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IIPM offers premium courses in BBA MBA EMBA and Integrated Programme. Best infrastructure - Placement is provided in all IIPM Campus Gurgaon New Delhi Mumbai...



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IIPM leading Business School offering management courses BBA MBA

Wed, 29 May 2013 17:04:00 +0000

IIPM is a leading private B School offering a range of management courses (BBA, MBA). I am a student at IIPM and must tell you that IIPM has a very rigorous curriculum. In today's highly competitive environment, companies don't just look out for high IQ levels in individuals. They look for go-getter who exhibit outstanding people skills along with leadership traits in every sphere of your life. And IIPM BBA and MBA courses focus on developing that. During my academic tenure at IIPM, we were all exposed to many lively discussions and debates on diverse areas of business and economy from both national and international perspectives. Be it case study analysis or marketing presentations or debates on national economic planning, all activities got us to assess, discern, analyze and act upon the critical issues involved, hence helped in acquiring business acumen, enhancing our decision making abilities, honing our leadership abilities in the process. We also got to attend sparkling sessions with faculties from some of the world's top universities like MIT, IMD, Cornell and Cambridge. Honestly, IIPM's intensive management course provides a lot of opportunities to students and brings about a complete transformation in their overall personality. Also remember, that whichever college one may choose, the learning is entirely dependent on one's own effort and how one makes use of these opportunities. Even IIPM's placements are really good. If you will search LinkedIn, you would get to know that IIPM alumni are really successful and are working in good positions with best of the companies. You may also access this link: http://www.iipm.in/public/cult-emagazine/ for its alumni. If you wish to apply for admissions at IIPM, I guess you could fill up your details at http://www.iipm.edu/online-registration/apply/apply.asp and IIPM counselors will get in touch with you and answer your queries. You can also contact Denny.mathew@iipm.edu or call him at +919560700217 . He will guide you through the admission process. If you want additional assistance, please feel free to contact me directly at bikram431@gmail.com



While the Western press remained as clueless as Alice in Wonderland, Hugo Chavez posted a spirited win against the combined opposition

Fri, 29 Mar 2013 11:35:00 +0000

If someone had been following the events in Venezuela in the run-up to the elections through the Western press, he or she might have expected a different result than what came out this Sunday. The Western press had already read the epitaph on President Chavez and were, for all practical purposes, ready to usher in Henrique Capriles Radonski as the next president. The reality was off the mark and substantially so. Incumbent Hugo Chavez was re-elected Venezuelan president for 2013-2019, trouncing his younger conservative rival Capriles for the Roundtable of Democratic Unity Coalition (MUD). The election marks Chavez's third term in office under the amended 1999 constitution and is his fourth election as president since 1998. In fact, with this, he has won 12 victories in all, including the parliamentary elections as well as a recall referendum. With almost all the votes totalled, Chavez bagged 55.11 per cent of the popular vote against Capriles’ 44.27 per cent, a lead of 11 per cent. The Latin American firebrand also won a majority in 22 of Venezuela’s 24 provinces, including the capital territory of Caracas. He won with 0.5 per cent margin in the province of Miranda, which is governed by opposition candidate Capriles. The opposition took the two Andean provinces of Merida and Tachira. Chavez also won in Zulia and Carabobo provinces currently held by opposition governors. While it was expected, based on some documents and evidence that came out through sting operations and investigative journalism, that the opposition would try to discredit the election, Capriles was quick to accept the verdict and congratulate the incumbent. International election observers and independent experts, including former US President Jimmy Carter, have gone on record to suggest that the electoral system in place in Venezuela is fool-proof and impossible to rig and is probably one of the best in the world. Following the elections, the UNASUR election observer team congratulated the Venezuelan election commmission for the free and fair polls. “Venezuela has given an exemplary demonstration of what the functioning of democracy is and has taught a lesson to the world, and this is important,” the Argentine observer team head Carlos Alvarez was reported as saying. However, in the run-up to the elections, this fact did not stop the Western press from going on a wild goose chase. Now since the voting machines are hi-tech and impossible to sabotage, the press gave it a curious spin by saying that “since it was hi-tech, Capriles' voters are fearful that their fingerprints might be used for retribution against them.” In fact, the reporting on the Venezuelan election will go down as one of the most biased in recent history, even more so than the Iranian or Russian ones. While the exit polls across the board clearly showed a lead in the range of 10-14 per cent for Chavez, reports in the Western press suggested his imminent fall. Headlines like “How Hugo Chávez Became Irrelevant” (NYT), “President Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan dictator” (NWR), “Hugo Chávez: A Strongman's Last Stand” (The Guardian) and “The End of Chavez?” (The New Yorker) indicate the level of biased reporting the Western press resorted to. “Luckily both the candidates shared a pleasant telephone conversation in which Chavez invited Capriles and the opposition 'to respect our differences,' while Capriles urged Chavez to promote national unity and 'respect for all'. This reflects the maturing of the electoral process,” asserts Ewan Robertson, a political analyst with Venezuela Analysis. However, there is a visible reduction in the margin of victory for Chavez. That can be attributed to several factors. To start with, this election was more polarised than any of the elections in the last decade and a half. The opposition coalition consisted of 30 political parties and outfits ranging from Left to Right with opposition of Chavez the only common goal. There were four candidates other than Chavez and Capriles but they were so irrelevant[...]



Foreign investment in the retail sector will be actually beneficial for it in many ways

Tue, 26 Mar 2013 11:33:00 +0000

Perceptions about the government’s decision to permit 51 per cent FDI in the retail sector have triggered a major controversy. Not only have the opposition parties gone all out to thwart the move, but allies to have backed out of the government over the issue, leading to an impending risk of the government collapsing. Why does FDI in retail prove to be so controversial? Today, the small shopkeeper prices staple food items and household products so arbitrarily that two different consumers may pay different prices for the same product on the same day. However the entry of big retailers into the market will ensure such malpractices cease through standardisation of prices. While the unorganised sector of traditional retailers, which comprises 92 per cent of the retail market, has apprehensions over FDI, the organised sector of modern retailers which represents the other 8 per cent of the market is open to the idea but with some reservations. Traditional retailers are against FDI in multi-brand retail because they think it could drastically displace them from the market space with customers getting attracted to the retail giants through offers of lower prices. On the other hand, modern retailers largely favour FDI as they believe it could create healthy competition, offer wider consumer choices and compel infrastructure development. Moreover, modern retailers do not feel threatened – given the enormous size of the Indian market, estimated at US $ 450 billion – because they feel that there is sufficient space for them to co-exist along with the new entrants in the field. Also, the retail giants are unlikely to pose a threat to the 15 million small, independent grocery and retail shops, scattered across the country that comprise the traditional retail sector who would be able to continue to attract their loyal clientele. Given the size and diversity of the demographic profile across the country in terms of age, education and income, this is a reality. For instance, a construction worker from a rural area would not feel comfortable shopping at an air-conditioned mall while a young urban professional would prefer doing so. Moreover, the young professional would be an extremely brand conscious consumer which a small store would be unable to provide for. Another aspect pertains to personalised services in terms of credit and home delivery and proximity to home – which the small shop owner offers his customers. Undoubtedly traditional retailers would have to innovate and improvise their store strategies to cope with the entry of large format retailers. Considering that customer segments for unorganised and organised retail sectors are different, it is unlikely that traditional retailers would face the threat of displacement from FDI. Among the many misconceptions, it is little known that the retail giants will only be allowed to establish a presence in population centers over one million, which is synonymous with urban areas. To that extent, rural India is not the target demographic for the retail giants. This would give the foreign retail majors access to 53 towns/cities in the country according to the Commerce Ministry. Moreover, these retail majors would have to source 30 per cent of their requirements from either manufactures or process units in the small and medium enterprisesaccording to one of the conditions specified for them. For global retailers who suffer from low growth in the West due to poor consumer demand, India offers a maturing market for them to boost their top line and profitability. Some global retailers who now operate in the country with the Cash and Carry (wholesale) format have not been able to make the desired dent into the retail sector. The lack of supply chain and logistics infrastructure, government regulations, absence of coordination with small and medium scale processing units related to commodities; prove to be a stumbling block. Otherwise, some big retailers have plans to start their Cash and Carry businesses to primarily establish a m[...]



Haroon Reshi courses around the floating market on Dal Lake and finds the commerce inconspicuous next to the spectacle...

Sat, 23 Mar 2013 11:31:00 +0000

Shaban Wani (64) wakes up at 3 AM every morning; he loads his small wooden boat with fresh vegetables cultivated in his floating garden (called Radh in the native language) at Dal Lake, and at 4 AM, paddles his vegetables-laden boat towards the floating market in the middle of the Lake for sale purposes. That is how Wani has been earning his livelihood for the past 50 years. Wani, however, is not the only one making a living off the floating market – a one-of-its-kind market in India and only the third in the world after the famous ones in Vietnam (Mekong River) and Bangkok. This market cluttered with rowing boats is at its best in the mornings, the air fragrant with freshly harvested vegetables, fruits and fish, not to mention the picturesque Valley scenery under the morning sun. The market stays from 5 AM to 7 AM; the leftover fruits and vegetables are then sent to the city’s terra firma street markets. While serious buyers show up in droves, locals and tourists also flock to the floating market to take in the colourful sights and sounds and to feel the invigorating morning breeze. Most folks residing in and around Dal Lake are affiliated with the tourism trade, but fishing and harvesting of water plants is also an important revenue source for many Dal dwellers. More than ten thousand kanals (one kanal = 1/8th of an acre) of land is used for vegetable cultivation along the Lake. Vegetables like bottle gourd, ladyfinger, cucumber, pumpkin, cabbages, tomatoes, spinach, chilies, capsicums, potatoes, onions, melons, brinjals, radish and cauliflower make it then to the rowing wooden shops. The floating gardens are made on a base of roots of various grasses and weeds growing wild in the water. Leaves and wild vegetation compost is spread over the base and it is then ready for the plantation of vegetables, fruits and flowers. There are many who plant only seasonal flowers and sell them to tourists. At the market, farmers and vendors not only sell their green vegetables against payment but also indulge in barter business. “The vegetables, fruits, flowers and fish from Dal had a vast market in the entire Srinagar city when there was a canal called Nala Mar going through the middle of the city. The canal was filled by the government to be replaced with a road in the 70s,” Zarief Ahmed Zarief, a noted social activist, recalls. The waters of Nala Mar divided the city into two parts; apart from vegetables, vendors used to ferry things like construction material, timber, rice etc to the city over this canal. For most tourists in the Valley, a visit to the floating market on Dal Lake is one other must-do apart from a stay in the houseboats. “It is a superb experience to see this market on pristine blue waters of the Lake. Its timing makes it more beautiful. One can also get to see many types of aquatic birds around. I had never known something like this in my life…. One gets to be really close with nature,” Rakesh Roy, a tourist from Mumbai, who had come to the market in a Shikara (water taxi), gushed to TSI. It is said that the rowing market first attracted attention globally when a photographed feature of the market was published in Japan in 1960. Congress scion Rahul Gandhi had also made a sudden visit to the market, on a visit to the Valley in September, 2011. The Dal farmers and the vendors were surprised to see him amidst them. They used the opportunity to share their problems related to trade with Rahul Gandhi. “Rahul Ji patiently listened to us; he briefly stayed at the house of a farmer, and had Kashmiri Kahwa (green tea) too,” recalls Wani, who was also around when Rahul’s father and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had come visiting in 1984. Celebrities and dignitaries can be easily imagined to be humbled by the natural glamour of the Dal Lake, referred to as the ‘jewel in the crown of Kashmir’. Add that earthly touch lent by the quiet chaos of the floating market, and one can go Hami Asto all over again… Real[...]



Chavez manipulates state resources shrewdly to get reelected; a review

Wed, 20 Mar 2013 11:28:00 +0000

After the victory of Hollande in France this year and with the rise of Putin in Russia, all eyes have turned to the US Presidential election due in November. However, for Latin America, it was the election in Venezuela that made news. On Sunday, October 7, Hugo Chavez was expectably reelected, defeating Henrique Capriles by nearly 1.3 million votes (a 11 per cent lead with 90 per cent votes counted) and has in the process gained another six years to press forward his crusade for socialism in Latin America. This was Chavez’s toughest electoral battle since taking over office in 1999. Interestingly, early exit polls indicated that odds were in Capriles’ favour with a commanding 51-48 per cent lead. This is bound to raise suspicions over the fairness of the elections. The secretary-general of Capriles’ coalition portrayed it as “free, but not fair” elections. Well, he might not be too far off the mark. Chavez’s control over state resources and state media has deprived all opposition parties of a level playing field. Consider this: while Chavez could broadcast his speeches in all television channels for hours, for Capriles, the allowance was just three minutes per day! Although Chavez is often criticised for not being able to rein in high crime rates, consolidating too much power and crushing the private sector, he has been able to reduce the level of poverty by spreading the nation’s oil wealth to the poor with public housing, healthcare and various other social programmes aimed at uplifting the poor. However, his reduced margin of victory as compared to previous elections, may prompt changes in government policies, particularly with regard to public security. Moreover, after heavy spending in the election campaign, the nation actually faces a growing pressure to devalue its currency. At the same time, Chavez’s victory means that PDVSA (Venezuela’s state oil company) will remain highly politicised and will continue to supply oil to socialist allies like Cuba, Belarus, Iran and Syria at discounted rates. In the past, Chavez has taken election wins as opportunities to bring in radical reforms; this time too we can expect reforms in the food, healthcare and banking sectors. Interestingly, China has become a key source of funding for Venezuela with loans totalling $32 billion over the last few years; in return, Venezuela is sending 430,000 bpd of crude oil to China. Chavez aims to further boost these exports to one million bpd. However, diplomatic relations with Washington would continue to be sour. Hugo Chavez continues to be the flag bearer of ‘anti-imperialism’ and his regime is still marked with strong anti-American rhetoric. In consequence, he is likely to continue befriending the likes of Iran and Syria. And, if Romney wins in US in November, expect their diplomatic relations to deteriorate further. Read also:  IIPM Reviews, IIPM Review Ranking/Rankings Across India, IIPM Faculty's Review on Thoughts and Courage, IIPM: The B-School with a Human Face and Zee Business Best B-School Survey 2012 - IIPM ranks 1st    [...]



Labelling welfare schemes with the "Garib" title is an ignominious act

Mon, 18 Mar 2013 11:10:00 +0000

Our political parties, which have a reputation of being fierce advocates for the poor people have some phony means in their vault to connect to them – branding them as garib! Political machines are stepped up to address the poor in an attempt for an instant connection with them using the catchword. The launching of schemes and programmes for the poor, more often than not, carries the tag of garib that the policy makers think that they will successfully keep the beneficiaries in their pocket.

One of the most bizarre forms of identifying the poor is designed at Dabhiya village of Khandwa district in Madhya Pradesh, where the walls of the BPL families houses are painted with clear word – Main Garib Hoon (I am poor)! This has drawn stark criticism not only from families but also from activists and rights groups. The BPL families are seeing this calling a spade a spade by panchayats as stoking class wars and stirring humiliation. Another programme, Kanshiram Shahri Garib Awas Yojna – a housing scheme for the poor that came to an abrupt end with the change of guard. The programme had promised housing (corruption and ad hoc implementation notwithstanding) that was strengthened by 1 lakh beneficiaries in the first phase, followed by construction of 42,000 houses in the second and a targeted 42,484 house construction across 62 districts in Uttar Pradesh in the third phase. This programme was launched by the Mayawati government – and was scrapped by Akhilesh Yadav after the state election victory. Mayawati introduced another scheme called Mahamaya Garib Balika Ashirwad Yojana. Narendra Modi has also tried to cast a deep reflection of loyalty from the deprived section by introducing Garib Kalyan Melas with a commitment to build 16 lakh houses, which he claims has already been implemented. In a scathing attack on Congress, he asserted that while Congress for the past 40 years boondoggled with welfare schemes in Gujarat, he raced with the pro-poor schemes that benefited the deprived. And of course, why should we forget to mention the quintessential Garib Rath train introduced in 2005 by the then Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav. The train was ostensibly introduced to provide air conditioned and elitist train travel to the 'garib' in the society.

Time and again our profligate politicians have used the reprobate catchphrase of garib to secure their loyalty showing few qualms about using it purely for political aims. But really, wasn't the adminstration supposed to ensure that rather than accepting poverty as a part of normal society and even brand positioning, the same should be wiped out? So what should we expect next? A day when poor people are advised to tattoo the garib nomenclature on their bodies as fashion statements?




An interview of Enrique Iglesias from The Sunday Indian!

Thu, 14 Mar 2013 11:06:00 +0000

Eight years after his last tour in India, Enrique Iglesias is back! As the Micromax Enrique Iglesias Tour with UTV Bindass prepares to explode with rhythms divine later this month, here’s a little prelude… Enrique IglesiasWhat can we expect from a live Enrique Iglesias tour this time around?I am very excited to come to India again. Fans can definitely expect a lot of surprises and some great new production. I cannot give away any more information than that! You'll just have to come and see for yourself! This will be the second time that you will be performing in India. What are you looking forward to the most?I've been looking forward to this trip for years; I’ve been trying to come back for a while, and was only waiting for the right opportunity. Besides the show, I'm looking forward to the fans who are so amazing and enthusiastic, as well as the great food. Who are your musical influences?There are so many – I love Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Juan Luis Guerra, Billy Joel and Dire Straits. But the list is too long to name them all. I have 14,000 songs on my iPod. It’s too much. I’m going nuts going through it. I gotta start skimming it down. What is the last song you played on your iPod?Let me see… it was “Cooler than Me” (Mike Posner). I got anything from Juan Luis Guerra, Lionel Richie, to Kings of Leon and Hombres G. I can name a lot of people you wouldn’t know. Which concert of yours has been the most memorable one?There have been so many that it's hard for me to single out any one in particular. I can say that I love playing at Madison Square Garden and at Radio City Music Hall in NYC. There is just so much history there. Considering that you'll be in India for a few days, is there any place in particular you'd like to visit, or things you'd want to take back as souvenirs?I won't really have any time for sightseeing. The only ‘souvenir’ I care about is just knowing that the show went great and everyone left happy. You were offered to judge American Idol and you passed it on. Was there any specific reason for it? Do you not believe in reality shows?If the time was right, I would definitely have been honoured. I am a big fan of American Idol. You have also done stints in movies like Once Upon A Time In Mexico, and have had special appearances on shows like How I Met Your Mother and Two and a Half Men. Would you ever consider taking up acting seriously?I am always open to all opportunities. Acting is a talent I respect very much, and am envious of those with such talents. I would definitely be open to give it a shot. Can you tell us a little bit about your last album, Euphoria?Euphoria was an amazing run for me. The world tour was ‘epic’ in a sense from my end, and I hope my fans enjoyed the shows as much as I did. I was also fortunate enough to collaborate with some amazing artists such as Pitbull, Juan Luis Guerra, Wisin and Yandel, Nicole Scherzinger, Lil Wayne, Lionel Richie, and others. It was a truly incredible experience. How was it working with artists like Lionel Richie, Pitbull and others?Oh it was super fun! I’ve worked with Lionel in the past as well. As for working with Pitbull, Pitbull and I grew up in the same town. We have a bunch of friends in common and his energy is off the roof. He’s like a freakin’ Energiser Bunny. He doesn’t stop! What’s in the pipeline? Will we be seeing something new in the near future?I'm currently in the studio recording. Fans can definitely expect a new album in 2013.Read also:  IIPM Reviews, IIPM Review Ranking/Rankings Across India, IIPM Faculty's Review on Thoughts and Courage, IIPM: The B-School with a Human Face and Zee Business Best B-School Survey 2012 - IIPM ranks 1st   [...]



The survival strategy

Mon, 11 Mar 2013 10:08:00 +0000

Down and out for quite sometime now, the Indian equity broker community is again trying to hit the deck as bulls are in command for the last couple of weeks. But with investors being highly risk averse, the question remains, how will these brokers manage to find the mass that they need to survive? mona mehta tries to find out... Unlike the period between 2004 and 2007, when the country's stock market was witnessing a massive boom and, any and everyone was more than ready to put every single penny of their savings in the stock market; investors are more defensive and risk averse now. Going by the trend witnessed over the past couple of years, investors seem more interested in instruments like insurance and fixed deposits than mutual funds, let alone equity investment. That certainly has threatened the bread and butter of many of the equity broking firms which mushroomed during the boom period. Survival is their basic problem now. Though the recent bullish market has created some hope, participation of huge number of investors is still a distant dream. Questions remain: What is the way out? What are the strategic moves that can help these firms stay afloat? Answers, B Gopkumar, Head of Broking, Kotak Securities, “Broking is a cyclical business and the challenges in a bear market are many, the biggest one being to ensure that clients do not erode value of their portfolio." In order to live up to the task, his firm is now running programs to sharpen skills of their research team, dealers and the advisory board to steer the customer smoothly through a bearish market. He reveals, “In order to overcome challenges, we are focused on improving our research advisory and technology so it becomes easier for people to interact with us". This certainly is an essential requirement to boost confidence of existing customers as they are very selective and expect a good return on every penny invested. In the meantime, some broking firms have moved on to a different level. They are busy conducting investor-education programs all over the country to educate investors on how to trade in volatile markets. The long term vision of course is to keep investors associated with the firm throughout the bad phase. However, the most prominent approach followed by broking firms at this point of time is diversification of product offerings. Broking firms, which were dealing with only stocks once, are now trying their hands with a number of other investment instruments ranging from currencies to commodities to bullions and real estate. More or less all firms who were dealing with "equity only", are now forced to offer multiple products from their stable. Take CARE Ratings for example. As informed by DR Dogra, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, CARE Ratings, informs, “The firm is now following the policy of diversifying our product mix to counter swings in the business cycle. In today’s environment where investment is low and debt markets are static, we have been developing and expanding our reach in other segments such as small and medium enterprises (SME) rating as well as various grading products such as those in real estate, education, equity markets and so on.” Pick up any broking firm and the approach is more or less the same currently. But what about those, who decide not to diversify and continue in their domain of expertise – stocks? Well, experts believe that they would have to relate more to their clients and properly guide them through these times and enable them to take informed decisions. They have to get closer to the customer so as to build trust and have to work that much harder. Most importantly, if the broking firm is advising, they must ensure that the advice is perfect and will deliver results up front. They have to necessarily show the right direction in these challenging times. If they fail, investors will show them the[...]



Struck with Alzheimer's and living a catatonic existence, George Fernandes is a pale shadow of his fiery best. Ranjit Bhushan looks at the controversies that continue to dog the veteran Socialist in the twilight of his political career...

Thu, 07 Mar 2013 10:05:00 +0000

In a quiet house in south Delhi's Panchsheel Enclave, aptly christened Shanti Nivas, a piece of modern India lives on. The nameplate at Shanti Nivas merely announces 'Leila Fernandes'. In the portico, a stationary mid-size steel gray Volkswagengives no indication of its owner, nor his hallowed background, which three decades or so ago, had rocked a smug Congress establishment like few things till then. At closer scrutiny, it is the living abode of George Fernandes, former Union minister, rebel, maverick, a drop out, survivor, call it you may. Typically of the man, there is no ostentation or guards on duty outside the residence – not different from his tenure in two NDA governments between 1998 to 2004 when he became the first and only Union Defence Minister ever not to deploy official security at his official residence on central Delhi's Krishna Menon Marg. By not doing so, he had paid a price. In2001, investigative journalists from Tehelka portal used this lacunae to slip into his official residence and meet Jaya Jaitly, Samata Party head and his close aide. It was no ordinary meeting. Setting up a bogus London-based company selling thermal binoculars, the portal claimed to have filmed Jaitly and other leading lights, as being part of the deal making. In the outcry, George quit, although he was not accused of taking a bribe. Sadly for the veteran Socialist though, the Jaitly saga continues to dog him. Back in the 1960s, when he galvanised Mumbai's trade unions and took on the might of Congress strongman SK Patil, no one gave him a chance. Yet he had come out fighting and carved out a niche in Mumbai's politics till then dominated by Congress and its Maratha satraps. Since then, it has been a roller coaster ride for a man who can legitimately be placed in a select list of politicians who are truly pan-Indian. Born in Mangalore, employed in Mumbai, winning successive elections in Bihar and presiding over policy as Cabinet minister, George Fernandes or Gerry to his close circle, was always far removed from the straitjacketed andparochial Indian politician who rarely ventures out of his state. In the caste-ridden Bihar politics of the 1970s, when the vote bank arithmetic centered around intensely local equations, the entry of George Fernandes, a south Indian Christian, on the state's scene was like a wisp of fresh air. Cutting across barriers, he registered a record breaking victory margin of 4.25 lakhs from the Muzaffarpur Lok Sabha constituency in the 1977 post-Emergency General Elections. The road leading up to that victory was no less dramatic. As a principal accused in the Baroda dynamite case, the picture of a bespectacled, curly haired man in chains, captured the imagination of an entireelectorate and became the symbol ofdefiance to Indira Gandhi's authoritarian ways and global news networks flashed it as their lead photo. After then, it became a question of cashing in on an anti-Congress sentiment and no one knew how to do it better than George. Says Dr Harendra Kumar, his close friend from Muzaffarpur, "Nitish Kumar is a product of the George Fernandes school. It goes to the latter's credit that he goaded Nitish and his Samata Party into an alliance with the BJP ending years of Laloo raj in the state." No surprise then that the Bihar Chief Minister's backyard Nalanda, became George's next stop after Muzaffarpur. He won the Nalanda seat twice, 1996 and 1998. Later came the fall out with Nitish but before the controversy could snow ball, the wily Bihar Chief Minister quickly nominated him to the Rajya Sabha. As Union Minister in the Morarji Desai government, George raised a storm when he banned Coca Cola, in an act of defiance to multinational companies. The littlebackground to this ban is interesting. According to Harendra Kumar, when George after his historic first win came t[...]



The resignation of NCP’s Ajit Pawar as Maharashtra deputy CM has helped him and his powerful uncle derive more political mileage than their opponents could have bargained for, reports Chandran Iyer

Mon, 04 Mar 2013 09:58:00 +0000

The bombshell that Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar dropped recently by stepping down as Maharashtra deputy chief minister was, on hindsight, a smart move. Not only did the surprise political salvo fox everyone, it also helped him derive more mileage than anyone had bargained for. The resignation drama did set tongues wagging about the stability of the Congress-NCP alliance in the state as well as about a possible rift between Ajit and his uncle, NCP strongman and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar. But eventually the move only appeared to strengthen the hands of the two Pawars. The Pawars’ political opponents, of course, were quick to impute ulterior motives to the move. Devendra Fadnavis, BJP MLA, says that “the resignation drama enacted by Ajit Pawar was only a ploy to refurbish his tainted image and bounce back after getting a clean chit in the form of a White Paper”. He adds: “Ajit Pawar knows very well that a White Paper hardly ever indicts any minister. It makes convenient scapegoats of some junior officials.” Fadnavis is right and the eventuality that he alludes to could not have been very far from the former Maharashtra deputy CM’s mind. While, with a single stroke of a resignation, Ajit Pawar made it amply clear to Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan that he commands considerable support within his party and still has his sights firmly on the Mantralaya hot seat, the senior Pawar found a handy bargaining chip for use at the Centre, where he is an ally of the ruling UPA with only nine Members of Parliament. The initial analysis by political observers was that Pawar’s nephew was planning to do to the Union minister what Raj Thackeray had done to his uncle, Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray, by breaking away from him and floating his own political outfit, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. Raj had rebelled against his uncle because the latter had given more powers to his son, Uddhav. In Ajit’s case, it was said that he had taken a belligerent stand because he felt that the senior Pawar was promoting his daughter, Supriya Sule, at his nephew’s expense. Moreover, it was suggested that Ajit was also peeved because Sharad Pawar was being soft on the Maharashtra CM, who was systematically undermining NCP’s hold on the cooperative banking system in the state. The Shiv Sena had been split wide open. But nothing of that sort happened in NCP. Both Ajit Pawar and his uncle vehemently denied the rumours of a rift. However, the stability of the Maharashtra coalition government did come under a cloud for a while. Congress and NCP have been allies in Maharashtra for 13 years. Ajit Pawar’s resignation from all ministerial posts, including the finance ministry, followed persistent reports of his alleged involvement in a Rs 20,000-crore scam that occurred when he held the irrigation portfolio between 1999 and 2009. The reports brought into focus the role of powerful, politically connected contractors who used their links to corner irrigation projects and make huge amounts of money without carrying out the requisite construction work. As a result, the quantum of irrigated land in Maharashtra increased by only 0.1 per cent in the last ten years. The Ajit Pawar resignation rattled the foundation of the NCP and Congress alliance in Maharashtra which was already creaking because of the tussle between Ajit Pawar and the Chavan, who do not see eye to eye on several issues. Ajit was seeking to deliver a double blow, one aimed at Chavan, who has been choking his cooperative banks and the other at his own uncle. He wanted to convey to the latter that he was now big enough to grow his own wings and fly the coop if he was not given his due in the party. It is an open secret in the corridors of power in Maharashtra that Ajit has a single-point[...]



The once-stable ground beneath Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s feet seems to be slipping as public anger at the failings of his government mounts, reports Sanjay Upadhyay

Tue, 26 Feb 2013 09:56:00 +0000

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has developed a fear of the colour black and certainly not without reason. At several recent public events held as part of his ongoing Adhikar Yatra, he has been greeted by incensed protesters waving flags of that dark shade. The Janata Dal (United) leader has now reportedly barred people who so much as sport black shirts from venturing anywhere near his rallies. Clearly, he is not in a particularly bright mood at the moment. As popular disaffection against him spreads, Nitish is at the receiving end of inimical political moves not only from his opponents but also his long-time ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP leadership in Bihar has sought to distance itself from the failings of the state government that have sparked public anger even in districts where the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has the political upper hand. BJP state president CP Thakur has indicated that his party is preparing to contest all the 40 parliamentary seats in Bihar in 2014, triggering speculation about a split. Bihar Health Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey has asserted that the growing public disillusionment is specifically with the CM's functioning, not with the BJP. The CM’s Adhikar Yatra kicked off on September 24 from Betiah in West Champaran district. Once a Congress stronghold, the district is now with NDA. All the 13 Assembly seats and three Lok Sabha seats here are in NDA’s kitty. Nitish is known to be very popular among the masses of Champaran. It is from Champaran that the JD(U) leader built his political fortunes when he broke away from the Rashtriya Janata Dal to form the Samata Party. It was due to his sustained pressure on the government in Delhi that a central university was established in Motihari. But to his dismay, on the second day of the Adhikar Yatra, Nitish was greeted in Champaran by an angry mob shouting slogans and brandishing slippers at him. A flustered CM beat a hasty retreat only to face a somewhat similar situation in Madhubani, regarded as the hub of the politically conscious Mithilanchal. The protesters in Madhubani were contractual teachers, who shouted slogans demanding salary parity with regular government teachers. The usually cool Nitish lost his patience and warned the agitated teachers of dire consequences if they did not desist from their protest. Like Champaran, Madhubani was a Congress bastion until the Nitish magic weaned it away. Of the ten Assembly seats here, seven are with NDA, while the sole parliamentary constituency is represented by the BJP. Ominously for Nitish, the anger of the masses is beginning to acquire explosive proportions. His convoy was attacked in the Buxar district in May by stone-pelting protesters. The mob was agitated over erratic water and electricity supply in the area. During his yatra, an irate mob in Khagaria shouted slogans against him and sought to stop his convoy. A local JD(U) worker Ranveer Yadav was seen snatching an automatic rifle from a policeman and firing in the air to disperse the protesters. The notorious Ranveer was a lieutenant of Lalu Prasad Yadav during RJD rule. He subsequently switched allegiance to the JD(U). During the Khagaria ruckus, the policemen on the spot were mere spectators. The laxity of the CM’s security has come in for sharp criticism from many political quarters in Bihar. Criticising the conduct of Ranveer, RJD’s Abdul Bari Siddiqui, Leader of the Opposition in the Bihar Assembly, says: “If Nitish has so much faith in his lumpen worker, then he should be made the director-general of police.” He echoes state BJP president CP Thakur when he says: “The public anger is against the state government, not the saffron party.” Siddiqui has asked the CM to explain “whether the failure of his government wa[...]



The bold decisions on economic policy reflect the growing clout of the Congress Core Committee, reports Pramod Kumar

Wed, 20 Feb 2013 09:46:00 +0000

The Congress, on the defensive over a spate of scandals, has suddenly got second wind. Ostensibly to boost the economy, the UPA is in the process of initiating a series of radical measures: the prime minister does not want to go down in history as a weak leader and what better way to demonstrate his strength than preside over the execution of economic reforms Part 2? That Singh continues in office for a second term is a demonstration that the party is comfortable with him and his government's policies. The government is also persuading ministries that deal with social welfare issues tobegin programmes that benefit the 'last man standing' – at least in the run up to General Elections 2014. The party's good news comes from president Sonia Gandhi's health bulletin.After being cleared by doctors, she is now fully in command and according to party sources, raring to go. Sources say indication of it has come in the growing clout of the party's Core Committee and the declining importance of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), when it comes to taking important policy decisions. The power of the Core Committee flows from its attendees: Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Defence Minister AK Anthony, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Ahmed Patel, political aide to the Congress president and special invitees Rahul Gandhi and Ghulam Nabi Azad. It cannot get higher in the party and with an economist Prime Minister at the helm, the mood is to initiate reforms at a breakneck pace –as if to catch up on all that was left undone in the last three years or so. Party leaders say that in recent months the prime minister has not been in the best of spirits. The constant opposition attacks on him personally and the government have left him exhausted. The current Core Committee of the Congress, despite its heavyweight attendance, misses the presence of its heaviest member, Pranab Mukerjee, the party's most important trouble shooter. The prime minister, along with others, miss his experience and sage advice, mostly on how best to deal with a noisy opposition. Pranab, as the man who presided over most high-level committees of the government, was eminently suited to tackle thorny issues. "His advice (when he was here) to the prime minister was to ignore the opposition and continue to do good work," says a Core Committee member. In his absence, the Committee which meets every Thursday, now has a carefully calibrated agenda in which agenda papers, in the manner of a Union Cabinet meeting, are circulated before the meeting begins. Sonia's instructions are categorical: all those who attend should be well briefed on the agenda. Hence, say observers, the last four Core Committee meetings have seen key decisions: FDI in retail, discussions on Coalgate and hikes in petroleum and railway prices. According to a member who attended, the discussions have been quite detailed. For instance, in the case of FDI in Retail, the political fallout of introducing it was discussed threadbare before the actual announcement. The committee mulled over all aspects, from the reaction of opposition parties to what its allies may do. In the end, they decided to take a calculated risk and it appears to have worked. The party's calculation is indeed the right mix of pragmatism and opportunism. The way Congress sees it, in a bad scenario, the FDI bills would be defeated in the Rajya Sabha in the winter session of the Parliament. Worse, if the bills are defeated in the Lok Sabha and the government falls, it would continue to remain a care taker government, which would then seek to introduce provisions with the help of special ordnances. Both Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram believe that the rupee has to be strengthened and if that means taking harsh[...]



Jaya Jaitly has been one of George Fernandes's closest aides for many years.

Tue, 12 Feb 2013 09:39:00 +0000

She has been with him through thick and thin, but just when he needs her the most, she was denied access to meet him when his estranged wife Laila Fernandes took him under her care. The Supreme Court later allowed Jaya to meet him once in a fortnight for 15 minutes. In this exclusive and wide ranging interview, she bares her heart out to Onkareshwar Pandey, the trials and tribulations and her attempts to 'rescue' George from his comatose existence.  What has the Delhi High Court said about your plea to meet George when he is so ill?The High Court ruled that sentiments and politics have no legal relationship. This is strange because not everything is legal. The other point is more important. Emotional relationships are not ignored by law. That is why I have appealed to the Supreme Court and notices have been issued to Mrs George Fernandes and finally the Supreme Court allowed me to meet George Saheb once in a fortnight for 15 minutes. SC decision which came in your favour was based on the UN Convention. What does it say?India is a signatory to the UN Convention on Human Rights. According to this law, if a person is unable to put forward his point of view for whatever reason, then a professional person can come to his help so that his exact views can be ascertained. Even if this does not work, what he had said earlier becomes applicable. George saheb has written many letters to me saying that he always improves under my care, that I provide courage and strength to him. When he was hit by Alzheimer's, he was looking towards me as a child would towards his mother to alleviate his difficulties. How old are these letters?They are very old letters. I was sitting with him just an hour before his family returned. A party worker from Muzaffarpur was also there. When I started to leave, George saheb stopped me but I said tomorrow is Sunday and I will spend the whole day with you. How many times did George's wife come to see him?Hardly ever for the last 15 years. He visited her on her birthday. George saheb's son Sushanto (he now calls himself by Amer, the penname of Sean Sawn) was married about 10 years ago to a Japanese girl in Tokyo. Then both he and his wife had gone to the wedding even though they travelled separately. She never came to meet George saheb, it was usually the other way round. When he fell ill, she came with a photograph of his grandson. In other words, George and his wife were separated?Absolutely, even though it was not legal. How did George react to the meetings?George saheb is a gentleman. But there are occasions when he got angry. Seeing Leila's attitude, he felt that the only thing she is interested in is his wealth. George saheb says she is only interested in money. For example, he told me that Leila keeps on asking him what he was leaving for his grandson. Why did George and Leila separate?George saheb was very busy, he never had a private life. Except politics, struggle and agitation. He would barely spend two hours at home. This lifestyle did not suit Leila and she left him. She used to live abroad for most of the time and in Panchsheel Enclave when she was in Delhi. But even while in Delhi, she never once came to meet him. When she needed anything, she used to call up. Today, Leila does not let anyone meet George. Is this a fight for property or legacy?George saheb has no money. He and his brothers had a 22-acre land given by his mother which he wanted to sell and donate proceeds to hospitals and social service organisations. This land is now valued at something like Rs 11 crore. The signing authority for his routine transactions, not land matters, lay with me and an associate of his from Mumbai, but Leila wanted to lay her hands on this money because she thou[...]



Veteran journalist and activist Ram Bahadur Rai has had a ring side view of contemporary Indian politics.

Mon, 04 Feb 2013 09:02:00 +0000

In this exclusive insider account, he talks about how governments came into being in the corridors of power, from Morarji Desai to Atal Behari Vajpayee In fact, Janata Party had fought the post-Emergency elections on the slogan of restoring democracy. Indira Gandhi was a symbol of dictatorship and her son Sanjay Gandhi had become an eyesore for the people of India. Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan, who was the most popular leader among the masses, played a pivotal role during the elections. Second in line was J B Kripalani. Everyone knew that neither did not care for prime ministership. In fact, the agitation was ideological and not personality based. It was not easy to decide the top post as Jagjivan Ram enjoyed the confidence of the Jan Sangh. The Jan Sangh believed that only he could complete a full tenure. But the Dalit leader could not succeed because as a cabinet colleague of Indira Gandhi, he had supported the decision to impose Emergency. Since mass opinion and Janata Party workers favoured Morarji Desai, he became the prime minister. Indira Gandhi came back to power in 1980. It was clear that after the election, she would be sworn in as prime minister as the polls had been fought in her name. In fact, since 1971, there was no one in the Congress coterie for the top job except Indira herself. She was assassinated on October 31, 1984. Rajiv Gandhi was not in Delhi that time and President Zail Singh was on a tour. Both of them rushed back. Rajiv Gandhi reached the Rashtrapati Bhawan where he was sworn in as the Prime Minister. There were no formalities by the Congress Parliamentary Board for proposing Rajiv's name and everything worked as it would in a dynastic succession. After the 1989 elections, VP Singh, as symbol of the Bofors' anti-corruption campaign, was the natural leader. Both the BJP and Left Front accepted his leadership and joined their efforts to oust the ruling Congress. Political parties of two opposite poles extended their support from outside. But the selection of VP Singh to the top post was a tricky affair. In the years to come, Singh told me he was unaware of the episode. That might be true because I was present in the Central Hall at that time. Though only MPs were allowed to enter Parliament, I could make it in with my kurta-pyjama that day. The security, luckily for me, took me to be another MP. Madhu Dandavate played the election officer. VP Singh proposed Devi Lal as the leader and Chandrashekhar supported the proposal. Devi Lal was elected leader. In the mean time, the Haryana patriach took off his turban and put it on VP Singh's head. Now, it was clear that the selection had been preplanned. As the election procedure concluded, Chandrashekhar stormed out saying he had been betrayed and it would have been better to adopt the fair procedure of selecting a leader. Later, Chandrashekhar did become Prime Minister but his route to reach there was the same taken by Charan Singh. The only difference between them was that Charan Singh could not face the Parliament as PM while Chandrashekhar’s roar on the floor of the house finished his government. Living in Hyderabad, PV Narsimha Rao was secluded from active politics and lived a semi-retired life. Suddenly and out of the blue, he was summoned. Some veteran Congress leaders like Sitaram Kesri addressed his first press conference. The Congress Working Committee (CWC) elected him president of the party before a formal claim was made before the Rashtrapati. The president invited Rao to form the government; indeed it was his sheer luck and good fortune that took him to the top post. In 1996, the BJP emerged as the largest party in the Lok Sabha. President Shankar Dayal Sharma invited Atal Bihari Vajpayee[...]



For victory, both Rahul and Modi need an image makeover, if not an attitudinal change

Mon, 28 Jan 2013 08:53:00 +0000

IIPM: What is E-PAT?  With the general elections almost two years away speculation is rife. The favourite question doing the rounds is whether the Congress led by Rahul Gandhi will be able to defeat a NDA alliance led by Narendra Modi? There are many ifs and buts. A major blow for Modi was the recent conviction of his minister Maya Kodnani in the 2002 Gujarat riots. Modi’s claim that no evidence had been found of the Sangh Parivar’s involvement in the anti-Muslim riots has been severely dented. Rahul has a different set of problems, particularly economic. Inflation has risen steadily and the recent hike in petrol, diesel, and LPG products together with the widely controversial Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail trade may create a difficult situation for the Congress in time for the general elections. Rahul’s problems are not just the Opposition (NDA) but also his own allies. Mulayam Singh Yadav is obviously trying all sorts of political combinations. As he put it, he is not a saint and has a legitimate right to be the prime minister. Rahul’s electioneering has been sporadic. There has been no sustained campaign by him for a long period excluding those for the UP elections in which the Congress was trounced. The problem with the Congress is that it is largely a collection of coteries, caste groups and dynasties. Its organisational structure is loose. On the other hand, the Sangh parivar has the solid bedrock of the RSS at its core together with the VHP, BMS, ABVP and other fronts. However, the famous wave factor may come into account. But one can speculate on that only much closer to the elections. Modi has serious organisational problems. Many of his senior party colleagues disapprove of his attitude and consider him brash and temperamental. For example: he talks of his contribution to Gujarat’s growth. But he does not refer adequately to his predecessors like Chimanbhai Patel. Not to speak of the major contribution by Madhavsinh Solanki to the development of the state. Amongst older Sangh activists this must rankle. The massacre in Gujarat 2002 has still polarised the state. By and large, the secular vote, including the Muslims, will be stridently against Modi in the next elections in Gujarat. But the moot point is how the events in Gujarat will affect other constituencies in the country where the NDA will try and project a more neutral and much less communal image. The real problem for Modi would therefore depend on the decision of the RSS on whether he will be anointed the prime ministerial candidate or not. In some senses, Modi has been his own worst enemy. A false poster showing him together with Nitish Kumar enraged the latter and he demanded the withdrawal of the poster, which was duly done. These are the kind of antics that get Modi into trouble. But there is another deeper problem that Modi will have to face. In a country where minorities are more than 20 per cent, Modi will have to refashion his image into that of a more secular, tolerant and open-minded politician. In a general election, the yet unexplained burning of the Sabarmati Express and the new questions raised by the recent court verdict which went against the Sangh Parivar, including the conviction of ministers like Maya Kodnani, is a potentially dangerous blow. If some more of these verdicts are arrived at it will be very difficult for Modi to do a makeover of his political image. Rahul in contrast has a much cleaner image and has much less to answer for. His main problem is the lack of a sustained campaign well before the elections when economic decisions have tarnished the Congress image. There is no indication of any galvanising by the [...]



On World Tourism Day, Angshuman Paul reminisces on a trip to the queen of hill stations, Darjeeling, where every view is worth toasting, With tea, of course...

Sat, 19 Jan 2013 08:50:00 +0000

It was a dripping-fresh monsoon afternoon when we reached the pristine town of Darjeeling, and we set about to explore this evergreen fantasy of a hill-town that is possibly still convalescing from political unrest but manages to remain an elegant enough destination to deserve the befitting ‘Queen of hill stations’ title. Our first stopover was the delightful Gymkhana Club, and as evenings turn up quite early at any hill town, we quickly made our way to the epicentre of Darjeeling – the Mall Road, which as it turns out is a fantastic and fun location for watching the perfect sunset. The thoroughly tree shaded street is a stroller’s and jogger’s delight, offering panoramic views of the luscious mountain slopes all around. Then there’s this new crop of tea cafes, as yet another manifestation of Darjeeling’s tea tourism initiatives. “The zest of Darjeeling lies in tea and many tea-cafés have come up in this city recently. This is adding to the beauty of this town; the confluence of tea and tourism is making Darjeeling more charming,” feels Deep Kalra, Founder and CEO of MakeMyTrip (India) Pvt Ltd. Be it in the time-tested Glenary’s Bakery or the many contemporary ‘tea junctions’ that have sprouted everywhere, you obviously cannot not taste tea when in Darjeeling. Exotic flora and fauna await you in the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, most notably the red pandas and the snow leopards, apart from access to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. The final resting place of Tenzing Norgay, this training centre and museum celebrates the first ascent of the Everest accomplished by Norgay and Edmund Hillary, and is a treasure trove of mountaineering equipment, souvenirs and information. A true blue climbers’ galaxy, if you will. A tour of the picture-perfect tea-gardens on the second day of our itinerary was up next. We chose Makaibari specifically for being the oldest of all Indian tea-gardens in northern India; it has been in continuous operation since 1859. Makaibari makes use of holistic practices that include Steiner’s bio-dynamics (a technique used in tea-cultivation ensuring optimum and sustainable utilisation of all natural resources) and a unique six-tiered permaculture, which has helped develop the habitat for an astonishing three hundred species of birds. “We offer hospitality to European tourists who have recently started visiting Darejeeling again looking to explore the environment of a tea-estate. The holistic synergy of tea-gardens in India is exclusively felt in Darjeeling,” claims Rajah Banerjee, the owner of Makaibari Tea Estates. Not a hollow boast that, as Darjeeling tea gardens are the only gardens in Asia which are known to have inspired 800 million marginalised farmers to become grassroot entrepreneurs. Below the serene surface of this quaint Himalayan city are political fault lines that have flared up once in a while, leading to an enormous drop in footfalls. The clamour for autonomy by the local Gurkha community ushered some very dark days between 2007 and 2009, but hopefully the gorgeous town will survive it all including the looming urbanisation, and tourism-related overcrowding and sanitation issues. A heartening aspect of the tea industry, we learn at Makaibari, is that the premium earned through fair trade tea sales contributes to the welfare and development of the community. To accommodate the constant flow of visitors to Makaibari, there are now homestay options too, made available by local folks. “Tea tourism and eco-tourism would be the next big attraction in Darjeeling and we are a pioneer in this. The whole world knows Darjeeling as a tea-destinatio[...]



Laws with respect to dual citizenship must be more straightforward

Fri, 11 Jan 2013 08:47:00 +0000

Time and again, the debate over possessing dual citizenship has come to the fore across the globe. The debate has once again resurfaced as the Pakistani Supreme Court has debarred 12 federal and provincial lawmakers, including Interior Minister Rehman Malik, on September 20, 2012, for breaching provisions of the Constitution by holding dual nationality. The primary concern for those who oppose dual citizenship is how can an individual be really loyal to two different nations at the same time, especially if one is politically associated or working for the government in one of the nations? On the one hand, there are countries like China, India, Philippines, Germany, to name a few, which completely forbid dual nationality, on the other hand, countries like Canada, Israel, United Kingdom, United States and Australia allow dual citizenship. However, the process of issuing dual citizenship has not gone through a smooth transition. Dual citizenship was regarded as an 'evil' just like statelessness till 1960s. Then, the concept of dual citizenship became acceptable by several nations due to numerous reasons like enhancement of multicultural toleration, strict regulations against gender discrimination, development of international relations under global peace and changing perceptions of state interests in migration. As per media reports, 573,324 dual citizenships were issued in 91 countries by the end of March, 2010. Somehow, it has come under the scanner in the light of an alarming rise of terrorist activities. However, the Pakistani Supreme Court's verdict is not the first of its kind. In fact, dual citizenship remains a hotly contested issue in several Caribbean nations, such as Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada and Guyana. The debate over allowing dual citizens to participate in general election has intensified ahead of Jamaica’s each and every electoral poll since 2007. Even in the Netherlands, dual nationality has become a hot issue in politics after the assassination of Pim Fortuyn just nine days before the general election of 2002. In this light, the dual citizenship law in countries like Pakistan, Jamaica and Netherlands should immediately be amended to either completely ban dual nationality, especially for politicians and government officials or adopt an approach in the lines of the US and UK. The country's sovereignty must be protected at any cost. A "my way or the highway" approach would not do any good in that aspect.Visit below mentioned IIPM articles.IIPM Mumbai CampusPlanman Technologies is Leaders in educational publishing solutionsManagement Guru Arindam Chaudhuri Dean Business School IIPMIIPM Mumbai Campus[...]



Our democracy has been kidnapped

Thu, 03 Jan 2013 08:45:00 +0000

His rumpled white shirt, soft demeanor and graying beard will defy the stereotype, but the last few months have seen SP UdayAkumar lead the adrenalin pumping life, straight out of an action thriller. Spearheading the anti-Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) agitation on the ground, he has gone from being a simple village school teacher to a rebel-on-the-run over the last four hundred days of the protest. He has hundreds of cases registered against him - including charges of sedition and waging a war against the nation. Tamil Nadu police believes that he has criminalised the protests and instigated people to violence. But it is these same people that are hiding Udayakumar these days deep inside their village and protecting him with their lives. A few days ago, Udayakumar even offered to surrender but was dramatically whisked away by his supporters at the last moment. Meanwhile, the government and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) are racing ahead with their plans and fuelling has begun in Unit-I of the project. Aditi Prasad speaks to SP Udayakumar on the future of the struggle. Edited excerpts: There is huge controversy over the volte face on your proposed surrender. Should you have surrendered?The reason why we decided to surrender was to protect our people from more police violence. On September 11, we heard that the police were spreading rumours about five officers being wounded. We were told that they will undertake door to door search. We knew how Kudankulam had been earlier ransacked by the police and were concerned that other villages would face similar trauma. We panicked and said we would surrender. But villagers reacted very emotionally to our decision. They said they will commit self-immolation if I surrender. That scared the hell out of me. By the time, some other leaders also called and asked us not to surrender. So we changed our decision. But now there is a non-bailable warrant against you.The warrant is an exercise to intimidate me. There are more than 30 people whose names were included in the FIR, but the court has summoned only me and my wife. And my wife has never even been a part of the struggle; she has never participated in any agitation. I was amazed that her name was included. I could not go for obvious reasons and I asked her to attend the court's proceedings, which she did. Our lawyers tried to present our case, but in vain. But loading of the uranium fuel rods was started in the first reactor a few days ago, despite your protests.The AERB gave the go ahead to fuel loading despite our protests. The central government is not talking to us. Obviously, they do not give a damn about us. They want to put the well-being of foreign countries and MNCs ahead of the well-being of Indian citizens. So what is your strategy now?I will take this fight to the finish but in a democratic manner. This is a non-violent protest. We are not armed. They have started fuelling despite our protests, and I am forced to say that our democracy has been kidnapped. If so many people in Tamil Nadu and Kerala are protesting, yet they are loading the fuel, then we do not matter anymore. MNCs and foreign countries matter more to our leaders, bureaucrats and nuclear scientists. What is your primary grouse against the Kudankulam power plant?This project is literally being pushed down the throat of people here. The government’s expert committee has declared the plant safe. But if the reactors are so safe, why is the Russian company not accepting the liability? Our government has agreed that if there is an accident we will pay from our own pockets – that is, p[...]



Given a free run, can the PM reproduce the 1991 magic?

Sat, 29 Dec 2012 07:18:00 +0000

"The last time we faced this problem was in 1991. Nobody was willing to lend us even small amounts of money then. We came out of that crisis by taking strong, resolute steps. One can see the positive results of those steps. We are not in that situation today but we must act before people lose confidence in our economy," said Manmohan Singh in his earnest effort to lift the anti-people label that the Congress has been stuck with recently. His emphatic claims of 1991 reforms' success is meant to drive home the point that he and his team will be able to recover India’s clout squandered by the recent slowdown. However, the economic scenario of 1991 is not even remotely similar to today. The foreign exchange reserves in June 1991 were below $ 1 billion, barely enough to sustain a couple of weeks of import, whereas today it has crossed $ 290 billion, enough to cover seven months of imports. The GDP growth in 1991-92 was barely 1.3 per cent; in stark contrast, last five years' growth trajectory stands at 7.95 per cent. The domestic savings have bettered from 20 per cent of GDP in 1991 to 31.6 per cent in 2011; and FDI flow, that had a modest figure of $ 500 million in 1991 has reached $ 42 billion today. In spite of two decades of rigorously implemented reforms, the economic state is not at all stable today mainly due to policy paralysis and truculent opposition and coalition partners, who often flex their muscles on reforms measures. The opposition and Trinamool Congress’ stand on liberalising retail, where a justified Manmohan Singh has asserted that in a growing economy there is economic space for everyone, is blatant populist politics. His effort to boldly state that money doesn’t grow in trees, as a justification to insulate the country from oil subsidies, has met with ridicule from NDA and TMC. It’s not that there was dearth of policy oppositions with the Narasimha Rao government, when reforms were announced in 1991, but opposition lines didn’t cause stalemate in the government functioning. The Left and the third front leaders staged protests against privatisation of public sector manufacturing units and labour reforms – but at least the allied parties gave tactic support. The economic condition that time was such that any party jeopardising those reforms would have taken the country to total disaster, while today it’s more of a constructive give-and-take realpolitik situation. Moreover, that time India was passing through an economic turmoil while today the entire world is engulfed into it. The economic downfall led to several protests even in the most advanced countries, from Occupy Wall Street in US to the anti-austerity drive in Southern Europe to Arab Spring in Middle East. If India's economy continues to tumble, India might even witness a similar mass uprising. Already, currency free fall, untamed inflation and plummeting industrial production are significant whiplashes faced by our economy. It is a litmus test that Manmohan Singh and Co must pass.Visit below mentioned IIPM articles.Planman Technologies is Leaders in educational publishing solutionsManagement Guru Arindam Chaudhuri Dean Business School IIPMIIPM Mumbai CampusIIPM - Admission Procedure[...]



The Maheshwar project is a telling account of why privatisation in power projects has not worked. Raju Kumar reports

Fri, 21 Dec 2012 07:15:00 +0000

Why is it that economic reforms have not worked in the power sector as they have in the others? The sordid answers to this complex question are best reflected in India's first private power project, pegged to generate 400 MW of power, which two decades down the line has been unable to produce even a flicker. The Maheshwar dam project on the Narmada river was billed as the life-saver for Madhya Pradesh which, at its peak was expected to generate 400 MW of power. As part of the many electricity projects in 1978, the Maheshwar Power Project was proposed under the aegis of the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA). The state government changed plans in 1989 and planned to construct it under the Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board but after economic reforms the project was handed over to private players. Since then, this ambitious scheme expected to be a trailblazer for private investment in the country's power sector, has been mired in a dreadful saga of mismanagement, financial irregularities, rehabilitation and assessment issues. The latest spanner in the wheels of activating this project is a decision by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to grudgingly allow a total of 154 meters of water storage capacity in the dam's reservoir. In the normal course of things, it would be considered good news, but environment activists would have us believe that at this height, hundreds of people would meet a watery end. The company in charge of building the project and the district administration, on the other hand, say that 154 metres is fine and that fears are unfounded and unsubstantiated. The confusion has been compounded because the technical expert Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has been quoted as saying that at this height, it would be impossible to generate even 40 MW of power! If that was not enough chaos and confusion, it is believed that if the height is raised to 154 metres, rehabilitation issues for those who are affected would take on drastically different proportions, compensation for which will necessarily have to come from the company. The project had been handed over to the rromoters of the company S Kumars in 1992 and it became the first private investment in India's power sector, weaving dreams of a superbly-lit India. S Kumars in turn set up a new company, Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation Ltd to execute the project. Privatisation in the power sector was based on the premise that private players would force a pace of execution which was unknown in government companies. However, that never happened. Foreign investors who had shown initial interest in the project backed off realising that it did not look a promising enough investment. Says Khargone District Collector Navneet Kothari, "The NGT has allowed that under the guidance of experts, 154 metres of water can be stored in the dam. A three-member committee will decide on the modalities of filling in the water after which we will begin work.'' Till date, no notification has been issued for setting up this expert committee. Alok Agrawal of the Narmada Bachao Andolan says the company and the district administration have furnished bogus surveys to the NGT in an effort to deliberately lessen the impact of rehabilitation. "On August 7, when the Maheswar Dam had about 154 metres of water, about 400 families in nearby villages were affected, submerging a lot of cultivable fields. A similar situation had arisen in August 2011 as well. No compensation or land has been paid to farmers affected by the project. It also goes against the Supreme Court order whic[...]



Madhur Bhandarkar's brand of slickly-packaged-realism cinema is one that is all his own.

Thu, 13 Dec 2012 07:13:00 +0000

Madhur BhandarkarIn a conversation with Pratishtha Malhotra, the director of Chandni Bar, Page 3, Fashion, and now Heroine, attributes much of his success to luck even as he admits to being sensitive to box office returns. Looking back, there were a lot of hurdles you faced in the course of making Heroine. Do you consider this to be one of the toughest films of your career?No, no... I think all’s well that ends well. The film is very essential for me. I am very happy with the way the movie has shaped up, very excited… What is the budget of the film like? What about promotions and marketing?The budget of the film is about 22-23 crores. Promotion and marketing is very important in today’s day and age. Marketing was estimated to be another 10 crore. We hope to get good price from the satellite, and we have also joined a lot of brands that Kareena endorses, so expecting at least 13-15 crores from there. We are safe that way. Which aspect of a heroine’s life intrigued you the most?I think a lot of aspects; there is not just one. The film is not about a single celebrity. It is about coping with people on a day to day basis – the love interest of their life, the media, the marketing people and the PR agencies. So there are a lot of things which they have to handle on a day to day basis. After Fashion, why the subject of Heroine?It was always there on my mind. I always wanted to make a film talking about the politics in today’s film industry. I did not want to make a film on a yesteryears actress or a period film. I wanted to make something contemporary. Between critical acclaim and box office success, what is it that you focus on when envisioning a film?The first and foremost priority is box office success. I am sitting and giving you this interview because my film is successful at the box office. Success is very essential for me. The film should work at the box office, and then critical acclaim will follow. The awards are definitely later on. But it cannot be a conscious decision. You cannot customise a film thinking that this will work well with the audience and this will work well with the critics and this will get a national award. No. A film is made with a lot of conviction and hard work. I have made different films, but I am lucky that I got both box office success and critical acclaim. It is very difficult to get all aspects right for any film maker. Do you feel your films have proven to be turning points in many an actor’s career?I do not know. I just work with my instincts. It has been almost 11 years for me in the industry. I am very happy with the kind of success, the kind of appreciation, the kind of box office successes, and the four national awards that I have received. I think it has been a great journey. I always make a film the way I want it. Did you have any trouble with the Censor Board over Heroine?No, I did not face any problems with the Censor Board at all with Heroine. There was an instance when they wanted to put a warning about cigarette smoking at the bottom of the screen, but we won the case at the Delhi High Court. The Censor Board liked the film. They did not cut even one single shot, nor did they mute any dialogues. There are some words used in the film which we thought would be muted or some scenes that we thought will be cut. But absolutely no changes were made. They did not touch a single frame! Congratulations! I think that the Censor Board has been very liberal and moderate about this film.What, according to you, is the best thing abou[...]



From Hindutva poster boy to a mellow right winger, Narendra Modi wants to wing it from regional to national politics.

Tue, 04 Dec 2012 07:08:00 +0000

Narendra Modi22nd September, 2012Sankheda, 50 kms. off Vadodara Modi: “Are you all satisfied with development in Gujarat in last 10 years?”Crowds: “Yes”Modi: “You receive water for farmlands? Are you happy? Be louder?Crowds: “Yes”Modi: “Roads and flyovers are across Gujarat now. Are you happy?”Crowds (now screaming in frenzy): “Yes”Modi: “But I am not happy.”The crowd is stunned into silence.Modi continues: “Last 10 years I only made up for the mess created by Congress regimes. From January 2013, I will begin building a Divya, Bhavya (sacred, glorious) Gujarat.' The crowd breaks into resounding cheers. Modi is not finished: "I removed all dirt from the state in 10 years. Now it is your turn to remove the dirt in these elections". The 9,000 plus crowd goes berserk. They laugh, slap each other’s backs and applaud the implied pun and sarcastic delivery of Modi's punch line ahead of the assembly elections later this year. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi plays the crowd like a piano. He is a master of crowd management, a theatrical Pied Piper mesmerising people with his studied gait, rasping voice and careful weaving of oratory with provocative statements, and made-to-order pauses. This gift of the gab combined with a slew of ‘visible’ development initiatives such as roads, highways and industries has won him two terms as chief minister despite the stigma of 2002 riots always hovering in the background. That Narendra Modi has a clear chance of a third shot in the corridors of power at Gandhinagar is certain. Despite accusations of a dictatorial working style and arrogance, anti-incumbency seems to be just an irritating fly to be swatted away by Modi. Many believe that it is only a matter of how many seats will the BJP corner in round three. Pundits indicate that it may be a tall order for BJP to surpass their earlier record of bagging 127 seats in 2002, and 117 seats in the 2007 assembly polls. But Modi has a different plan. Party insiders say that the man is hoping for his biggest seat tally yet in the upcoming assembly polls which will help consolidate his position in the state and also in national politics. Modi, known to micro manage every election, has his eyes set on 151 seats in the 182 seats assembly. He dreams of surpassing the record 140 seats won by former Congress CM Madhavsinh Solanki in post-Emergency elections. An overwhelming mandate in the state will likely give Modi the power and the glory to drive all the way to New Delhi and the prime minister's office in 2014. Everything that Modi has done for the last one year is tailored to achieve this ambition. It began with the Sadbhavna Mission which Modi flagged off in September last year after the Supreme Court appointed SIT gave him a clean chit in the 2002 riot cases. It was an attempt to build bridges with the minority community, shed his saffron persona, and effectuate a secular makeover – a must for realising any political ambitions at the national level. The makeover is not merely cosmetic. The last year has seen Modi meet a slew of Muslim delegations to understand the issues affecting the community. He has also attended Muslim functions, praised the community for its role in Gujarat’s success story and even inducted some Muslim faces into his party. Likewise, Modi’s campaign this poll season is built around Swami Vivekananda, a known secularist. The Yatra which kicked off on September 11 has already seen Modi address over 50 large public meetings acr[...]



After a period of relative inactivity, Rahul Gandhi is beginning to get involved again in party matters. Pramod Kumar examines what it means in the run up to the 2014 elections

Thu, 29 Nov 2012 07:02:00 +0000

For the Nehru-Gandhis, to enter national politics and immediately establish their suzerainty is but a natural sequence of events. Contemporary Indian history, from Jawaharlal to Sonia, will willingly vouchsafe for it. Neither in the case of Indira nor Rajiv was the transition to active politics ever in any doubt. Then what it is that is keeping Rahul Gandhi away from the family occupation? There is that something that continues to raise question marks over his leadership, indeed even his entry into national politics. Since the disastrous UP assembly election results, these interrogatives have grown in number. Was Rahul’s entry into politics not well timed? Or did it come at a time when political conditions were adverse for the Congress? This strange, slightly unexplained vacuum at the top has prompted a series of strategic discourses. There is one school which says the time to introduce sister Priyanka Gandhi has come – an oblique hint that the heir apparent may not have what it takes to handle the hurly-burly of Indian politics. The other school of thought believes that like father Rajiv, Rahul will gradually mature into politics, learn the ropes and come into his own. There is also the view that laptop experts in Rahul’s central Delhi office may know a lot about information technology but precious little about India’s political ethos. But nuances notwithstanding, central questions remains unanswered. When will Rahul reveal his magic? Could it be too late before he shows his hand? There are those like UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav who believe that Rahul should agree to a position either in the government or the party and then take it from there. Congress insiders say that Rahul could accept a super general secretary kind of position in the party. Showing due deference to party elders, Rahul had accepted the relatively humble position of general secretary; in reality he could have got anything he wanted. But it is quite likely that this deference has been seen as a weakness by party stalwarts. The kind of statements issued by senior Congress leaders in the run up to the UP elections without Rahul ever interfering once, has given him the image of a 'soft’ leader. With his elevation as general secretary of the party’s youth wing, Rahul had hoped to develop a dedicated band of Youth Congress workers. A failed talent hunt through the states put paid to his plans. There are many reasons being attributed to this aborted mission, the most prominent of them being that virtually every senior Congress leader wanted his son or daughter to join Rahul at the cost of dedicated party workers – with preferably a party ticket to boot! Proof of this typical Congress skullduggery has come in Uttarakhand where Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna’s son has got the Congress ticket to contest from the Pauri Lok Sabha seat, ignoring claims of senior notables. The result of such a machination is that Rahul is having a tough time answering questions to people in his own constituency. But party insiders say that with the Congress rout in UP and his aborted mission to develop a dedicated youth cadre, Rahul is on the introspection trail. He has adopted a lower profile than ever before and is known to ask party workers to give their complaints in writing. It is also said about Rahul that his ability to communicate with the common worker is not as effective as it should be. Intervening with words like 'let me tell you’ or ‘let me elaborate’ j[...]



While senior DMK functionaries maintain a studied silence, grassroots workers of the party, according to our survey, might actually be weighing in for Narendra Modi come the 2014 elections, reports Appanasamy

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 07:00:00 +0000

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is facing a bit of an embarrassment. While it is still firmly behind the Congress in the UPA government, the mood among the lower level party workers seems to be different. According to the survey conducted by TSI, more than 39 per cent of DMK voters in Tamil Nadu will support the BJP if Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is the prime ministerial candidate. Compared to that, the Congress heir apparent Rahul Gandhi has scored a mere 19 per cent. Not unexpectedly, the result of the poll left the middle-level leaders of the party red in the face, scrambling to explain. “These are things that only the party high command can decide. We should not be talking about it till such time as a decision is given out by them, not even within party circles. Our leader (M Karunanidhi) will take the right decision for the party and we will abide by it. Till then, we cannot further comment on this,” said one, on the condition of anonymity. The Dravidian parties, like most other regional parties, have always vacillated between the Congress and the BJP. Tamil Nadu had been a Congress stronghold before Jayalalithaa and her AIADMK swept the Parliamentary elections in the state in 1998 in alliance with the BJP. The DMK would go on to adopt the strategy next year and win even more seats in the Lok Sabha election of 1999. Both parties have, since then, supported the Congress time and again. But even the most rabid party worker knows that these alliances have been mostly opportunistic. This time around, the balances seem to be tipping in favour of the BJP. The image of industrialisation and pro-progress activism that Modi has cultivated and promoted through popular media and news channels has gained quite a bit of traction among DMK workers, particularly the middle class. What has been more beneficial for Modi is his handling of the major earthquakes in the city. The common man seems to be firmly behind Modi's media-propagated image of a shining beacon. One DMK supporter, Dravida Mani from north Chennai, was quite unambiguous when he said, “If we do have an alliance with the BJP, we will work our very best to put Narendra Modi in the prime minister's seat.” On the other hand, the last few years of UPA rule have not been the best, marked as it was with scams, allegations of corruption and economic strife. The recent “harsh decisions” taken by the government by way of FDI in the retail sector, diesel price hike and rationing of LPG cylinders have done nothing to cement support for the UPA among the middle class. Naseer from Ambattur echoes popular sentiment when he says, “The eight years that the UPA government has been in power has only aggravated dissatisfaction of the common man. Is BJP not a better option?” To compound the problems for the grand old party, Rahul Gandhi has not exactly been able to solidify his claims to being a national leader. The debacle that the Congress faced in Uttar Pradesh is largely attributed to his strategies and that has not been missed by the public in Tamil Nadu. Adds Naseer, “The experiments made by Rahul in the 2011 provincial elections proved disastrous. His tireless propaganda did not produce anything near to the expected levels. So at present, the only hope is Modi.” However, too much should not be read into the survey reports. “The idea of more volunteers wanting Modi to become the prime minister is not entirely true,” says AS Panee[...]



The first post-Independence Hindutva political outfit, Jan Sangh, was forged in Bengal but the state has resolutely kept that historical legacy at bay.

Mon, 12 Nov 2012 06:56:00 +0000

CS Bhattacharjee probes the reasons why India’s third largest state in terms of Lok Sabha seats has never embraced rightwing nationalism The Bharatiya Janata Party has never been more than a fringe player in West Bengal despite the fact that several Bengali leaders played a crucial role in the evolution of India’s Hindu rightwing. Jan Sangh, BJP’s forerunner, was founded in 1953 by Shyamaprasad Mookerjee, once a member of Nehru’s Cabinet. NC Chatterjee, father of leftist stalwart and former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, was a president of the Hindu Mahasabha. But neither his son nor any Shyamaprasad kin ever flirted with a Hindu outfit. The state as a whole has traditionally perceived the BJP and its progenitors with a degree of suspicion. As a result, the Shyamaprasad legacy hasn’t impacted politics in the state. Experts cite several factors for the inability of Hindutva forces to secure a firm toehold in Bengal. Says Tarun Mondal, SUCI (Communist) MP: “Bengal’s cultural heritage was shaped by freedom fighters and social reformers, towering personalities like Surjya Sen, Pritilata Waddedar and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. They preached true secularism – not the secularism of today’s politics. No single political party can take credit for the state’s progressive secular left-leaning moorings that have kept communalists at bay.” Barun Dasgupta, former Guwahati bureau chief of The Hindu, cites another reason: “RSS and Hindu Mahasabha never participated in the freedom movement. So their acceptability among the masses has been limited from the outset.” He adds: “After the communal riots triggered by Muslim League's ‘Direct Action Day’ on August 16, 1946, the stream of refugees from East Pakistan came under the influence of the Left. The weak Hindu rightwing parties, neither the dying Hindu Mahasabha nor the rising Jan Sangh, could garner much support among the displaced. Even a popular leader like Shyamaprasad Mookerjee failed to make his party acceptable in Bengal.” This state, says Professor Tarun Sanyal, president of the pro-change Forum for Intellectuals, Artists and Authors, has always been culturally pluralistic. “Unlike North India, Bengal never supported Brahminism. In the 15th century, during Hussain Shah’s reign, Bengal produced a religious leader like Mahaprabhu Chaitanya Dev. The 18th and 19th centuries produced Indian renaissance leaders like Raja Rammohun Roy, Vidyasagar, Rabindranath Tagore and others. Their vision engendered two distinct streams — one nationalistic, the other left-revolutionary. Both regarded Bengal as a separate cultural entity. BJP, preacher of Hindi-Hindu-Hindusthan, does not quite fit here,” he adds. Psephologist and political scientist Biswanath Chakraborty asserts that Bengal’s left-revolutionary culture is a bulwark against BJP. “Bengal’s elite never supported those that were behind the 'Great Calcutta Killings' during Partition. This intellectual class opted either for the Congress or the undivided CPI, different from today’s communists. Bengal was the land of the renaissance in the 18th century and India’s industrial resurgence began in this part during the British period. That is the reason why the concept of both nationhood and class-based politics emerged here first,” he explains. But that is not to say that Bengal did not send Sangh parivar representatives to the Lok Sabha a[...]