Portends of brighter days ahead – Slew of initiatives mark 100 days of Yogi-raj in UP

It has been 100 eventful days since Yogi Adityanath assumed charge as the Chief Minister of the most populous state of India. This period, already being fondly referred to as Yogi-raj by his friends and well-wishers, is remarkable because of slew of initiatives taken by the new government in Uttar Pradesh, all aimed at the common man. Actions of the young Chief Minister, who took two deputy CMs in his cabinet citing his own inexperience in managing the affairs of a State, already portend brighter days ahead for the State. Though some of the major decisions have created ripples in the political community and society at large, the sheer dynamism that reflects from the actions of initial days shows that we should be prepared for more public-centric and not populist measures in the days ahead.

It has been just a little over 100 days since Yogi Adityanath Government took charge in Uttar Pradesh. Slew of important decisions and instructions aimed at good governance and better administration have become the hallmark of these initial days.

People’s welfare foremost! This seems to be the mantra working behind all decisions. With roots in BJP’s Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra (Pledge for People’s Welfare) – the manifesto that brought the party to power in the State – the State Government has given instructions to keep the salient points of the Sankalp Patra in consideration while finalizing the budget.

It is apparent that the CM means business. Instructions have been given that responsible officers are posted at all important positions and a citizen’s charter is prepared by each department for quick redressal of a citizen’s problem, and with a view to enhance the trust of the common man towards the Government.

Moving towards implementation of every promise that BJP made in its manifesto, the CM in his very first Cabinet meeting told his colleagues to take on corruption, lawlessness, casteism and the politics of appeasement and stressed forcefully that there will be no discrimination in the name of caste, religion or sex. Addressing a gathering in Gorakhpur, he said: “There will be no discrimination in name of caste, religion and sex. There will be overall development.”

In one such step, the women’s welfare department has put forth a proposal to make marriage registration mandatory for all in the State. The couples who are not registered will be deprived of benefits from Government schemes.

The Chief Minister has issued a timetable of meeting MPs and MLAs from the State. In a letter addressed to all State MPs and legislators, Adityanath said that the people of the State have voted them to power with great expectations and they have to give much of their time to their constituencies. He also mentioned that this arrangement of meeting these lawmakers has been rolled out to ensure immediate redressal of problems faced by the people and better coordination with public representatives.

Another major step taken is to scrap the manual tendering process in Government departments and replace it with online tendering and procurement systems to bring in transparency. “Manual tendering process is being scrapped from all Government departments and e-tendering and e-procurement system will be implemented,” CM Adityanath said.  Under e-procurement and e-tendering process, all work including e-registration, e-coding, tender creation, tender publication, tender purchase, submission and bid opening will be done through electronic medium.

In order to increase fertilizer capacity and create more jobs in the process, it is important that the mothballed fertilizer plants are revived. With a view to create the revival roadmap for the Gorakhpur Fertilizer Plant, the Government has taken the initial steps by approving the proposal for exemption of stamp duty for transfer of land to Hindustan Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd.

In another Citizen First initiative, instructions have been issued by the Government to observe Tehsil Diwas and Thana Diwas as Samadhan (Solution) Diwas. Instructions have been issued to senior officials of various police stations and Government departments that monthly progress of disposal of cases in SamadhanDiwas should be reviewed and apprised to respective senior officials.

Upon taking over the realms of the Government in the State, Yogi Adityanath has also cracked down on VIP culture in the State. Leading by example, the CM has said that no minister in the State will be allowed to use red beacons atop vehicles. He has also downgraded security cover of 46 VIPs and done away completely with that of 105 others.  “Those who are enjoying security cover for the sake of status symbol should be prepared to part with them,” he said.

Strengthening Law and Order

Moving ahead with execution of poll promises of BJP, the State has taken lead in banning cow slaughter and cattle smuggling. The safety of women under the governance of the young CM of Uttar Pradesh too will be the topmost priority in the future. As BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain stated in an interview: “Yogi Adityanath’s agenda is to ensure security and safety to women in Uttar Pradesh and incidents like eve-teasing, molestation, rape, etc. will not take place.”

Giving an open challenge to the anti-social elements in the State to either abide by the law or leave the State, the CM has issued instructions to run state-wide campaigns to prevent incidents of molestation, indecency, obscene exhibition and comments, towards women and girls. The Anti-Romeo Squad – a poll promise of BJP – formed to prevent sexual harassment cases has generated great headlines recently. The CM has directed the State’s top officials to chalk out clear guidelines so that there is no “unnecessary harassment” of boys and girls. The Government has also issued directives for taking quick and effective steps on incidents of harassment and acid attacks.

Instructions have been issued for taking strict action against criminals, smugglers, land mafia, etc. without any discrimination. Police have been told to get into direct communion with the common man and take cognizance of even the supposedly insignificant and minor incidents. They have been instructed to identify the potential trouble mongers and those who risk security and peace, and take proper action against them.

The CM has also instructed the Chief Secretary to make the legal process more effective, reliable and impeccable in criminal cases.

Medical and Health-Care

Giving a mammoth target to officials at the State Health Department, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed opening of 3000 generic medicine stores in the State. To be started under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jann Aushadi Pariyojana, the stores will provide generic (unbranded but equally safe versions of branded) medicines at least at 40-50% lower rates. He has also ordered that the process to achieve the target set should begin with immediate effect as this measure will ensure “availability of quality medicines at affordable prices to all.”

CM Adityanath has also ordered to make health education program compulsory in Government schools. Additionally, he has envisaged 40 yoga centres in existing Ayurveda, Unani and Homeopath hospitals in 40 districts of UP. The CM is also taking steps to create awareness for yoga among masses by ensuring greater participation in International Yoga Day (June 21), each succeeding year.

The CM is personally monitoring steps to ensure better and timely health measures for the citizens. He has given strict instructions to take steps against sex determination and female foeticide, as well as against the ill-educated physicians who at times con their patients. He recently rolled out a campaign in 38 districts to eradicate the deadly encephalitis disease that claims the lives of hundreds of children every year in Uttar Pradesh. Some 40,000 children have died of the disease in the past four decades in the region.

And as a major relief to medical aspirants, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Institute of Medical Sciences will be offering additional 150 MBBS seats for admission, thus taking the total number of seats to 1,990. Furthermore, 3 hospitals of Lucknow viz. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (Civil) Hospital and Balrampur Hospital, have launched online patient registration facility in a bid to reduce waiting time of patients at OPD counters and streamline the rush for out-patient consultants.

Agriculture and Farmers

Decision to increase procurement of wheat from 40 metric tons to about 80 lakh metric tons is a major step in this area. Poor farmers of the State are likely to benefit enormously through the recently announced farm loan waiver scheme.  Loans of more than 86 lakh farmers, worth about Rs. 36,000 crore, have been waived off in a major initiative. Banks have been asked to issue loan waiver certificates to the bona fide farmers after the forthcoming Budget. The maximum limit for crop loan waiver will be Rs. 1 lakh per farmer. And true to its word, the BJP Government in the State has started cracking the whip on erring sugar mill owners who have not been paying cane farmers their dues in time.

Moreover, in the next 100 days, few of the sugar mills in UP are planning to modernize their complexes by adding power cogeneration and ethanol plants.

Sugarcane Development

In the short period in which the current government has been in office, the sugar cane farmers have been paid to the tune of Rs. 21 thousand 570 crores.

Food and Supplies

The UP CM has also reviewed the working of Food and Civil Supplies Department and has said that officers should ensure that the children and beneficiaries of the public distribution system, who’s Aadhar Cards have not been made so far, are not deprived of their quota of ration.

Mining

The BJP, in its vision document for the State assembly polls had promised to end the illegal mining. In a tough measure to take on the mining mafia in UP, the Government has hiked the penalty on illegal mining by over 20 per cent and the provision for jail sentence has also been increased from six months to five years.

Turning UP into a developed State

“We will fulfil all our promises. Uttar Pradesh will be turned into a developed state. We need your support to make that happen,” these are the words of CM Yogi Adityanath in a public gathering in Gorakhpur. Many more examples of exemplary work done by the CM can be given, but for space constraint. Factually speaking, CM Yogi has started the UP innings by delivery. And he is making preparations and setting the stage to turn UP into a developed state in the near future.

By Aziz Haider

 (Article exclusively done for Outlook Magazine)




Corporate Agenda in full swing, Modi Budget disappoints the underprivileged including Minorities

budget-2014What an irony that when it comes to agricultural products, hoarding and profiteering remain big concerns for the government but when it comes to the market products, the government does nothing to reduce the margins of the profits the companies make at the cost of the common people.

“Three years for the corporate, two for the RSS”, this was how I had summed up the likely Modi policy just after the election results. The first 100 days of the new government are not yet over, but the indications are that the corporate agenda is already in full swing. The latest Budget is an ample proof that the government has totally sold itself to the Corporate India, which is being repaid in multiples what it did for securing the victory for the NDA. The budget has nothing, which can reduce inflation, bridge the economic disparity and remove poverty. It has done a lot for the Corporate. After giving them the Bullet Trains and share in many railway projects, it has not only opened Defence and Insurance for FDI but has also brought the  wonderful news of one hundred smart cities to them. The excise duties on certain market products have also been reduced, which will of course boost the industry. What an irony that when it comes to agricultural products, hoarding and profiteering remain big concerns for the government but when it comes to the market products, the government does nothing to reduce the margins of the profits the companies make at the cost of the common people. If the government learns the difference between the “interests of the business as a whole” and “the interests of the businessmen”, favouring the former and not the latter, the economy will have a big boost, and the whole nation will benefit. But it favours only the business class and that too selectively, which is mostly at the expense of the consumers.

The Budget speech of the Finance Minister has been conspicuously silent on the allocation made to the Minority Ministry. In all probability, this does not mean that there is no allocation at all because that would amount to the scrapping of the ministry itself. If it continues what it was in the last budget, it is still surprising because the last budget was an interim budget for a few months. If it did not think it necessary to mention it in the speech, it speaks of his lack of sensitivity towards minorities. Even if it is in the same range as it was in the last full budget, this is pathetic. Compare the 3000 crores allocations for minorities with 50000 crore each for the SC/ST development and SC/ST welfare, and it tells you how much minorities are ignored by the successive governments. The only funds allocated for minorities are 100 crores for the ?modernization? of madrasas. This of course is the NDA plan for minorities and not the demand made by minorities.Muslims will feel concerned about this allocation because it gives an idea of how BJP government wants to impose its agenda on Muslims and their institutions. There are no announcements for any minority institutions or any programmes related to developmental activities in Muslim areas.

For last three years, I have been recurrently demanding introduction of Economic Disparity Index (General, Urban-Rural, State to State and Community to Community) so that we can know the status of different regions and communities and how the government proposes to bridge them. But no one is listening. The latest budget and the Economic Survey that preceeded it are also silent on the issue.

The indications are clear. The corporate will strangulate whatever is left in the economy for the poor.  Sooner or later, programmes like MNREGA and Food Security Act will get diluted. Health sector particularly the preventive part will remain neglected. The better days have begun to come for those who already have good days. For others days will continue to be worse than before.

* Dr Javed Jamil




Panthers condemn SBI discriminatory recruitment notification of clerical assistants; SBI calls it a non-issue as the vacancies were region-specific for Kashmir Valley/Ladakh

sbi RNI/J&K:

In a blown up issue, a local Jammu-based organization Young Panthers staged a protest demonstration at Press Club-Jammu today terming the recruitment notification of SBI as discriminatory and racial based on language and region.  It is pertinent to mention that the SBI has issued a recruitment notification for the post of 5500 clerical assistants all across India.  The notification contains a special recruitment drive for the state of Jammu and Kashmir under Chandigarh circle which categorically mentioned that candidates belonging to the state (restricting to Kashmir Valley/Ladakh only) must be proficient in reading and speaking Kashmiri or Urdu language which would be tested during the course of interview of the candidates who qualify.

Young panthers were resenting at the discrimination meted out to the youth of Jammu Province and warned the NDA led central government to direct the recruiting authorities of SBI to revoke and re-publish the notification so that the youth of Jammu could also apply for the cited posts. “It is mandatory to mention here that this notification is an insult to Dogras of Jammu Pradesh and Dogri language which has been incorporated in the 8th schedule of the Constitution and has been neglected in the notification,” said a Young Panther release.

Taking the matter seriously, Pushvinder Manhas disclosed that Vide advertisement no. CRPD/CR/2014-15/02 SBI has advertised more than 5500 vacancies nation vide where the applications are invited from “eligible Indian Citizens” for appointment as Assistants in Clerical Cadre in SBI. He said that as per the notification the candidates from all over India can apply for the advertised posts but the candidates from Jammu Province are not eligible to apply for the said vacancies which raises questions that do State Bank of India think that the people of Jammu are not “eligible Indian citizens.” Manhas even castigated that BJP led NDA has also started appeasement policy for the Kashmiri Youth and step motherly treatment towards the youth of Jammu.

RNI contacted SBI Chairman in this regard for whom it is a non-issue that is being unnecessarily blown up. Replying on behalf of the Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya, the General Manager (Central Recruitment & Promotion Department, SBI Corporate Centre, Mumbai) informed that since the vacancies existed only in the Kashmir Valley/Ladakh region, the language of the masses in that region was sought as essential. He said that had the vacancies came up in the Jammu region, Dogri would have been mentioned as one of the essential languages for recruitment. Gautam Banerjee informed that there are 5400 clerical cadre vacancies and candidates from any state are eligible to apply against vacancies of any state. “Candidates from Jammu & Kashmir can also apply against the vacancies of any state. However candidates can apply for vacancies in one state only and will have to appear for the test from an examination centre for that state. There are 107 vacancies for J&K which have been mentioned as a part of special recruitment drive for assistants in Kashmir Valley/Ladakh. Candidates selected for the state of J&K will be posted in branches/offices of the Bank in various districts of Kashmir valley / Ladakh and their minimum stay in the Valley/Ladakh will be 8 years.”

RNI News Network




Taking free rides in trains at Central Government’s expense

scam

A novel way to do a scam!

scam2

Real News Intl. (RNI) News Agency, Lucknow:

What is the best way a State Government’s minister can oblige the huge number of workers from his constituency? Particularly so when the state exchequer is somewhat empty owing to herculean promises made by their leader during election rallies! The best way is to take the workers on free train rides at Central Government’s expense.

Yes, this is exactly what not one, not two, but several ministers in Akhilesh Yadav’s cabinet in Uttar Pradesh have done this summer. And with their railway tickets already booked, the party workers, near and dear ones and people from the constituencies are getting set to travel to a location of their choice in the next couple of months. If you are really willing to call this modus operandi a scam, then the number of ministers who are involved in this scam may go up to a dozen, if not more. And the amount that the Central Government will have to pay from its coffers for ‘free travel’ of people who worked or voted for Samajwadi Party would reach a few millions.

Now, what’s the scam all about! Free railway coupons amounting to several thousand rupees are allotted to each minister. The minister, their family members (including spouse and dependent kids) can alone travel through these coupons. These free railway coupons expire on 31st of May each year and thereafter fresh coupons are issued for the next year. Since the coupons that are issued are of such high amount that it is not possible for a minister to avail all the free coupons, a lot many of them lapse at the year end.

Politicians as they are, this gave ideas to some of the ministers, who decided to arrange ‘free’ excursions on railways for their party workers, people from the constituency and near and dear ones. Week-long excursions to places like Chennai, Bangalore and Haridwar have been planned. Big lists of people interested in ‘free’ travel have been prepared. Considering the great queues that were seen during the last few days at the railway booking counters (that accept these coupons) in Lucknow, it is apparent that several of the ministers decided to repay the people from their constituencies through these ‘free’ rides on Indian Railways. Ultimately, it will be the Central Government’s Indian Railways whose coffers will be utilized for these ‘free’ tickets for SP workers.

The modus operandi is simple! Lists from constituencies have been prepared of people who are to be sent on these ‘free’ trips. Since only family members of a minister can travel on a free coupon, only first-names (and not surnames) of the people have been written on railway reservation requisition forms. Mentioning the first names only has been done to hide the caste, because a Brahmin minister may have several people from other castes from his constituency whom he wishes to oblige. Likewise, with ministers belonging to other castes! Problem comes when a Hindu minister, for instance, decides to send a Muslim worker from constituency on a free trip or a Muslim minister decides to send a Hindu party worker. RNI has learnt that a Brahmin minister dropped a few Muslim names lest his modus operandi gets leaked.

Since an individual can book only up to six passengers on one requisition form and since only one requisition form (along with return ticket) is accepted from one person at a time, several staff-persons in a minister’s office have been deputed to get the tickets booked.  And since Indian Railways announce advance reservations up to 60 days in advance, and there is already great rush in June due to summer vacations, most of the reservations have been made for the coming July. The booking of tickets has continued till 8 p.m. on 31st night or till the coupons exhaust, whichever happens earlier. Needless to say, there are several ministers whose staff-persons have made countless trips to reservation counters, during the last few days.

Real News Intl. (RNI) News Bureau

 

 




Coalgate probe shall also cover iron ore, steel and power sectors

Former President of India Mrs. Pratibha Patil felicitating Manoj Jayaswal of Abhijeet Group

R.N.I. Exclusive

As details of ‘more wrongdoings’ are coming to surface it is becoming apparent that ‘the coal block allocation process was twisted and manipulated’ to suit a few close to seat of power. CBI has raided the premises of leading companies who were allocated coal blocks after public hue and cry literally forced the Government to take steps. BJP is sticking to its demand for cancellation of the 142 coal blocks allocated during UPA rule and has targeted Coal Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal alleging that eight of his relatives are among the beneficiaries of the 34 coal blocks which were allotted since he took charge of the ministry. CBI has also raided the premises of Abhijeet Group, whose promoters – the Jaiswals – are said to have relations with the Coal Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal, something that the minister denies vehemently.

Manoj Jayaswal with Hon’ble President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee

The Abhijeet Group’s promoters may or may not be related to the coal minister, what is apparent is that they had the support and backing of some very important people in the power corridors of governance. There is no denying the fact that their contacts spans the likes of Sonia Gandhi (UPA Chairperson), Farooq Abdullah, Salman Khurshid, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Murli Manohar Joshi (BJP), Prithvi Raj Chauhan (CM-Maharashtra), Raja Sanjay Singh, Rajeev Shukla, Rajnath Singh (BJP), Sheila Dikshit (CM-Delhi), Madhu Koda (CM-Jharkhand) and several top politicians.

Manoj Jayaswal with Rajiv Shukla and GK Vasan

The present and past Presidents of India Pranab Mukherjee and Pratibha Patil and the Vice President Hamid Ansari have all either graced their programs or felicitated the promoters of Abhijeet Group. Not just this, RNI has learnt from reliable sources that Abhijeet Group and its sister companies have been blessed and supported in the past by those in power, despite some blatant wrongdoings. Due to their great investments recently made in the field of power and steel, the probe against them shall also include allotments of iron ore and power projects, as well as the projects concerning development of highways and collecting toll tax, few other areas in which the group has made significant inroads.

Manoj Jayaswal with Rahul Bajaj

Abhijeet Group owned by Manoj Jayaswal has registered and corporate head office at Nagpur. Manoj Jaiswal, a close associate of Vijay Darda who was one of the promoters of JLD Yavatmal Energy, was allocated mines in Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh and Maharashtra and Dardas were his business partners. In an interview published recently, the Chairman of Jayaswal Neco – who happens to

Manoj Jayaswal with Rajnath Singh

be father of Manoj Jayaswal – has claimed that the company that started with ‘zero’ rupees in pockets has been taken by the sons to a business worth Rs. 25000 crore. This whopping rise in fortunes does not include the assets of other companies including the Abhijeet Group. Jayaswal Neco too has its registered office at Nagpur. This is to be recalled that in as recently as June 2010, Jayaswal Neco board had approved demerger of steel biz of Corporate Ispat Alloys Ltd. (a subsidiary of Abhijeet Group) with self. It issued 3 shares of company to every 2 of CIAL.

Manoj Jayaswal with Farooq Abdullah

Earlier this year, the Chhatisgarh government had filed a writ petition in the Delhi high court against the Central Government over Jayaswal Neco Ltd’s applications for mining leases in a case that threw light on the murky world of mining in India. The State had alleged that the mid-sized steel-maker forged documents in its applications to get iron-ore mining leases in Rowghat in Bastar district in Chhatisgarh and that the Union government directed it to consider the application favourably – even after the state showed investigative reports that said Jayaswal Neco had allegedly faked paperwork to show it had conducted prospecting (preliminary exploration) in Rowghat when it had actually not done so. It is to be stated that the iron ore reserves in Rowghat are said to be around 28000 crore tonnes, valued at Rs. 80,000 crore.

Manoj Jayaswal with Jyotiraditya Scindia and Salman Khurshid

The CBI had filed an FIR against Jayaswal Neco, charging it with committing forgery and fraud to acquire mining leases in Rowghat. At that time the CBI official had stated publicly that ‘besides the private company, some officials of the Union ministry of mines are also under the scanner.’

According to CBI sources, Jayaswal Neco had received four prospecting licences (PLs) for an area of 1,601.47 hectares in and around Rowghat iron ore deposits A, B, C, D and E of then undivided Madhya Pradesh in 1999. In 2000, the company made an application to the Chhatisgarh government, seeking mining leases (MLs) in the same area – claiming preferential rights under the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Act.

Manoj Jayaswal with Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Vijay Darda

The ML applications remained pending for almost seven years. In 2007, the Chhattisgarh government rejected Jayaswal Neco’s applications, claiming that the company didn’t submit any statutory prospecting report that was necessary for consideration of the mining lease application.

The Chhattisgarh government requested the CBI to take up the probe after Jayaswal Neco produced prospecting reports during later proceedings. It reportedly became suspicious after noting that the reports – apparently created in May 2000 – contained references to the ‘Chhattisgarh government’ and ‘Chhattisgarh forest department’ when the actual state was formed only six months later – in November 2000.

Manoj Jayaswal with Murli Manohar Joshi

Besides this, the acknowledgment letter issued by the Office of the Regional Controller, Indian Bureau of Mines, was also suspected to be forged. The case got buried in files until the flashlights were redirected towards the company after Coalgate scam.

Stating on the events, the legal adviser to Jayaswal Neco had then commented: “The CBI FIR has been filed on the basis of vigilance probe conducted by the ministry of mines, but the probe was nullified by the Central Vigilance Commission. We have moved the Delhi high court for quashing the CBI FIR. At a later stage, we also intend to move for launching malicious prosecution against the company in this matter.”

Manoj Jayaswal with Hon’ble President Mr. Pranab Mukherjee and Prithviraj Chauhan

In recent times, CIAL has signed an MoU with the Jharkhand government for setting up 2.5 mtpa integrated steel plant at Seraikela-Kharsawan district. Meanwhile, Corporate Power Ltd. (CPL), another flagship company of Abhijeet Group, is setting up a 1215 MW power plant at Balunath (Latehar district),  through an MoU with state government. Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh okayed sanctioning of 100 MW power plant by Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC) for MIHAN SEZ  to Abhijeet Group. The company also announced plans for setting up 1215 MW power plant in Yawatmal district under the banner of Jawaharlal Darda Yawatmal Energy Ltd. In relation to sanctioning of 1200 MW proposed power project at Chandwa, Abhishek Jayaswal (Director, Abhijeet Group) met Jharkhand CM Madhu Koda recently. Commenting on the venture, he said to media persons: “After allotment of coal blocks in our kitty, the group has increased its activities in other areas (iron-ore, steel and power).

Manoj Jayaswal with Raja Sanjay Singh

When Afghanistan’s mining ministry opened the bids for the estimated 1.8 billion metric tonnes of ore at Hajigak, 100 kilometers west of Kabul, Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL) and NMDC Ltd. (NMDC), offered a bid as part of an effort by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government for a bigger role in a nearby country whose stability it called essential. Interestingly, while the Indian group included state-owned Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd. and private-sector companies JSW Steel Ltd. (JSTL), Jindal Steel & Power Ltd. (JSP), Monnet Ispat Ltd. and JSW Ispat Steel Ltd., the Abhijeet Group company ‘Corporate Ispat Alloys Ltd.’ decided to bid separately for one of the four blocks. As per US government’s estimates Hajigak holds $1 trillion in untapped minerals.

Upon receiving the news of bid opening, SAIL Chairman Mr. C.S. Verma had said: “This is the first time that Indian public and private sector companies have come together to jointly bid for an iron ore asset abroad. With

Manoj Jayaswal with CM Delhi, Shiela Dikshit

Afghanistan holding strategic interest for India, we hope that our endeavour to obtain mining licenses there will be a stepping stone towards the larger objective of contributing to the much-needed economic growth of the country. This will pave the way for more such collaborative efforts in the future by Indian companies for obtaining raw material assets in other countries.”

“If we become successful for this bid, it will set the stage for large cooperative efforts between the public and private sector steel companies in times to come in other sectors as well, such as coal.” All these developments go on to convey that other areas beyond coal too needs to be investigated.

Manoj Jayaswal with Hon’ble Vice President of India, Shri Hamid Ansari


RNI News Network




‘China will be foolish if it attacks India’: Ambassador Shashank

When a prominent member of Prime Minister’s think-tank and a former ambassador to more than half a dozen countries including Russia confided that China is likely to attack India in 2012, it was a cause for concern. A little while later we saw Bharat Verma, editor of the Indian Defence Review, telling a prominent newspaper daily, that “there are multiple reasons for a desperate Beijing to teach India the final lesson, thereby ensuring Chinese supremacy in Asia in this century.” While heated debates ensued in the media over this issue, R.N.I. talked to Ambassador Shashank, former foreign secretary in the Government of India, to know his views about China’s growing economic supremacy, the measures being adopted to further India’s financial interests in the rest of the world and last, but not the least, how much are we prepared to match China’s military might in case of a full-fledged war.

 

R.N.I.: If we talk about China’s growing economic supremacy, what are the factors that have enabled China to gain edge over India in the recent past?

Ambassador Shashank: Whether we like it or not, China and India are neighbour and share several similar assets. Large population, better technology and partnership with other countries are the areas which are common to both. Lately, China has tried to encroach into area of influence ofIndiaby getting into large number of institutional frameworks inSouth Asia. Till now, India had done this successfully both in South Asia and North East Asia.

China has also been successful in keeping India out of Shanghai Cooperation so far wherein India has been of the opinion that focus of Shanghai Cooperation should be on containing terrorism, particularly terrorism emanating from Af-Pak region, but China has not allowed this to happen, particularly because of its relations with Pakistan.

There are other major differences. Whereas India is a democratic country, China is not. They, instead, are a very nationalist country that pursues its policies very energetically. There lies the difference! Whereas we, in a democratic set-up take time to come to decisions, announce policy and then dwell on discussions, they discuss and then announce their policy. This does not work in a situation where companies are trying to displace the governments in controlling the international economic order. Due to this, we have lost out to China on more than one occasion.

 

R.N.I.: You said companies are trying to displace the governments in controlling the international economic order. If an individual needs to have a vision for his future career prospects and if corporate houses need to have vision for futuristic growth, it will be naïve to say that an entire country’s economic interests can be developed on global levels without a futuristic world vision. Kindly tell us whether we have that vision? Are we seriously working towards making India a global economic power? Fact remains that despite continuously loosing out on many fronts, we still do not have one department in the country that is singularly occupied with planning and executing strategies to further India’s financial interests in the rest of the world. Surely, matters cannot be left only in the hands of economic ministries, which are already over-burdened handling domestic affairs?

Ambassador Shashank: You are right when you say that it is high time that we need to have one department, if not a ministry, to plan and execute India’s global activities related to its financial and military interests.

Let’s see what China’s strategy has been lately. China’s USP is cheaper production base. This has attracted multinationals to China. In fact, 60% of Chinese export is on behalf of these multinationals. China is reinvesting this money back in the international market. A lot of their money has been invested in the US itself, as they feel that without US support their dream of becoming global power won’t come true. A good portion of this money has been used to acquire strategic business interests in other African and Asian countries. They have a vision and are moving towards achieving that goal. We have to keep these things in mind. Unless we develop that futuristic world view and vision, we will be left out. This involves friendship with the United States, with addition to our friendship with traditional friends as well as neighbours like Pakistan. This involves friendship with China as well. These days it is not possible that we do not keep good relationship because of competition.

Whereas we know that India has to develop good relations with China, we will also have to move energetically and see that we keep our growth rate at par with China.

 

R.N.I.: Throw some light on the areas where we both have upper hand over each other and the future strategy that we should adopt?

Ambassador Shashank: We have upper-hand than China on many fronts. It will be in our benefit if we go for technology enhancement and create futuristic knowledge base institutions; these are areas where China cannot compete with us.

China has enhanced production but on the basis of outdated polluting technology. It is not possible for us to go back on these areas. We will have to develop our strengths differently.

Though friendship with the US is of paramount importance, we will have to take our own initiatives. We cannot look at other countries like US to help us. They will help us only till their interests are served. If they feel it is their interest to keep relationship with Pakistan, they will do so. If we plan our economic growth properly, there will be a situation where they will feel it is in their interest to maintain good relations with us.

We must build as many strategic partnerships and initiate strategic dialogues with other countries. Countries like Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and a few others are becoming bigger economic powers. Financial ties with such countries are important.

 

R.N.I.: What are the areas where we have lost out to China?

Ambassador Shashank: Though it is difficult to quantify, we have lost considerably because of lack of a proper foreign economic policy. Sudan was at one stage offering us a very good deal. It is a country where Shariah laws are applicable. Due to this we kept on dithering whether to do the deal with them. Meanwhile China went ahead and invested there.

In Angola too China moved fast to capture the business interests. Shell company was moving out and Angola was negotiating with ONGC-Videsh to hand over 600 million dollar equity share to India. Negotiations were more or less completed.Chinaused its influence with the Angola government to get that equity stake.

Till sometime back, it was the European countries and the US who had stakes in mines, oil and gas fields, etc. across globe. They converted their billions into trillions through it. Now China has also started doing the same and much more aggressively than others. At the same time, we dither taking decisions and are mostly occupied with domestic affairs rather than looking at tackling issues that will give us financial supremacy in world affairs.

 

R.N.I.: Has every thing been lost? Can we still take some corrective measures? If yes, what are those?

Ambassador Shashank: No, everything has not been lost yet! Whatever resources we have we can think of spreading them out. We can invest in Western treasuries and can also take maximum stake in world economy.

But the Government will have to take decisions. Economic diplomacy strategy has to be worked out. We will have to invest on agricultural fields, mines, energy resources, etc. outside. We will have to decide how much money can be put in foreign lands. At times risks too will have to be taken. Initially there will be few risks but, in long-run, we are bound to get good dividends.

Economic diplomacy in India is left to economic ministries whose main job is within the country. One has to think of some kind of new mechanism. Whether it is under National Security Council Secretariat, whether it is under the Planning Commission or whether it is under some new organization that is set up, this should be part of a planned exercise. Till now, every time there is a reduction on non-planned expenditure, such expenditures are cut as it is felt that they are external expenditures. This should not happen. It should be thought on the basis of national security perspective and our future planning perspective.

Second most important thing is our own neighbourhood. We should build infrastructural connectivity. We need to build up our own people’s strength in border areas. Whereas China has connected the entire border with India with roads, only 4-5% of the money earmarked has been spent on border roads in India in the last 5 years. CAG has commented adversely on it. This reflects perfectly on our approach so far.

To cut the matters short, we will have to build a futurist world vision, if we are to remain in competition!

 

R.N.I.: Last, but not the least, what are the chances of China attacking India in 2012?

Ambassador Shashank: Recent Chinese aggressive maneuvers on the 4000 kilometer Indo-China border do suggest that China is making preparations for a full-fledged war. Unfortunately, Indian response so far or rather India’s lack of response and failure to decide how it should respond has further aggravated the situation in China’s favour. This has made some pundits conclude that China may attack India in the near future.

But it will be foolishness on China’s part if it does so. I have said earlier that these days it is not possible that we do not keep good relationship because of competition. Moreover, China will be underestimating India’s military might if it does think of an attack. During the last decade, India has been the second biggest buyer of arms shipments, second only to Saudi Arabia and followed by China. While Saudi Arabia purchased arms worth $29 billion, India followed up with nearly $17 billion, China with $13.2 billion, Egypt with $12.1 billion and Israel with $10.3 billion. In 2010, despite slowing world economy, India was the biggest buyer of conventional arms among developing nations with deals worth $5.8 billion, followed by Taiwan with $2.7 billion deals and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan with $2.2 billion worth of purchases. While India’s policy is not offensive in nature, in case of an attack, we are fully prepared to give a befitting reply.