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EXCLUSIVE: chairman bansal on why ioc cannot acquire cairn india

September 16-30, 2010 | Vol. 01 Issue 16 | ` 30


Rahul Gandhi has retained the freshness of a prince in waiting, and yet changed, watching and learning the rules of the game.


Arun Shouries out of the box ideas to improve governance


Muslim women in Uttar Pradesh come together to oppose triple talaq


Bungle in the jungle: how Maoists lost the plot


Founders Team

Gautam Adhikari Markand Adhikari Anurag Batra ( Editor B V Rao Managing Editor Ajay Singh Peoples Editor Anupam Goswami Deputy Editors Prasanna Mohanty, Ashish Mehta, Ashish Sharma Assistant Editors Samir Sachdeva, Kapil Bajaj Special Correspondents Brajesh Kumar, Trithesh Nandan Principal Correspondents Geetanjali Minhas, Danish Raza, Jasleen Kaur Correspondents Shivani Chaturvedi, Neha Sethi, Sarthak Ray, Sonal Matharu Chief of Bureau (Special Features) Sweta Ranjan Design Parveen Kumar, Noor Mohammad Photographer Ravi Choudhary Marketing Asst. Manager Marketing Shivangi Gupta Circulation & Distribution Head Rajshekhar Chakrabarty Senior Executive, Distribution Banisha Verma Manager IT Santosh Gupta Asst. Manager HR Monika Sharma Design consultants LDI Graphics Pvt. Ltd. Printed, published and owned by Markand Adhikari. Printed at Utkarsh Art Press Pvt Ltd, D-9/3, Okhla Industrial Area Phase I, New Delhi, 110020. Tel: 011-41636301, and published at 24A, Mindmill Corporate Tower, Sector 16A, Film City, Noida 201301. Tel: 01203920555. Editor: B V Rao (Responsible for selection of news under the PRB Act) Volume 01 Issue 16 UPENG03560/24/1/2009-TC


19 Interview with Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh

Maoists realise they cant win this war

38 Interview: IOC chairman Brij Mohan Bansal

I want to make IOC an integrated energy company

36 New CEC, New Dawn?

26 rahul gandhi and the art of waiting

Rahul has retained the freshness of a prince in waiting, and yet changed, watching and learning the rules of the game.

12 Green crusader, did you say?

SY Qureshi has armed himself with tools that give him a fighting chance against illicit polling expenses Game for fresh ideas, Mr Kalmadi?

Jairam Ramesh is the toast of the green lobby for throwing Vedanta out of Niyamgiri Hills and protecting the rights of the tribals. The history of MoEFs actions suggests otherwise.

50 Last Word

21 Sisters in arms How more and more Muslim women are helping
one another in saying no, no, no to the triple talaq and other injustices

08 The best out of box idea is to take an in the box idea and implement it
Arun Shourie on actionable ideas to improve governance 3


PMs breathtaking contradictions

In UPA-I, he wanted to keep even the landless in agriculture. Now he wants more people out of it
he ongoing development debate, dominated by themes like Vedanta, acquisition of farmland for industry and food security, has deposited a thick layer of irony and contradiction on prime minister Manmohan Singhs utterances at the September 6 meeting with a group of editors. India has no option but to industrialise. The only way we can raise our heads above poverty is for more people to be taken out of agriculture, the prime minister was quoted as telling the editors. Lets juxtapose this wise-sounding statement with the recommendations of two committees set up by UPA-I whose agenda continues with UPA-II and defines a very important role for the prime minister to perform. Both these committees dealt with the unfinished agenda of land reforms and agrarian relations. As a general proposition it may be stated that land reform should remain an essential element of national agricultural and rural development strategies not only because land-based agricultural occupation must continue to provide livelihoods to a vast majority of rural population, but also because macro-economic growth in most contexts has failed to create improved prospects for the rural poor to acquire assets, gain employment, observed the working group on land relations (WGLR) for formulation of 11th Five Year Plan, set up in

Does the prime minister have any idea of what the country needs? Or is it that the country has failed to appreciate his wisdom and foresight?

March 2006 by the Planning Commission. Large-scale conversion of agriculture land for non-agricultural purposes is threatening livelihoods of the people who heavily depend on agriculture. To add, inequitable distribution of benefits from the new land use, quantity of compensation not commensurating with the market value, and social trade-offs like rehabilitation not done properly are leading to immense dissatisfaction among the project affected people, said the Committee on State Agrarian Relations and Unfinished Task of Land Reforms (CSARLR), chaired by the rural development minister, whose report was made public in September 2009. The recommendations of CSARLR have since been studied by a committee of secretaries (CoS) which will pass on its observations to the National Council for Land Reforms (NCLR), which is chaired by the prime minister and has several chief ministers as its members. The stated objective of the NCLR is to formulate a national land reforms policy and possibly introduce a legislative bill. The NCLR, set up in January 2008 along with the CSARLR, has not convened yet but continues to be in existence. While the UPA-I, also headed by Singh, resolved to carry out land reforms to keep even the landless in agriculture, the prime minister now wants more people to be taken out of agriculture. Its important to realise that both the committees considered it axiomatic that agriculture is the only viable opportunity for the vast majority of Indians, including small, marginal and landless farmers, in the foreseeable

Sins of commission
his is a stain on the dignity of the CVCs office which should be occupied by an officer with an unblemished record, remarked Sushma Swaraj, leader of opposition in Lok Sabha, after registering her protest with president Pratibha Patil against the appointment of PJ Thomas as the central vigilance commissioner (CVC). It was too late by then as hours earlier Thomas had been sworn in to the office. But this aptly sums up the mood. It was a historic moment in 1997 when the Supreme Court directed the government to involve the leader of opposition in selecting the CVC. The objective was to insulate the organisation (and hence the

Central vigilance commissioners appointment betrays governments lack of interest in fighting corruption

CBI over which it was given supervisory powers) at a time when the hawala scam rocked the nation. In the Vineet Narain case, the court had laid down the procedure: Selection for the post of Central Vigilance Commissioner shall be made by a Committee comprising the Prime Minister, Home Minister and the Leader of the Opposition from a panel of outstanding civil servants and others with impeccable integrity to be furnished by the cabinet secretary. The appointment shall be made by the President on the basis of the recommendations made by the Committee. This then found its way to the CVC Act of 2003. The spirit of this judgment was undermined when

the prime minister and the home minister shot down Swarajs objections to Thomas candidature. They also ignored her plea that she was agreeable to any of the other two in the panel of candidates. This raises an interesting debate over whether the threemember selection committees recommendation has to be taken to mean consensus or a majority decision. Vineet Narain, the man behind the landmark 1997 judgment, is right in pointing out that if the recommendation were to mean majority decision, there is no relevance of the leader of opposition in the committee. After all, the prime minister and the home minister can decide for themselves and save the leader of opposition from an embarrassing situation. Swarajs objection was about suitability of Thomas candidature. The apex court was specific that the CVC be selected from among outstanding civil servants and others with impeccable integrity. He may have been honourably exonerated but there is no denying that Thomas was investigated for his

GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

future. Both the committees pitched for strict imposition of land ceiling in rural areas (which goes against the grain of SEZ, contract farming and other policies of the UPA government), strong measures against conversion of farm land to industrial land, disapproved alienation of tribal land and strict implementation of Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996. The CSARLR has been scathing in its criticism of industrialisation causing rampant conversion of farm land, which, in turn, is threatening food security. It even links the macroeconomic policy regime since the early 1990s with acceleration in loss of land of the vulnerable segments of the population and extremist violence in 220 districts. The two committees also recommended enfeebling or scrapping of the Land Acquisition Act 1894 to prevent the acquisition of farm land for any reason other than a strictly defined public purpose and strict implementation of the resettlement and rehabilitation policy. The country will never be able to achieve a structural end to rural poverty without land reforms, the CSARLR said. Again, a beautiful contrast with the PMs statement on September 6. Does the prime minister have any idea of what the country needs? Or is it that the country has failed to appreciate his wisdom and foresight?

How to handle a hostage crisis

Nitish Kumar neither yielded an inch nor resorted to bravado
f firmness is shorn of political posturing and bravado, it is taken rather seriously. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar successfully proved in the hostage crisis that a mature, sagacious political conduct, not irrational flamboyance, is a rewarding recourse in statecraft. There is no doubt that as the hostage crisis unfolded the Nitish Kumar government was walking on a razor edge. But, despite intense pressure, the chief minister never displayed signs of impetuousness. His first message to the Maoists was conveyed in unambiguous terms that conveyed that though he was willing to talk, he was not a pushover who would capitulate to any demand. In his first message, he reminded the Maoists of the Bihar governments record on human rights and hoped that the Maoists would reciprocate. In a strategy that concealed iron fist in velvet gloves, Kumar dismissed the possibility of releasing eight Maoists in exchange for the hostages. Perhaps Nitish Kumar was well aware of the contradictions within the Maoists rank and file. He mobilised peoples opinion against the killing of Lucas Tete, a police sub-inspector, by the Maoists as a sign

of desperation and brutality. There were definite signs of frustration in the left extremists camp when they realised the tactical mistake of killing Tete. On the other hand, Kumar continued to send across the message of engagement with the Maoists and offered talks to discuss the issue face to face. During the entire crisis, he sounded earnest without yielding an inch. Clearly, the Maoists found peoples pressure too intense to resist. Intellectuals ranging from Mahashweta Devi and Arundhati Roy to democratic rights champions like GN Saibaba rallied around the efforts to get the hostages released. When the hostages were finally released, Nitish Kumar once again displayed maturity and equanimity which are the hallmarks of an evolved leader. He appealed to the Maoists to shun the path of violence and join the electoral battle. Once again he was cautious enough to not sound complacent and directed the state administration to be on its guard in view of the coming elections. If only the other chief ministers facing similar situations took a leaf out of Nitish Kumars book...
(Also see Bungle in the jungle, page 42)

role in the palm oil scam of Kerala some years back. More damagingly, it has now come to notice that as the telecom secretary he had sought the law ministrys opinion on whether the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) can audit 2G spectrum scam, in which his minister A Raja is the prime suspect, on the ground that it was a policy formulation. The law ministry responded saying that 2G spectrum scam was not only beyond the jurisdiction of the CAG but also that of the CVC as it was indeed a policy matter. In such a situation it is natural to suspect that Thomas, who took charge as telecom secretary after the scam surfaced, was doing a coverup job for his minister. Since Thomas predecessor Pratyush Sinha had referred the case to the CBI last year, it is no surprise that Swarajs party has raised a red flag saying he would, as the CVC, scuttle the CBI investigation. Propriety and norms of good governance would suggest that the prime minister should have addressed these concerns before appointing Thomas.

Vineet Narain, the man behind the landmark 1997 judgment, is right in pointing out that if the recommendation were to mean majority decision, there is no relevance of the leader of opposition in the committee.

He didnt. This development is all the more worrisome because the CVCs reputation as the apex body to fight corruption in the country is at an all-time low. Barring the expose on the Commonwealth Games contracts, it has done precious little in the past few years to inspire confidence. Hence the inevitable conclusions that it is time to revisit not only the selection mechanism of the CVC but also the relevance of CVC, given its status as an advisory body which cant even register an FIR by itself. But more important than that is the sincerity of the government to fight corruption. The way the Manmohan Singh government has tried to bulldoze corruption charges in the 2G spectrum scam, and now brazen its way through in the appointment of Thomas, probably a fresh round of public upraor against this traditional trait of the Congress governments is what can make a difference. But are we ready for that? That is a million dollar question we need to ask.


No bang for that extra buck, MPs?

Do our MPs deserve the kind of pay hike they gave themselves recently? What about their performance? The questions beg some straightforward answers if we look at parliamentary performance. The primary role of parliament is to legislate and it is precisely in the legis-lative activity that parliament has devoted the least amount of time. During 2001-08, parliament devoted 25% of its time in Lok Sabha and 28% of time in Rajya Sabha on legislative business. In 2009, the figures were 17% for the lower house and 18% for the upper house. Bulk of the time is devoted to non-financial business which translates into the time lost to pandemonium and walkouts. This means increasingly less time is devoted to discussion and passage of bills, which are disposed of in a matter of minutes. In 2009, 27% of the bills were each discussed for five minutes or less in Lok Sabha. The number of sittings too has reduced considerably over the years from 151 days in 1956 to 109 in 1985, 93 in 1989, 77 in 2006 and 64 in 2009. The presence of the members in the house also poses some serious questions on the level of seriousness with which they treat the business in parliament. Recently question hour collapsed when 33 members in whose names starred questions were listed for the day were absent. In some cases even ministers are absent when questions related to their ministries are raised during question hour. Another point which needs deeper examination is the need for the pay hike keeping in view the economic status of the members. On average, assets of the members of the 15th Lok sabha amount to Rs 5.33 crore, up from Rs 1.86 crore in the 14th Lok Sabha. There are 315 crorepatis in the 15th Lok Sabha, again an increase from 156 in the previous house. As many as 304 members who recontested the 2009 elections recorded an average asset increase of 289%. Questions can also be raised about the need for the pay hike as increasingly the parliament seats are being treated like investments. By a moderate estimate more than Rs 10,000 crore were spent in the last general elections. A study by the National Election Watch shows that 33% candidates having assets worth more than Rs 5 crore won the elections. Obviously, after such investments, the candidates will expect some returns too. The moot point is: what does it mean to be an MP? Is it a profession, is it an office of profit? It is not as if they applied for a job. Going by election manifestos, they desire to serve society. Then claiming high salaries sounds somewhat contradictory. What is the logic behind this hike? Why the hike at the present juncture? Various reasons cited at the moment are trivial and at best unconvincing. Himanshu Jha New Delhi

Debate Did the Supreme Court exceed its brief?

A week after the Supreme Court directed the centre to distribute food free to the poor rather than let it rot, the prime minister said the court should not step into the realm of policy formulation. Few would disagree with the PM that it is not the job of the judiciary to formulate policy. Yet, the court stepped in only months after it became clear that the government was doing precious little to save food grains from rotting. In fact, the centre released 25 lakh tonnes of additional food grains to the state governments only after the Supreme Court intervened on behalf of the starving millions. In this context, then, did the court really exceed its brief in advising the government on rotting food grains? Perhaps the larger question is whether an inactive government is indeed more desirable than a proactive Supreme court. After all, we have only the Supreme Court to thank for getting the central government to act in this instance, just as it has done in several other similar cases in the past. Join the debate, send your views to

Suggestion for a Games capital

This refers to Urban Un-planning (Sep 1-15). It was a sheer waste of money to spend so much on beautifying Delhi in the name of the Commonwealth Games, which are becoming a nuisance for ordinary Delhiites. Unplanned construction work, overlooking areas where development was needed more, has caused water-logging and traffic jams, leading even to the spread of dengue and other diseases. Money spent on development work in Delhi could rather have created a new games city somewhere in the middle of the country which could be later developed into a centrally located new capital for the country. Otherwise, the Games could have taken place in some less-crowded city. Any such event can only add to the misery of over-populated Delhi.

Mindless spending on developing cycle-tracks on overcrowded roads of old Delhi is going to benefit encroachers and drug addicts rather than cyclists. First, bribes would have been received from contractors to award projects, and later contractors will pay bribes to get contracts to abolish cycle-tracks. Madhu Agrawal New Delhi

about the issues related to puppy factories. It was really nice to know that rules and regulations are being set even if it takes a long time to set them into the system. Needless to say, I am simply obsessed with dogs! Thanks a lot for writing such a great article. It was so sad to hear the fate of the third puppy that came to Mr Bansals doorstep in the plastic basket. Nina Merchant Mumbai Write to Governance Now We invite your suggestions, reactions to the stories and analyses and, of course, your own take on all matters related to governance. You can email or send snail mail. All letters must accompany your postal address. SABGROUP Publishing Division 24A Mindmill Corporate Towers Film City, Sector 16A, Noida 201301

Pet rules
I read Rohit Bansals article entitled Jairam bats for Laila (July 16-31) and thought it was absolutely fabulous. Apart from the article, its great to know that there are other people out there, especially here in India, that are aware of and care

6 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

Punjab to allow women to stay with husbands in jails

ives of prisoners in Punjab will soon be allowed a brief stay with their husbands in jails, jail minister Hira Singh Gabria declared in Ludhiana recently. The new jails, which are under construction in the state, are having special barracks for the purpose. Singh said this facility would be extended on humanitarian grounds to those prisoners who had been staying in jail for several years and even the newly weds who landed themselves in prison.

PM forms panel to study sugar decontrol
rime minister Manmohan Singh has formed a panel to study sugar decontrol. The ministry of agriculture and food feels this is the right time to give in to the long-standing demand of the industry to decontrol it considering higher area of cultivation and expected bumper production in the next season starting October. At a meeting attended by food secretary Alka Sirohi, among others, it was decided that chairman of prime ministers economic advisory council C Rangarajan, chief economic adviser Kaushik Basu and former agriculture secretary Nanda Kumar would suggest a formula for revenue sharing between farmers and industry when all controls go. The agriculture and food minister Sharad Pawar said the government would continue to fix the fair and remunerative price (FRP) of sugarcane to protect the farmers interest. The FRP is the minimum price that mills have to pay to procure cane.

MP government officials will pay fine for delay in service

magine a government official paying for delay in issuing your caste or income certificate or some other service you have sought. Hard to imagine? Well, the Madhya Pradesh government has just promised that by passing the Public Services Guarantee Act. The path-breaking legislation passed by the Assembly on July 30 seeks to punish government officials for

failure or delay in providing services to the citizens. The new law says officers concerned will have to pay Rs 250 for every days delay in providing the services. The maximum fine has been capped at Rs 5,000. In case of failure to provide a service, the minimum fine is Rs 500 and the maximum Rs 5,000.

Gujarat brings back compulsory voting bill, without change

he Gujarat government seems bent on passing the Gujarat Local Authorities Laws (Amendment) Bill which makes voting in local bodies and panchayat elections compulsory, even after it was rejected by governor Kamla Beniwal in April this year. The bill was tabled in the Assembly again on September 7. Curiously the bill was tabled

without any amendment in the text. The governor had pointed out 15 loopholes in it. She had objected to the clubbing of 50% reservation for women with the compulsory voting and also that the compulsory voting infringed on the freedom of expression of the citizens as guaranteed under Article 19(1) of the constitution. 7

ashish asthana

GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

ash ish asthana

people politics policy performance

Lectures & Talks

Shourie: The real problem is the executive is chosen from catchment area of legislature
Speaking at a seminar, Looking ahead: out of the box ideas for an effective governance, organised by the All India Management Association (AIMA) in New Delhi on August 11, the eminent journalist and author spoke on actionable ideas that can transform governance. The session, which featured corporate affairs minister Salman Khurshid among the speakers, was chaired by Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president, Centre for Policy Research.

Arun Shourie

he chairman (Pratap Bhanu Mehta) said that a year ago who would have said about inflation, naxalism, secessionism and ethnic violence (that these would assume such debilitating proportions). I cannot pretend to have said one, two or five years ago about ethnic violence but about each of the rest, I am certainly one of the persons like you who has been saying this. So, the important inference is not only the sense of foreboding, not only the real situation today, not only the abdication that we have all been saying, forecasting and pleading but also that it has had no effect at all. We are like paralytics watching a rising flood. And as you rightly said, words become fashionable. Last year, it was inclusive growth. Just add something after inclusive. When Chaudhary Charan Singh was the prime minister, it used to be rural development. It can be anything.

Governance and rural development, development and rural development etc. (RK) Laxman had a cartoon where a secretary is sitting, there is a small broken desk, a minister is standing wearing a Gandhi cap and two villagers are sitting in a parched village. There is a banner which reads aeronautics in the service of rural development! The chairman is completely right that every problem that we see today, inflation for instance, is an abdication because of weak governments going in for populist expenditure. After each of the four budgets that Mr Chidambaram presented, many of the industry fellows were giving nine out of ten. I was saying that there are criminal deficits, that these off-budget items will lead to the most severe inflation. But government is government. It (my complaining) was crying in the wilderness. Similarly on naxalism. Mr Shivraj Patil was the Home Minister. I was

asked to lead the debate on internal security in 2004. I said that the government data showed that of 600 districts, 169 districts were naxalaffected. Mr Patil asked me where I got the figures from. I showed him the home ministrys report from where I took that data. He said it must be wrong. He changed the definition of affected districts. Thus, 169 became 72. This went on for five years. And this happens in every government. At that time, we were asked to come with out of the box ideas. I think the most out of the box idea is to take any in the box idea and implement it. The NDA government had set up Justice Venkatachaliah commission. Now we have (Union law minister) (Veerappa) Moily, a great scholar. And there is another set of administrative reforms commission. Do you know that in the ethics and government report, not just ideas but paragraphs have been lifted from the Justice Venkatachaliah commission report? You would have

people politics policy performance

Lectures & Talks

penalised them for plagiarism if you had been judging them for a PhD thesis. We just keep repeating old ideas. The crux of the matter really is that the two instruments today are the legislature and the executive. The fact of the matter is that in legislature, the Indian solution is afoot. If you look at the conduct of the legislature, you will find that its functioning is becoming irrelevant. There are obstructions, delays, but they are irrelevant as the government does and will do what it wants to do. Even then, they are destructive influence because as I mentioned, weak governments mean populist expenditure and everybody cheers a populist expenditure. That part of the problem is afoot. But the real problem is that the executive is chosen from within the legislature. I personally feel that the present electoral system is not yielding persons of sufficient quality for governance of a billion people. From the legislative catchment area, we select a council of ministers. The fact of the matter is that if you look at those 60 persons in the council, you will not find even six persons whom you (AIMA) can hire for any job of any kind. The real solution I feel will have to be delinking people in the executive from the catchment area of the legislature. This is the proposal which a perspicacious person like Mr BK Nehru, in his famous Rajaji Memorial lecture on a plea for constitutional reforms, has put forward. It may not be a completely American solution in which you have the prime minister selecting anybody and then there is a complete divorce between the legislature and the executive except through congregational committees. The ministers can participate in the house, inform the house and thereby the people of the country of the reasons for their policies. But all they need not do is to vote. After all, you have a distinguished prime minister today. He is from the Rajya Sabha. He participates in the Lok Sabha. He explains

policies. He educates. He does not vote. No great calamity. Some intermediate solution of this kind is the critical thing. It is true that there is a basic structure doctrine. I have studied around 30- 35 judgments of the Supreme Court on what constitutes the basic structure. There is a mention of democracy, judiciary and federalism. Democracy is emphasised again and again. But there is no mention of parliamentary democracy. The phrase parliamentary democracy occurs only in one statement of one judge, Justice Jagan Mohan Reddy and that is when he is recounting the points that have been listed by Mr Palkhiwala in constituting the basic structure. So, I would urge that legal scholars and everybody else should study this matter and eventually the country will have to think of solutions like these. There are many points on the electoral system and so on because even with a dysfunctional legislature they are still important. The basic point is the qualification of the legislators. If you see Dr Rajendra Prasads concluding address, he said the point he was not able to address was the qualification of legislators. For this, a (Gods) gracious law always operates. The people who are there today will become the UPSC (selectors) for people tomorrow. They will select worse and worse types. The second grade persons will select third grade persons and that goes on for 30- 40 years. Hence, qualification (is important). Second is the enforcement of rules. It is an amazing notion that this house (Parliament) is mine. On the 50th anniversary of Parliament, a unanimous resolution was passed. One of the points was that anybody stepping into the well of the house would be automatically suspended. All of you know what happens daily. And none of the presiding officers does anything about it. Why? Because he is looking for the next job. He is in a popularity contest. So, enforcement of rules (is important). The next suggestion I have is on

the scrutiny of all public institutions including the legislature, executive and judiciary. I will give you an example. In parliament, a very good work has been started by the Parliamentary Research Service. They are doing outstanding work in assisting the MPs in legislation and in monitoring and publically recording what they find about the functioning of Parliament. Just contrast this with American jurisprudence. How closely they are scrutinised. Not only is the record of judges, individual judgments (are) also recorded. In India, you show me a scholarly analysis of judgments. So, the point is that great public scrutiny has an effect. In the last

When Supreme Court judges, CBI directors, chiefs of army staff, chief election commissioners look for the next stop, their independence is gone. There is a famous Zulu proverb A dog with a bone in his mouth cant bark. Similarly, a dog with a bone in front of him cannot bark (either).
20 years, various magazines have started the rankings of individual states. In has had an effect because states started thinking that, yes, governance is a thing on which we should score well. The best people to do this would be the people in the profession itself. But they have inhibitions if they have to appear before the same judges. There are other problems also. But I have found that the standards of academics in India is so poor that even a lay person working on an issue can become an authority on it in 3- 4 years. We should all feel encouraged that we can examine the work of professionals. (Karnataka Lokayukta) Santosh

10 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

Hegde was here (at the event). You have to see the records of annual and biannual meetings of the Lokayukta. They keep on crying that nobody listens to them and they do not have any powers. How many of us have really gone into the results of setting up of the Lokayukta? I have just two more suggestions before I conclude. One is on the cancer of corruption. I have been pleading for the last 40 years that corruption is not a scandal. If a minister is corrupt, the civil servants will be corrupt and if civil servants are corrupt, the border security guard at Bangladesh border will take money and consequences will follow. So, it is a cancer.

If you remember, around Rs 4- 5 crore was found under the bed of Mr Sukhram. He gives lectures on Mahatma Gandhi. He came to power with the BJP; he is like a king. What happened to him? The case is on. Why? Because you have to prove beyond reasonable doubt. He should prove it and not the court. (It should be) the preponderance of probability... if you find money with me and I am a public servant, the presumption must be of guilt till I can explain where I got the money from and (c) the punishment must be scaled to the level of the persons office. If a tehsildar takes Rs one lakh, the effect will be limited to his village or may be to some nearby villages. If a minister

The present electoral system is not yielding persons of sufficient quality for governance of a billion people. From the legislative catchment area, we select a council of ministers. The fact of the matter is that if you look at those 60 persons in the council, you will not find even six persons whom you (AIMA) can hire for any job of any kind.

I have, therefore, four proposals. 1. Select a few laws the violation of which leads to great consequences for the country. These can be electoral laws, Prevention of Corruption Act and so on. 2. Put public servants in a separate category. Public servants should be anybody drawing anything from the state. For example, legislators, civil servants, policemen. In their case, just do three changes: (a) day to day hearings, there should be no adjournments at all, (b) we must change the law from beyond reasonable doubt to preponderance of probability. For this category, there must be preponderance of probability combined with no adjournments.

or a prime minister takes the money with or without the suitcase, it has a multiplier effect all over. And this punishment must have two ingredients necessarilyphysical imprisonment and permanent disbarment from public life. Unless these two things are done, nothing will happen. 3. There is a sentence by a famous American judge: Judges are bribed not so often by money but by their ambition. So, when Supreme Court judges CBI directors, chiefs of army staff, chief election commissioners look for the next stop, their independence is gone. There is a famous Zulu proverb A dog with a bone in his mouth cant bark. Similarly, a dog with a bone in front of

him cannot bark (either). I have personally experienced this. I had great regard and affection for (vice-president) Krishan Kant ji. At the time of emergency, he used to run an underground newspaper which used to be distributed in prisons. The other person was Bhairon Singh Shekhawat. He was a strong pillar. But when the prospect of presidentship came in front of their eyes, their whole attitude in running the Rajya Sabha changed. So, you must set a category of office that if a person gets that office, he will not get any office after that. 4. Now, any of these things cannot come about from within any structure. Why? Because every structure is in the hands of the persons who are the beneficiaries of things as they are. Hence, outside pressure is required. We say parties should not field any criminals in elections. But they give the excuse that the other fellow is doing it and I have to have winnability. But no party today can survive without the money being given by corporates. So, if the corporates took the initiative saying that there is a shareholders meeting and the shareholders passed a resolution that we know our company will give money to the political parties but if we find out at any stage that the political party fielded even one candidate with a criminal background, our board of directors will lose their money. So, AIMA should have a campaign among corporates to attend to this matter in very many ways because legitimacy has passed from politicians and civil servants to the citizens like you and me and entrepreneurs. If Narayana Murthy or Ratan Tata says something on economic policies, it makes much greater impact than any of the finance ministers. That legitimacy should now be used not only for corporate governance but for attending to problems of general governance. n
AV of the full speech is available on (GNTalk section). Courtesy: AIMA. 11

Green crusade did you say?

Green Gov

people politics policy performance

Jairam Ramesh is the toast of the green lobby for throwing Vedanta out of Niyamgiri Hills and protecting the rights of the tribals. The history of MoEFs actions suggests otherwise.

Prasanna Mohanty

airam Ramesh has become a national hero by upholding the rights of the Niyamgiri tribals and that of the other traditional forest dwellers (OTFDs) in the POSCO project area, both in Orissa. In the case of the Niyamgiri, he withheld forest clearance and in the case of POSCO, he withdrew it citing violations of the Forest Rights Act. Undoubtedly, the Orissa government is guilty on both counts. But what has escaped notice is that much before these forest rights violations,

Rameshs own ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) had granted a series of clearances, including those that he calls in-principle clearance, to both the projects in violation of the rule of law. Had he or his ministry acted as the law required, there wouldnt have been any need to withhold or withdraw anything. The Vedanta groups project is now a fait accompli and the POSCO project an agonising experience for everyone involved. To understand how Ramesh and his ministry have unleashed a regime of un-principled governance, lets revisit these and other well-known projects.

Niyamgiri saga

The Vedanta group came up with a project to make metallurgical grade alumina and aluminium products in

Orissa. The project included setting up a smelting plant in Jharsuguda (to make liquid aluminium from alumina powder); a refinery in Koraputs Lanjigarh (to make alumina powder from bauxite) nearly 400 km away and mining of the Niyamgiri hills (to mine bauxite), about five km of aerial distance from the refinery. Obviously, all three operations are interlinked and inter-dependent and work started on all three simultaneously. You would expect the MoEF to consider and give (or deny) clearance to the project in its entirety and at one go. What actually happened is quite bizarre. The smelting plant of Jharsuguda got environment clearance on March 7, 2007. The Lanjigarh refinery got environment clearance on September 22, 2004. The

mining (by the Orissa Mining Corporation, which would then pass bauxite to Vedanta) got environment clearance on April 28, 2009. Meanwhile, Vedanta sought environment clearance to expand its refinery capacity from one million tonne to six million tonne and received what is called the terms of conditions (TOR) on March 12, 2008. What about forest clearance? It came separately. The smelting plant required no forest clearance because it was on revenue land, though within the Sambalpur elephant reserve. The refinery neither sought nor got this clearance because no forest land was involved (this claim turned out to be false as MoEF admits that the refinery has occupied 26.123 hectares of forest land). Since the refinery didnt need forest

12 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010


clearance, the expansion plan also didnt need forest clearance. The mining operation got in-principle forest clearance on December 11, 2008 (delayed by more than a year because of litigation; MoEFs forest advisory committee had given its approval in October 2007). What MoEF has done now is to deny final forest clearance to the mining (Niyamgiri hills) on the ground that the forest rights of the Dongaria and Kutia Kondhs have been violated by the state government. But read Rameshs 20-page order. Page 17 carries a shocking confession. It says: It is brought to my attention that this is the first time that the Dongaria Kondhs have directly challenged the project in any court of law. The appeals highlighted (the) several violations in the

environmental clearance process. Some of the key charges raised were that the full environment impact assessment report was not made available to the public before the public hearing, different EIA reports made available to the public and submitted to the MoEF, the EIA conducted was a rapid EIA undertaken during the monsoon months. The matter is reserved for judgment before the NEAA (National Environment Appellate Authority). (Rameshs own emphasis) These facts were enough to deny environment clearance, which came in September 2004. Or withdraw it in all these years for violating the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1984 and its guidelines. MoEF did neither. Rameshs excuse that he came to know the facts only now is not borne out by

Rameshs excuse that he came to know the Niyamgiri facts only now is a blatant lie. These facts were made known to the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee way back in Nov. 2004. Media and human rights bodies, both national and international ones, have also been highlighting these facts since 2004.

facts. These facts were made known to the Supreme Courtappointed Central Empowered Committee way back in November 2004, when the project was challenged. Besides, national and international media and human rights bodies have published these facts and national and international celebrities have held demonstrations in India and abroad since 2004. Several other facts are worth noting. n The legal battle challenging the clearance to the smelting plant started in 2007 (before the NEAA and then the Delhi High Court), on the ground of improper EIA and improper public hearing and continued till mid-2009. By that time, construction of the plant was over; it went into production in 2008. MoEF should have intervened but it didnt. The smelting plant became a fait 13

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Green Gov

accompli. n The legal battle against the refinery began in November 2004, which objected to nondisclosure of 26.123 hectares of forest land it had occupied, before the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee. CEC recommended withdrawal of the environment clearance but by the time the apex court took it up, it was 2007 and the refinery had started its operations. MoEF should have withdrawn clearance as concealment of information violates the EIA Notification of 1994. It didnt and the refinery became a fait accompli. n MoEF gave in-principle forest clearance to Niyamgiris mining in December 2008. Immediately, Vedanta began constructing a conveyor belt in violation of Forest Conservation Act and its guidelines. It was stopped by the locals. The whole world knew it. But MoEF granted final forest clearance in April 2009. Its own inquiry established these violations in February 2010. But the clearance wasnt withdrawn. n Work on expansion of refinery is 60 percent complete without environment clearance. Ramesh admits it, but hasnt done anything beyond promising to issue a showcause notice. If history is any indication, this will soon become a fait accompli too. n The N C Saxena report says the Niyamgiri mining lease has limited relevance as it can support the expanded refinery only for four years. Where from will Vedanta get the bauxite? Vedanta Alumina COO Mukesh Kumar says all required bauxite deposits are available within a 40 km radius of the refinery. What is to expect? Many more Niyamgiris, soon. Ritwick Dutta, an environment lawyer who has been fighting for Niyamgiri tribals, makes an apt point: Failure of

Back to basics: A family of Kutia Kondhs at the foothill of the Niyamgiri near Lanjigarh trying to settle down to a normal life after MoEF refused forest clearance to the mining proposal.

governance on part of MoEF and continued support to the project through a series of approvals right up to 2009 led to the present situation. Had the MoEF done justice with its environment clearances, things would have been sorted out much earlier. South Korean steel major POSCO proposed to set up a steel plant in Orissas Jagatsinghpur with an investment of Rs 54,000 crore. MoEF granted it environment clearance on July 19, 2007. The in-principle forest clearance was given on September 19, 2008. The final forest clearance came on December 29, 2009. On August 5, 2010, Ramesh issued a stop order to the Orissa government for denying rights of the other traditional forest dwellers and overlooking resolutions of palli (gram) sabhas refusing transfer of

POSCO pitfalls

forest land. The obvious question is how did MoEF give its final forest clearance in December 2009? More than four months before the forest clearance, MoEF had, on August 3, 2009, issued a binding guideline to all state governments which said application for diversion under the Forest Conservation Act would be considered only after all due process contained in the Scheduled Tribe and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act, 2006 have been fully and satisfactorily completed. (Rameshs emphasis) Why this binding guideline was violated by Ramesh? A sub-committees report on the basis of which Ramesh issued the stop order points this out and says: The MoEF final approval of December 29, 2009 is itself a violation of its circular No. F. No. 11-9/1998-FC (pt), of 30 July 2009 (and therefore

of the FRA), requiring FRA completion and gram sabha consent for forest diversion. This sub-committee made two recommendations: One, to ask the Orissa government to stop all work and second, withdraw the forest clearance provided in December 2009. Ramesh accepted the first but ignored the second. What about the mining part of the project? MoEF is blissfully ignorant while the state is struggling to find a mine for POSCO. The Orissa High Court stayed the states last attempt to recommend a mine saying that proper procedure had not been followed.

Polavaram patchwork

Given the two glaring examples of violations of the Forest Rights Act, the least you would expect is that Ramesh wouldnt commit the same mistakes again. Right? Wrong. On July 28, 2010, he quietly

14 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

Regime of fait accompli

Lafarges mining in Meghalaya
French company Lafarge set up its cement plant in Bangladesh for which limestone was to be mined from Meghalayas Khasi hills. The project got MoEFs environment clearance in 2001 on the basis of an Environment Impact Assessment report which said the proposed mining area was wasteland and non-forest area. So, no forest clearance was sought. Mining began and the plant went into production in 2006. Later, in the same year, MoEF admitted that the mining area was actually a natural/virgin forest but allowed the operation by telling the Supreme Court in 2008 that a stay will adversely impact credibility of India as an investment destination! After four years of operations, the Supreme Court stayed mining in February 2010. MoEF and the government of India went and pleaded that the stay was harming Bangladeshs economy and would spoil our relations with Dhaka! The court has not vacated the stay. But it is a fait accompli. MoEF has already submitted a proposal for compensatory afforestation and local development plan for which Lafarge will pay the money.

Jindals Rantagiri thermal plant

Jindals 1,200 MW thermal power plant in Maharashtras Alphanso mango and cashew belt, Jaigad in Ratnagiri district, got environment clearance on May 17, 2007 on the basis of an EIA report which didnt mention that Alphanso or cashew orchards abounded in the area. Litigations followed and fresh assessments were ordered. One of such studies by MoEFs Expert Appraisal Committee (under vice chairman Prof CR Babu) admitted Alphanso and cashew orchards existed but said pollution is actually good for them! It said: All these observations amply suggest that both Alphanso mango and cashew were as healthy or even healthier in vehicular polluted environments as compared to those found in environments away from vehicular pollution. MoEF continues to send expert teams, supervisory committees (the last one set up on June 28, 2010) to study the impact of thermal power plants on sensitive environment. On September 1, 2010, one 300 MW unit of the JSW Energy went into commercial production. Rest three will do so by end of March 2011, said an official. Fait accompli!

handed over the final forest clearance to the Indira Sagar (Polavaram) Multipurpose Project on river Godavari in Andhra Pradesh. (In-principle forest clearance had come on December 26, 2008 and the environment clearance on October 25, 2005.) The order said the final forest clearance was being given on three grounds: (i) assurance of the Andhra government that no forest rights need to be settled; (ii) a clear understanding that the Andhra government will ensure no submergence of forest land in Orissa and Chhattisgarh and (iii) that the rehabilitation and resettlement package will be implemented. Firstly, this violates binding guideline of 2009 and other notifications about implementation of forest rights as a pre-condition to forest clearance. Second, how will Andhra Pradesh ensure no submergence? MoEF had itself acknowledged in its environment clearance order of 2005 that the project will submerge 11 villages, over 1,000 hectare of land, that included forest land, affecting 6,316 people in Orissas Malkangiri and 16 villages, 2,398 hectare of land affecting 11,766 people in Chhattisgarhs Dantewada. Andhras assurance came only in January 2009. It said submergence could be avoided by constructing embankments along two rivers in these states. This is an absurd proposition and will cost Rs 600 crore, as against Rs 60 crore to rehabilitate those to be saved! It involves constructing 10 m high, 30-km-long embankments on each of Sileru and Sabri rivers on either side! Imagine the amount of land needed to dig up earth and to build the embankments! Third, this alters the project substantially and hence, calls for cancellation of the nod given earlier. Fourth, it violates the pre-condition of no submergence and displacement set in

2008 for final forest clearance. Fifth, both Malkangiri and Dantewada are Fifth Schedule Areas and so, the Panchayats (Extension to the Schedule Area) Act of 1996 is applicable. No forest clearance can be given without a mandatory approval of the gram sabhas. That is so because even if embankments were to be made, it would require a huge chunk of land and the nods from gram sabhas. No such approval has been taken. Sixth, on December 19, 2007, NEAA quashed environment clearance to the project saying the affected people of Malkangiri and Dantewada had not been consulted. It said the clearance is quashed on the ground that the impugned order was passed taking into consideration the Public Hearing which by itself was incomplete as it was not conducted in affected areas of Orissa and Chhattishgarh resulting in denial of access to information and opportunities to the affected people to express their views/opinions etc. on the Environmental Impact of the Project and consequential violation of Principles of Natural Justice. The Andhra High Court stayed the order and the case is now pending before the apex court. So, when, on July 28, 2010, Ramesh gave final forest clearance to the project, he actually had six reasons to withdraw the previous clearances and deny the final one - all for violating various laws, guidelines and notifications. He did the opposite. Incidentally, Indira Sagar will be one of the biggest hydropower projects -- bigger than the Narmada projects as it would displace about 277 villages and 1.8 lakh people. Where does all this leave us? That our Green Crusader is not, after all, a hero to be looked upto but someone who has been violating all the forest, environment and tribal laws, his own binding guidelines and various notifications. n 15

Telecom secretary takes over as CVC
he appointment of telecom secretary PJ Thomas as the new central vigilance commissioner has given the opposition another stick to beat the government with. According to BJP spokesperson Tarun Vijay the manner in which the government had ignored the suggestions and objections of leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, was sad and shocking. The selection committee, which consisted of the prime minister, the home minister and the leader of opposition, chose Thomas over two other candidates Bijoy Chatterjee, secretary in the department of chemicals and petrochemicals, and S Krishnan, who retired as fertiliser secretary last month. Unhappy with the selection, Swaraj put her dissenting note on the decision. The BJP alleged that Thomas could not be expected to make a fair inquiry into the 2G spectrum scam, which is probed by the CBI, which, in turn, is supervised by the CVC.

aharaich district magistrate Rigzin Samphel devised a unique way to help his district to get access to clean water when the hand-pumps in the area got marooned in floodwaters. He introduced WAT-SAN (water-sanitation), a pyramid-shaped handpump, which could provide safe drinking water even when the district was submerged under water. He got it designed in line with the needs of the villagers as well as the

Public service meets ingenuity

NGOs. His innovation brought relief to the people when Ghaghra river broke its embankment last month. He also ensured that children in the 219-flood affected villages did not miss their classes; his administration set up schools in specially created tents, supported by UNICEF. Samphel, an MBA from Delhi University and a 2003-batch IAS officer, has shown that a little bit of ingenuity can take public service a long way.

Another babu gets a plum post

ppointment of babus as the head of autonomous institutions seems to be the order of the day. Much like PJ Thomas who was appointed as the CVC by the centre, down south, the Tamil Nadu government appointed former chief secretary KS Sripathy as the state chief information commissioner (CIC) early this month, despite opposition from the RTI activists. As chief secretary, Sripathy was a strong opponent of the state

information commissions order directing the government to find out if IAS and IPS officers had disclosed their assets. Leader of opposition J Jayalalithaa had termed the selection illegal when the government refused to provide her with a list of nominated candidates. She had sought the list after being told by the RTI activists about lack of transparency in the selection of information commissioners. But she was ignored by the state government.

Trivedi does it again!

inister of state for health Dinesh Trivedi once again expressed his displeasure with the sluggish performance of his ministry in a public forum in New Delhi recently. He called for creating a separate cadre in the ministry of those officials who are committed to delivering health services. Health needs attention 24/7 and it cannot work on the bureaucratic system where people work from 9 am to 7 pm. We need people who start and end their careers with health and not bureaucrats who keep shifting from

one department to the other every five years, Trivedi said at the event, healthcare for all organized by FICCI. The National Health Portal, which Trivedi and Sam Pitroda conceived, has been lying inactive for over nine months. The plan to set up hospitals on railway land, which he had worked out with the help of railway minister and his party leader Mamata Banerjee, has also not moved beyond the planning stage.

18 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

people politics policy performance


realise they cant win this war

aman Singh has an unenviable job as chief minister of Chhattisgarh, the state worst hit by Maoist violence he is in fact in his second term. But the 57-year-old ayurvedic doctor has a clear diagnosis of the disease and treatment in mind. In an exclusive interview with Sweta Ranjan, he discussed his approach to find a permanent solution to the festering problem. Excerpts:

INTERVIEW | R A M A N S i n g h

Your state has witnessed a lot of development work during your regime but it has also suffered a series of Maoist attacks in the last few months. Do you think this overshadows your development efforts?

Chhattisgarh has seen a lot of mishaps in the last six months. But this only shows that Chhattisgarh is making all efforts to uproot Maoists. This kind of reaction (from the rebels) you will not find in any other part of the country. Maoists have put all their strength in focusing on Chhattisgarh because we have started to take development beyond the district level and down to the block level. They have started realising that they cannot win this war. Chhattisgarh will soon have the kind of situation that Andhra Pradesh has achieved. In this process, we have suffered several jolts but we are now in a better position.

Andhra Pradesh worked on a strategy to crush Maoists. You have not.

These two states cannot be compared. Andhra Pradesh prepared a system and followed that strictly but still it took the state 12-16 years. That way, Chhattisgarh has been unfortunate. Till it was part of Madhya Pradesh, Maoism was never on

the agenda. In the past six-seven years we have trained police forces for guerilla wars, set up a training institute in Kanker, and appointed nearly 2,500 police personnel. We have built police stations, police posts in the areas where it was difficult for police to even think of going.

Have you, along with the centre, considered any change in the strategy to counter the rebels?

Strategies cannot be formed or changed in a day. From 2003 to 2010 we have followed one line of action and that will not change till I remain chief minister. We plan to focus on better communication with CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) and other forces. Change in the strategy is not very important after an attack.

Do you mean to say the previous governments did not pay attention to 19

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this issue at all?

No disease arises in a day. It needs to be diagnosed and then treated. They were doing the treatment without knowing what the disease was.

I am sure we are on the road to uproot Maoist terror completely.

How much time will it take?

Are you criticising, in particular, the Congress regime in Madhya Pradesh headed by Digvijay Singh?

I cannot give you any time limit, but I can tell you that given the pace of our progress the future will be far better.

He was chief minister for 10 years. During those days there was nobody ready even to discuss the issue. A minister was beheaded, there were four bomb blasts, police stations were looted but the government didnt bother. In Dantewada, Bijapur, Narayanpur no one made efforts to draw up a strategy, not even to push developmental projects. You have to face the issue, prepare a strategy. And we are doing that. We have been able to create a healthy atmosphere in Chhattisgarh because we are keen to address the whole issue.

You have said that Maoists have links with terrorist organisations like Lashkar-e-Toiba?

I dont say they have connections with LeT or LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam). I just say that the technology they use, the arms and weapons they have got, I dont think they get this modern technology from within Chhattisgarh. They get it from outside India through one or the other source. I cannot identify the source. That is up to the government of India to find out where they get it all from.

Home minister P Chidambaram came forward to support you but do you think the centre is, of late, withdrawing itself?
I dont think the countrys leadership has any idea about the depth of the problem. Backing out would mean succumbing to Maoists and telling them that what they are doing is the better option. Then we would be giving them the right to kill people in kangaroo courts. Then we would be giving them the right to collect royalties worth Rs 200 crore. If they dont respect democracy, your national flag, the constitution; then any government whether in Delhi or Chhattisgarh has to stand up against such elements. I dont see much of a change in the centres attitude (but) my experience of sixseven years is that the home minister and the prime minister both have a positive approach.

In recent debates, there is much talk of implementing the Forest Rights Act to address tribals concerns and thus deny Maoists possible sympathisers.
Let me tell you about PESA [Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Area) Act]. There is a lot of misconceptions about PESA. Our former panchayati raj minister Mani Shankar Aiyar feels if PESA is

implemented Maoists will be uprooted. I have told the prime minister and (planning commission deputy chairman) Montek Singh Ahluwalia that we should give the rights of minor forest produce to panchayats and to gram sabhas within panchayats. We have given the rights of the minor forest produce to the panchayats and the tribal society. They do business worth Rs 1,000 crore and 100 percent revenue goes to them. I favour an amendment in PESA. Collection of tendu leaves is worth Rs 400 crore. If rights are given to gram sabhas, then gram sabhas can neither collect tendu leaves nor can sell the same and earn profits. We have worked on a cooperative structure. The central government sent a team to study this model. It is the model for PESA. Lets make an amendment (in PESA) to give cooperative societies the rights of minor forest produce and distribute the bonus and profit among the societies. The second issue is that we have distributed all iron ores leases to multinationals. Maoists oppose this because we are pushing them out. In Bastar there was no multinational for the last 50 years. As much as 96 percent of iron ore is being extracted by NMDC (National Mineral Development Corporation), SAIL (Steel Authority of India) and others. Moreover, there is a misconception that land reforms have not taken place. Tribals livelihood is minor forest produce. Agriculture-based economy is in the plains.

Do you think the home ministry could have offered you more support?

The definition of support could be different. For the first time in the country, there are development projects worth Rs 10,000 crore. Such development projects are being implemented in the affected districts as well as in (nearby) non-affected districts. This is a positive development. Thats precisely what I wanted to happen.

Talking of development, Chhattisgarh has won praise for improving the public distribution system.

Collection of tendu leaves is worth Rs 400 crore. If rights are given to gram sabhas, they can neither collect tendu leaves nor earn profits. We have worked on a cooperative structure. It is the model for PESA. Lets make an amendment (in PESA) to give cooperative societies the rights of minor forest produce.

I am referring to N C Saxenas report on this issue.

Saxena has said in his report that some 2,00,000 land pattas (titles) have been given and some have been cancelled and people are protesting that. I have tried to convince Saxena that land allotments which are cancelled are cancelled by gram sabhas and not by the (state) government. Gram sabhas decide who should be given the land. The gram sabha deals with disputes. We distributed 2,20,000 land pattas, the highest number in India. Some cases are pending because we cannot distribute pattas until the gram sabha decides. I have requested another meeting of gram sabhas. The Saxena report also talks many positive things about our government. So there is no dispute on that as such. n

20 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

Muslim women from Lucknow fighting for their rights. From left: Huma, Ferhana, Muneer Bano, Rana, Sabeena

Sisters in arms
How more and more Muslim women are helping one another in saying no, no, no to the triple talaq and other injustices
Sharat Pradhan

hen Muneer Jahan found herself on the streets, thrown out of her home by her husband, she for a while could not figure out what to do. During her almost four-decadelong married life, the 62-year-old had routinely faced insults, harassments and beatings from her husband Abdul Rahim. She had taken it all lying down

only to secure a roof over her head and a fathers protection for her five children. My husband never bothered about me, but I could not think of separating because I did not know where to go with my children. It was like living in hell, but resigned to my fate, I silently accepted everything. However, now I, along with my kids, was homeless. I had to fend for myself, recalls Jahan. She had never felt as shattered. Even when she chose to marry off her eldest daughter to a physically challenged man so that the

young girl could be saved from being pushed into prostitution by her own father, she had managed to keep herself composed. But now it was all over with Rahim having snapped all ties with her by simply uttering talaaq, talaaq, talaaq. With nothing else to fall back upon, the illiterate old woman sought refuge in her brothers home on the outskirts of Lucknow. One of my sons and I would go out to work as field labourers and earn a bit to make our ends meet until my younger sister took me to the office of the All India Muslim 21

people politics policy performance

Fight for Rights

(Above) Naish Hasan, Foundermember, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan

Women Personal Law Board, she says. At her first meeting with Shaista Amber in February 2009, Jahan was convinced that enough was enough and that she ought to fight against the injustice meted out to her. Amber, who had fought her way to establish an independent personal law board for women in 2005, against much opposition from the male-dominated All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), was ready to take up cases of domestic violence as well as exploitation of Muslim women through what she sees as distorted interpretations of the shariat, the Islamic code of laws. She first took Muneer Jahan to the district police chief and got a first information report (FIR) registered against Rahim. That was followed by a complaint to the state womens commission. She also summoned him to her boards court. In a matter of few months, the insolent husband realised that he would not be able to get away any further. So he finally admitted that

his talaaq was not in conformity with the provisions laid down in the shariat. He was left with no option but to take his wife and children back to their home. And it was a changed Muneer Jahan that returned home. She refused to share the room with the nasty husband. She demanded and got a part of the house to live independently with her children, while her husband was asked to shell out 50 percent of his income for them as maintenance. My only regret today is that I could not get my children educated as they had to take up menial jobs to make our two ends meet, she laments. She has finally glimpsed peace and happiness working as a motivator and counsellor with the women law board, helping others who have suffered just like her. Amber, 48, says: Muneer Jahan is a great help to me as she volunteers to educate and counsel other married women who are victims of domestic violence and social injustice. Ambers office has succeeded in helping dozens of Muslim women,

young and old, in fighting their family battles. Like Muneer Jahan, Huma, Farhana and Shameena too have won their battles. Men have always had their way. Be it the law of the jungle or the law of civilised nations or religions, men could always mould and twist the laws to their advantage. And what the Muslim Personal Law Board has not cared to do is bringing an end to the practice of dissolving a marriage by merely uttering talaaq, talaaq, talaaq. That was clearly against the guidelines of the shariat, Amber points out. To buttress her argument against the malparatice, she also cites an anecdote about Prophet Mohammad punishing a man with 60 flogs for divorcing his wife by pronouncing talaaq thrice. Since the male dominated AIMPLB hardly ever cared to address issues relating to the plight of women, some of us women got together to form a board of our own. Ever since we did that in 2005, we have been able to help out hundreds of women in distress, essentially because of denial of justice

22 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

Muslim Women Personal Law Board is a paper tiger

M a u l ana K h a l i d R as h e e d

The Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) might be helping the harassed women of the community, but the big brother, All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), is not ready to even accept its existence. The Muslim Women Personal Law Board is a paper tiger and creation of the media, said Maulana Khalid Rasheed, a prominent member of the AIMPLB. The maulana, who is also Lucknows Naib Imam and head of Firangi Mahal, the citys oldest Islamic seminary, pointed out: The womens board does not have any presence beyond a few localities of Lucknow and there too it is kept alive only by the media. According to him, Any such body ought to have someone with sound knowledge of the shariat, but I do not see anyone in the so-called womens panel with that kind of knowledge or competence. Refuting the charge leveled by the women board chief as well as other Muslim women activists about the indifference of AIMPLB towards the plight of women, 38-year-old Rasheed said, It is a misnomer spread by a section of these women. As a matter of fact, the Muslim Personal Law Board has been very particular about expanding the network of Dar-ul-Qazas (shariat courts) across the country. So far there are only about 80 such courts to deal with matters relating to domestic disputes, particularly separation or divorce. But we have resolved to set up more such courts. Asked to comment on the increasing demand of Muslim women for maintenance in case of separation or divorce, he observed, Muslim marriages are a contract and the entitlement of a woman is clearly laid down in the terms of a nikah as per the tenets of Islam. Any deviation from that would naturally not be acceptable to the community. He criticized the coercive tactics being adopted by womens groups to extract periodical maintenance from the husband. He, however, did not deny that the prevailing common practice of abandoning wives by uttering triple talaaq was against the spirit of Islam.

well provided in the Holy Quran, she adds. Ambers Muslim Women Personal Law Board is not alone in giving voice to the harassed women of the community. The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), founded by Naish Hasan and Naaz Raza, is also very much at the forefront of the battle for womens rights. Those who had not heard of the BMMA came to know about it after it came to the aid of three Lucknow women, who were summarily abandoned by their husbands who are real brothers. Nishat, 27, was thrown out of her house after years of torture by her husband Ali Kamal as well as father-in-law Ali Abdi. Hina, 43, who was married to Kamals elder brother Ali Imran, was in for a

Since the male dominated AIMPLB hardly ever cared to address issues relating to the plight of women, some of us women got together to form a board of our own. Ever since we did that in 2005, we have been able to help out hundreds of women in distress, essentially because of denial of justice well provided in the Holy Quran.
Shaista Amber Founder, All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board

shock when she returned home after visiting her parents. Why have you come here? My son has already given talaaq to you, she was told at the very doorstep. A copy of the talaaqnama, or divorce certificate, issued by Maulana Asghar of Sultan-ul-Madaris, a well known local institution authorised under the shariat laws to issue such a certificate, was slapped on her face. Nishat and Hina soon had company in Arshi, married to Rizwan, the youngest of the Ali brothers. The trio decided not to cow down. They went to Sultan-ulMadaris on June 23 to ask how the divorce certificate was issued in their absence. However, we were denied entry into the premises. We were told some examination was going on there, Hina says. When they succeeded in meeting Maulana Asghar the next day, he flatly told them: You have been divorced unilaterally, and if you wish to marry again, first go for a mutah (short-term marriage) and then you may come here. We will perform your nikah afresh. When the women asked him why they were not involved in the process and why their concurrence was not taken, as per the provisions of the shariat, the maulana replied, There is no need for that. We were taken aback when he cited provisions that never existed in any known Islamic book. Naturally we reprimanded him because it became obvious that he has issued the talaaqnama only to make a quick buck, Hina adds. Reprimand is an understatement as what they did was to assault the maulana. A TV crew they had tipped off in advance recorded it, and the national media played the footage, further humiliating him. As the incident made news, Muslim women activists rose up in arms. While Amber was the first to pitch in, it was the BMMA that devoted all its energies to assist the three helpless victims. Hasan and Raza, its founders, got in touch with Nishat, Hina and Arshi. They also mobilised support from other women activist groups like the Mahila Federation, Naari 23

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Fight for Rights

All is not well with Muslim women

S h a h i ra N a i m , a c t i v i s t

Shakti and Sanjhi Duniya to stage a joint demonstration outside the Ali residence in Thakurganj on August 2. More than 125 women assembled at the Lal Masjid in the locality raising slogans, Farzi talaaq band karo, daari walon hosh mein aao!, in an open warning to the maulanas, who had fraudulently issued the invalid divorce certificate. When the Alis saw the large crowd of women near their home, they quietly slipped away from the scene. Hasan and Raza have been keeping a watch on the Ali house on a daily basis. Neither the three brothers, nor their father or mother have returned to the house so far, except for once when they came under police escort to pick

Islam is neither a barbaric religion nor is it harsh on women, yet all is not well with Muslim women, according to Shahira Naim, a rights activist. Giving a historical perspective, she said the status of women in the pre-Islamic Arabia was deplorable but the Qurans fourth surah (chapter), An-Nisa (Women), gave new laws of inheritance that deprived men of their age-old privileges. Not only could women no longer be inherited like camels and date trees but were to be treated as human beings with rights of their own- most importantly the right to inherit. Fourteen hundred years ago this little verse had a catastrophic effect on male Muslims who made attempts to undermine these groundbreaking changes in the lives of women, said Naim, who is associated with Humsafar, a crisis centre for women. Referring to the provision that a man can have up to four wives, she pointed out, This was permitted only with a view to rehabilitate orphan girls and widows, but it was hedged with conditions like equal treatment of all co-wives and spending equal time with each of them. But the rider has been conveniently ignored and polygamy has been practised with complete disdain to the Quranic injunction. According to Naim, Islam is the first religion to have legally sanctioned divorce and the Quran lays down its detailed procedure as well as maintenance for the divorced wife in no uncertain terms. She emphasised, While there is simply no mention of talaaq through a triple utterance of the word, the Quran prescribes men to divorce their wives at the end of a three-month waiting period, which was meant to give them an opportunity for reconciliation before they may part for ever.

Earlier the maulanas could get away with anything in the name of the shariat, but now they feel insecure simply because the educated Muslim woman has begun to question their actions on the basis of citations from the Holy Quran and other teachings of the Prophet.
Naz Raza Co-founder, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA)

up some of their belongings. Ali Abdi, the head of the family, tried to register a case of housebreak against his daughters in-law. But having failed in his mission, he and his sons were understood to have made plans of quietly selling away the house. But we have taken sufficient precaution against that by putting up a prominent poster just outside the house announcing that the property is disputed, discloses Hasan. Now we will see how the insolent husbands and their family try to deprive the three women of their legitimate right to stay in what is as much their home. According to Hasan and Raza, the maulana had been issuing talaaqnamas for a price ranging anywhere between Rs 250 and Rs 2,500 depending on the financial status of the husband. Since this allegedly fraudulent talaaq case has propelled their three-year-old BMMA into the spotlight, Naish and Naaz are now flooded with an increasing number of complaints from Muslim women victims of domestic violence and arbitrary divorce. While we are getting requests from both urban and rural areas, we have started programmes to educate young girls and their mothers, Raza says. Earlier the maulanas could get away with anything in the name of the shariat, but now they feel insecure simply because the educated Muslim woman has begun to question their actions on the basis of citations from the Holy Quran and other teachings of the Prophet. Hasan and Raza are also critical of the manner in which frivolous fatwas are issued by certain Islamic institutions. Sometime it appears that there is no difference between fatwa-happy institutions and khap panchayats awarding death sentence (to young couples from different castes), quips Hasan. n
Sharat Pradhan is a journalist specializing in gender and also a Founder Trustee of Humsafar, a crisis centre for women

24 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

Cabinet reshuffle before November 7

rime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was considering a reshuffle of his cabinet before the next parliament session starts on November 7. In a meeting with a group of editors at his residence, he dismissed suggestions of a disconnect between his government and the Congress party. The prime minister claimed there was a much greater

Prevent rail crash, land a job

degree of cohesion in his cabinet than even the cabinet headed by the countrys first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. I cant say I will shut up every colleague, he admitted, and added, Allowing people to express views is not necessarily a sign of drift. And all this while we thought the motormouth ministers did care for his approval!

Dinner @Rs 5 in the name of Ram

adhya Pradesh government announced a Ram Roti Scheme under which it would provide dinner for just five rupees in four major cities across the state. We are going to provide dinner to around 1,200 poor people living in 12 shelter homes in Bhopal, Indore, Gwalior and Jabalpur,

ndian railways is ready to take on board vigilant citizens who spot an attempt to sabotage movement of trains, report it to the authorities and prevent an accident in the process. Rail minister Mamata Banerjee exhorted people to come forward with such information and land a job with the railways. She had similarly promised jobs earlier to people who would alert the authorities about track-related problems. The minister said two lakh posts had been lying vacant in the railways for ten years and lamented that little had been done to fill them up before her tenure.

development minister Babulal Gaur said. Under the scheme, five or six rotis, pickles and a vegetable will be served to the poor in packets with Ram Roti written on them. Initially, municipal corporations in these four cities will run the scheme, which will be later extended to ten other municipal corporations.

Maya gets SC thumbs-up

only increase land price but also add a lucrative annuity plan -- Rs 20,000 for each acre of acquired land a year for 33 years to the farmers whose land is acquired. This is a marked improvement on the Haryanas rehabilitation policy considered the best in the country. The agitating farmers received a setback when the supreme court upheld the use of emergency clauses to acquire land for the Expressway project. It remains to be seen what their next move would be to prevent forcible land acquisition.

n the first round, protesting farmers of Uttar Pradesh seemingly won the battle when chief minister Mayawati announced that she was scrapping a township under Yamuna Expressway project at Tappal village, about 45 km from Aligarh. She also proposed to return land to those farmers who did not want to give up their lands for interlinking roads adjoining the express highway. But she didnt give up. Soon, she announced a compensation package which sought to not 25

people politics policy performance

Waiting Room

ashish asthana

Deciphering a riddle called Rahul Gandhi and his waiting game on which the nations eyes have remained fastened

Shiv Visvanathan

aiting is a strange phenomenon. It is an interlude where one is caught in the middle of a rite of passage and one knows one has not arrived. Waiting is a liminal period between departure and arrival. Waiting demands patience. It teaches you the art of listening. It demands the craft of silence. Waiting creates an umbilical sense. You are dependent on those around you. You are not even your own self as even your self is projected into the future. Waiting is a form of secondariness, incubating into primariness. It is still life. It can also

be agitated and Brownian. Waiting in politics gets even more acute because each event is a learning period. You acquire the skin of politics, the layers of sensitivity or insensitivity politics demands. You learn the semantics, the semiotics of politics. Waiting is a part of all craft forms, especially politics, as it moves

Whoever crafted Rahul Gandhis period of waiting is a master of the art of politics. Rahul retained the freshness of a prince in waiting.

from apprentice to journeyman to master. It is an initiation rite, where you emerge into the public rituals of acceptance. Prolonged waiting can eat into a person, emphasising his eccentricity, his impatience. Prince Charles was a casualty of waiting. Waiting in youth creates expectancy. Waiting put Charles into the amber of monarchy. There is already a touch of the antique about him. The dynasties of the democracy are more used to speed. The demands of politics as an art form are different. You need more events as you wait, but these events are such that it must create a presence of the future. Whoever crafted Rahul Gandhis period of waiting is a master of the art of politics. Rahul retained the freshness of a prince in waiting, and yet changed, watching and learning the rules of the game. In that sense, history has been gentler to prince Rahul rather than to Prince Charles.

26 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

people politics policy performance

Waiting Room

Think of him when he first came. He was a postcard, a diminutive child, next to his legendary grandmother. Then he is the boy scout, obtaining a tourists guide to politics. Harvard adds to the bluechip ancestry, but democracy can be ruthless with epigones. In politics, genealogy is like stocks: you can fritter your legacy in one silly move. Waiting has to add a sense of expectancy. As you walk the eventless ramp of political rituals, you must be more than a backdrop or a dispensable prop. You need an aura, an ambience of caring and wisdom. This Rahul had. All he had to do was to sit behind his mother and leave the rest to the audience. In waiting, you are a spectacle, the outline that the audience animates. It is the spectator who gives you life, moves you from secondariness to primariness. The audience loved Rahul. He had the right table manners for politics. A fair and lovely personality. A sense of royalty leavened by courtesy. He did the right things and was always caught in a show of respect to some elder figure. There was no seediness. He looked noble, even human. He became the listener. He must have attended over a hundred seminars. Listened unobtrusively, except for a tired yawn which draws the complicity of a laugh. He uses interludes to talk to the right people. Many are major functionaries in minor institutions but they treasure the questions he asks. They are simple, direct and reach the person. They treasure the memory. They can dine out on it and the message spreads. He is respectful and intelligent. Goodlooking but not handsome. The sandpaper beard gives him the anticipations of ruggedness. He does not convey

He acts as the telegraph signal to Delhi. As a politician he becomes a travelling fact. He moves, he listens, he can be outspoken when he wants to be. He is now the icon of empathy. The Congress Party, which in all its cacophony desperately needed a hearing aid, has found one.
rawness. He projects the right sense of ferment. At seminars, he is a presence. He can merge into the background till his moment comes, make the point and move. He moves quickly, never overstays his time, but always conveys the sense of the next time. Every visit creates excitement, curiosity and anticipation. As a prince in waiting, he knows his limits and stays within it. He avoids being seen as a middle range man. He is a potential leader but he is in no hurry. His body language conveys the sense of the learning process. There is no jerkiness. He is relaxed, not afraid to ask questions. There is none of the anxiety for gossip, none of the comfort of cronyism. He knows that walking alone can make you look singular. I dont know whether he keeps a diary but he reminds me of a squirrel storing nuggets of knowledge. His learning is like case law, each meeting another pile of anecdotes. Morsels of insight. The silhouettes thickening. You sense a depth to him. Experts spout the usual clichs that he has grown. The more curious wonder who his mentors are. Someone must be feeding him the Incremin of new concepts, new ideas, new thought experiments. They must be mixing with his sense of travel. He travels a lot. He has changed waiting into a pilgrimage into politics, a search for its tacit knowledges. He must have realised that there is no handbook of politics, just a sense of life world. But as his travels intensify, you can sense the sense of politics in his fingers. They are

not yet adept but he can identify competence and quality. If you are a discriminating consumer, maybe you can be a good creator. He must be getting lectures from a litter of experts. Maybe JNU, CPR, CSDS but he must be leavening the lessons of the academe and kneading it into his folklore of politics. Academics taken neat tend to be disorienting. Time suddenly quickens. Still life sequences now yield to the demands of animation. It is time for cameo roles. Short pieces of action that log into a generations memory. Simple scripts. Semiotically grafted. Scenes that quicken memory and quicken anticipation. One can no longer be the Golden Boy. You have to display the mettle of a man. The anticipation of arrival now begins. The scenario is clear. He cannot challenge midgets because such encounters will only dwarf him. He needs long range battles and senses the immediacy and intensity of cameo roles. The long range has to be Uttar Pradesh. It is not reduced to the commitment to Amethi; it has to be a challenge, a set of irritants to the great diva of UP politics, Mayawati. He can no longer play an immaculate knight in armor, he has to begin jousting. Mayawati makes a man out of any Congressman. She has emasculated the Samajwadi Party making Mulayam and his prospective dynasty look silly. Mulayam is no longer an architect of OBC politics playing the card of Hindi as a language, he now conveys the mellowness of a retired zamindar. People have forgotten he was once defence minister. Mayawati conveys an understanding of the semiotics of power. She has a roman sense of monumentality. Taste does not matter in the age of the graffiti. The

28 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

language of kitsch adds to the hulryburly of populism. Behind her populism she has an electoral accountants mind for votes. Mayawati is larger than life and formidable. Rahul has to play the irritant and survive. He has to show that she is cast in the old mould and that he can bring a sense of the new to the decadence of UP politics. He has to show he can add value beyond Amethi. His mentors realise he may not be a vote catcher but he is definitely a crowd puller. He conveys concern, care, goodness and the prospect of power. He acts as the telegraph signal to Delhi. As a politician he becomes a travelling fact. He moves, he listens, he can be outspoken when he wants to be. He is now the icon of empathy. The Congress, which in all its cacophony desperately needed a hearing aid, has found one. The voices of protest do not need a microphonejust a few moments with him. He can recharge the old dying streams of politics. The Congress can sense a future in UP. They can sense that as things change, they will change around him. He combines the right whiff of the new and the nostalgic. He conveys the right smell, leaves enough of a trace to evoke familiarity. The crowd, with its appetite for politics, can sense the difference. The paranoid sense of survival in Mayawati senses it also and she moves to decentre Amethi pretending it is an act of governance. She senses she is doomed to be regional as long as the Gandhis hold Delhi. Her ego might be monumental but her dreams have shrunk a bit. People sense the tenderfoot carries a sense of

surprise. It is not yet a lethal left hook but the power of hanging in quietly. Stick to course and you might benefit from the erratic behaviour of your adversary. By now, his body language is more defined. The boy scout in waiting is more decisive. He has found his sense of language. He is not going to speak the idiom of caste though it might be the real dialect of electoral politics. His thesaurus is marginally but subtly different. His is an empathy for the poor, the tribe, the injustice over land, the anxiety of the distressed in disaster. Poverty and vulnerability need voice and he begins articulating it. From a public listener he is now a public voice. He has none of the shrillness of Mamata but there is a sense he has the ears of power. He gains credibility. Then comes his cameo performance in Bombay as he walks into the city that the Shiv Sena treated as its private nukkad. One senses the excitement of a western movie as he walks in as if he plans to attend a satsang. He conveys a sense of the cool. The lines are clear. Chief minister Ashok Chavans bumbling antics make him a Mukri to the stellar young hero. If you are a sucker for drama, this is it. The Shiv Sena thugs realise they are yesterdays newspaper, provincial players on a national stage. They cannot shrink the cosmopolitanism of Bombay. The city remains open in the imagination. Things are speeding up. The pupal stage is over. The freshness now conveys the tan of politics. He has to get his timing right so that his national entries are seen neither as secondary or intrusive. He has found his site in the politics of fairness and the politics of opportunity. Land and development provide him the 29

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Waiting Room

opportunity. In the meanwhile Jairam Ramesh, minister of environment and forests, is churning the pot listening to NGOs battling genetic agriculture, contending that Vedanta despite its name does not deserve industrial clearances. The Vedanta issue is an international scandal but modern India reads it like a cost-benefit analysis. In its fear of being seen as anti-development it sits on the historical fence. Rahul Gandhi steps in to say he is the voice of the tribals in Delhi. It is a brilliant move. Compassionate. Decisive. The timing is immaculate. It is a drama without frills. Swadesism at its best. Rahul becomes the third part of a triptych within the Congress. If Ramesh was the voice of modernity demanding a second look at development, and Sonia the quiet conscience egging on NREGA and RTI, Rahul becomes a public voice, arguing for development on behalf of the poor. Ecology and the battle for the tribe which always smelled of defeat had found a new politics. Before the commentators ink is dry, Rahul has created an equivalent resonance in UP by saying that acquisition must be fairer. There is no ideology or rhetoric, just plain decency, spelt out plainly. Two brilliant performances. The coming of age of youth in politics. There is no need for accessories here. You dont have to talk of MBAs and IPods. It is straight talk, plain talk, cutting through the heart of darkness we call Vedanta enterprises. Even the skeptic in me is moved. One is worried about pre-emptive moves. The media, the new hysteric, has announced his arrival a thousand times. But this I feel, is different. A man has

It is time for Rahul to be more public in governance. Time is right. The idea of the BJP is in shambles and the left is waiting for the next master text.

matured. He has still a long way to go and knows it. But politics has found new players, actors who can talk the language of delivery without being blind to justice.

One sees them in the corporate world in Nandan Nilekani and Arun Maira. One witnesses equivalence in politics in Jairam Ramesh and Salman Khursheed. One has been waiting for a synergy that puts all this together. Maybe Rahul as leader can do it. He has been a listener, a lightning rod, a voice. The time for leadership is now. It is not a magical moment for charisma. The hosannahs will not arrive quickly. But if our politicians relook at the informal economy and understand the politics of livelihood, re-read development that creates a space for the poor and the tribal, redo the rules of national development so that it does not become reason for exploitation, one sees a glimmer of hope. It is time for Rahul to be more public in governance. It is time for more debate but if the best of civil society and the best of corporate India hybridise, maybe democracy would once again become more enjoyable, tolerant, even decent. If Rahul can move towards this vision and provide the catalytics of leadership, he will no longer be a politician in waiting. Of course he will have to master the everydayness of governance, put together a new coalition of minds that can see a future India of alternatives. Time is right. The idea of the BJP is in shambles and the left is waiting for the next master text. To achieve this future, Rahul has to avoid the endemic disease of the Congress sycophancy. The challenge is now. If he delays, he will become a victim of a post mature politics and remain a thing of beauty and a toy forever. n
Visvanathan is a social scientist based in Ahmedabad.

30 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

Rahuls reach
am Bharose, a teenager, had just bought two pieces of aloo ki tikki (fried cakes of mashed potatoes) when he saw a posse of safari-clad men surrounding his tenement adjacent to the Jhansi circuit house. Dreading the prospect of forcible eviction, which had been a regular feature of his life since childhood, he rushed inside the tent, his home, only to find his mother and three brothers amiably chatting with a foreigner-looking yet familiar young man. Even as awe gripped him more than relief, he instinctively offered his aloo ki tikki to his guest. He ate with the same spoon
Photos: Ajay Singh

Many look up to him as the man who will be prime minister. But even as the position may have been his for the taking, Rahul Gandhi has taken care to evolve as a leader in his own right, in a signature style that employs his legacy to reach out rather than to rule as an entitlement.

Ajay Singh

with which I was eating, Ram Bharose recalls vividly, still unable to get over his disbelief at the memory of the moments when Rahul Gandhi suddenly came to his home and became part of his life forever. Just like Ram Bharose, his mother Bimla Devi and elder brothersJeetendra, Jeetu and Gautamcontinue to savour each bit of this collective memory even more than two years after that visit in midApril 2008. They dont tire of recounting with the felicity of a historian every little detail of the day that brought much excitement in their life even as it signified nothing. The scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family had not planned his

sojourn in Ram Bharoses tent. Even local leaders of the Congress party had been taken by surprise when the heir apparent got down from the bus in which he was travelling and walked into the tent pitched in randomly by this family of a nomadic tribe which traces its ancestry to the legendary Maharana Pratap. The family still honours the maharanas vagabond tradition to cherish historical memories of their tribe. They have lived through filth, privation and illiteracy all their lives. Memory had always been the bane of their lives. But the memory of meeting Rahul Gandhi kindles a hope. Their eyes sparkle when they refer to his visit. Of course, he will do

Ram Bharose, a Jhansi resident, with whom Rahul Gandhi shared a plate of aloo ki tikki.

something for us if he becomes prime minister, says Bimla Devi, who has never managed to earn enough to feed her children. It is this ability to reach out and connect with the poor that the Rahul Gandhi phenomenon is being built around. It is his ability to listen to the ground reality with his left ear which will ultimately endear him to the masses and make him a serious political player on the national stage, says political analyst Mahesh Rangarajan. Implicit in Rangarajans 31

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Waiting Room

assessment is the young Gandhis ability to steer his party back to its socialist moorings, harking back to Indira Gandhis Garibi Hatao (remove poverty) slogan which found popular resonance among the poor during 1971 elections. A close associate of the young Gandhi describes him as somebody who has a western mind with a leftists heart, perhaps a euphemism for inculcation of European values and culture. That perhaps explains his ability to be politely dismissive of even senior leaders in the party at times. One such leader, who had met him on the issue of land acquisition, sulked over the manner in which Rahul Gandhi dismissed his wellprepared exposition in less than two minutes. He asked me to send a note with all points, the leader said, expressing his scepticism over Rahul Gandhis evolution as a political leader. But those closely associated with Rahul Gandhi maintain that his mental disposition is such that he gets repelled by any trace of sycophancy or adulation which characterise traditional Congress politics.

Halki Bai, whose hut hosted Rahul Gandhi for a night in April 2008, saw a god in him.

It is his ability to listen to the ground reality with his left ear which will endear him to the masses and make him a serious political player on the national stage, says political analyst Mahesh Rangarajan.

In contrast, Shaibal Gupta of Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI), who briefed him on Bihar, found the leader all ears and receptive to new ideas. Whenever he came across new political idioms or phrases, he used to repeat them as if to internalise the concept, says Gupta, who describes him as a mature and serious political player. While the mystery surrounding Rahul Gandhis persona may have added to his charm, it has also led to a great deal of confusion within the partys organisational structure. His refusal to take the local leaders into confidence when he visited Bundelkhand meant that certain non-government organisations backed by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation identified the places he would visit. One of his close friends working in tandem with local NGOs arranged his night-long stay at Taparian village of Tikamgarh district in Madhya Pradesh. Though this tribal village, now known as Rahul village, did not get much out of the visit, thanks to the deliberate apathy of the BJP regime, the villagers remain nostalgic. He came as a god to us. Three days after

his visit, skies poured in this parched land, says Halki Bai, whose hut hosted Rahul Gandhi for a night in April 2008. But the enigma that is Rahul Gandhi is becoming too difficult for the local Congress leaders to decipher. In Tikamgarh, a Congress legislator lamented that he did not have the slightest idea as to who was giving Rahul Gandhi inputs on this constituency. We are not even consulted, he says, referring to Rahul Gandhis frequent forays into Bundelkhand, described as backwaters of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. He deliberately avoids the local party structure whenever he visits any state, says a young leader who works closely with Rahul Gandhi. When the Sone river breached the dam and inundated a large part of Bihar, Rahul Gandhi stayed there for a week without seeking any administrative or political support. On the other hand, he directed the party workers to help the administration in relief work, his close associates reveal. Political analysts discern a pattern in Rahul Gandhis political conduct. Badri Narayan, a scholar with the Allahabadbased G B Pant Institute, says his ability to convey an impression of being accessible to the marginalised sections can prove a sound political strategy. In a country where even a block level official remains inaccessible to the commoner, Rahuls visits to huts put across a strong symbolic message, he says, adding that the BSPs discomfiture over Gandhis frequent forays into dalit localities has been all too evident in the recent past. He is effectively forging a coalition of extremes, says Narayan, adding that Rahul Gandhis ability to deal with the elite and the poor with equal ease endows him with a unique charm. n

32 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

The challenges ahead

Rahul Gandhis charisma does not seem to be translating into votes in the three critical states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.

Rahul Gandhi reaching out to the crowd at his rally in Kolkata.

cannot do a lot of things at the same time. This quote attributed to Rahul Gandhi is often repeated by his associates to emphasise that he gives his full attention when he takes up an issue. But Rahul Gandhi seems to have learnt by now that Indian politics is far more complex than a single-dimension entity. While he may be focused on reviving the moribund Congress party in the countrys most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, he is required to concentrate on the partys performance in West Bengal and Bihar as well, which are equally important for restoring the party to its full glory. Rahul Gandhi has been facing tough opponents in regional satraps in all these crucial states. Few doubt that his Niyamgiri speech, in which he projected himself as representative of the tribals, was a calculated move to strike a chord with the poor. At a time when the rival Bharatiya Janata Partys top leadership has been protecting the Reddy brothers and hobnobbing with shady characters to form a dubious government in Jharkhand, his pro-poor utterances stand out in sharp contrast. Even within his own party, he is the only leader who reaches out to the poor through his random forays in the tribal regions.

But is this enough to rejuvenate the Congress in UP, Bihar and West Bengal? It appears quite unlikely. In Uttar Pradesh, which offers the most conducive environment for the revival of the party, Rahul Gandhi has not been able to dent Mayawatis support base. A veteran Congress leader of Jhansi and loyalist of the Nehru-Gandhi family, Tej Singh Ghisoli, admits that the Rahul effect has not been able to wean away the Bahujan Samaj Partys support base among the dalits. A large section of dalits, particularly chamars, was resentful of Gandhis visit to their village in Babina only four months back, he says. Obviously, the BSPs support base comprising largely dalits remain intact with the BSP and they see Mayawati as their only saviour. In fact, Mayawati has effectively mobilised the state machinery and her party cadres to neutralise Rahuls impact. In rural areas, officials are directed to implement the welfare schemes targeting dalits efficiently under the supervision of the local BSP leaders. Dalits who see the BSP as their own party will not fall for Rahuls charm, says Badri Narayan, a scholar on dalit issues. But there is a scope for him to cultivate non-chamar dalits and the most backward classes, says Narayan, who feels that the young Gandhis strategy will be to focus on these segments. But there again he will have to battle for every inch with tough adversaries like Mulayam Singh Yadav, besides Mayawati of course. Similarly, in Bihar, Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad are no pushovers. Despite Rahul Gandhis repeated reference to the growing divide between the rich and the poor and the record of bad governance in Bihar during the Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) regime, it is very difficult for him to wish away the partys own dubious legacy. The Congress does not come across in the state as a party which represents the aam aadmi. On the other hand, Nitish Kumars performance in five years stands out in sharp contrast to that of the previous governments, including those run by the Congress party. So there is little likelihood of people suddenly accepting the Congress as a champion of social justice in the state. Rahul Gandhi is faced with the same political dilemma in West Bengal where his partys strong base in the rural areas has been upstaged by Mamata Banerjees Trinamool Congress. In essence, the Congress has been left to play second fiddle either to Mamata Banerjee or the states Marxist leadership. His emotive speech in Kolkata, in his first public appearance in West Bengal, may win him laurels for his good intentions but not for translating it into votes for the party. Significantly, in these three crucial states, the Congress state units are not showing any signs of revival. Rahul Gandhi is well aware of these harsh realities. One of his associates said that he was well aware of the fact that in India an emotional issue could easily upset the political equations. In such a scenario, he has been carefully cultivating his image as somebody who is different from the traditional political mould. In fact, public distaste for traditional politicians has been helping him firm up his image of a politician with a difference. His move to bypass the partys organisational structure is seen as a carefully crafted strategy to build a cadre of his own loyalists. Such a strategy has proved successful in the past, says Narayan, referring to similar experiments undertaken by Indira Gandhi in 1971 when she found herself pitted against stalwarts like Morarji Desai, S Nijlingappa and C B Gupta. Narayan says that more recently BSP supremo Kanshi Ram built up his cadre by undertaking cycle tours in remote areas of the country, paving the way for the formation of the BSP. But unlike Indira Gandhi, who was assisted by lieutenants like Kamlapati Tripathi and Jagjivan Ram, Rahul Gandhi seems to be a loner accompanied only occasionally by young scions of influential political families. n 33

people politics policy performance

Waiting Room

Boy scouts big move

The decisiveness of the Niyamgiri intervention is a sign that his political internship is over. Rahul Gandhi has made his first move towards leadership.

Ajay Singh

ntil Rahul Gandhi proclaimed himself as the sole sipahi of tribals in Delhi, he was seen as a young man who was taking his time to evolve as a seasoned player in the hurlyburly of Indian politics. Despite his formidable lineage, he seemed in no hurry to claim the throne that many assumed could be his. This immediately set him apart, as did the course he appeared to have chosen for himself, at once an entrenched inheritor and eternal outsider. His frequent travels took him close to the marginalised masses no Indian politician had cared to cultivate for decades. His occasional but well-publicised behindthe-scenes manoeuvres brought him ever closer to the ignored real Indian, even as he remained an icon of the chattering classes. But his proclamation at the rally in Niyamgiri, inside the countrys hunger bowl Kalahandi, signalled the end of that protracted phase. As the young scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty spurned the machinations of a corporate house and made common cause with the povertystricken tribals, the apprentice publicly metamorphosed into a master in his own right. Rahul Gandhi the leader had arrived. And how! If there were still some stray doubts left, he dispelled them by launching a broadside against regional veterans like Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar in his first campaign rally in Bihar, describing them

Rahul Gandhi has moved into the wide political space that has been left vacant by both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, the two national parties. Hence the impression that he is sometimes at odds with his own party, or at least the government run by his party.
as tired leaders. Contrast this with his demure and shy response to Mulayam Singh Yadavs barbs that he (Yadav) would not respond to a childs antics just four years ago. A child eventually grows into a man, the young Gandhi had then said. Having traversed a cautious political path ever since, he finally announced his arrival in Niyamgiri, where he spoke not just about the rights of the local tribals but also endorsed the alternative vision on ecology and environment as voiced by the non-government organisations that have been traditionally opposed to the government on these counts. Importantly, though, Niyamgiri signalled an emphatic affirmation and not a change of course for the young leader. For, he has been consistent in his view that development at the cost of

environment would prove detrimental. In an era when the mainstream political parties and the countrys top political leadership have been gloating about economic growth as measured by gross domestic product, Rahul Gandhi stands out as a man of the masses. To be sure, Rahul Gandhi is neither anti-capital nor anti-industrialists. Like Indira Gandhi, who had displayed her concern for the poor by spurning rajas and maharajas of yore, Rahul Gandhi wooed the tribals by spurning Vedanta, the symbol of exploitative economic policies. In a small spectrum of the ruling elite and Indian middle class which is blissfully oblivious to pangs of privation and penury, his obvious preference for the poor, tribals in particular, is a calculated political strategy. Vedanta just happened to be a collateral damage in this grand political move unfolding on the countrys political chessboard. While debate rages over the number of people below poverty line (BPL), Rahul Gandhi realised early enough that a significant majority remained beyond the pale of such growth and the so-called development. Unique as his political strategy may appear, it has a glorious parallel in history. That, too, within his party. After Indira Gandhi lost elections in 1977, she staged her comeback by making a high-profile visit to Patna districts Belchhi village where kurmi landlords had massacred 11 scheduled caste people who subsisted as farm labour. Rahul Gandhi is attempting a similar paradigm shift by embracing the marginalised who would have otherwise proceeded

34 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

ashish asthana

to become another collateral damage in Indias growth story. Old timers reminisce the deft manner in which Indira Gandhi affected such a shift in the late 1960s by abolishing privy-purses for princely families. Can history repeat itself? That is the key question, even as there is no unequivocal answer, especially since Rahul Gandhis learning curve has taken much longer than anybody would have expected and it is still anybodys guess when he will take the final plunge (if he takes it at all). Few doubt that he is making the right political noises. He has moved into the wide political space that has been left vacant by both the Congress and the Bharatiya

Janata Party, the two national parties. Hence the impression that he is sometimes at odds with his own party, or at least the government run by his party. He has also capitalised on both his inherent charm and inherited political advantage. Take, for instance, his interaction with students at Aligarh Muslim University, Jawaharlal Nehru University or in Pune. He is the first to admit that he has benefited from his inheritance and even admits that it is undemocratic. But the best way to cure these ills, he advises, is that good people, particularly students, must join politics. He does not lose his cool when students disagree with him in open forums as he engages them in discussion.

So, even as his political lineage imparts him a powerful aura, he takes pains to present himself as one of them. Similarly, in Vidarbha, he highlights Kalawatis plight while pitching for the nuclear deal. In Bundelkhand, he educates women on the advantage of forming self-help groups and of being self-reliant and independent. He assumes the role of a social mentor who is far away from self-seeking petty politics which has become the trademark of contemporary politics. His overnight stay in Halki Bais hut in Tikamgarh may not have ameliorated the lot of the poor tribals, but he did end up acquiring the status of a demigod. Why is he doing this when he is the undisputed leader of the Congress party? Political analyst Mahesh Rangarajan says there is a strong possibility that the young Gandhi may have been hurt by the BJPs taunt about his mother and family being rooted in foreign ethos and culture. This may be his way of proving his strong bonds with rural India and the marginalised where all other leaders at the national stage have failed, says Rangarajan. The young Gandhi knows he can get the countrys top executive post within no time. In one of his casual remarks, he even said as much. Yet, he has been deliberately delaying the inevitable, perhaps to dispel any such notions. At times, we doubt if he would ever take up the post of prime minister, says one of his confidants. The fact that he discourages senior Congress leaders to approach him and develop any proximity to him is an indication that he detests the idea of being a centre of power, or at least to convey such an impression. Be that as it may, he has studiously avoided forming a coterie around himself. None of this fits in with the general perceptions about a politician. But his waiting game is proving to be too galling even for his confidants. At times, even senior Congress leaders describe his reluctance as an innate inhibition to take up responsibility. As a Rahul loyalist told me, a Nehru-Gandhi scion can remain ambivalent about leading the country for as long as he likes. But when history assesses Rahul Gandhi, the Niyamgiri intervention will figure there prominently. Either as the watershed event that accelerated the anticipated arrival of a new leader or as one great missed opportunity. n 35

people politics policy performance

Poll Vault

New CEC, New Dawn?

The unthinkable may happen. That too in Bihar. The new chief election commissioner, SY Qureshi, has armed himself with tools that give him a fighting chance against illicit polling expenses.
of income-tax, central excise, and audit and accounts, many having local domain knowledge. Like the German defenders tailing Lionel Messi all over the stadium, an EMO and a videographer will shadow one candidate at all times. The videographers brief is to film every vehicle, tent, chair and table, dais, rostrum, barricade, poster and hoarding. An officer and a clerk will view each video (including those sent by citizen journalists and, perhaps, rivals too!), fish out the relevant 30-seconds from a mountain of CDs, and then input the report of expenditure incurred by each candidate. I wont be surprised if the institution of shadow register enters our political dictionaries this time. The register is simply an account of entries where an accounting team keep posting against a schedule of rates, say, each jeep running around, the litti and chokha being served, each microphone and vuvuzela out on hire. Every few days, the learned candidate (or a nominee) will be enlightened on the state of the shadow register. So, if the candidate is nearing Rs 9,99,999 in the shadow register, theres trouble ahead. The shadow register will be placed on the bulletin boards

of the district electoral officers (DEO) office. The commissions DG (Information, Education, Communication) Akshay Raut will be doing media expenditure monitoring. For each district, a Dy DEO, a district public relations officer and their associates, including some local mediapersons, will monitor the print and electronic media, including cable networks, for election advertisements and paid news. The expenditure and audit training of all these election expenditure staff is going on at the Expenditure Monitoring

Rohit Bansal

t is common knowledge that the prescribed limit of Rs 10 lakh per assembly candidate is flouted openly. But now, for the first time, the CEC has got himself a director-general (investigation). The appointee, PK Dash, is a specialist in tax investigations, and a low-profile 1982-batch officer from the Indian Revenue Service. He has national-level experience of five years as commissionerinvestigation in the office of member-investigation, Central Board of Direct Taxes. Qureshi has placed 68 IRS officers at the services of Dash to act as election expenditure observers (EEOs), each covering four-five of Bihars 243 assembly constituencies. EEOs are distinct from the well-known institution of general observer. Down the line, the EEOs, for the first time, will have under them expenditure micro observors (EMOs). These folks will be drawn from the shrewd (and scary!) subordinate bureaucracies of the departments

Cell (EMC). Trainers are past masters of the departments of income-tax, central excise and customs, and audit and accounts. The EMC will supervise expenditure monitoring on behalf of the DEO. Finally, a surveillance team will be sniffing around for cash transactions between filing of nominations and declaration of results. So, if you cant pull

out a bank slip or at least some logical explanation for where the cash is headed, the surveillance team can seize the packet! Packets dont just mean cash. Liquor bottles can be seized too. Whats going against Qureshi is that the prescribed ceiling of Rs 10 lakh is woefully unrealistic. The CEC is candid about that. But the limit is set by an act of Parliament and updating it is a tiresome process. Fighting the local media over the actual cost of political ads is a tough ask. Reining in paid news is the other challenge. Then theres the problem of post-poll inducements. Qureshi and his colleagues VS Sampath and HS Brahma can do very little about political geniuses who have, in one case, promised Rs 5 lakh each to the three villages that give the highest number of votes! Strictly, the Brahma-SampathQureshi writ runs only till the time of election results. Postpoll inducements like this one can checkmate them. Then there are the political innovators who organize marriage feasts where there is neither a bride nor a groom and tonsures and birthdays where the attendees are party workers. With a pliant bureaucracy on the ground, the task of tackling such innovation and sifting the wheat from the chaff is difficult. Finally, there are the cynics within the IRS. Many bright officers have suffered frustration as expenditure observers. They claim to have sent reams of reports which proved to be too much, too late. One well-regarded officer told me that during his election secondment, he felt like a dog without teeth. Perhaps, Bihar would show him the way. n
Bansal is CEO of India Strategy Group, Hammurabi & Solomon Consulting. He is an alum of Harvard Business School.

36 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

Bad year for leopards

here have been reports of 240 leopard deaths in the country this year, which include at least 130 deaths that are attributed to poaching, the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), an NGO, has reported. The WPSI has named Uttarakhand, UP and Maharashtra as the states that witnessed the maximum number of leopard deaths. The situation in Uttarakhand seemed alarming with 29 big cats falling prey to the poachers, four killed in man-animal

Tamil Nadu children low on iodine Doctors strike takes a heavy toll

conflict - including three that were shot dead by the forest department. A WPSI spokesperson said: Thirty one more leopards were found dead in Uttarakhand; some died of natural causes, but others may have died in conflict. A 2007 census showed 2,300 leopards in Uttarakhand. Fifteen leopards were poached in Maharashtra, 13 in UP and 12 in Karnataka. Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Assam and Himachal Pradesh also saw such deaths.

or a state thats believed to have one of the best public health systems in the country, its an unpleasant surprise. More than 59 percent of the population of Tamil Nadu does not consume the prescribed minimum quantity of iodine. According to the National Family Health Survey III, over 6.6 lakh children born every year in the state are unprotected from brain damage, as their mothers dont get sufficient quantity of iodised salt.Its sad that a state which can be a potential role model has not been able to ensure that all its people get iodine-fortified salt, C S Pandav of Centre for Community Medicine, AIIMS, was quoted as saying at a workshop in earlier this month. Interestingly, Tamil Nadu is the third largest producer of salt in the country and home to most of the manufacturers who make machines for iodisation of salt.

ismanagement in healthcare can take a heavy toll on peoples lives, literally. A strike by 1,200 resident doctors in six government medical colleges and their attached hospitals in Rajasthan, which began on September 5, has been blamed for the death of at least 55 patients, including seven infants. Fourteen deaths were reported on September 5, the day doctors stopped work. The doctors were protesting against

alleged police highhandedness in a scuffle between doctors and attendants of a patient in a Jodhpur medical college. Jodhpur. The doctors alleged that many of the students and doctors were injured in the police lathicharge.

Keralites get to apply online for ration cards

fter a pilot project that started in July 2010, Kerala government rolled out on September a state-wide system for online submission of applications for ration cards on September 1. The response has been overwhelming. We are getting an average of about 40 applications online every day, a spokesman of the National Informatics Centre (NIC), which developed the project, was quoted as saying.

An applicant has to use the citizen login on the website of the civil supplies department to access the service. After filling in all the details online in Malayalam, print outs of the form and other documents have to be submitted at the taluk supply office for verification. The service is also available at Akshaya Centres. There have been cases where the ration cards have been issued the day application was made, the spokesman said. 37

people politics policy performance

Energy Man

We cannot think of acquiring a company whose worth is $ 8bn

INTERVIEW n B r i j m o h an bansa l

rij Mohan Bansal, chairman and director (planning & business development) of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, helms Indias largest commercial enterprise (turnover: about $57 billion for 2009-10). How does he manage a public sector unit that is also the only Indian firm to rank in the prestigious Fortune Global 500 list? What is his larger vision for this firm as also for Indias energy security? In a freewheeling conversation with Rohit Bansal, he answers these and other questions. Edited excerpts from the interview:

We would not like to talk about the many zeros in the figure that represents IOCs turnover or your refining or pipeline capacity. Wed rather start by asking what it is that you sit and worry about at night.

To be very frank, Im not really a worried person. We have had a very good record. We have been facing a lot of challenges. We will keep on facing them in the future. We have to keep ourselves prepared. That is the strength of IOC, our manpower and

our beliefs. The visionary leaders we had in IOC had been saying that the human resource development would take on the challenges well. Like the challenge of deregulation which was taking place from 2002, foreign companies and the private companies were entering, and we were preparing ourselves to face them much before it started. Even though a number of multinationals have entered into this (lube) sector, our Servo group has ensured that we are a well known name, not only in India but in the Middle East, Sri Lanka and Mauritius. Similarly, in market share, we are the dominant player. Naturally when a new entrant is there, we being the dominant player, the market share will drop to some extent. But we have regained and are prepared for the challenges. Only thing that comes to my mind is that it is unfortunate that we didnt enter E&P (exploration and production) earlier. We do not have gas of our own and today when so much gas is replacing our liquid fuel It makes me a bit worried that I am losing my market

The unfortunate part is that, we should have entered E&P (exploration and production) much earlier. We do not have gas of our own and today when so much gas is replacing our liquid fuel It makes me a bit worried that I am losing my market share on liquid fuel while I am not able to replace it fully by my own gas, somebody else is replacing that.

38 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

p h otos : R av i Ch o udha ry

share on liquid fuel while I am not able to replace it fully by my own gas, somebody else is replacing that.

Thats candid! When you say you should have entered E&P earlier, when you talk about the gas which you dont control, its ironic that this conversation is taking place on a day Vedanta has announced its deal to buy Cairn Energy in India. Heres a mining guy with a dubious environmental record getting into E&P. And Indian Oil, a natural candidate, is caught napping.

I wont say we were caught napping. Before deregulation took place we werent allowed. This opportunity settled only after 1992. Then by the end of 1994 and early 1995, our business development group was formed basically to go into the non-core areas like petrochemicals. E&P and, at that time, the gas business were not that common. To enter into LNG wasnt easy. So, that way, awareness was there but we were not able to go because of regulation. As soon as the deregulation took place, we took part in E&P. Along with ONGC, we participated in a number of blocks.

Also, we got some through nomination. Unfortunately, we could not extract all our gas. We still have 20 (facilities). We extract gas in two. One is the (2.7 trillion cubic feet) Mahanadi along with ONGC. E&P is very risky as well as very highpaying. Im sure luck will favour us and well get oil and gas. We have some blocks outside India also but most of them are in early stages. We are trying to somehow make up through the LNG route. We are very bullish on our own LNG terminal at Ennore and we are trying to capture some ground there.

As the business development man, do you think that Cairn option was evaluated? How will you improve the processes of scouting for future opportunities?

billion. That way, there are so many companies available, why only Cairn! I have been repeating that we are looking for a company, a producing asset or a developing asset worth $1-2 billion. If it is $2 billion, then 50 percent will be the other sides and 50 percent ours. We had shortlisted a number of them. We came close to clinching them, but you know in these things it is very difficult to say whether well be able to really clinch them till it is finally over. We are still in discussion with one or two such assets and Im sure one day well be successful. It may not be as large as Cairn, but itll be a medium sized company.

Whenever we go into any acquisition, we must first see our pocket. Since the last three years our profits arent very good because of the heavily discounted price of LPG, kerosene and diesel. So, we cannot think of going for a company whose worth is around $8 to 10

Wed like to press you on this: Indian Oil saying that Cairn is out of our pocket! Dont you think you should be actually seeking the advantages of petrol deregulation more aggressively? For example, petrol prices have remained static even after June 25. Are you being hamstrung politically? Whats stopping you from compensating yourself after more than Rs 3,000 crore of losses from last quarter? 39

people politics policy performance

Energy Man

Ill clarify that. On June 26, the deregulation took place. That day, the price of crude was $74 per barrel. Thereafter, even though on day-to-day basis the price keeps fluctuating, it is always around $74-75. Only in the last 10-15 days the price crossed $80. So thats why in June or July, we have not increased the price because unless there is a substantial increase in the crude oil price, we will not like to change the petrol price on day-to-day basis. Each month, we may have to think whether we should or not, depending upon how the price keeps on going for the next 15 days. If you see today, the Indian basket price is again at $73-74. But whatever the average of the month, whether we are losing on petrol ultimately or not, that well have to take a view and decide. We are also contemplating on a monthly revision, depending upon the fluctuation. So, we are keeping all our options open. Ultimately, we dont have to go to the government for increasing prices. Now, well decide on our own; when the issue is pinching, we would definitely like to increase the price. As such, we dont want to shock the people with hiked prices at very short intervals.

Deregulation is meaningful only if diesel and kerosene are also deregulated. You cant hypothetically increase petrol prices by Rs 10 a litre to offset your losses. It is like deregulation of one finger of your hand, whereas the rest of your body is still regulated.

No, to be very frank, we are a public sector company; we are a government company. As the CEO I am not averse to regulation. But as long as I am being compensated for the losses, for the under-recovery, it is not my worry. But the government should make a system so that I dont have to keep on worrying like in the last quarter we made a loss of Rs 3,388 crore. How will I be compensated? I still dont know that. So that worry can go, if the government really draws up a process and decides a procedure for compensating the oil companies for selling diesel, kerosene and LPG under control price.

Lets talk big picture. You are not here to survive. You are here to lead India on energy security. But where is the

You have a very pertinent question. Thats why I say that a company like IOC doesnt have to only make marginal profits, it has to make substantial profits too. And when I say substantial profits, it is Rs 12,000-15,000 crore a year. Our investment in next five years is around Rs 50,000 crores: petrochemicals, pipelines, refineries and E&P all together. Theres some renewable energy also, but that is a very

reserve oil in your portfolio? Where is E&P which is actually delivering in your portfolio? Where is international oil equity which will yield results in the next five to 10 to 20 years? And more importantly, where is the money to bankroll these requirements which we as an energy seeker will need vis--vis our friends in China? Where do you see that sort of a thing coming from?

small budget. So, we are trying to grow in almost all sectors. We are even getting into nuclear energy. So, we have a definite vision for growth. And we want profits to that end. Opportunities are there. We are taking part in explorations to maintain oil-security. And Im sure, in next two-three years, we will be successful in producing oil at some of the blocks. But (as for) gas we are not an upstream company and to become a total integrated company well take some time.

Is that a part of your overarching vision?

Yes, we would want it to be an integrated energy company of the country.

You say that there has been talk of bridging the present problem through

40 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

disinvestment and you alluded to that option as well. Do you professionally support the idea of going and disinvesting, say, 10 percent as has been proposed recently?

some new projects as well.

I feel that if there is a financial constraint, then it is at the governments end and the government has 80 percent equity of IOC. It enjoys the control of the company, as long as it has 51 percent equity. If there is an option to get some more money from (new) investors and these investors are ready, you must utilise that option.

How does that help IOC?

The divestment money may go to the exchequer but it will also allow for fresh equity up to 10 percent more and that money can come straight to IOC. If I am open to collect Rs 10,000 crore by that, it helps me a lot.

When you say fresh equity, thats a proposal that cant come from the ministry. Probably, it has to come from your company?

So what is the status of that thinking process?

We have indicated our interest to the government that in case it goes for disinvestment, it should consider our interest and also that we would like to float some equity, around 10 percent, so that we can get Rs 8,000-10,000 crore (into IOC) in the process.

Whenever we go into any acquisition, we must first see our pocket. Today, I mean, last three years because of the heavily discounted price of LPG, kerosene and diesel, our profits arent very good. So, we cannot think of going for a company whose worth is around $8 billion, $10 billion. That way, there are so many companies available, why only Cairn! I have been repeating that we are looking for a company, a producing asset or a developing asset worth $1-2 billion.

Looking at the future, considering that oil is a finite resource, 30 years from now, what is IOC? What do you see as your highest selling product?

Thirty years hence also, Im sure, the diesel will continue to be the highest selling product. Petrol might feel the impact of diminishing reserves. Gas will be replacing some of the liquid products. But todays scenario is such that gas availability could well be a question mark. Whether there will be massive import of LNG or it will be generated indigenously remains to be seen. The price of LNG is going to be around $11-12 - whether there will be buyers for that $11-12-a-litre gas is another story. So, there are so many different scenarios. Liquid products will definitely be dominating well into twothree decades from now. The gas hydrate availability in India is huge. If in these 20-30 years, with good technology, we are able to commercialise that, to tap into these gas reserves from hydrate, it will mean a different picture altogether for energy in India.

Where do you see for bio-fuels movement, solar power, and wind power?

And is it the right time, or is it because you need the money and the time doesnt really matter?

Nobody can really hold firm on what my equity price will be in a years time - whether it will be Rs 500, Rs 600 or itll be Rs 200. So, any time is the right time. If you can collect money when you need it, that is the right time.

As a maharatna, you have the empowerment, but do you really have the controls? If you dont have funds in your kitty, how will you have the power to execute? You dont have the cash reserves which really are the key to the empowerment.

What would you do with Rs 8,00010,000 crore?

It will be used for our projects. Today the debt-equity ratio is 0.8-0.9. It will reduce my debt portion and I can leverage my debt-equity ratio whenever I want to go make a quantum jump for a project or go for a bigger acquisition.

Whats the status of that proposal? Is it coupled with the disinvestment

We have to go for projects as per our cash flow, as per our debt-equity ratio. There was a limitation in the way our projects were flowing in the last threefour years. We might have kept some projects on a slow track or back-burner when the crude price went up to $140147. We didnt know then how to manage our existing projects well. But, thankfully, things have improved and we are able to not only push our existing projects, we are taking up

As long as the government is giving the subsidy, I see solar power picking up. The cost of production of solar power panels needs to come down, which is the target by 2020-22, so that solar power cost will be as low as grid power. Then (alone) I think it is going to be big in India. In wind power I think weve got almost 60-70 percent saturation, so 20-30 percent more we need to tap into. Nuclear power is going to be very important. Hydro-power, though, has been a subject of controversy. We have a lot of potential, but now there is a lot of controversy going on whether we should go into that or not. And biofuel, I have not seen the government giving any push to that even though Jatropha and all started very well. But because of this lack of push, I think peoples interest in biofuels is waning. In my opinion, if we can really utilise the wastelands and NREGA funds can be utilised for growing Jatropha, I can think of nothing better. n 41

people politics policy performance

War Within

Bungle in the jungle: How Maoists got it wrong in Lakhisarai

Nothing in the Maoist ideology justifies the killing of the abducted policeman, Lucas Tete.

G N Saibaba

henever the CPI (Maoist) engages the paramilitary and police forces resulting in some killings the media, particularly the electronic media, goes gaga about it for two or three days. TV channels conduct high-pitched debates scorning Indian Maoists as terrorists to be bumped off using even the army and air force. But when the operating security forces kill adivasis and Maoists among them, the news is completely blacked out. There will be no shrill voices in the media about such incidents or demands to label the killers cowards. A serious atmosphere started prevailing in the political domain of Bihar after the Maoists reportedly killed an assistant subinspector of the Bihar Military Police, Lucas Tete. He was one of the four hostages

captured after the Maoist ambush on a Bihar Military Police camp on August 29 on the hills of Kajra in the Lakhisarai forests of southeastern Bihar. This is a major incident of its kind in Bihar after the most elusive civil war codenamed Operation Green Hunt was launched by home minister P Chidambaram almost a year ago. Ironically, the first anniversary of the initiation of what civil society has rightly termed as a war against the people is presently being celebrated in a most bizarre manner in a state where the operation has been supposedly implemented reluctantly by its government. In the incident the Maoists killed seven police personnel, injured many and took away a huge cache of arms, along with four cops on that fateful day in Lakhisarai. However, more dramatic events were yet to unfold. As Nitish Kumar himself comes on the screen and admits of his helplessness, it is quite an unexpected detour in his successful career as a chief minister. At this point of time, the deus ex machina (god out of the machine) appears, and promises all support to secure the hostages alive. Nitish Kumar asks for more forces.

Ehsan Khan, one of the abducted policemen after his release from Maoist captivity Chidambaram grants his wish immediately. Additional forces are sent to beef up the morale of the already beleaguered security forces in action. Nitish Kumar never utters a word all through the show to indicate that he would consider the option of releasing the eight Maoists in exchange of the four cops. Neither does he ever reject the demand of the Maoists. A perfect statesman! For the first five days he only maintained that he had received no information of the ransom and no one from the Maoists side had communicated to him or his administration. Then he called upon the Maoists to tell him what they wanted. The bizarre theatrics of abduction, killing and release of cops stretched for more than a week on the television screens. Finally on September 6 the curtain to this theatre of absurdity came down when the Maoists released the three policemen, ironically, along with the announcement of the Bihar assembly elections by the Central Election Commission. This theatre of farce couldnt have been

42 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

consumed even with a magic spell of attraction if the Maoists couldnt play up to their role marvellously. At the outset, it was the sutradhar or the interlocutor, Avinash (not Agnivesh), who announced himself as the spokesperson of the Maoists and also announced the ransom (the release of eight of his imprisoned comrades). If Nitish Kumar failed to meet this demand, Avinash warned that the four policemen in their custody would be killed. On the fourth day, Avinash announced the killing of Abhay Yadav, one of the four hostages. But the body which was sent the next day out of the forest was that of Lucas Tete, a Jharkhandi adivasi. Statements and appeals from the democrats from the cities from all over India for the release of the three remaining hostages were finally responded to, and then Avinash announced that the Maoists would release the hostages. A man clad in saffron, who identified himself as top Maoist leader Kishanji, appears before the family members of the abducted cops in the full glare of the media in Begusarai, and promises their release. No one knows what was discussed in the all-party meeting called by Nitish Kumar

Nitish Kumar never utters a word all through the show to indicate that he would consider the option of releasing the eight Maoists in exchange of the four cops. Neither does he ever reject the demand. A perfect statesman!
in a heated political atmosphere on the eve of the assembly elections. Emerging out of meeting, he nevertheless announces his governments intent to sit for talks with the Maoists, promising a safe passage for those underground Maoists who would come to attend the talks. Others wait in suspicion. But the release gets delayed for more than 24 hours for unknown reasons. The melodrama ends on

a happy note with the release of the three policemen and their family reunion, and Nitish Kumar inviting the Maoists to join the mainstream and participate in the ensuing Bihar elections. In the old story, Vikramaditya, the emperor of Ujjain, is challenged to bring a recalcitrant Betal or the vampire spirit from a tree in a cemetery. Vikramaditya, like civil society of our times, aspires to bring peace. But to do this he has to get the Betal down the tree and carry the body out of the graveyard. As a rule he has to keep silence during this time. The Betal (in the form a corpse) tells Vikramaditya a story each time he ventures to trap him. At the end of every story the vampire poses some riddles about it. At the end of our own story also at least three mysterious questions remain unanswered for our own civil society Vikramadityas. Why did the Maoists demanded the swap of four policemen with eight of their imprisoned comrades when they knew that the government attached no importance to the ordinary policemen? Why did the Maoists killed Lucas Tete, a tribal, and not a Yadav, Sinha or Khan among the four abducted cops? Why did the Maoists release the three policemen rather than holding on to their demand, and killing them when their demands were not met? The Betal in the corpse would warn that if Vikram does know the answers and decides not to answer, his skull will break into a thousand pieces. Vikram couldnt resist answering the riddles even at the same time knowing that the Betal will disappear as soon as he breaks his silence. And the corpse does disappear. At the end of our story, our own Vikramadityas have no answers to the riddles, but they would begin a vociferous debate on whether the Betal should be posing these questions at all. In fact, they could not decide who the Betal was in the first place the Maoists or the government or the media. Needless to add, in all the noise, the Betal disappeared anyway. You have to wait for the next chance for Vikram to succeed when the next Maoist ambush meets the security corps. The Betal may have gone away for the time being, but the questions he has raised remain. The Maoists announced that their leadership decided to release the hostages following the appeals from the democrats. Before this point of time the leadership of the Maoists doesnt figure anywhere. Does it mean that they would have killed their hostages if the appeals werent made? Again, why did they kill one of them? The 43

people politics policy performance

War Within

Slain policeman Lucas Tetes body was found with a note from the Maoists threatening to kill the other cops in their custody

appeals came out from the very beginning. Why were the same appeals ignored earlier but accepted later? Any game of abduction cannot be played without issuing a threat of killing the hostage. If the other side is sure that the hostages will not be killed, why should it pay the ransom? But when the abduction is not for the individual selfish gains, what happens to the act? In the political domain, how could the CPI (Maoist) conduct itself by killing their hostages? In the Lakhisarai case, the hostages werent merely hostages because they were caught in a gun battle amidst a declared programme of war by the Indian state. Therefore, they were prisoners of war. Can the CPI (Maoist) kill the prisoners of war in their custody? Its not that the CPI (Maoist) has no policy understanding on how to handle hostages and prisoners of war. Kishanji, a Polit buro member of the CPI (Maoist), had announced in October 2009 that Atindranath Dutta, the office-in-charge of Sankrail Police Station, West Midnapur, under their custody was a prisoner of war and they would do no harm to him. But this announcement did not prevent the West Bengal administration from releasing the prisoners as the public pressure mounted on the government. As announced, the officer was released in exchange of adivasi women prisoners from Lalgarh in the state governments custody. The West Bengal government justified this act by

The Maoists in Lakhisarai bungled in a serious way. They shouldnt have offered the barter of prisoners of war in their custody as if they were mere abducted hostages.... It is not that the CPI (Maoist) has no policy on how to handle hostages and prisoners of war.
claiming that the women prisoners released in exchange were not involved in serious crimes. If that was the case, why were they kept under imprisonment in the first place without even allowing bail? That question was never answered. Regrettably in Lakhisarai, a prisoner of war, Lucas Tete, was killed. The remaining three hostages were released under pressure from civil society, if we are to believe what Avinash told the media. In this case, the union and Bihar governments didnt feel any pressure to release the eight

Maoists in exchange for the abducted policemen, as their social status was not weighty enough. There is no other reason whatsoever. Because we know from a number of such cases in Andhra Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, the northeast and recently in West Bengal, that hostages were swapped with the release of prisoners as demanded by the abductors. The Maoists in Lakhisarai bungled in a serious way. They shouldnt have offered the barter of prisoners of war in their custody as if they were mere abducted hostages. Prisoners of war on both sides could be swapped at any point of time. There was no need to issue a threat of killing them or actually kill one of them to pressurise the government. It is altogether a different issue that the Indian state doesnt recognise any democratic procedure or principle in its ugly war against the poor people of this country. It simply acts as an occupying military power in the most backward regions of our country without following internationally recognised norms of internal conflicts. But by no means revolutionary forces like CPI (Maoist) could act arbitrarily even in some incidents. The legitimacy for social transformatory forces lies in their consistent policies and ideology and their practice. Azad, the spokesperson of CPI (Maoist) who was killed by the Indian state two months ago, responded to the beheading of a police intelligence officer, Francis Induwar, in Jharkhand by his party colleagues in an interview published in an English weekly a few months before his killing. He categorically stated that the case of Francis Induvar is an exception and not the rule. He further made it clear that ...cruelty is the trait of the policeman who serves the exploiting classes. For the Maoist revolutionaries who serve the masses of the people and aspire to build a new socialist society free of all class exploitation, cruelty is an anathema. We will educate our cadre so that such beheadings do not occur in future. It would be definitely ambitious to expect an impeccable conduct of affairs from the revolutionary forces while they fight an unequal and most brutal war from their adversaries but such major incidents as Lakhisarai could be certainly avoidable. The stories may fly to distant shores after they are being told. But their influence stays home for ever. Betal asks questions endlessly to distract Vikramaditya like our media tries with civil society. However, the pertinent questions of our times seek resolution in a fundamental way. n

44 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

Gandhi heritage enters web age
andhi and modern technology were never mutually exclusive. And now the Mahatmas heritage will enter the internet era. The government, in association with the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust, Ahmedabad, will soon launch a Gandhi Heritage Sites portal at a cost of Rs 8 crore. The portal will digitise over 34,000 letters written by and to Gandhi. Documents related to the Mahatmas personal life and freedom struggle will be available at the click of a mouse through the portal, which will be based at the historic Sabarmati Ashram.


people politics policy performance

Governance 2.0

Youve got spam!

India has retained its second position in originating spam, accounting for about 12.55 percent of the global junk mails sent in July, even after reducing the number of mails sent, says a study by Trend Micro. The US has continued to maintain its first position, relaying nearly one-fourth of the worlds total junk mails.

Infotainment, now also for railway passengers

Rail passengers can look forward to on-board infotainment services and enhanced safety with railway minister Mamata Banerjee giving the green signal for a global positioning system (GPS) based project. The Satellite Imaging for Rail Navigation (Simran), which went through exhaustive trials, can also reduce the number of accidents at unmanned level crossings, besides avoiding collision. The project, which uses a satellite imaging software along with the GPS, was developed as part of the Railway Safety Technology Mission to provide train information to passengers. A train locator unit installed in a train identifies its latitudinal and longitudinal values and speed by receiving information through

Make space in your calendar for e-gov day

the GPS. LCD screens installed in coaches will inform passengers about train speed, current location, next destination, outside temperature and so on. Several players including the IIT Kanpur, Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) of the railway ministry and Kolkata-based Impex Infotech are actively involved in the project, with the railway planning to implement it through public-private partnership (PPP) mode.

The government is planning to create greater awareness on e-governance services and service delivery points by starting a communication/advertising campaign. The apex committee of the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), which met on July 16, discussed a proposal to launch a concerted campaign, inviting participation of all departments, outreach activists and the media. The apex committee also proposed to dedicate a day as e-governance day in the country. The committee which met under the chairmanship of cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar decided that the Department of Information Technology (DIT) should come up with an action plan on the communication strategy for egovernance projects.

The Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board will partner with software solutions provider SAP along with TCS to manage resources across its organisation. SAP will build and manage a centralised management information system, using enterprise resource planning software. The project is expected to go live by October 2011.

SAP, TCS bag Himachal deal

MP to have cyber police force

Childrens UID to include parental details

When some experts said biometric details of children below 15 years are not stable, questions were raised about the validity of the ambitious Unique ID project. However, the UID Authority headed by Nandan Nilekani has already made provisions in this regard. The Demographic Data Standards and Verification Procedure (DDSVP) Committee Report, released in December last year, says all children will be assigned UID numbers and the details of the parents will be captured to authenticate the childs ID. The authority plans to take the childrens biometric details when they are well formed and the de-duplication process will be carried out only after that. Until the child is bio-metrically de-duplicated, their UIDs will carry a note saying de-duplication not performed.

Madhya Pradesh will constitute a dedicated cyber police force by enrolling 100 personnel in the first phase. The plan envisages recruiting over 700 police personnel who will be trained in hardware, software, advanced computer application and cyber law.

e-complaint facility for Mumbaikars

Under a pilot project launched by Maharashtra, citizens of Mumbai can file a complaint on the police website. The complaint will be registered within 24 hours and the complainant will get a receipt. The police commissioners office will ensure that the police station concerned addresses the complaint. 45

people politics policy performance

GovernanceNow Forum

Governance lessons from

Nitish Kumar
First-person account of how he established the rule of law in a state where none existed

hen we came to power in November 2005 I was asked by the media what my first priority was. I said, Governance. I was asked what my second priority was, I said, Governance. And what was my third priority? I said, Governance! There is a reason why I emphasised governance as my first, second and third priorities. Bihar that we inherited in 2005 was not afflicted by bad governance; it was afflicted by absence of governance. What is governance? Governance means establishing the writ of the state; the law of the land. There was a time when the capital city (Patna) would be deserted by 7 pm. If one did not return home by the evening, his or her family

members would start worrying about their safety. Today this has changed. Shops are open till late evening. People are out on the streets without any fear. How was the rule of law established? Criminals were caught, produced in court and then sentenced. Earlier, the government witnesses didnt appear in the court. The prosecution, therefore, sought adjournments time and again. After we came to power we ensured that the prosecution witnesses were present in the court. As a result the trials were wrapped up in time and today we have a record number of convictions 50,000. This is what I believe is governance. Governance means, anyone who commits a crime is caught and produced in the

court of law. It is up to the courts to decide whether that person is guilty or not. Governance also means empowering women. After we came to power panchayat elections were round the corner. We repealed the old panchayati raj law and made a new one with 50% reservations for women. Initially there was scepticism, but soon people realised what a significant development it was. Women began to go out of their homes. The security environment began to change. Today women feel empowered. But providing a place for them in the panchayats was not enough to empower women. We decided to focus on girls education. In order to encourage parents to send their

daughters to upper primary school, we decided to pay every girl who went to class VI Rs 700 for school uniform, a pair of shoes and a school bag. This step alone doubled the number of girls going to upper primary school. To help them reach high school, we proposed to give every girl who went to class IX a cycle. In order to avoid a potential cycle scam, we handed over Rs 2,000 in cash to each girl to buy a cycle. This has worked wonders. When we started the cycle scheme, there were 1,70,000 girls in class IX. In 2010, the number shot up to 4,90,000. I am sure no other scheme in the country has brought a change of this magnitude. What would you call this? This, according to me, is governance.

46 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

Initially, there were apprehensions about the safety of these girls. To ensure that they didnt face any harassment from the roadside Romeos, we decided to give them free training in judo and karate. Today, the girls cycle to their schools and people on the road give them way without any girl having to demonstrate her martial art skills. Soon, we started giving cycles to boys too. Today the number of cycles with both girls and boys stands at 25,45,000. When you address the basic needs of your people, you can see the results. When we came to power, the number of children out of school was a staggering 25 lakh. It has now come down to 7,70,000. People had lost faith in the

public health system. When we got a survey done on the number of patients visiting a primary health centre (PHC) every month, it turned out to be a mere 39. We revamped the PHCs with new buildings and free medicines. We also ensured regular visits by the doctors. Now the number of patients visiting a PHC has shot up to 4,000 a month. In the case of routine immunisation, we have surpassed the national average of 54%. What does governance mean? It means human development. We focused on human development and made everyone a participant, including the mahadalits. I have often been criticised for focusing on the marginalised sections within the scheduled castes (SC). Yes, there is indeed a marginalised section even within the SCs, we called them the mahadalits. My aim was to help them get the benefits that the SCs are entitled to. Tomes have been written on the mahadalits with no tangible benefits to them. My government, on the other hand, is helping them out of their miseries. They have now been made a part of the development process. We also focused on infrastructure. Earlier the roads were in a pathetic condition. If you happened to visit the state, I am sure you would not have come back without breaking your back. Today I invite you to visit any part of the state. You will be surprised and wonder if it is the same state. I have set my goals on connecting Patna to the remotest part of the state, say a village in Kishanganj, by a road that will take not more than six hours. And we will achieve this in a year or two. n
(Edited excerpts from Nitish Kumars address at a Governance Now Forum meet on August 21)

Bihar is not comic-fodder any more: MJ Akbar

ihar, the template of good governance in the 1950s, degenerated into a laughing stock by the late 1990s; its emerging now from years of misrule, believes eminent journalist and scholar MJ Akbar. Addressing the Governance Now Forum on Bihar on the move, he said a discussion on governance in Bihar would have been unimaginable a few years ago except as a continuing form of satire. The fact that such a seminar is being held in Delhi and that such a large audience has come to attend it speaks for itself, he said. Bihar is emerging from its joke reputation and is starting to show promise as a serious player in the growth of the country, Akbar noted in his inaugural address. A snapshot of the contemporary Bihar story comes not from Patna, but from Ludhiana in Punjab. Today, the farmers and landowners there are feeling the pinch of labour shortage. The Bihari families working on their fields are heading back to Bihar, he added. Akbar, who once represented Kishanganj in Bihar in the Lok Sabha, spoke about how the Bihar story had changed in the last few decades when caste-identity politics hijacked the election agenda in the state. While easy alliances came along caste lines, the excess of caste politics overwhelmed every aspect of governance. Politicians started confusing, very dangerously for the state, political rhetoric with power. They charmed people at one level and instigated differences at another, he said. There was a time when the ruling class in the state would laugh at suggestions of improving infrastructure in the state, he added. That the narrative is changing now with the realisation that governance is not charity; rather, it is instrumental in creating value for investment, he said. At the same time, he was critical of the statistical growth story. I am not too prone to praising people in power but when I was in Patna speaking at a function attended by the chief minister, I said: I do not understand statistics, I dont know what you mean when you say eight percent growth, 29 percent growth, 48 percent growth... These statistics are utterly meaningless. In any case, this eight percent growth that we talk about is a statistical lie. To begin with, if eight percent growth is going to only 10 percent of the people, then that growth can become counter-productive as we are seeing in the rise of the naxal movement. Akbar said chief minister Nitish Kumar had put governance back on the forefront. I congratulate the CM of Bihar for beginning to change the image of Bihar. But this is not a moment to feel smug. Nothing substantial has been achieved yet, but a difficult corner has been turned, he said in conclusion. 47

people politics policy performance

Governance Now Forum

Bihar on the m
Branded Bihar to Brand Bihar What Bihar needs next
Rituraj Singh, chief operating officer, SI securities: Instead of inviting big investors, it would be ideal to draw up a list of businessmen from the state and go after them with a plea to invest in their own state. Bringing back the large population of Biharis working outside in low-skilled jobs is important as also reskilling them and enabling them to contribute to the development of Bihars economy. Amit Kapur. Professor, Management Development Institute: The important thing is that there is a huge land mass in Bihar which needs to be tapped to the fullest. We should see what we can do to attract people back to G S Kang, former chief secretary of Bihar: The criminals involvement in politics is fast becoming a thing of the past and the wild Bihar of yesterday is fading out. Harivansh, editor, Prabhat Khabar: In the past five years the state has reasserted itself. The writ of the state has been reestablished even in the remotest of villages. Moderator: Manisha Priyam, scholar of political

Session moderator: Rahul Dev, Editor of CNEB Pramath Sinha, founder and managing director, 9.9 media: Perceptions about Bihars have discouraged the private sector to invest in Bihar. Those perceptions havent gone away. People still think of other states before Bihar when it comes to development projects; So Bihar has to compete from behind. Nikesh Sinha of APCA: In the last few decades, Bihar had given its labour and people to the entire country. Punjabs green revolution was possible because of the labour from Bihar. It is time this work force returned to Bihar. Shalini Vatsa, Theatre and movie actor, Peepli Live: Cultural vibrancy exists in a place only when the place is safe. I have grown up in Bihar and have been a member of various theatre groups. Earlier it was difficult to get out of ones house and go to ones place of work. That has changed. I have experienced it.

48 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010

Bihar. People have been leaving this state for decades now. They will not come back overnight. We need to create favourable situations for them. There was a time when Nalanda was the seat of knowledge in the world. It is ironical that we are not promoting Nalanda and other such places as tourist destinations. Bihar has immense potential for tourism which needs to be tapped. Almost all the governments have ignored it. Anil Sharma, CMD, Amrapali: The development of infrastructure would lead to overall improvement in living standards in terms of housing, sanitation and health care.

The day-long Governace Now Forum on Bihar consisted of three panel discussions that threw light on the states transition from darkness to hope.
Nitish is like Sachin

Session moderator: Pradeep Bhargava, Director, GBPISS, Allahabad

What Bihar needs most

Saibal Gupta of ADRI : In the absence of any social movement, Bihar has not had a sub-national identity. That is changing now, as there is a sense of ownership in the people of the state. Ali Anwar Ansari, Rajya Sabha MP from Bihar: Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz, an Indian Muslim welfare organisation I founded 10 years ago for the liberation of dalit muslims has been helping the marginalized sections of the muslims and it has helped restore their pride. Mahesh Rangarajan, noted social scientist from Delhi University: While the dalits of the south sought to empower themselves with entrepreneurship, the dalits of the north are only now moving in that direction. Badri Narayan, a scholar on dalit studies from GB Pant Institute of Social Sciences, Allahabad: The welfare of dalits in Bihar has started where those of Uttar Pradesh had failed. Identification of Mahadalits amongst dalits was a step in the right direction.

economy of development, LSE

Uday Shankar, CEO Star India: I agree with MJ Akbar that a seminar on Governance in Bihar would not have been possible a few years back and the credit for this change goes to chief minister Nitish Kumar. He has set the ball rolling. But having said that, I would like to know from the chief minister if the process that he began will go on even after Nitish and if yes how? This provoked Nitish to render the heartfelt speech on governance in Bihar (previous page). After that Uday engaged Nitish in a one-onone interaction. Drawing an analogy from cricket, he said, Nitishs position was akin to master blaster Sachin Tendulkar who was expected to hit a century every time he took to the crease. To which Nitish retorted: Dont worry, Im in good form. 49

people politics policy performance

Last Word

Suresh Menon

have this recurring nightmare. It involves Suresh Kalmadi unrolling the track at the Nehru Stadium even as the 100 metre runners get into action at the other end of it. He has an advantage of some 20 metres or so, but can he unroll the track fast enough to complete the sprint event? In another hall, Kalmadi (or someone who looks like him) is fitting a table tennis table together just as a Chinese player prepares to throw the ball in the air preparatory to serving. Everything will be ready on time, Kalmadi lisps in my dream (in dreams you can lisp even when there is no sibilant in a sentence), as he pumps water into the swimming pool just before a bunch of swimmers plunges in. I told you we would be ready. All the problems are created by the media, he says while fixing the leak at an indoor stadium or a leak within his own organising committee where those apparently insufficiently bribed are singing to the media. At some point I wake up in a cold sweat. As D-day approaches Indians are probably getting such nightmares regularly. But I agree with Kalmadi. Too much is being made of the stadiums, as if that is all sport is about. Let us not forget that it is not about winning or losing, but participation. It is about friendship, and in the case of Commonwealth Games, reliving the good times when Britain ruled the world and all the participating countries were part of a vast, offshore empire created for the greater glory of Britain and the reduced glory of the conquered nations. My suggestion is, forget the

Game for fresH IDEAS, Mr Kalmadi?

Hold the opening and closing ceremonies simultaneously to reduce expenses. No one will notice.
stadiums. There is nothing to be ashamed of just because they are not ready in time. After all, the stadiums for the 2026 Commonwealth Games are not ready yet, and we dont see the media making a song and dance about that. We can still have the Games begin on schedule and become a grand success if we think out of the box. Here are some suggestions: 1. Ignore the stadiums, have the events in peoples homes: Some of the ministers in Delhi live in such large houses at taxpayers cost that these can double as sporting venues. The cycling can be held in one MPs house, the shooting in another. Table tennis in a dining room and badminton in the hall suggest themselves. Discus and javelin throw can be held in the sports ministers house. The advantage is that MPs are always sprucing up their residences at our expense, so there will be no need to renovate these venues. In the weeks remaining, as more athletes pull out, the Games could be held in the local park even without upsetting the schedule of the citizens who use them. And since Indian sportsmen are being hauled up on a daily basis for drug abuse, we might have to pick teams from among those who live in the MPs houses. That way, there will be no complaints about being denied home advantage.

After all, who knows the garden better than the gardener? 2. The Organising Committee which has shown a creative approach to money making can make even more by getting people to pay for the privilege of having the Commonwealth Games in their dining rooms. Spectators will not be affected because no one was planning to turn up in the first place. 3. Since the officials (average age close to 120), unanimously prefer Waka, Waka to anything A R Rahman has composed, why not use the Shakira song as the theme? No one will object, especially not those who hold it against Rahman that he does not look like Shakira. 4. Pretend the India-Australia cricket series is part of the Commonwealth Games, and sell tickets to watch it live on giant TV screens in public spaces. 5. Pay Karan Johar to make movies on the competition, with actors and then telecast it live at the scheduled timings of the various competitions. Wagging-the-dog, as the technique is called, will mean enormous savings on the travel, accommodation and food for the competitors. 6. If the Games Village is not ready, then the athletes can be accommodated in Mani Shankar Aiyars house since that worthy has said he will be moving out of Delhi for the duration of the Games. 7. Hold the opening and closing ceremonies simultaneously to reduce expenses. No one will notice. 8. If all else fails, invite that all-round bore who is an expert on every TV channel on every conceivable subject to inaugurate the Games. Let him make the opening speech that should give Kalmadi and company enough time to get everything ready. n

50 GovernanceNow | September 16-30, 2010 51