Lok Satta Junction

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Posts Tagged ‘corruption

Is YS Jaganmohan worthy of his father?

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He surely looks like a match to his father, going by this Tehelka article:

Jagan Reddy is sprouted of this stock. In 2005, he was accused of orchestrating the murder of controversial TDP leader Paritala Ravindra. The police filed an FIR against him, but a CBI enquiry exonerated him. Still, many lesser stories abound of him unleashing his fury on police constables or inspectors who dared stand up to him. In one such incident, a police inspector caught several men hunting rabbits without license in Simhadripuram town. They turned out to be Jagan’s acolytes. When he landed up at the police station to rescue his friends, there was such a violent melee, the inspector locked himself inside the cell, refusing to come out.

Like Rayalseema, Sakshi channel too offers many clues about Jagan. A capacity for violence is only one of the attributes people ascribe to him – the other is meteoric wealth. In June 2008, two months after he had launched his Telugu newspaper, Sakshi, Jagan gave a proud interview to an online publication. “It feels great that Sakshi is currently the largest circulated Telugu daily with a 13 lakh circulation. What Eenadu achieved in 30 years we have accomplished in 60 days,” he said. According to this interview, he also said Deloitte had valued Sakshi at Rs 3,500 crores. But Sakshi newspaper is only part of it. Media professionals also marvel at the money Jagan poured into his television channel. Some quick ballparks tell their own story: an average national channel has 10-12 DSNGs (smaller versions of OB vans) because it is an expensive proposition. Jagan got one each for all 23 districts of Andhra Pradesh and for the four metro bureaus. Jagati Publications, which owns Sakshi newspaper and television, is only Jagan’s most visible venture. He also has interests in power generation plants, uranium and bauxite mining corporations, cement plants and SEZs. There are also real estate investments and mining interests in Karnataka, where he is closely associated with the famous ‘Reddy brothers’ of the mining lobby.

He might have gone through the public charade of asking people to stop clamouring to make him CM. But in private, unperturbed, Jagan continues to assert his right to the post. Meeting TEHELKA briefly at the chief minister’s camp office in Begumpet, Hyderabad, he talks candidly of how he is best placed to carry forward the dreams of his father. With YSR’s towering portraits behind him, he says: “I have observed him at close hand for many years now. I was there at the meetings when people thronged the house, when he went to the villages. I know more than anyone else how he conducted his affairs.”

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Written by jujung

September 19, 2009 at 6:09 PM

Using NREGA for political patronage

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The Congress governments are using the NREGA to benefit their party members and supporters. It has been transformed from a Govt program to a taxpayer funded Congress party program. The party members and their supporters are getting a preference for projects and works allotment.

Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Dr. C.P. Joshi wants to re-constitute the employment guarantee council filling up the 30 member council with Congress members, justifying this by saying, “We cannot give the strength and space to other parties.”

According to Mr. Botsa Satyanarayana, Minister for Panchayati Raj, road and drainage works worth Rs.1200 crore are to be taken up under the NREGS. Zilla parishads are being allotted Rs.700 crore for taking up the rural connectivity project and each mandal praja parishad Rs.50 lakh for taking up internal roads, drains and roads to fields etc. “The works shall be entrusted to the implementation-cum-monitoring committee constituted at the village panchayat level.

Loksatta has taken a strong exception to this move for subverting democracy by moving away from the elected panchayats to implement the projects. After already having faced criticism for scams in INDIRAMMA housing schemes, giving the implementation of crores worth of projects to nominated committees instead of elected panchayats hardly inspires any confidence. We can’t be very far from the truth in guessing it means more money from Govt coffers into party coffers.

Apart from this, it’s an open secret that a disproportionate share of the Govt handouts go to the party supporters, irrespective of which party is in power. And not to the actual people in need. This is a direct consequence of the political party in power having excessive control over the executive. And a weak law enforcement combined with a slow and inefficient judicial process completes the vicious circle.

Written by jujung

September 19, 2009 at 11:44 AM

Posted in Criticism, politics

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Loksatta on collective farming

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The Andhra Pradesh Government proposed the idea of collective farming to address low productivities and unsustainable incomes:

Cooperative farming envisages giving farmers the option to pool up their land into a cooperative, a company or a society. They have to transfer their land along with their rights to the new body in return for a share capital. The farmers will have the option to exit any time by selling their share to the members or to the government. The society/company will carry on agricultural operations, have its own godowns and work with minimum intervention and maximum support of the Government. “If this experiment succeeds, it will speak for itself. If it fails, it will be the responsibility of the government to restore the status quo ante”.

An excellent twopart video of an earlier discussion on the crisis in agriculture among other issues and how the lack of incorporation of technology in agriculture has affected the state of farmers in the country. JP has further warned the co-operative farming envisaged by the AP Government will end up in a disaster. The main arguments of LSP against the Congress Govt proposed collective farming:

  • Farming in Andhra Pradesh suffered from a host of ailments all of which had little to do with the size of farms.
  • Productivity and production in the farm sector have been low because farmers do not have access to technology.
  • The real problem lay in the absence of breakthroughs in technologies after the Green Revolution of the 1960s.
  • The Government’s advocacy of large, consolidated holdings in the name of cooperative or collective farming for precision farming is untenable. Precision farming involves control of temperature, moisture etc in green houses as in the raising of tulips in the Netherlands. The holdings involved are all small and not at all large.
  • All over the country productivity in small farms is higher than in large farms.
  • If cooperative farming is introduced, the small farmer becomes a wage earner and loses his dignity.
  • Nowhere in the world large-scale farming has been a success. In India itself, we have 14 Central State Farms spread over tens of thousands of acres. But all the farms run by the Government of India are bankrupt. The erstwhile Soviet Union paid a very high price for promoting collective farming.

“In India, cooperatives have succeeded where they are engaged in processing and marketing and not in primary production. Milk cooperatives are a good example. Even in dairy cooperatives whenever the Government controlled them as in Kadapa and Chittoor, the dairies went bankrupt whereas farmer-controlled processing cooperatives are doing well.”

Loksatta has suggested the following alternatives to tackle the crisis in agriculture:

  • Enact a law as in Punjab to promote consolidation of fragmented holdings.
  • Liberalize  the present monstrous tenancy law. Although two-thirds of land holdings in the State are in the hands of tenants, owners do not register them for fear of losing ownership. Once tenancy is brought on record, the tenant can access bank credit and other inputs.
  • A liberalized tenancy law will also facilitate contract farming which is in the interest of the farmer as also the country. For instance, sugarcane and oil palm are raised as a contract between processing mills and farmers. In a similar fashion, paper producers enter into an understanding with farmers for supply of softwood in Andhra Pradesh, and vegetable producers for supply of raw material to processing industry.
  • The Government should focus on value addition, warehousing and marketing. The marketing societies should be under the control of farmers, and all restrictions on marketing should be removed.

Note that the contract farming as suggested by Loksatta is not the same as the failed “contract/corporate farming” Kuppam experiment by the Babu’s TDP Government in 1997. Actually it’s quite the opposite, the Kuppam project is an experiment in Corporate farming where the farmers’ cooperative contracts all the farm work (all stages from initial planning to development and management) to a corporate body. This failed experiment is in fact eerily similar to the co-operative farming idea currently proposed by the YSR Government. The activists in the article further claim:

It is probable that only the Government of A. P. signed the contract with the Israeli company and the formation of Mutually Aided Joint Farming Society was only to legitimate the dealings of the government/company with the farmers, whose lands have been taken over for the demonstration. The members of the Joint Farming Society were never consulted by the corporate body on any decision relating to the operation of the demonstration fields. Thus, no element of cooperation, not even symbolic, was involved either in the formation of the Mutually Aided Joint Farming Co-operative Society or in signing the contract or while dealing with the corporate body.

This further shows the pitfalls and the scope for massive corruption when the Govt gets to take over the lands of small farmers and turning them over to cooperatives/corporates controlled by big landlords/Govt. This completely marginalizes the small farmers pushing them into giving up their lands with little control over the returns.

Written by jujung

July 26, 2009 at 10:26 AM

Anti-corruption Bill by LSP

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Lok Satta Party president Jayaprakash Narayan presented a draft Bill to amend the Prevention of Corruption (Andhra Pradesh) Act to Speaker N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhar Reddy on Wednesday. The amendment Bill integrates recommendations, guidelines and suggestions of 166th Law Commission Report and the second Administrative Reforms Commission’s fourth report for eradicating corruption at all levels.

Some excerpts from Loksatta News:

“If the Bill is adopted, MLAs and MLCs, elected members of panchayats, municipalities, and municipal corporations will be deemed as public servants and attract the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. As per the Bill, an accused public servant has to prove his innocence in cases of trap or disproportional assets. It provides for attachment and seizure of property during investigation and forfeiture of property when he or she is found guilty. The Bill provides for establishment of a special court in every district, appointment of chief judicial magistrates as special public prosecutors and autonomy to the Anti Corruption Bureau, and effective powers to the Lok Ayukta. Special courts can on their own take cognizance of corruption involving public servants.

If the Government did not introduce the Bill to amend the Prevention of Corruption Act, Dr. JP said, he would introduce it as a private member’s Bill. Dr. JP also underlined the need to integrate various authorities dealing with corruption and disciplinary proceedings. The Lok Satta would draft a separate Bill for that purpose. Lok Satta Party leaders K. Dharma Reddy, V. Vijayender Reddy and E. Chennayya took part in the media meet.”

While I doubt if this bill will be introduced by the Govt., I nevertheless think this would be a good step forward if this encourages some debate on tackling corruption in the Assembly. I am not sure if the existing law is deficient in tackling corruption, I feel the deficiency is only in the law enforcement. Establishing more courts in each district is a good way to ensure faster judicial process. Such bills need to be supported by a broader legal and police reforms throughout the country.

On another note, the Govt. of India proposes to introduce a new bill to end the transfer-posting raj. A draft of the aims and objectives of the Civil Services Bill, 2009 says: “The public servant needs to be protected from victimization or other adverse consequences and refusing to follow directions of superiors in service which are not in accordance with applicable rules and regulations.” The bill envisages an enforceable code of conduct for all bureaucrats through a new Central Public Services Authority. Some important items of the bill are supposed to be:

  • The appointment of all civil servants for a tenure not less than three years in one posting. If there is deviation from this, the public servant will have to be “compensated” for the inconvenience and harassment caused due to such transfer before term.
  • The chief secretary and the director general of police of a state will be selected out of a panel of suitable candidates of required seniority to be drawn up by a committee comprising the chief minister, leader of the Opposition and the home minister.
  • The Cabinet secretary will be selected from a panel by a committee comprising the prime minister, the leader of the Opposition and the home minister.
  • A revamp of performance evaluation, performance related incentive schemes

Looks good so far. Hope this is not just beginner’s enthusiasm or one of the umpteen strong on paper, weak on ground bills.

Update: A discussion with JP on the corruption issue in the TV5 program “Prajalatho JP” is available on youtube: 1, 2 and 3. The full draft of the bill is available here.

Written by jujung

June 11, 2009 at 4:48 PM

Posted in Agenda, Ideas, Videos

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