to achieve a specific end.
A desperate or reckless person, especially a criminal.
Reparation for a wrong or injury.
Completely engrossing; compelling.
Make a physical attack on.
A departure from what is normal, usual, or expected, typically one that is unwelcome.
(of a network) like a labyrinth; irregular and twisting.
A person who engages in a pursuit, especially a sport, on an unpaid basis.
A slender flexible limb or appendage in an animal, especially around the mouth of an invertebrate, used for grasping, moving about, or bearing sense organs.
Tending to cause corrosion.
The Hindu: November 7, 2015 03:03 IST
Guarantee the funds
For a scheme meant to be used by the poorest of the poor in their leanest times, it is unconscionable that the government owes Rs.3,200 crore to beneficiaries of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). Yet that is exactly where matters have reached with the ten-year-old scheme, a fact the Supreme Court took notice of earlier this week. The scheme was launched by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in its first term and delays in wage payments preceded the change in government, but matters have come to a head over the last year, resulting in a decline in the number of people participating. The number of households that got the legally guaranteed 100 days of work fell from 51.73 lakh in 2012-13 to 46.73 lakh in 2013-14 (under the UPA), and then dipped sharply to 23.24 lakh in 2014-15 (under the NDA). Funds sanctioned for the scheme show a similar steep decline under the NDA government, from Rs.27,484 crore in 2013-14 to Rs.17,074 crore in 2014-15. Research and news reports suggest that delays in wage payments are turning workers away from the scheme and towards more exploitative forms of work that might require them to leave their States, but where payment is guaranteed each week. Institutional mechanisms written into the scheme, including a social audit system, have been neglected, and wages have not kept pace with inflation.
There is now a wealth of evidence of the anti-poverty capacities of the MGNREGS. Perhaps the most rigorous came from the India Human Development Survey, which found that 14 million people escaped falling into poverty on account of it. Yet the incoming NDA government did little to hide its disdain for a scheme that has been lauded by governments, research organisations and multilateral lenders worldwide as a model anti-poverty measure worth emulating. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a speech to Parliament in February, said he would keep the scheme "as a monument to the Congress's failure", he made it clear that the prime value of the scheme to his party was as a political punchline. As the country faced down its second successive drought this year, that disdain was momentarily put aside as the government offered 50 extra days of work under the MGNREGS in drought-hit areas, realising that the scheme's effectiveness in lean agricultural seasons is proven. But without the active political will that is the hallmark of other schemes launched by the NDA government, the message has reached the ground: money will come late or not at all because this scheme is not priority. The government must put petty politics aside and fully commit to a scheme that is a proven success.
(of a person or animal) thin, especially healthily so; having no superfluous fat.
Not right or reasonable.
Have an obligation to pay or repay (something, especially money) in return for something received.
Extremely thorough, exhaustive, or accurate.
The feeling that someone or something is unworthy of one's consideration or respect; contempt.
Why Kerala election in 2016 could make history
The Bihar election will be over and done with in the next few days, analysed to death, and all parties will get on the elections treadmill once again to fight the next round of state polls in 2016. Elections are due to the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Assembly, West Bengal and Assam, all in the summer. The earliest will be Kerala where the election is due to be completed before the end of May. Arguably this is going to be the most interesting election of all because the outcome could be historic: a return of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in a state where no government has ever ruled for a second term and the balance between alliance partners is so fine that a tiny percentage swing of votes can lead to a major electoral upset.
First, the basic facts about Kerala: The Assembly has only 140 seats (Kerala sends 20 seats to the Lok Sabha and just nine to the Rajya Sabha). But alliance politics in the state extends not just to parties but factions within parties.
The current Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy, is enormously popular although the slender majority of the UDF in the assembly (72 seats) belies this. In fact, his cabinet colleague and rival, Ramesh Chennithala, led a campaign that he must stop meeting people and attend to work in the secretariat: he just can't say no to anyone. In this he is different from his erstwhile mentor AK Antony, who, while being in the public eye, is a much more private person. Chandy was Antony's chosen successor and long-time lieutenant but later became a silent critic of Antony's unpopular and unpredictably idealistic political positions.
A former bureaucrat who worked with him wrote in his autobiography that Chandy is a details man. When he was finance minister, the two happened to travel together on the same flight and discussed details of agricultural financing. Three months later, a few days before the budget, Chandy called the bureaucrat to hold another few rounds of discussions on how this could be done.
As Chief Minister, Chandy has taken steps that have been controversial. The liquor policy – which involved shutting down more than 700 bars with permission to sell liquor accorded only to five star hotels - has led to loss of revenue, court cases, a crisis for Kerala's lifeline industries such as tourism, and serious allegations of graft. Finance minister KM Mani from alliance partner Kerala Congress is still fighting off charges of corruption after a dilution of the policy, allegedly in return for financial contributions. But Chandy has stood firm, going on to say that Kerala will become a 'dry' state in the next 10 years while conceding that the revenue loss will amount to Rs 8,000 crore or more. Obviously, he has won tremendous support from the victims of alcohol, women.
But an equally important political intervention by Chandy has been the policy of the UDF towards the Ezhava (toddy tapper) community.
Traditionally the Ezhavas would always back the Left Democratic Front (LDF) – mostly the Communist Parties. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been wooing the Ezhavas aggressively. In fact, one of the first trips undertaken by Narendra Modi when the BJP campaign to launch him as Prime Minister began in 2013 was to a huge function to commemorate Ezhava spiritual leader Sree Narayana Guru at Sivagiri in Varkala district, where he spoke on the tragedy of untouchability – including political untouchability. The event set off alarm bells ringing in the Left parties because here was an effort to decamp with a part of its base, from right under its nose. Modi's meeting drew unprecedented crowds.
Chandy saw all this and looked the other way. Ezhavas deserting the Left could only mean a boost to the UDF and the BJP is not strong enough to pose a challenge. Muslims account for 27 per cent of Kerala population while various Christian sects account for about 18 per cent. While large numbers from both religions back the LDF, the majority has always been with the UDF. What the BJP was doing was breaking the so-called Hindu monolith, much of which was with the LDF.
Just by way of numbers, in the 2011 elections, the UDF got 45.83 percent of popular vote while the LDF had 44.9 per cent vote. The UDF won 72 seats while the LDF's tally was 68. The BJP had 6.03 per cent vote share. In about 35 seats the margins were less than 5,000 votes. These are potential swing seats. In 2006 a six per cent margin in vote share helped the LDF grab 100 seats in the 140 strong state assembly.
What does this tell us? That in the internecine quarrel between Achuthanandan and Pinarayi Vijayan, the two tallest Left leaders, the BJP is gaining ground. But the ultimate gainer is the UDF. That is why the Kerala election in 2016 could make history.
A union or association formed for mutual benefit, especially between countries or organizations.
To a very great degree or extent; considerably.
(of a person or part of the body) gracefully thin.
Try to gain the love of (someone, typically a woman), especially with a view to marriage.
Depart suddenly or secretly, especially to relocate one's business or household in another area.
Missing the pulse
By hiking the official procurement price of chana and masur by Rs 325 per quintal, as against Rs 75 for wheat, the Centre has seemingly sought to encourage farmers to grow more pulses that the country desperately needs, as opposed to surplus cereals. But the move is too little, too late. Minimum support price (MSP) announcements, to be effective, need to be made well before farmers take cropping decisions. In this case, the declaration of a higher
MSP increase for pulses grown in the current rabi season should have been made by mid-October at the latest. Instead, it has happened only now, when rabi sowings have already crossed 8.5 million hectares.
Besides, the increase isn't as big as it is being made out to be. The new procurement prices of Rs 3,500 per quintal for chana and Rs 3,400 for masur are way below the ruling wholesale market rates of Rs 5,000-6,000 per quintal. And given the government's past record of actual procurement of pulses — just over a year back, chana was trading Rs 500-600 per quintal lower than the MSP — the announced official rates aren't incentive enough for farmers to significantly expand acreages. If the Centre really wanted to create a buzz around pulses, it should have fixed an MSP of around Rs 4,000 per quintal and declared this by late-September or early-October. Since open market prices are in any case higher, this would not have had any inflationary impact. But lateral thinking of this kind would probably have been too much to expect from Krishi Bhavan officials, used to mechanical fixation of MSPs divorced from market dynamics.
The Centre has, in fact, made things worse by simultaneously raising the MSP of wheat by 5.2 per cent to Rs 1,525 per quintal. This is a sure-shot formula to ensure farmers plant more of this cereal when the Food Corporation of India is, as it is, holding almost 12 million tonnes of extra wheat in its godowns. Last year, farmers delivered over 28 million tonnes of wheat to government agencies, even with a Rs 50/ quintal MSP increase. They can be trusted to produce and deliver even more with the MSP this time going up by Rs 75 per quintal. Soaring dal prices presented a rare opportunity for the Centre to induce farmers even in Punjab and Haryana to grow pulses, which has unfortunately got relegated to being a dryland crop. The right way to do this would have been to freeze the MSP of wheat at last year's Rs 1,450 per quintal level and simultaneously increase that of chana and masur to Rs 4,000 per quintal.
In not doing so, the Centre has squandered a chance to usher in the "pulse revolution" India needs today
The action of obtaining or procuring something
An area of land, typically when used for agricultural purposes, but not necessarily measured in acres.
Consign or dismiss to an inferior rank or position.
Waste (something, especially money or time) in a reckless and foolish manner.
A person who shows people to their seats, especially in a theater or at a wedding.
Nov 07 2015 : The Times of India (Ahmedabad)
just in jest! - What Women Want Will Decide Bihar
Their courtships have been strong but both Nitish and NaMo have had wingman issues
When clueless men want to know what women want, they often turn to women's magazines, which tell them that what women really want is a man good at listening to them. So when women voters outnumber the men, it's a good bet that the neta who did a better job of listening to them will be first past the post. Because in Bihar women voters have outnumbered the men by a whopping 6%, tomorrow's result could very well turn on whether the mahagathbandhan or NDA got the women really feeling its love. The two courtships were pitched very differently. Nitish Kumar never lost his gentle affect no matter how ruthlessly he jousted. At his rallies, he spoke to women as partners, urging them to feed their husbands and sons only after they had voted Pehle matdan, phir jalpan. As if the women's own vote was already in the bag because of a decade of cycles, jobs, education, law and order. Surely persuasive proofs of love.
But as countless lovers have learnt at bitter cost, sometimes there's no stopping women from looking a gift horse in the mouth and wishing for more. Plus, Nitish's wingman leaves something to be desired. For all the women who had dethroned Lalu Prasad with a sigh of relief back in 2005, it must feel like going on a date with Jai only to find Gabbar sitting next to you at the movies.
Protection from jungle raj is of course a big part of rival NaMo's card of attractions, but he also has his own wingman issues. For good or bad, at least Lalu is easily recognised across the remotest length and breadth of Bihar. Amit Shah, on the other hand, leaves even many a Patnawali scratching her head in bewilderment. Fans say , no worries, NaMo's shoulders are broad enough to carry the day all by himself. He definitely has some of that Me Tarzan, You Jane vibe going for him.
Of course no matter how decisive the women's vote turns out to be in Bihar, it will still be an Anaïs Nin nightmare: "How wrong is it for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself ?" The percentage of women candidates has gone down across political parties, with many women MLAs' seats being given to their husbands instead! This of course is a state infamous for mukhiya patis, who rule the roost over local body seats reserved for women. With more talk of reservation in government jobs, husbands are girding up to become babu patis. On the upside, this election has seen a record number of independent women candidates. As the unstoppable Lady Bike Riders of Bihar, campaigning for women to empower themselves, chant, Rok sako to rok lo.
More women in the game will make more room for heart and hearth matters like the price of pulses. On that front, Nitish and NaMo would have done well to have agreed to a cooking contest during the campaign. Women voters would have liked to have known whether the two gents can dish up a tasty dal, using of course as little of the dear pulses as possible.
A period during which a couple develop a romantic relationship, especially with a view to marriage.
A pilot whose aircraft is positioned behind and outside the leading aircraft in a formation.
(of a medieval knight) engage in a sports contest in which two opponents on horseback fight with lances.
Remove (a ruler, especially a monarch) from power.
Nov 07 2015 : The Economic Times (Mumbai)
Break Service Silos for All Senior Jobs
Debate over IAS vs the rest needs rational solution
Officers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) are peeved that members of other all-India services are demanding pay parity with them in the award of the Seventh Pay Commission. What is called for is a revamp of the entire administrative machinery to liberate it from the stranglehold of `services'. After a few years of service in their specific areas, personnel should be part of a common pool from which further promotions take place, based on one criterion: the best manwoman for the job. In fact, the logical extension of breaking service silos is to open up recruitment to lateral entrants as well. Automatic, predictable promotions should get the boot and the culture of any service getting a stranglehold over senior jobs should disappear.
In principle, this happens already . But it is more common to find a man who has, all through his career, looked after animal husbandry , cooperatives and culture to land the job of supervising the nation's internal security , just because he is from the IAS, than to find a talented audit and accounts officer becoming the finance secretary . This must change.
Senior posts, director level and above, should all be selection posts, rather than predictable promotion milestones along a civil service career. Pay and perks should attach to specific jobs, not to a `service' or a cadre. This will create an incentive for our civil servants to work. Right now, disincentives attend on working, because any mistake might cause some auditor to estimate a huge loss to the exchequer or invite a vigilance inquiry . And there is no gain from working, since promotions are automatic.It is a tribute to our civil servants that so many of them still work, within such a perverse incentive structure that militates against work altogether.
In the armed forces, someone who is passed over for promotion retires, long before the mandatory age of retirement. That should happen in the civil service as well, and put paid to the obscene proliferation of senior ranks that is the rule now. If meaningful reform of the civil service is beyond the scope of the Pay Commission, give it a fresh mandate and more time.
A grip around the neck of another person that can kill by asphyxiation if held for long enough.
A tower or pit on a farm used to store grain.
An act, statement, or gift that is intended to show gratitude, respect, or admiration.
(of a person or their actions) showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable, often in spite of the consequences.
(of a fact or circumstance) be a powerful or conclusive factor in preventing
(of the portrayal or description of sexual matters) offensive or disgusting by accepted standards of morality and decency.
Rapid increase in numbers.
Improved cricket rating
PAKISTAN'S rise to number two on the Test table after a gap of almost a decade is cause for celebration.
This has come after a display of flair and determination during the just-concluded series against England that Pakistan won 2-0.
The national side's batting effort was led by senior pros Younis Khan, Muhammad Hafeez and skipper Misbah ul Haq.
It was Hafeez who rounded off the 'home' campaign in the UAE with a polished, at times stylish, innings in the third and final Test. By and large, however, Pakistan's batting was effective with the trademark Misbah exhibition of purpose that has brought the skipper much respect and success over the last few years — the Gulf has been the happy venue of much of his advance.
The famous Pakistani flair came mostly from the bowlers. It was the delightful wrist work of Yasir Shah and the occasional bursts from Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz and company that provided the more memorable moments in a series that at one stage appeared to tilt in favour of Alastair Cook's team.
Indeed, it was bad light that denied England a dramatic victory in the first Test of the series, and the determined and ever-threatening 'tourists' were very much in it until about halfway into the second Test when the bowling gave Pakistan the decisive edge.
The advantage was pushed home and the gritty opposition overcome in the final game of the series to provide fans and cricket officials in the country a reason to rejoice.
This is a welcome reprieve in extremely diffic ult circumstances in which Pakistan has not been able to host big games inside the country. So much was forgotten in the moment of joy; even the severest critics of Misbah and the men under his command thought it necessary to come up with a public statement in their praise.
Let the spirit prevail until the beckoning of Pakistan's next challenge that includes a series against wounded England on their own soil in the summer of 2016.
The captain of a ship or boat.
A special or instinctive aptitude or ability for doing something well.
(of a container) break suddenly and violently apart, spilling the contents, typically as a result of an impact or internal pressure.
Move or cause to move into a sloping position.
The outside limit of an object, area, or surface; a place or part farthest away from the center of something.
Containing or covered with grit.
Feel or show great joy or delight.
Cancel or postpone the punishment of (someone, especially someone condemned to death).
Prove more powerful than opposing forces; be victorious.
the newyork times
The Push for Legal Marijuana Spreads
Support for making marijuana legal is increasing around the world, and that is a good thing. Earlier this week, the Mexican Supreme Court opened the door to legalizing the drug by giving four plaintiffs the right to grow cannabis for personal use.
In Canada, the newly sworn in prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has said he intends to change the law so people can use the drug recreationally; medicinal use is already legal in that country. And in the United States, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, recently introduced a bill that would let states decide if they want to make the drug legal without worrying about violating federal law.
Laws banning the growing, distribution and possession of marijuana have caused tremendous damage to society, with billions spent on imprisoning people for violating pointlessly harsh laws. Yet research shows that marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol and tobacco, and can be used to treat medical conditions like chronic pain.
The Mexican Supreme Court's ruling, which applies only to the four plaintiffs seeking a right to grow marijuana, does not strike down the country's marijuana laws. But it will open the way to more legal challenges and put pressure on President Enrique Peña Nieto and the Mexican Congress to change the law, which has helped to fuel drug-related crime in the country.
Prohibition in Mexico and elsewhere in the Americas will also become harder to maintain if California voters legalize recreational use of marijuana. Activists there are seeking to put legalization initiatives on the 2016 ballot. California was the first state to allow medicinal use of the drug in 1996, and it is a big market for illegal Mexican cannabis. It would make little sense for Mexico to spend countless millions a year in drug enforcement to ban a substance that is legal and regulated across its northern border all the way up the western coast to Canada. Oregon and Washington have already legalized the drug, as have Colorado, Alaska and the District of Columbia.
Some proponents of keeping prohibition in place might be encouraged by the defeat of an Ohio legalization initiative on Tuesday. But voters did the right thing by rejecting that measure because it would have granted a monopoly over the growing and sale of legal marijuana to a small group of investors. Even the acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Chuck Rosenberg, who opposes legalization, described that ballot measure as an "anomaly." (Mr. Rosenberg also said marijuana was "harmful and dangerous" but he acknowledged that other dangerous substances are "perfectly legal.")
What's needed now is responsible leadership from President Obama and Congress. They ought to seriously consider the kind of legislation Mr. Sanders has proposed. His bill would remove marijuana, or "marihuana" as it is called in federal law, from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, which is meant for drugs that have a high potential for abuse and no medical use.
This change would allow states to decide if they want to make the drug legal and how to regulate it without being limited by federal law. Mr. Sanders's bill would also make it illegal to transport the drug across state lines. If Congress is unwilling to act, Mr. Obama should move on his own by ordering the attorney general to request a study by the secretary of health and human services, which would be needed if the administration is to remove the drug from Schedule I on its own.
A growing group of activists, judges and lawmakers is showing the world a path to more sensible drug policies. Mr. Obama and Congress should join them.
A person who brings a case against another in a court of law.
A tall plant with a stiff upright stem, divided serrated leaves, and glandular hairs. It is used to produce hemp fiber and as a psychotropic drug.
In a recreational manner, for recreation, for fun or entertainment
A process of voting, in writing and typically in secret.
Something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected.