The Center to the rescue

Just how insane is this?

A post yesterday spoke of how public sector banks, alarmed over the misuse of loans to the Punjab government, has put a stopper on further loans. Inter alia, I’d pointed at the Rs 10,000 crore scam, spread over three states, that has to do with food procurement.

So what does the Central government do? It will give the Punjab government a Rs 20,000 crore line of credit to perpetuate the scam. Because see, Punjab is doing what it is doing “in the national interest”.

Who was it who said we get the government we deserve?

 

 

Hello, Sir Humphrey

And to that end, I recommend that we set up an interdepartmental committee with fairly broad terms of reference so that at the end of the day we’ll be in the position to think through the various implications and arrive at a decision based on long-term considerations rather than rush prematurely into precipitate and possibly ill-conceived action which might well have unforeseen repercussions.

Remember that classic stall by Sir Humphrey Appleby, from the ‘Doing the Honours’ episode of Yes Minister? Now read the one below: (Emphasis added):

It is also gathered that efforts will now be made to prepare a draft action plan examining all possibilities of bringing back the famed diamond back to India from the UK museum.

That’s from a news story about the government’s ‘determination’ to bring back the Kohinoor. All that is missing is the laugh track.

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From the dept of ‘Hamam mein sab…’

The story, in brief: In 2014 the Delhi High Court ruled that both the BJP and the Congress were in violation of the FCRA when the parties accepted contributions from Vedanta, the London-based MNC.

The government appealed; the case is now in the Supreme Court. And meanwhile, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley slipped a clause into the latest Finance Bill by which he — with retrospective effect — changed the definition of ‘foreign companies’, so that Vedanta is now an ‘Indian company’. In other words, he changed legal definitions in order to make kosher what the court said is a criminal act.

The full details here, as reported in The Wire.

Keep this story and the implications in mind when you next wonder why the BJP, having made the many scams of the Congress its main election issue, is now dragging its collective feet on every single one of them.

From the dept of ‘now what to do’?

Maharashtra Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis says those who do not chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ should leave the country.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat says no one should be forced to say “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”.

Smriti Irani wants the national flag to be flown “prominently and proudly” at all universities in order to instil the spirit of nationalism.

The RSS number two Bhaiyyaji Joshi is ambivalent about the tiranga and makes the case for the bhagwa dhwaj — and also for Vande Mataram as opposed to Jana Gana Mana.

Now I am confused. And judging by all these remarks, so are the nationalists.

PS: Today is the big game: West Indies and England, in the final of the World T20 Cup. See you on Twitter for that one. In passing, here is the post-semifinal analysis I did for the Huffington Post a couple of days ago.

The irony of India’s batting effort was that through every phase of the game, we outperformed our par for this tournament. During the power plays, India has averaged 5.7. In this game, it was 9.1. In the mid overs (7-15), we averaged 6.8
coming into this game. Here, we averaged 8. At the death, we average 9. Here, it was 13. By any yardstick, this was our best batting performance in the tournament. Yet, the number that will hover over any post-mortem is “8” – the number of batting resources left unused.

History, reimagined

Politicians on the stump are a source of endless joy. Here, Amit Shah in Assam:

“We all know that Assam is the land of the brave. It is the land where Sukapha (Ahom king) had defeated the Mughals 17 times and drove them away. The same land is now being allowed to become the abode of illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators by the Congress government.

It’s a nice story. But, as I was pointing out on my Facebook page last night, some inconvenient facts get in the way of it. Sukhapaa, founder of the Ahom kingdom, died in 1268. Babar defeated Ibrahim Lodi and established the Mughal dynasty in 1526. Quite a feat, then, for the Ahom king to have defeated unnamed Mughals three centuries after his death.

PS: A meeting over lunch (which hopefully will be long, and liquid) and *the* game this evening, so am off blog for the duration. Have a happy Sunday, folks.

 

 

Electrifying news

A BJP press release dated January 31, 2016 listed a string of achievements of the Federal government, and stressed the importance of data, and of educating the public to the achievements of the government. The relevant clip:

It is necessary to show the statistics because in the Congress-led UPA-1 & UPA-2 regime, many of these indicators were moving in the opposite direction. Due to economic policies and reforms implemented by Modi government, not only have many indicators improved, but they have improved by large margins.

As statements go, this is unexceptional. It is necessary to monitor progress and to disseminate the results of governmental schemes — lack of transparency was one of the big issues with UPA-II. The problem begins, however, when the line between fact and propaganda is blurred.

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Talent spotting

But of course, makes perfect sense. Sreesanth was found guilty of spot-fixing by a disciplinary committee headed by Shri Arun Jaitley. Less than a year ago, BCCI general secretary (and ABVP national head) Anurag Thakur confirmed the life banafter the Delhi court found it not feasible to pursue charges under MCOCA. You could say Sreesanth’s candidature has been vetted at the highest levels.

Seriously — is the party so poor in talent that it has to rely on the illusory appeal of a cheat?

Earlier today, while trawling through my archives, I came across this column by Pritish Nandy. This section resonates:

While these are a few stray examples, the point I am making is simple. Why do our achievements in every area of life and endeavour get outshone by our single most prominent area of shame — our politics? Why does our politics grab the media, grab our mindshare, our reluctant attention day after day? Loathsome leaders; corrupt MPs; thieving ministers; ugly, despicable louts and historysheeters masquerading as netas; blackmailers; extortionists; thugs. Why do these people hijack our attention again and again and again? Always for the wrong reasons.

This is what institutionalises crime. Legitimises it. This is what attracts the worst among us to politics. The fact that they get their one shining moment of glory when they enter politics. Arun Gawli leapt from page 5 to page 1 the moment he entered politics. So did Raja Bhaiya in UP. Rabri Devi went from her kitchen into the national headlines. Phoolan Devi, from her cell in Tihar jail. Chandra Swami painted all his crimes with different political colours.

It is the Lennon syndrome at work. Do something utterly despicable — kill someone famous, loot a bank, cheat the nation, set fire to a Harijan village, badmouth another politician — and you can bask in the glory of national headlines. You are the flavour of the day, the week, the season. Newspapers will frontpage you. television news bulletins will chase you. Your chamchas will fete you. And, if you are lucky, weak and feeble governments will reach out to you for your support.

No wonder the scum of the world is in politics today.

I’ll leave you with this thought: The column was written in 1999.