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Editorial : DANTEWADA MASSACRE BY NAXALITES
We at e-voice express our deep condolences to the FAMILIES of slain CRPF jawans at dantewada , who were massacred by naxalites. We salute the brave soldiers who laid down their lives while upholding law & order and hereby demand the legal prosecution of the perpetrators.
We at e-voice salute our jawans & police for teaching the external enemies a befitting lesson and protecting our motherland from the external & internal enemies. We pay our whole hearted respects to the martyrs , who laid down their lives , in the course of protecting our people & country from the clutches of terrorists / naxalites .
India equally faces greater threat from internal enemies – corrupt public servants (who are deadlier than pak terrorists). These corrupt public servants sell everything , motherland , for money , for bribe.
Mumbai terrorists killed 200 people , where as a fake drugs manufacturer kills thousands of people by selling fake drugs / fake medicines. Drugs control department officials lets off many such such fake drugs manufacturers , in turn killing thousands of innocents. The number of end victims are huge than any terrorist attacks. This is just one instance , in this way corrupt public servants of various departments compromise with their official duties & murder scores of innocents.
The corrupt public servants network , is oiled far better than italy's mafia. Common man doesn't get justice , even if he complains to higher officials , vigilance authorities or even court of law. As the bribe booty reaches higher-ups & political bosses.. thus black money is created.
The huge profits earned / black money created by criminal industrialists / entrepreneurs , finds it's way to money laundering heavens. Thus our economy is crippled , public exchequer deprived of it's dues. The money thus laundered feeds terrorist outfits , underworld dons , in their criminal deeds.
Now , underworld / terrorist outfits are involved in huge real estate business , film production / distribution , film piracy business , etc , to reap more illegal profits out of illegal money. This shakes upside down our government's fiscal policies.
If a corrupt public servant is apprehended , it is equal to depriving 100 terrorists out of funds , putting 100 criminals out of action. Will the common man raise to give a befitting lesson to corrupt public servants.
Whenever we face crimes by naxalites & terrorists , government only looks at one face of the case. The other face of the crime is the atrocities of government itself. The public servants are corrupt , they are snatching lands , livelihood from tribals , driving them away & gifting those very lands to industrialists , miners , etc without any rehabilitation for the tribals. Government has failed to provide basic health care , education to people . it has even failed to provide food to tribals & tribals are dying due to hunger. All the much hyped government programmes like “Food for Work” & “National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme” have derailed at the hands of corrupt public servants. The local Police together with land lords , industrialists , miners are torturing these local tribals. For these tribals there is no food , no health care , no education , no justice but only sufferings , physical torture at the hands of police . The Recruiters of terrorist & naxal organizations are cashing on this frustration of tribals.
O, JIHADIS, FREEDOM FIGHTERS, TERRORISTS & NAXALITES
Kashmiri militants claim they are fighting for kashmiris, when the very same kashmiris were suffering from loses due to earthquake why didn't the so-called jihadis didn't make any relief efforts? Why didn't their foreign master – Pakistan didn't make any relief efforts? Within the pak occupied Kashmir ( pok) itself, Pakistan didn't make appropriate
relief efforts. It is government of India & international community who provided proper & timely relief.
The foreign powers are not at all interested in your well being. They are ready to spend millions of dollars for aiding terrorism, but not ready to spend a few hundreds for your education , health care or self employment schemes through NGOs. The fact is they don't want your well being, they don't want you to prosper, live peacefully. The ultimate objective of these foreign powers is to take you on the path of self destruction, destruction of your motherland & to finally usurp the power, to subjugate you into slavery in turn looting the resources of your country.
Ofcourse, in India there is rampant corruption. Still democracy is live & kicking in India, it is the best form of governance. You have got real examples of countries in Africa, latin America, wherein the countries have secured independence through separatist / terrorist movements. The terrorist leaders themselves have become prime minister / president of newly independent countries. Now, they are more corrupt & barbaric than their predecessors . even after getting independence, the lives of commonfolk has become bad to worse. By independence , only leaders have benefited. Will you lead another struggle ? this is endless, as the selfishness , greed of leaders knows no bounds.
In the past, government of India aided tamil separatists, Pakistan terrorists, etc, butchering innocents. The government of U.S.A aided terrorists in Africa, afghanisthan, latin America , murdering innocents. Various countries have aided terrorism while preaching peace. These barbaric acts were motivated by selfish, corrupt, ego-centric leaders. Now, in the bomeerang effects of their actions, innocents are dying in bomb blasts, etc.
Violence breds violence. Peace & compassion results in all round harmony, prosperity. Every human being must struggle against injustices in a peaceful & legal manner. The struggle must be against the corrupt system, for that peaceful struggle democracy is the best forum. Don't be pawns in the hands of foreign powers, politicians. They are not at all interested in your welfare, well being. At the end, it is the leaders who become ministers & amass wealth through corruption. The common folk like you will remain as fiddlings, minions forever.
Just imagine yourselves in the place of victims of delhi serial bomb blasts (29/10/2005) or Mumbai blasts of 26/11/08 . just imagine the plight of little child MOSHE who has lost both his parents , imagine Your mother & wife are crying, your children are dead , your father's hands & limbs are ripped apart in the blast. How does it feel to be one ? no religion, no god asks it's followers to cause destruction. All religions, gods are full of eternal love & compassion. Let that god shine his light, upon you all on the violent path.
Whether it is in india or else where , democratic system is best form of governance. The people in those countries suffer due to corrupt public servants . in all such cases , the legal , non violent fight must be against the corrupt people , corrupt police , corrupt judges , CORRUPT public servants but not against the system itself.An Act Of Torture
Let us build ram rajya of mahatma's dream through non violent means within the existing democratic framework . Jai Hind. Vande Mataram.
By Arun Ferreira
12 May, 2010
A critical appraisal of the proposed Prevention Of Torture Bill, 2010
The government is attempting to pass the PREVENTION OF TORTURE BILL, 2010 after it has received the nod from the cabinet on April 8, 2010. Although the Government of India signed the United Nations Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) almost 13 years ago, it has failed to ratify it till date. Coming under heavy pressure from the International community and civil society this proposed Bill is an attempt to “amend prevailing laws” so as to make torture a punishable offence. But as we shall see further, such a proposed legislation is only playing lip-service to the obligations set by the UNCAT and is nothing but a mere eyewash. The proposed legislation is not only a climb down from the standards set by the UNCAT but in many ways is in direct opposition to the basic norm of non-derogability of the Right of Freedom from Torture.
A watered down Definition of Torture
The definition of an act of torture specified in the proposed Bill has narrowed the scope of acts to be considered as offences amounting to torture. The definition of torture is elaborated in Article 1(1) of the UNCAT, which states:
“…torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”
While on the other hand the proposed Bill defines torture as
3. Whoever, being a public servant or being abetted by a public servant or with the consent or acquiescence of a public servant, intentionally does any act which causes –
(i) grievous hurt to any person or
(ii) danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of any person, is said to inflict torture.
Provided that nothing contained in this section shall apply to any pain hurt or danger as aforementioned caused by an act, which is justified by law.
Punishment for Torture
4. Where the public servant referred to in section 3 or any person abetted by or with the consent or acquiescence of such public servant, tortures any person –
(a) for the purpose of extorting from him or from any other person interested in him, any confession or any information which may lead to the detection of an offence or misconduct;
(b) on the ground of his religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.”
Given that the words and expressions of this proposed Bill have the same meanings as the Indian Penal Code (IPC) read with the comments added in the draft Bill, it is necessary to critically examine the implications of such a proposed definition. First of all, there is a drastic narrowing down of what constitutes an act of torture. The UNCAT lays emphasis to the infliction of “severe pain or suffering”, whereas the proposed Bill uses phrases such as “grievous hurt/danger to life, limb or health”. These expressions have a much narrower interpretation. For instance, acts of beating the victim with a stick, inserting chilli powder or petrol in the rectum of the victim, stretching the victims legs apart to an unbearable extent; application of electric current to the victims body or private parts; hanging the victim upside down from the ceiling, waterboarding; illegal detention, etc. currently practiced by our security agencies would cause “severe pain and suffering” but may not amount to “grievous hut/danger to life, limb or health” even in its broadest sense. Such acts which have conveniently evaded prosecution under the existing penal laws will continue to do so, even more, under the proposed Bill.
Secondly, certain acts which are already considered as torture under IPC (Section 330) have been consciously evaded in the proposed definition. Here, simple “hurt” by a public servant would call for a punishment of a seven year term and find. Thirdly, the purposes of torture included in the definition of the UNCAT are as (1) obtaining information/confession (2) punishment (3) Intimidation/coercion and (4) based on discrimination. On the other hand the proposed Bill restricts itself to only two of these i.e. the first and fourth. By such a restrictive definition torture committed by over-zealous public servants who see themselves as extra judicial penal authorities would not be liable for punishments. In such cases, like the Bhagalpur blindings, torture is committed for the sole purpose of punishment. Similarly in areas of mass resistance, acts of torture are committed on the protesters for the only purpose of forcing them into submission. Here to,, such an act would not attract any punishment under the proposed Bill. Finally, on the question of quantum of punishment there is no advancement to the existing provisions under section 331 IPC, which punishes grievous hurt with imprisonments upto ten years and fine. But for an act causing “danger to life” which would be prosecutable under section 307 IPC and attract punishment for life, the proposed Bill in fact seeks to reduce the punishment.
Overall, the proposed Bill rather than providing effective punishments for torture is instead a climb down from the International anti-torture standards and has even gone to the extent of diluting existing penal laws with regards to torture.
No change in the existing systems of Impunity
A major obstacle in punishing those who are responsible for acts of torture is the fact that they are “public servants”. The prosecution of a public servant becomes virtually impossible due to the existence of section 197 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) which provides that they cannot be prosecuted without prior permission from the government, either State or Central, which employs them. In the areas of Jammu & Kashmir and the North-East, where the writ of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) runs, prosecution of Armed forces personnel responsible for torture is equally impossible, given the provision of section 6 of AFSPA, which reads:
“No prosecution, suit or other legal proceeding shall be instituted except with the previous sanction of the Central Government, against any person in respect of anything done or purported to be done in the exercise of the powers conferred by this Act.”
Without any concrete step to repeal section 197 CrPC or the draconian AFSPA one cannot envisage any purposeful prevention of torture legislation.
Another impediment in the prosecution of public servants responsible for acts of torture is the fact that they enjoy immense power, authority and patronage in the administrative setup. They are therefore in a position to influence the investigation of an act of torture. Also given the fact that most acts of torture are committed within the walls of a lockup or detention centre it is extremely difficult to find reliable and trustworthy witnesses. In such a situation there is a strong possibility that corroboration of the victims’ testimony may be weak. This should not be used to the victims’ disadvantage.
Thus, if the fact of pain or suffering is proved and the victim testifies that the same has been caused by a public servant the court should presume the same. The proposed Bill lacks such an approach.
The proposed Bill in section 5, in fact creates another obstacle for the prosecution of the public servant. It introduces a limitation for cognizance of an offence by the Court which hither to didn’t exist in existing Criminal procedural law for offence punishable over 3 years. This limitation for cognizance by the Court is given as six months in the proposed Bill. Existing procedural law under section 468(2) (a) Cr.PC gives such time limitation for offences punishable solely by fine. Such as Jaywalking, spitting on the payment, etc. Such a time limit, in cases of torture is a judicial impossibility given that it would first of all take the victim quite some time to free himself from the public servant’s custody and administrative grip and thereafter build the confidence to file a complaint. Procedures of filing an FIR, obtaining sanction for prosecuting the public servant, arresting him and filing a charge sheet for the court to take cognizance would follow. Anyone well versed with the realities of the functioning of our judiciary will blatantly claim such a limitation as not only absurd but rather a malafide sleight of hand by the drafters of the bill (who see an act of torture as “serious” as pitting on the pavement) This in effect ensures that practically no case of torture will ever reach the stage of trial.
Silence on the use of “Scientific” tests
The proposed legislation also maintains silence on the governments legally accepted practice of conducting Narco-analysis, Polygraph and Brain mapping tests. Such tests are conducted for the purpose of extorting information, confession, by a public servant, and amounts of intentionally inflicting. Physical / mental suffering and degrading treatment. All these aspects amount to an act of torture as defined by the UNCAT. Such so-called scientific tests have also violated other International Human Rights standards such as Article 7 of the International Covenant pf Civil and Political Rights (ratified by the Govt. of India) which states;
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation”.
Such tests are already banned in the US and European countries. This matter is currently before the Supreme Court in a petition filed by the All India Lawyers Joint Action Committee praying for a ban on Narco-analysis. The National Law commission has proposed similarly. The FSLs in Bangalore, Gandhinagar, Mumbai and Chennai have stopped conducting these tests since the past two years. Even a committee appointed by the Union Home Ministry (headed by NIMHANS director D. Nagaraja) has questioned the very scientific basis of use of Brain mapping tests. It is therefore only logical that the proposed Prevention of torture legislation ought to unequivolly ban the practice of such tests.
Torture of terror suspects legally sanctioned
The most dangerous provision of this proposed Bill is that it would not apply when the victims of torture are covered by special laws such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Presently, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA is the foremost specialized anti-terror laws being used by the government. UAPA has been used indiscriminately on Muslims, Adivasis, Dalits, Journalists and other political, social, cultural and human rights activists. Such accused have been picked up on mere suspicion, tortured into submission, encountered, etc. for their alleged involvement in movements against the State or for their political convictions. This provision, if incorporated in the proposed Bill, while effectively closing the doors for redressal to all the above sections, gives a blatant signal for intensifying torture in such cases.
It is a well known fact, documented by numerous Human Rights organizations, that incidents of torture are systematically practiced by the security forces as part of a counter insurgency policy. In Jammu & Kashmir itself nearly 8000 to 10,000 persons have been tortured and thereafter “disappeared” since 1989. Many cases of custodial rape and murder have take place in Manipur and other North-East states: Instances of torture of Naxal suspects are quite common especially in areas of mass resistance. The Andhra government itself admitted that several innocent Muslim accused of the Hyderabad Bomb blasts of 2007 had been tortured. By such derogation the government attempts to present the “threat of terrorism” as a pretext for denying such suspects the right to remedies under the proposed Bill. This is indirect opposition to the very letter and spirit of the UNCAT, which states in Article 2(2) that:
“No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture”.
Here the government could very well draw lessons from the efforts of our Prime Minister’s daughter, Amrita Singh’s documentation along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on reports of torture inflicted on terror suspects in US run overseas detention centers. The Bush administration faced severe criticism for such treatment of terror suspects and the Obama administration had been forced to take cognizance. No government whatsoever can invoke the bogey of terrorism as reason for the systematic practice of “special interrogation techniques” or other such forms of torture. This part of the proposed Bill is nothing but a blatant violation of the non-derogability of the basic right of freedom from torture.
Other serious shortcomings
The proposed Bill has provided for the setting up of Independent panels to deal with complaints of torture, both at the Central and State level so that such complaints would be forwarded to such panels. One can only envisage the future of such panels in the light of the implementation of the Protection for Human Rights Act, 1993. Similar provisions for setting up of State Human Rights Commissions and special Human Rights courts were provided for. But even after 17 years such bodies are absent in many states. The proposed Bill also does not after any right to compensation and rehabilitation to the torture victim. It also lacks any provision for mandatory unintimidated visits by the local judiciary to all detention centres and lockups within its jurisdiction. Both these are essential remedial measures put forth by the Human Rights movement for the Prevention of torture.
There, no doubt exists a need for a special and effective anti-torture programme. Historically, torture has been institutionalized in India. During the British rule, it had been used as a weapon to keep the “natives in submission” and suppress any National Liberation movement. The present ruling classes continue using this inherited institution for similar purposes i.e to counter people’s movements. Here torture is not an exception perpetuated by some “evil subordinates”, but rather a deliberate practice sanctioned by top ranking officials and policy makers. Special draconian laws such as TADA, POTA, UAPA, AFSPA etc. have further institutionalized torture. The proposed Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010 seems to be an attempt to preserve the foundation of this institution. It is a sham with the only objective of playing to the international audience an effort to establish the façade of being the “world’s Largest Democracy”.
Arun Ferreira is curently an undertrial in the Nagpur Central prison, arrested in May 2007 on charges of being a "naxalite", charges which have been disputed in the court of law; but he still continues to languish in jail on the remaining trumped up charges.
Nagpur Central Prison
Statement Against Home Ministry’s Press Note
To Silence Intellectuals
By Shilpi Sanskritik Kormi Buddhijibi Moncho (Forum of Artistes Cultural Activists and Intellectuals)
11 May, 2010
We are stunned, to say the least, by a newspaper report about a Press Note issued by Govt. of India’s Home Ministry. It has been termed by the media as a ‘Public Warning`. It reminds us of US President Bush’s infamous warning sent across the nations during his invasion of Iraq: ‘those who are not with us are our enemies`. This is no democracy, Mr Chidambaram! If some of your insensitive officials or cops find or suspect that some artists or intellectuals are critical of Govt’s handling or mishandling of the problem, the dissenters do not necessarily become Maoists. Please leave it to one’s reasoning and judgement whether to fall in line with your way of thinking and assume that the Maoists are not a political outfit, fit only to be treated as terrorists, or they have a right to differ with you. Do you have any answer to our eminent lawyer Mr Prashanta Bhushan’s comments that issuing such a warning is “a highly unusual step that clearly shows the intention of the government to try and browbeat and terrorise human rights activists and other intellectuals who have been questioning the motives and actions of the government in dealing with tribals and dissidents in the guise of an anti-Maoist drive”? We cannot agree more with the media observation that such a public warning through a media note has probably never been made even against fundamental outfits. Mr Home Minister, please try sincerely to find out a democratic solution to the Maoist problem by opening a dialogue channel with them, following the footsteps of a former Prime Minister who opened dialogue with dissenters including those in Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and others. Please leave aside your misplaced jingoism!
Shilpi Sanskritik Kormi Buddhijibi Moncho (Forum of Artistes Cultural Activists and Intellectuals)
46, Sashi Bhusan De Street, Kolkata 700012
Conspiracy Against Non-Violent Resistance Movements In Orissa
By Nachiketa Desai
16 May, 2010
The recent police atrocities on the people of Kalinganagar and Jagatsinghpur may turn out to be a turning point in the state's people's non-violent agitations which have a long and distinguished history of successfully thwarting two nationally important mega projects - the national missile testing range of the defense ministry at Baliapal and the bauxite mining from the Gandhamardan hill by the public sector National Aluminum Corporation (NALCO).
People of Kalinganagar, touted as the steel hub of India, and Jagatsinghpur have been carrying out a non-violent agitation against their displacement to make way for Tata's six-million-ton integrated steel plant and Korean giant Posco's 12-million-ton steel plant respectively. In both the places, the Orissa government, with active collusion of armed goons hired by companies, has launched massive attacks indulging in firing, baton-charge and arson. The government had tried to forcibly evict the people from their villages in 2006 and 2007 too resulting in the death of 14 tribals in Kalinganagar and injuries to many in Jagatsinghpur.
In both Kalinganagar and Jagatsingpur, the government and the companies used agent provocateurs to give a violent-twist to the peaceful sit-in dharnas by the people so as to portray the police action as ‘legitimate’. Stories were planted by the government in a section of the media describing the police action as an inevitable measure to put down violence initiated by the non-violent satyagrahis.
In Kalinganagar, where the police and the hired goons of the company had opened fire injuring over 10 people, including women and, subsequently plundered the houses of non-violent resisters, the government put up a poster purportedly issued by Maoists in support of the people’s movement, a day before the police action on March 30.
The attempt to dub the non-violent resistance movement in Kalinganagar as ‘Maoist inspired’ is a sinister design of the government which follows the popular dictum – ‘To kill the dog, give it a bad name first.’
Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district.
The 8,000-strong Dongaria tribe residing in the foothills of the Niyamgiri hill in Kalahandi district have been carrying out a resistance movement against the mining of bauxite from the hill top on the ground that their tribal diety Niyamraja resides there and any mining activities would destroy the ecology of the region and deprive them of the their main source of livelihood, which is the forest. The ministry of environment is yet to give its clearance to Orissa Mining Corporation for carrying out mining of bauxite from the hill top. This has adversely impacted the alumina refinery of Vedanta at Lanjigarh. Vedanta is also facing stiff resistance from the villagers to their proposed ‘world-class’ university on the Konarka-Puri coast on a massive 6,000 acres of land allotted to the company by the state government. The protesting villagers have not allowed Vedanta to take possession of the land. Lok Pal has ordered an inquiry into the alleged corruption in allocation of land from out of the land owned by the Jagannath Temple trust.
Arcelor Mittal’s proposed steel plant in Keonjhar district too has not been able to take off due to stiff opposition from the people who are likely to be displaced by the project. Though the Orissa government had committed to 8,000 acres in Keonjhar district for the proposed Arcelor Mittal steel plant at the time of signing the MoU in 2006, it
has not yet been able to provide any land. The process has been delayed due to agitationby displaced families under the banner of Mittal Pratirodh Manch as most of the land is fertile agricultural land.
Agitations have also stalled allotment of land for setting up of a couple of thermal power plants, not on the grounds of displacement, but because these power plants would consume great amount of water at the cost of irrigation to cultivable land.
Campaign for Survival and Dignity
From the world of mobile phones…. to the real life scandals.
Rajeev Srinivasan has a list of the write ups detailing this “scandal” of monumental proportions. It is rumored to be worth…hold your breath….22 billion dollars!
Imagine the kind of money, if invested in broadband or community Wifis would truly make us a “superpower” indeed!
I quote the relevant text (emphasis mine).
Documents available with The Pioneer show that Central Bureau of Investigation DIG Vineet Agarwal had on November 16, 2009, sought call detail records of Nira Radia from Director General of Income Tax (Investigation) Milap Jain. “It has been reliably learnt that certain middlemen, including one Ms Nira Radia of M/s Noesis Consultancy, were actively involved in the above-mentioned (spectrum scam) criminal conspiracy,” Agarwal’s letter to Jain, seeking the detailed call records, stated.
On November 20, 2009, as per Jain’s instructions, Joint Director of Income Tax Ashish Abrol provided the details of conversation between Radia and key players in the spectrum scam, including A Raja.
“There are some direct conversations between Ms Radia and the Telecom Minister. In some other conservations, Ms Radia boasts of having helped some of the telecom operators in their efforts to obtain licences/spectrums. Ms Radia has also been in regular touch with Shri Chandolia,” confirmed Abrol to the CBI. RK Chandolia was Raja’s private secretary during the time of spectrum allocation and has since been elevated as an economic adviser in the Department of Telecommunication.
Nira Radia is the person who is under scanner for lobbying in the Ministry of Telecom.
Radia is an NRI, who landed in India in early 2000 for some liaison work for aviation companies. Of the nine companies that benefited from the dubious spectrum allocation by Raja, the CBI found that four companies were “serviced” by Radia.
Highly-placed sources said the CBI was denied permission by top authorities to interrogate Radia even though the telephone intercepts clearly exposed her role in the scam, which cost an estimated Rs 1,00,000 crore to the exchequer. “There are some direct conversations between Ms Radia and the Telecom Minister. In some other conservations, Ms Radia boasts of having helped some of the telecom operators in their efforts to obtain licences/spectrums.
CBI is now probing the scam. But then, CBI has been used as an instrument to intimidate rather than be of any “benefit”.
The idea is to screw up the alliance partners and make them more amenable to persuasion in the electoral political compulsions. Everyone was AWARE of the “scam”, the likes of Swam Telecom (promoted by Anil Ambani) who made a windfall fortune and and Unitech which erstwhile had interests ONLY in real estate.
….real estate companies Swan and Unitech bagged the spectrum license at a throw away price and they off-loaded their shares at a whopping price to multi-national telecom giants. The Swan Telecom bagged the license for Rs.1537 crore for operating in 13 circles. Within months (September) it sold its 45 per cent of shares to Etisalat, the telecom giant in UAE for 900 million US dollars (Approximately Rs.4500 crore).
Similarly, the Unitech, another real estate company too entered into a bumper deal, without investing anything in telecom infrastructure. The company got license to operate in 22 circles for Rs.1651 crore. Within weeks, it sold 60 per cent shares for Rs.6120 crores to the Norwegian company Telenor, who is currently a major telecom player in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
This is just another media circus. Raja is just another player in the game. We are all suckers AS USUAL.
Posted on 03rd May 2010 by Abhishek
It dominates the low end market. It dominates the developing countries. It’s made efforts to work towards opening up Symbian. It’s making forays in Linux and assorted phones. Yet, the largest phone maker in the world is still not able to make a serious dent in the smart phone category.
Opinion is like an asshole. Everyone has got one. In same vein, your choice of a mobile phone may be distilled by either looks or form factor or even aesthetics. You may choose practicality or some chutzpah to flaunt your handset.
What Apple did everything right, Nokia screwed it up big time. I am impressed by Apple’s hardware; yes at some point of time, I have written extensively about it too. Yet, I believe that the “promise of future” has somehow not materialized. You can side with Apple and say that everything about it “rocks”; but on the other hand, it’s wayward policy of introducing the bottom of pyramid handsets and “improving” it all the way up with new releases doesn’t cut ice with me. Apple has sold it’s hardware in the same manner in order to keep itself relevant.
Nokia, surprisingly, despite it’s huge portfolio of products has not been able to get that ‘killer phone’. For example, Apple releases only one or maybe two versions of it’s popular product. It does not try to address EVERY segment of the market. It knows it can command a premium. It has a brilliant marketing strategist behind it. It manages to stay in news even when there is NO imminent product launch. Everything about it is hotly anticipated so much so that there are legions of website devoted to “rumors”. And it has zealous fanboys dotting all around the net and mainstream publications which keeps the chattering classes busy to have this “must have” product.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, one could argue that you don’t want a walled garden approach to apps. You pay for the product and the ecosystem should come “free” for you. In effect, the software ought to be “free”. No company has the right to “lock you” down with absurd patents or “standards”.
Nokia has been bereft of this. I own a Nokia E63 but that’s about it. It’s the “low end” of the smart phone because the screen sucks. Ovi store sucks. There are no apps to speak of. It has a weird “signed” and “unsigned” policy which doesn’t allow me to load in any kind of an application I need. Yet, the Wifi is a great addition even though it has a restricted range. My mail is configured; is a boon when I am not around my laptop. In general, it works the work but then there is nothing that I exude my enthusiasm about owning this.
Ultimately, there are no easy answers to this. I feel that it would definitely take a worthwhile investment and understanding of marketing dynamics to get Nokia to sell or crack the smart phone market. I am fussy about Open Source and Linux in particular. I feel that Windows mobile is outdated junk. Web Os or Android is something that I never tried but needs a lot of spunk to give it some credibility. Nokia’s Maemo platform has to become “cheaper” because those assholes are trying to milk it for all that is worth it.
I am linking to Rashmi Bansal (author of two books now!) who writes about owning Nokia AND an Apple Phone. The difference is obvious. From a woman’s perspective, she chooses an iPhone.
Truth be told. Even I need an iPhone!
- Siddharth Singh
Financial scams have a habit of cropping up with an alarming regularity in the Indian financial system. We have reconciled to financial irregularities to such an extent that we simply do not pay heed to smaller scams that take place around us on a daily basis. I am, or rather was, a part of the financial machinery for a few years, and trust me, even the private sector is not entirely free of the machinations of unscrupulous and enterprising scamsters. The scope of the money involved multiplies manifold in the public sector, with a corresponding drop in accountability.
Financial Scamsters Are Rarely Punished
Despite a plethora of scams that surround us on a daily basis, frequently scams of large proportions come to light, and manage to stun even our jaded sensibilities. Then, there is the usual round of allegations, counter-allegations, enquiries and legislation. Some of our most notable regulations and financial institutions are the results of such scams.
I have compiled a list of ten leading financial scams in India, which have affected a large population of investors, and involved huge sums of money. They managed to shake the very foundations of our financial system, and were driven by that most basest of human instincts – GREED. In most cases, it was the greed of just one individual, or a very small group of individuals, who managed to pull of such huge scandals.
Insurance Scam – This scam had originated and prospered in the period immediately following Independence in 1947. At that time, the insurance sector was not nationalized, and a handful of private companies ruled the roost. These companies were more concerned with providing benefits to selected industrialists, and ignored the interests of the common man. The government responded by nationalizing the insurance sector, and the LIC was founded under an special Act passed by the Parliament. This scam laid the foundation of the nationalization culture in India.
Securities Scam – Harshad Mehta – This is perhaps the most well known of all financial scams – probably because it happened in a highly visible period – economic reforms had just been started in 1991. Harshad Mehta was quick to understand the weaknesses of the banking system, and exploited these weaknesses to the hilt. He managed to procure huge amounts of money using the so called “Ready Forward” deals, and used this money to purchase large amounts of shares at hugely inflated prices. He earned the sobriquet of “Big Bull” due to this penchant. Later, the banks got a clue of his shady deals, and demanded their money back. The house of cards collapsed, and the rest, as they say, is history!
CRB Scam – This scam took place in the years 1992-1996, the period immediately following the Harshad Mehta fallout. This makes the scam even all the more daring and surprising. CR Bhansali, the perpetrator of this scam, floated more than 100 companies, such as CRB Mutual Funds and CRB Capital Markets. The primary purpose of these companies was to attract huge funds from the public by promising high rates of interest. This interest was later paid form further borrowings, and so on. In 1995, the stock market collapsed, and this proved to be the undoing of CR Bhansali. He was investigated, and later arrested. After a brief 3-month stint in jail, he has disappeared without a trace, and nobody is asking!
UTI Scam – The UTI scam involved the flagship US-64 scheme of UTI, which was meant to channel the funds of small investors into instruments bearing high returns. Gradually, US-64 developed a investor base of around 2 crore investors. The economic liberalization in India, coupled with the absolute opacity in the operations of UTI, led to a situation wherein the Government was forced to announce a huge bailout of about Rs 3,500-4,000 crores in an order to prevent default in payments to the investors. The consequences of such a situation are unimaginable. But the story does not end here. Later, it turned out that the UTI Chairman appointed at this time, Mr P S Subramanyam, along with a couple of executive directors, acted wrongly to selectively benefit a powerful coterie of brokers and industrialists, while at the same time, jeopardizing the interest of lakhs of small investors.
Home Trade – Around the year 2000, a finance portal emerged on the financial landscape, and gained quick recognition on the back of endorsements by personalities like Hrithik Roshan, Sachin Tendulkar and Shahrukh Khan. The portal, owned by Sanjay Agarwal, claimed to deal in gilts. Soon, RBI got suspicious of activities of some cooperative banks in the gilt market, and a scam was uncovered. The same old saga – brokers and bankers combining to rob people of their hard earnings – was repeated. Funds from Seaman’s Provident Fund and PPF were affected. The total scam size was reported to be around Rs 300 crores, and more than Rs 200 crores were spent on publicity costs alone.
Securities Scam – Ketan Parekh – That our system never learns its lessons was proved by this scam. Ketan Parkekh, a qualified CA, and a stock broker, identified a number of stocks (popularly called the K-10), and took up huge positions in these. For this purpose, he used a large number of Benami accounts and smaller stock exchanges, such as the Kolkata and Ahmedabad stock exchanges. He also borrowed heavily from banks such as Global Trust Bank and Madhavpura Mercantile Cooperative Bank. Unfortunately, he was stuck in a bear cartel, and was soon pounded to pulp on the stock exchange. The extent of the scam was estimated to be around Rs 1,500 crores.
Abdul Karim Telgi
Fake Stamp Papers – This scam promised to be the mother of all scams in India, with the initial reports quoting a figure of Rs 30,000 crores as the scam size. Later, RBI clarified that this figure was “rather exaggerated”, and the “correct” figure was around Rs 200 crores. Again, this scam exposes how the India system works – Mr Abdul Karim Telgi, the scam kingpin, paid bribes to get access to the security press in Nasik, where stamp papers and currency notes are printed. He later used this knowledge to print fake stamp papers. At the height of the scam, Telgi’s network spanned 14 states, 125 banks and more than 1,000 employees.
DSQ Software – Though this scam was modest in terms of money involved (only Rs 600 crores!), and did not affect the general public to a great extent, yet it is notable for how it came into being. The main player in the scam was Mr Dinesh Dalmia, who was the MD of DSQ Software Ltd. This company issued around 1.3 million shares in 2001, and these shares were allotted to four companies on a preferential basis. NSDL, a stock depository, dematerialized and helped in delivering the shares. Nothing wrong in that, except that the shares were not even listed on any stock exchange! Oops!
IPO Scam – A number of key operators, including corporate stock brokers such as Karvy and Indiabulls, were involved in the IPO scam that spanned the years 2004 – 2005. The modus operandi was simple – the operators would open thousands of fake accounts to purchase shares in IPOs, in the hope of selling later at huge profits. A spate of IPOs issued during this period were heavily oversubscribed due to this scam, sometimes by as much as 40 times!
Satyam – On a cold January morning in 2009, Ramalinga Raju, chairman of Satyam Computer Services, admitted to falsification in the company accounts and various other irregularities, and sent a chill down the collective spine of the Indian financial system. Coming on the back of the global recession, this incident promised to bust the Indian outsourcing industry and the stock market, but for some deft bailout work by the government. The matter is still under investigation and litigation, and the true extent of the scam will be known in the future, perhaps. Mr Raju himself had admitted to irregularities worth around Rs 12,000 crores.
An analysis of the scams reveals a common script – greed, corruption, unscrupulous brokers, colluding bankers, irresponsible authorities and hapless investors, who refuse to learn their lessons. But then, these are the essential ingredients of a worthy financial scam!
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- The Securities Scam
The capital market witnessed its foremost investment scandal in the form of securities scandal in the year 1992. It revealed the utter anarchy and lack of administration in the prevailing fiscal market. The money market at that time permitted funds to be relocated with impunity from financial institution and corporates into equity and consequently witnessed crores of bank's capital to transfer into brokers' account. This illegal market practice was later asserted as "legal and acknowledged".
In an attempt to punish the tricksters, a special court was initiated and scrutinized around 70 cases registered by CBI. Surprisingly, not even a single trickster was found guilty by the dreadfully sluggish judicial system. As a matter of fact, the scamsters made frequent attempts to re-enter the market with same set of traps and resulted in losses to investors.
- The IPO scam Soon after the entry of international organizational investors, the Control over Capital Issues was banned as the market saw heavy bull trend resulting in the revitalization of the secondary market from the previous scandals. The ban of Control over Capital Issues unlocked the prospects of massive scandal in Initial Public Offerings (IPO). The scam was executed in two parts; the first part was carried out by the firms that increased their market costs to incur profits in order to sponsor lucrative projects. The second part saw the unison of small time merchants, CAs, investment bankers and traders to hoist new firms and heave public capitals.
The IPO scam prevailed for three long years from 1993-1996 and finally saw its downfall when the costs of the registered firm started deteriorating.
- Favored share scam
The scandal was an outcome of the extensive cost fixing on the derivative market. Besides increasing fresh capital, advocates of Indian firms promptly coordinated general body authorizations to transfer shares to themselves on a privileged basis and at a considerable reduction to the market, thinking that the share prices would never see the ground. Conglomerates started this trend and accrued profits of nearly 55o crores until Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) formulated strict guidelines to abandon the market practice.
- CRB's cardboard scam
The Rs 1000 crore finacial multinational named as Chain Roop Bhansali (CRB) was the only biggest firm and most impudent of all to benefit and disappear in the loosened market ambiance of mid-1990s. The services offered by his firm entailed FC collection, mutual fund, banking, etc. The clearances obtained by the firm for the trading of these services required sufficient inspection by SEBI and the RBI and the fact that they managed to qualify shows the supervisory weariness of the regulators. Facilitated by the clearances and profitable credit ranking, CRB accrued greater profits based on high value financing. The CRB collapse not only affected the investors but also the other finance firms.
- Plantation firms' scam
Since few firms in mid-90s were subject to no guidelines, the plantation companies during that time also got away with profit protrusions. The plantation firms projected themselves as a part of IPO and assured massive returns. The investors were lured and the companies accrued profits from fake campaigns of around Rs 8000 crores plus.
- Mutual Funds scam
After several mutual fund scams, the UTI bailout reflected the lack of proper guidelines in the Indian capital market. Since UTI was initiated under its own regulations, it was the tax payers who suffered the loss of Rs 4800 crore in the process. After three years, the company was back purchasing Ketan Parekh's controlled scrips and incurring massive losses in the process. The evidence of the private mutual funds performance has also been inconsistent after hitting the downfall in 1999 and 2000. It took a considerable amount of time for capital market to win back the trust of mutual fund investors.
- The 1998 scam
The scamster of 1992 scam, Harshad Mehta came back with a bag of tricks again in 1998. This time he lured investors through a website by trading stock tips. His unremitting manipulation of several shares resulted in the much expected collapse of Bombay Stock Exchange.
- Home Trade scam
Initiated in 2000, Home trade invested rs 24 crore in promotional campaigns to attract investors. The scam affected 8 co-operative banks that lost Rs.82 Crore in EPF scheme. The Chief Executive of Hometrade, Mr. Sanjay Aggarwal was convicted by Nagpur Police later.
- DSQ Software Scam
In the year 2000 and 2001, the Managing Director of DSQ Software, Mr. Dinesh Dalmia, was held responsible for ambiguous mergers and prejudiced allocation of the amount of upto Rs.595 Crores. He was later convicted in the year 2006.
- Satyam Scam
After manipulating the firm's documents for several financial years, the former Chairman and Chief Executive of Satyam Computers, Mr.Ramalinga Raju, was arrested for committing scam, following unethical practice and forgery. He showed greater profits and committed fraud of Rs 700 crores.
India is of course a country of scams. To many abroad it is seen sentimentally as Mahatma Gandhi’s country of khadi cloth, good ethics, and care for the poor. To some it is an economic miracle and a future super power, while to others it is an unkind cruel place of caste, ethnic and rich-poor divisions and violence. Above all however, and not far below the surface, India is a maze of unethical, unlawful and illegal swindles that link most politicians, many bureaucrats, and a large number of businessmen and others.
It is scarcely surprising therefore that there is a scam surrounding the IPL, which has grown in just three years to a massive $4bn wealth-creating package of sponsorships, broadcasting and other franchises, fees and other takings.
Cricket is not just a national sport in India but also a passion, and people have watched in awe as the rupee and dollar figures have grown to such an extent that over $300m has recently been bid for new franchises, raising the total from eight to ten teams.
A lot of the IPL activity has been alleged in the past week or so to be unethical, unlawful and sometimes illegal. Politicians and others are said to be laundering black money via Mauritius and other tax havens which, though officially recognised, hide investors’ identities through shell companies and benami (false) names. There are suggestions that matches and bids for team franchises have been fixed, and that there have been bribes, tax evasion, illegal betting, and breaches of foreign investment rules.
At the centre of the growth, and the controversy, is Lalit Modi (left), creator and chairman of the IPL and vice president of the highly politicised Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), who is facing calls for his resignation [and was suspended on April 24] .
“Overlord of a national passion” was the headline on a Financial Times profile of Modi two years ago. More details of his business career appeared in the India’s Mail Today newspaper a few days ago headlined “Modi and controversy go a long way back”.
The national celebration of the lucky few getting rich in a poor country is one of India’s many curious contradictions. The poor have (up to a point) always admired the massive illicit personal wealth of some politicians, such as chief ministers Mayawati and Jayalalitha in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, because it shows what can be achieved from a deprived background. Similarly, the successes of the IPL organisers, cricketers, and the business and film star cricket team owners, have been enjoyed as a symbol of hope for what might be, as well as a spectator sport (now switched to tracking the leaks and scandals).
Earlier scams and political corruption have also been celebrated to a lesser extent, and some have even done the country good for a time. While stock market fraud primarily makes the price-fixers rich, it also benefits private investors and boosts company capitalisations, and the country has revelled when the Bombay Sensex has soared in past scams. Also, as an ex-army friend has reminded me, the Bofors gun at the centre of 1980s corruption allegations won India a border war with Pakistan at Kargil in 1999 – though it has also stymied defence purchases for 20 years.
This celebratory reaction probably partly explains why the workings of the IPL were not looked at earlier by the government’s financial and criminal investigations agencies, nor the media, even though rumours of illicit deals and links between politicians and investors have been around for some time. It was just too big a tamasha (party), with too powerful hosts, to be interrupted.
Club of friends
As one of those involved said to Tehelka weekly news magazine last week, “It’s common knowledge that ….politicians running across aviation, agriculture, road transport and the Opposition, are minting money and have undeclared stakes in every cricket pie”. Last September, Outlook weekly news magazine noted that “the IPL is largely a club of friends with mutual interests, and often conflicts of interest”.
The main reason for the lack of investigations is of course that, as in virtually all scams (not just in India), politicians are so deeply involved that few officials would dare start inquiries. And most of the Indian media does not begin to investigate until it is fed information.
This suddenly came unstuck earlier this month because of the involvement of Sashi Tharoor (left), an ambitious former top United Nations official who last year became an MP and a gaffe-prone external affairs minister. Tharoor helped a consortium based in his home state of Kerala to bid for one of two new IPL franchises on offer this year, and a woman friend, Sunanda Pushkar, was promised a $15m sweat equity stake on account of future consultancy work.
Known as Kochi, the consortium put in the highest bid of $333m, which apparently upset Lalit Modi’s plans for who should win. The consequential row went public on Twitter and exploded in the past two weeks into a scandal that has led to a stream of media leaks, presumably from the government and political parties and mostly directed against Modi. There have been rows in parliament, tax and other raids, and calls for an official inquiry. Tharoor has been forced to resign from his minister’s post, and Pushkar has given up her $15m.
Anyone looking at some of the leading businessmen and companies involved in the IPL would surely have noted long ago that virtually all of them are at the wrong end of India’s corporate respectability spectrum. There is Vijay Mallya of United Spirits and the Kingfisher beer and airline businesses, infrastructure operator GMR that has grown miraculously fast in recent years and grabbed massive land holdings along with airport franchises in Delhi and Hyderabad, and the secretive Subrata Roy of the Sahara group that is famous for its chit (small savings) fund and real estate activities.
Also owning a team is Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries (RIL) who has been a strong Modi supporter from the beginning of the league. Those trying to win teams this year include commodity trader Adani, which has been in legal trouble over non-payment of customs dues and monopolising coal imports, and the Videocon electrical white goods and oil exploration company run by Venugopal Dhoot.
Lalit Modi comes from the Delhi-based Modi family business group headed by his father, K.K.Modi. Lalit Modi was not regarded as a success until he started the IPL, and his earlier business ventures include a controversial lottery franchise in the north-eastern state of Manipur.
Modi’s friends and relatives
His relatives crop up as both IPL stakeholders and franchisees. His brother-in-law is a part-owner of the Rajasthan Royals team, which has several shell company investors plus Lachlan Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch, the international media tycoon. His step son-in-law, Gaurav Burman, runs Elephant Capital, a private equity company, along with brother Mohit Burman who is also an investor in the King’s XI Punjab team. Elephant has a stake in IPL’s on line and broadcast licensee Global Cricket Ventures. (The Burman family control the Delhi-based Dabur health care and food company).
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politicians are deeply involved. Lalit Modi has close links with Vasundhara Raje, the BJP’s former Rajasthan chief minister, which are now being challenged on the fringe of the IPL story by Congress politicians. Modi faced tax and other charges after Raje lost power last year. He has sought help from Narendra Modi (no relation), the BJP chief minister of Gujarat. Adani is based in Gujarat and Lalit Modi reportedly wanted it to win the Kochi bid that was secured by Tharoor’s Kochi team. Kochi was allegedly offered a $50m bribe to back off by Lalit Modi (who has denied the charge), so that Adani could take over.
Patel and Pawar
Praful Patel, India’s urbane but under-performing aviation minister, who I described as the government’s “Teflon man” in an earlier blog, has also been a target of leaks to the media. He frequently issues smooth denials of any problems, and of his own lack of responsibility for the worsening state of Air India and India’s over-crowded and potentially dangerous skies and airports.
This week he was rebutting leaks by denying any involvement in the IPL, even though his 24-year old daughter works for the league and, with him, reportedly sent an e-mail to Tharoor about cricket teams’ potential profitability. “Children should not be targeted,” said Patel a few days ago. He is closely involved with India’s cricket in other ways because he is a senior member of the Nationalist Congress Party, which is led by Sharad Pawar, once one of India’s most powerful politicians but now a not very effective agriculture minister. Pawar is former president of the BCCI and is at the centre of a row over what should happen to Modi. He is in line to become president of the International Cricket Council.
It is not clear whether Pawar and Patel are being targeted by the Congress Party as a warning not to upset the stability of the governing coalition, or by the opposition BJP to embarrass the government.
A writer in the Indian Express the other day said that “in many ways, the IPL is a confirmation of what India really is – an emerging economy”. He is correct. The scandal shows how far the country has to go before it can claim to have moved on from being under-developed in terms of market regulation and ethics.
As the economy has been liberalised over the past 20 years, brilliant entrepreneurship has been generated, but unparalleled greed has grown at all levels of society. People from the top of the government down to a village headman use cronyism, patronage, bribery, coercion and generally low ethics to build status and wealth. That looks like continuing for generations because there are still some 700m or more people clambering to enter the economy and reap the benefits of new riches.
On the IPL, the current furore will no doubt lead to one or two resignations, but inquiries will be controlled to protect many of those involved. Some new regulations might be introduced to control the league. The flow of news leaks that is fuelling blanket media coverage will slow down soon and the fuss will almost certainly die away, maybe in a week of two, when it will be neatly swept from headlines by other news.
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