Sunday, September 25, 2011

That's all, Your Honour! : Sep.18-24

1. In an unfortunate tragedy, a massive earthquake that measured 6.8 on the Richter scale hit north-east India and Nepal. The worst hit state was Sikkim. So far, 77 people have lost their lives.Parts of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, West Bengal, and Bihar were also affected. Sikkim has only one highway connected to the mainland of India, and this route got damaged too. The army helped in restoring an alternate route to help in the movement of supplies. The airforce also helped a lot in supplying relief materials for all those affected. Rebuilding efforts are in full swing currently.

2. The 2G scam just doesn't seem to leave this UPA government. New revelations this week have bought out more shocking details on how this "honest and decent" Prime Minister has ignored mulitple warnings for many people within the government that the policy followed by Raja was flawed. Also, a 2011 note by the current finance minister Pranab Mukherjee sent to the PMO says that the then finance minister P. Chidambaram should have been more assertive in handling the pricing of the spectrum.

First, the man who broke the 2G scam first, journalist Gopikrishnan of Pioneer revealed that the government has lied to the nation (as always) on the meeting between Raja and P. Chidambaram. The government said that no minutes were noted of that meeting. Gopi revealted that minutes were signed by then finance secretary, D.Subba Rao who said that PC agreed with Raja that there was no need to revisit the spectrum pricing!!

Meanwhile, another letter revealed by DNA (earlier too by a news channel which I don't recall) from Dayanidhi Maran (Telecom Minister in 2004-2006) to the Prime Minister almost demanding that the pricing of spectrum be removed from the terms of reference of the GoM has created fresh storm. The Prime Minister,decided that the telecom minister be given full freedom to decide on the pricing and this will not even be bought before the cabinet!! This Prime Minister has given up all his responsibility while dealing with this national asset. Maybe this is the first time that a PM decided to keep out the cabinet while dealing with such a major decision. But ofcourse, he is "honest" and "decent".

And then a third letter. This one from the Finance ministry blaming the then Finance minister of not being assertive enough. P. Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee are now at loggerheads over this blame. The Prime Minister as usual says no one will resign, and there is no issue here at all. What this week's revelations have bought out is not just the infighting in this government, but the shocking lack of assertiveness from none other than the Prime Minister of India. And please, let's not call this "coalition compulsion". We are talking about loss in thousands of crores and that is only thing to be discussed here.

3. Last week, we discussed about the strike in Telangana. Guess what - the strike continued this week too! There was a rail roko for two days. Autos went on strike for the same two days. Buses are still on strike. Coal workers are also on strike. There is near total shutdown on many departments. Yet this government is not bothered. Except holding some review meetings and releasing some banal statements, nothing concrete has been done at all. The central government is the least bothered, which is more frustrating. They are behaving as if nothing is happening and all is well. Both the central and state governments are just hoping that this 13 day strike (and still going strong) will end by itself. Meanwhile, the common man continues to suffer.

4. Do you want to take a guess as to the cut-off mark for being poor in India? If you are in rural area, Rs.25/- per day will be enough for "private expenditure on food, education and health". There is no typo in that number. Rs.25/- per day. If you live in urban areas, then Rs.32/- per day will be enough it seems. Guess who came up with these numbers.... the Planning Commission of India !!! That's all, your honour!


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