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Writers Speak Up against the Unmaking of India

“A distinguished Kannada writer and Sahitya Akademi Award winner, M.M. Kalburgi, and two Maharashtrians, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, both anti-superstition activists, have all been killed by gun-toting motor-cyclists. Other dissenters have been warned they are next in line. Most recently, a village blacksmith, Mohammed Akhlaq, was dragged out of his home in Bisara village outside Delhi, and brutally lynched, on the supposed suspicion that beef was cooked in his home. In all these cases, justice drags its feet. The Prime Minister remains silent about this reign of terror. We must assume he dare not alienate evil-doers who support his ideology.” Nayantara Sahgal in her statement “Unmaking India”, published inwww.indianculturalforum.in.


August 30, 2015: Kannada scholar M. M. Kalburgi assassinated 

September 12, 2015: Uday Prakash returned his Akademi award saying that free speech was endangered under the NDA government. He added that “the Akademi organises a tamasha of sorts, presents you an award and forgets about you. When something like this happens, there is no word of consolation and support from them. Writers are a family but they don’t seem to care.”

October 3, 2015: Kannada writers Veeranna Madiwalar, T. Satish Javare Gowda, Sangamesh Menasinakai, Hanumanth Haligeri, Shridevi V. Aloor and Chidanand Sali returned their Kannada Sahitya Parishat awards in protest over the delay in the inquiry into rationalist M.M. Kalburgi’s killing. Veeranna Madiwalar said, “I was among the eight who was given the Aralu Prashasti… We were really proud we got the award when Kalburgi was present. We’re upset at the slow pace of the CID investigation [on M.M. Kalburgi’s murder]. We fear the probe will go the way of the other social activists, Dabholkar and Pansare, who were also killed.” T. Satish Javare Gowda said “It is a simple gesture to exert pressure on the state government to nab the culprits.” Chidanand Sali said “The CID investigation is creating doubts among Kalburgi’s followers that the culprits may not be nabbed quickly.”

October 6, 2105: Nayantara Sahgal returned her Akademi award, saying The Prime Minister remains silent about this reign of terror. We must assume he dare not alienate evil-doers who support his ideology.”

October 7, 2105: Ashok Vajpeyi returned his Akademi award, saying “This is in solidarity with writers and intellectuals being murdered in broad daylight… Sahgal was right. He is a very loquacious Prime Minister. Why doesn’t he tell the nation that the pluralism of this country will be defended at every cost?”

October 9, 2015: Rahman Abbas returned his state Akademi award, saying “This is high time… and we cannot remain voiceless. Hence, I request senior Urdu writers, poets and critics… to register protest against murder andkilling of creative writers by returning Sahitya Academy Awards.”

October 9, 2015: T.M. Krishna wrote to the Prime Minister, saying “Words, strong and emotional words come to you easily. So why do we need to shout and scream for a few sentences about a man who was lynched for allegedly consuming beef?”

October 10, 2105: Shashi Deshpande resigned from the Sahitya Akademi General Council,saying in such a situation “silence is an abetment”.

October 10, 2015: Sara Joseph returned her state Akademi award, saying “There is a growing fear and lack of freedom under the present government… Writers are being killed, people are being killed, ghazal singers are not being allowed to perform – this is not the free India I have lived in… The Sahitya Akademi has remained silent over all of this, when it should have been the first to speak out. I am returning my award in protest…”

October 10, 2015: K. Satchidanandan resigned from the Executive Board and all other committees of the Sahitya Akademi, saying “I am sorry to find that you think this is a “political issue”; to writers like me, this is an issue of our basic freedom to live, think and write.Annihilation should never be allowed to replace argument, the very essence of democracy.”

October 10, 2015: P.K. Parakkadavu resigned from the General Council of the Sahitya Akademi, citing its failure to uphold freedom of expression.  

October 10, 2015: Keki Daruwalla wrote to the Akademi President, saying “What does it [your silence] say of the Akademi as an institution and of office bearers of this institution as upholders of our literary and cultural values?

October 10, 2015: Adil Jussawalla wrote to the Akademi President, saying “I believe this is the time for it [the Akademi] to boldly state that it unequivocally supports the rights of this nation’s writers and condemns the violence used to suppress or destroy those rights.”

October 10, 2015: Mridula Garg wrote on the Prime Minister breaking his silence, saying “If that is all he [Modi} has to say and is not ready to be held accountable for the distortion of our so called ancient culture and bashing of intellectuals in word and deed by his Ministers and M.Ps, then I prefer him silent.”

October 11, 2015: Aravind Malagatti resigned from the Sahitya Akademi General Council, saying “I have resigned condemning the killing of Kalburgi and silence of Akademi over the issue. It should have spoken out and expressed its condemnation against such acts.”

October 11, 2015: Kumbar Veerabhadrappa (Kumvee) returned his Akademi award, saying“I’m doing this condemning the killings of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M. M. Kalburgi, and Akademi’s silence on the issue; also against Dadri lynching… These incidents are an attempt to destroy the diversity of this country and it signals the entry of fascism in to India.”

October 11, 2015: G.N. Devy returned his Akademi award, saying “Your moment of reckoning has come… I do this as an expression of my solidarity with several eminent writers who have recently returned their awards to highlight their concern and anxiety over the shrinking space for free expression and growing intolerance towards difference of opinion…

October 11, 2015: Mangalesh Dabral returned his Akademi award saying “Efforts must be made to ensure that several writers come together and take a collective decision to return their awards…”

October 11, 2015: Rajesh Joshi returned his Akademi award saying, with Dabral in a joint statement, “We clearly see a threat to our democracy, secularism and freedom. There have been attempts to curb free speech earlier also, but such trends have become more pronounced under the present government. These are visible all over…”

October 11, 2015: Four Punjabi writers – Gurbachan Singh Bhullar, Ajmer Singh Aulakh, Atamjit Singh, Waryam Sandhu – returned their Akademi awards in a single day. Bhullar said he was perturbed by “…the attempts at disrupting the social fabric of the country, targeting particularly the area of literature and culture, under an orchestrated plan of action…” Aulakh said he was pained by the attacks on “progressive writers, leaders of the rational movement and the forcible saffronisation of education and culture… and the communal atmosphere being created in the country… The central government was not performing its duty as the representative of a secular and democratic country.” Atamjit Singh said he “is very upset over the incidents of communal hatred in the country for the last some months”.

October 11, 2015: A federation of Kashmiri scholars, Adbee Markaz Kamraz, too expressed solidarity with the eminent writers for their decision to return Sahitya Akademi awards, asking the top literary body to break its silence over the increasing “communal frenzy”.

October 11, 2015: G.N. Ranganath returned his Akademi award, saying he was disturbed by the recent curbs on freedom of expression.

October 11, 2015: D.N. Srinath announced he would return his translator’s award.

October 11, 2015: Nayantara Sahgal responded to the Akademi President’s remarks with a cheque for a lakh and added, “The fact that so many writers are returning their Awards or resigning from Akademi posts makes it clear how anguished we are that you have remained silent over the murder and intimidation of writers and the threat thathangs over dissent and debate.”

October 11, 2015: Aman Sethi returned his Yuva Puraskar, saying “The Akademi cannot draw its legitimacy by celebrating writers while shying clear of solidarity when they are targeted…”

October 12, 2015: N. Shivdas announced at a rally that he was returning his Akademi award, saying no action has been taken against the Sanatan Sanstha, whose members were allegedly involved in the killing of rationalists Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar.

October 12, 2015: Megh Raj Mitter returned the Shiromani Lekhak, the Punjab government’s highest award for writers.

October 12, 2015: E. V. Ramakrishnan resigned from the English Advisory Board of the Sahitya Akademi.

October 12, 2015: K. S. Ravikumar resigned from the Malayalam Advisory Board of the Akademi.

October 12, 2015: C. R. Prasad resigned from the Malayalam Advisory Board of the Akademi.

October 12, 2015: Rajendra Kishore Panda invokes the constitution of the Sahitya Akademi in his letter to the Akademi President, saying one of its [the Akademi’s] prime duties is to stand by writers and scholars expressing their thoughts…”

October 12, 2015: Salman Rushdie joined the protests against the spread of “communal poison” and “rising intolerance” in the country. “I support Nayantara Sahgal and the many other writers protesting to the Sahitya Akademi. Alarming times for free expression in India,” he tweeted.

October 12, 2015: Ghulam Nabi Khayal said he was returning his award, adding that The minorities in the country are feeling unsafe and threatened. They feel their future is bleak.”

October 12, 2005: Gopalkrishna Gandhi said, “Writers returning Sahitya Akademi awards is a landmark moment… more should do so… They have spoken not just for the power of protest but also for the power of dissent… I don’t think there has been a time when three rationalists have been murdered, and the way they were, suggests a resemblance in the crimes. If writers and dissenters don’t protest, who will?

October 12, 2015: Theatre artist Maya Krishna Rao enlarges the stage of writers’ protests by adding the voices of performing artists. Her protest, she said, was against the Dadri lynching and the “rising intolerance” in the country.
October 12, 2015: Rahamat Tarikeri returned his Akademi award, protesting the recent increase in intolerance, included the Dadri lynching.

October 12, 2015: Four more writers from Punjab, Surjit Pattar, Baldev Singh Sadaknama, Jaswinder and Darshan Buttar added their voices in solidarity by announcing they were returning their awards. Pattar said “The murder of writers, scholars and thinkers in this diverse country is painful… Even more painful is that these murderers get away…”

October 12, 2015: Anil Joshi announces that he will return his Akademi award, saying “…it does not hold any importance when people like Kalburgi, (Govind) Pansare and (Narendra) Dabholkar are being killed… People who are behind these killings don’t have any respect for those holding different views and opinions. In that case, they would have killed Bhagat Singh, too, who did not believe in God, and Savarkar, who used to say that there is no need to worship cows…”

October 12, 2015: Chaman Lal returned his Akademi translation prize in solidarity with all writers of Indian languages including English.

October 13, 2015: Meena Alexander expressed solidarity with Indian writers and writes on the “Silenced Writer”.

October 13, 2015: Dalip Kaur Tiwana announced that she will return her Padma Shri, saying, “In this land of Gautama Buddha and Guru Nanak Dev, the atrocities committed on the Sikhs in 1984 and on the Muslims recurrently because of communalism are an utter disgrace to our state and society. And to kill those who stand for truth and justice put us to shame in the eyes of the world and God.”

October 13, 2015: Pradnya Pawar announced she was returning all her literary awards and the prize money to the Maharashtra state government to protest the “culture of intolerance” in the country. She added, “We are living in an era of undeclared emergency.”

October 13, 2015: Govind Nihlani spoke out in support of the writers, saying, “The situation of the days of ‘Tamas’, which saw the great divide and displacement of thousands has not changed. In fact, the fissures in society have grown and the manipulation of the vulnerable has increased.”

October 13, 2015: Bhai Baldeep Singh announced that he would return the Parman Patraconferred on him for his contributions to classical music and gurbani sangeet, to protest “the lack of appropriate response to warn off those who have been perpetrating crimes against humanity”.

October 13, 2015: Homen Borgohain announced he would return his Akademi award in protest against the Dadri incident, and attacks on minorities, liberal writers and rational thinkers. He also expressed his anguish over the growing fascist tendency in the country. A silent protest he said, had been going on inside him since the Dadri killing took place.

October 13, 2015: Nirupama Borgohain announced she would return her Akademi award to express disapproval of growing intolerance, saying “Religious intolerance has reached extreme level. But the leader of the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not assured us to stop it and he is remaining silent. It is as if he is encouraging fascism to grow…”

October 13, 2015: Mandakranta Sen announced that she would return her young writers’ special award from the Akademi to protest against the Dadri lynching, and growing intolerance and communalism.

October 13, 2015: Marathi writers Harishchandra Thorat, Sanjay Bhaskar Joshi and Ganesh Visputay returned their Maharashtra state government awards, saying there was an emergency-like situation in the country.

October 14, 2015: Keki Daruwalla returned his Akademi award, saying “… in recent months it [the Akademi] has not stood up as boldly as it should for values that any literature stands for, namely freedom of expression against threat, upholding the rights of the marginalised, speaking up against superstitions and intolerance of any kind…. That Dr. M.M. Kalburgi, a Sahitya Akademi prize winner should be killed for no other reason except his rationalist views is something that cannot pass muster without some protest from brother authors.

October 14, 2015: Nayantara Sahgal issued a statement on www.indianculturalforum.in

October 14, 2015: Expressing concern over rising communal polarization and intolerance, 100 intellectuals from West Bengal intellectuals on Wednesday wrote to President Pranab Mukherjee, saying that the Modi government should take a tough stand against fundamentalists.”The composite culture is the essence (of the Indian society) but concerted efforts are on to destroy this. A dangerous game of communal polarisation is being played, the result of which are the murders of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, leftist Govind Pansare and scholar M.M. Kalburgi,” the 100 intellectuals and authors, including eminent poets Shankha Ghosh and Nabaneeta Dev Sen, said.”Be it the lynching in Dadri or cancelling (ghazal maestro) Ghulam Ali’s concert or blackening senior journalist Sudheendra Kulkarni’s face for hosting a book launch of (ex-Pakistani foreign minister) Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, all are an example of this dangerous game of communal polarisation,” they said.”This is not the voice of a few authors or intellectuals but of the common people of our society who are now living in fear and apprehension,” added Sahitya Akademi Award winning author Nabaneeta Dev Sen. On October 15th, another 63 intellectuals added their names to the letter.

October 14, 2015: The Goa Konkani Lekhak Sangh (GKLS) plans a series of demonstrations during the International Film Festival of India in Goa to condemn the murder of rationalists and writers in the country. Fifteen of the Konkani award winners, along with Padma Shri writer and academic Maria Couto, plan the protests to highlight their concerns before national and international delegates visiting the state for the 46th edition of the film festival. N. Shivdas, who had earlier announced that he will return his award, also plans to join the collective protest. “The trend of attacking people with creative temperament is not limited to a specific region but across nation…he (Prime Minister Modi) should give us an assurance that such incidents will not recur and the killers will be brought to justice,” said Shivdas.

October 14, 2015: Mohan Bhandari confirmed his decision to return his Akademi award in solidarity with the nationwide protest by writers against growing intolerance and killing of writers in Karnataka. He said, “It pains me to see growing intolerance and communalism against which we writers have always raised a strong voice in our writings. Returning the award is a way of bringing attention to the disturbing conditions prevailing in the country today.”

October 14, 2015: 40 Punjabi writers and theatre artists staged a protest in Chandigarh against the suppression of freedom of speech, and to express solidarity with those who have returned state awards. The number of awards returned in Punjab is the highest in the country.The group of 40 people included Mohan Bhandari, Chaman Lal, Meg Raj Mitter, Hardev Chauhan, Dr Dharamvira Gandhi, and Harjinder Kaur, chairperson, Punjab Arts Council. The highlight of the protest was 78-year-old Mohan Bhandari’s announcement to return his SahityaAkademi award.

October 14, 2015: Noted constitutional expert Fali S Nariman said it was high time Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke against the “plague of intolerance spreading rapidly across the country” and those using “violent methods to stymie free speech and dissent” were brought to book. 

October 15, 2015: Hardev Chauhan, who has returned an NCERT (National Council for Education, Research and Training) award for children’s writing, said he would also return his Shiromani Bal Sahit Lekhak award.

October 14, 2015: Class 11 student, Muddu Thir Thahalli of Sahyadri High School returned her Karnataka Sahitya Akademi award that she received for a collection of essays in 2011. She said it was to protest the killing of M.M. Kalburgi. She added, “Curtailment of freedom of expression is bad. Literature is a medium to express one’s opinions. There should be no curbs on free speech and writing.”

October 15, 2015: Chikkappanahalli Shanmukha, Principal Correspondent with Kannada Prabha newspaper, announced in a Facebook post that he would return the Madhyama Academy award in protest against the delay in apprehending the assailants of writer MM Kalburgi.

October 15, 2015: Nand Bharadwaj announced that he will return his Akademi award. The noted Rajasthani and Hindi writer and former director of Doorsarshan said, “It is sad to witness the silence of the Akademi over the increasing number of attacks on writers.”

 

October 16, 2015: Sahitya Akademi award winner and Telugu writer M. Bhoopal Reddy, announced he will return his Akademi award to express solidarity with protests against the “growing intolerance in the country”. He will also return his Ugadi Puraskaram award given by the Telangana Government to register his protest against the “indifference” of the state government to the growing number of farmer suicides. “They have increased since the new Government came to power, but the Government is more interested in spending money on building temples and other insignificant things,” he said.


275 (writers, performing artists and others) have spoken up in one way or the other, and so has the Adbee Markaz Kamraz, a federation of 25 literary and cultural organizations from North Kashmir, and the Goa Konkani Lekhak Sangh.

Originally published at Indian Cultural Forum. Republished under theCreative Commons License  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License in solidarity with protesting writers and endorsement of dissent as a fundamental right and diversity as a national resource.

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What is the Reliance Gas Price issue? Why has Arvind Kejriwal filed an FIR against Mukesh Ambani? Why is there so little clear information on the issue? Read the easy to understand version.

What is the Reliance Gas Price issue?

To put it in one line, it is an objection to higher pricing for natural gas which has little justification and has been brought about through unclear reasoning.

What is the complete story of Reliance Gas Scam?

After the Government of India opened up hydrocarbon exploration and prodution to private and foreign players in 1991, Reliance Industries got the rights to explore the D6 block as per NELP (New Exploration and Licening policy). Here, Reliance Industries discovered India's biggest gas reserves in the Krishna Godavari basin near the Andhra coast and the site is called Dhirubai 6 (which is where the "KG D6 basin" come from, in news related with this subject). The size of the block is 7,645 square kilometers and is officially recorded as KG-DWN-98/1.

The D6 was to produce 40 million MMSCD (Million Cubic meters per day), which was revised to 80 MMSCD. Initial development cost at $2.4 billion was revised through an “addendum” in 2006 to $5.2 billion in the first phase and $3.3 billion in the second phase.

When Reliance Industries split between Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani, a secret pact between the Ambani brothers became public. Anil Ambani owned RNRL (Reliance Natural Resources Ltd) claimed it had rights to gas from Reliance KG basin for 17 years at $2.34 per mmBtu (million British thermal unit). The Supreme Court finally settled the matter by asserting that ‘the government owns the gas till it reaches its ultimate consumer and parties must restrict their negotiation within the conditions of the government policy’.

None of the ministries involved in the process, including the oil ministry, raised the point that the gas reserves belonged to the country and was not a property of the Ambani family. Even the Prime Minister, ManMohan Singh meekly requested the brothers to settle their differences in the interests of the country.

The CAG Draft Report on the audit of the Production Sharing Contracts for the on-shore and off-shore oil and gas blocks showed that the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) allowed Reliance Industries and other private operators to "gold-plate" the capital costs and make huge profits using an "Investment Multiplier", which meant that higher the capital cost, the larger the share of the profits of the private parties. If the cost is inflated enough and the supply of gas dwindles before it is recovered (the quantity cannot be ascertained, as the appraisal wasn't done), the government profit will mostly be "thenga", while Reliance "recovers" its invented investments.

Till the the capital costs are recovered, 90% of the petroleum/gas sold would be “cost” petroleum (covering Government royalty of 5%, operating costs, the costs of exploration, and the development cost of producing gas) and only 10% would be “profit” petroleum and Reliance gets the major share of the “profit” petroleum. The "Investment Multiplier" begins to increase (and thus the Government's share) only after Reliance Industries has recovered most of its investment.

So increasing the profit share for private parties and decreasing government share was as simple as pouring in funds well beyond those stated in initial bid. Increasing capital costs helps Reliance retain a much larger share of the profits in the initial years, while the Government gets its share only in the last phase, when the production declines.

The capital costs in KG Basin D-6 Block went up from $2.4 billion in the initial contract to $8.5 billion. This is not possible without the government cronyism allowing it and there lies the  KG basin gas scam. In the case of KG D9 basin, the Management Committee in which the Government had 2 nominees allowed the inflation of contracts.

The CAG Draft Report also brought out that if the company did not develop certain areas within the contracted area within the stipulated time, 25% of the area outside that discovered in 2004 and 2004 should have been relinquished. Instead, the DGH and the Ministry of Petroleum allowed the whole area to be designated as “discovery area” in violation of the contract. Actual amount of gas available was obfuscated by digging inadequate wells, and moving directly to commercial production without intermediate appraisal.

Add to this the high price of Reliance gas -- $4.2 per Million BTU (MBTU), fixed by the Empowered Group of Ministers headed by Pranab Mukherjee even when Reliance had admitted in Court that its production cost was $1.43 per MBTU and agreed to to supply gas at $2.34 to both NTPC and Anil Ambani Group, still making a profit of 50% (at this point, ONGC was supplying gas for half the price and gas production had not started in KG basin). Pranabda's Empowered Group of Ministers let him renege on this and demand $4.2 per MBTU, because he could not now supply gas for less than the "mandated price" set by the government" (No gas was coming out of the KG Basin still). Ministers may be "Empowered", but on behalf of whom were they acting?

So Reliance profits from every side

  • By over invoicing the capital costs paid to own affiliates without oversight, it makes substantial profits directly
  • By inflating project cost, it continues to get a larger share of profits for an additional time till the "investments" from are recovered.
  • Selling gas at multiple times the real cost (of which it retains a major chunk as "recovering investment")

In the meanwhile, fuel prices influence every aspect of life in terms of affordability and they are set to rise AGAIN. For the common man, this basically means "khaya piya kuch nahi, glass toda barah anna" only to find out that the broken glass has been kept there to con people into paying for breaking it.

The open letter by Surya P Sethi to the prime minister on the Rangarajan formula doubling the price of KG basin gas minces no words.

The Comptroller and Auditor General's findings and other independent reports reveal how crony capitalism benefited RIL. The pre-qualification norms were diluted to ensure RIL qualified. The claimed size of gas discoveries, the field development plans and the investment outlays proposed escaped rigorous due diligence. Above all, RIL's commitments under the PSC and the field development plans were not enforced.

RIL's clout was on full display when, despite serious objections from me and the then Cabinet Secretary, the 2007 Empowered Group of Ministers approved the price of $4.20 per million metric British Thermal Units (MMBTU) based on an RIL-crafted formula that was unique in the world for pricing natural gas. The $2.34/MMBTU bid by RIL, in a global tender, for the same gas was ignored. A sham price discovery exercise was permitted to justify the higher price that the approved formula delivered.

And Moily & Co have approved yet another price hike that doubles the price of gas from 1st April onwards. So, from $4.2 per unit, Reliance will sell for $8.4 per unit.

Why has Arvind Kejriwal filed an FIR against Mukesh Ambani?

Arvind Kejriwal cannot overrule the Central Government match fixing permissions and prices and such to suit their cronies (or is it puppet masters?), but he has done something that will add pressure to bring about accountability on thKG Basin gas price scam. He has filed an FIR for cheating against Mukesh Ambani, Moily and others for what is becoming known as the Mukesh Ambani gas scam. In particular, he is trying to stall the new price hike from April onwards.

Considering that the whole scam appears to be somewhat legal with "lapses", it is unclear how he can win the case, particularly with the two biggest political parties and media out to defend Mukesh Ambani, but it will pave the way for more serious actions by forcing the issue into more attention.

A country cannot afford to abandon national interest in the energy sector so lightly and still expect to thrive.

Why is there so little clear information or discussion on the issue?

Ambani owns controlling shares in 27 media and news channels. Vajpayee's son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya told Nira Radia (Radia tapes scandal) that Mukesh Ambani told him “Congress to ab apni dukaan hai.”. Mukesh Ambani and Narendra Modi hugged onstage in last year's Vibrant Gujarat and Akash Ambani attended Modi's rally in Mumbai. It is the Congress that has helped engineer the windfall in the first place. Not to mention when Arvind Kejriwal in November 2012 made these accusations, Mukesh Ambani lawyers sent notices to media organizations for airing them. What do you expect?

Please note that I am no economist, journalist, analyst or similar. I am a blogger with interest in issues of relevance to the common man of India and I seek information to understand what is happening. If there are any inaccuracies, please point them out in the comments and I will correct them.

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had originally written this article for Tehelka, but I don’t think they published it. If they did, let me know, and I can redirect this page there.

Animation of dripping water

Recently, the government circulated a 15 page draft for the new water policy, that aims to privatize its delivery services. Astonishingly, no one has paid much attention to this. In other news, the Maharashtra government is looking to divest BMC of water and sewerage departments and combine them into a separate entity along the lines of the Delhi Jal Board with a view toward eventually privatizing it.

A consultancy firm was paid 49 lakhs to do comparative studies with different countries for consultancy on how to “augment the city’s water supply and improve the sewerage operation”. This fee was deliberately below 50 lakhs in order to bypass the requirement for the approval of the standing committee. The BMC chief can use special powers to approve it as long as it doesn’t cross 50 lakhs. Why avoid the standing committee? Going to the standing committee makes the matter public. Privatizing water is unlikely to be taken kindly by the masses once they realize it will mean substantially higher water bills. Resistance will increase substantially. The less time citizens have to realize and prevent, the better the chances for our “democracy” to score a goal on its own people.

I suppose that said firm Deloitte from London is only coincidentally from a country with abundant water resources and fully privatized water (and growing civil unrest as poverty rises). England has a history of privatized water dating back to the 17th century till it collapsed in favor of public water in the 19th century due to inability to expand to meet needs. And it stayed near dead for a century till Margaret Thatcher privatized all the water in 1989 – after it was developed at public expense.

Do not expect any report from this company to talk about the World Bank going quiet on privatization of water after its study showed a near absense of the much advertized private funds expanding reach of services and mixed results that were not better than public water, but an increase in prices anyway. ALL of India will have an economic shortage of water by 2025 and large sections will have physical scarcity of water and there are no success stories combining poverty, water scarcity and water privatization. In contrast, Japan, Canada and Scandinavia have no privatization of water. Nicaragua, the Netherlands and Uruguay have passed laws banning privatization of water. Every country with any privatized water has people movements fighting it. Our great role model, the US came from 60% of its water being privately provided when it was formed to 30% in 1924. Now, it has public-private partnerships and people’s movements to get rid of that “private” too.

India needs money. We have payments of over $100 billion coming up. Everyone is in a mad scramble to figure out what can be done to raise this money urgently, but no one wants to look at what brings us here or how it can be prevented in the future. Privatizing water will raise enormous amounts of money. If this can be converted into a market, then there are massive profits which will not suffer from slowing economy or ANY reason. You will sell your gold, your house, your own body before you will stop needing water.A water mine in a country predicted to have massive water problems on the horizon. However, profit at what cost?

It isn’t like we don’t have reserves, but touching those reserves will be the final certificate of the government being untrustworthy about national finances. So the race is on to what can be sold out from under the country’s feet, because there isn’t time to develop the capacity legitimately, and I don’t know if there is any inclination either.

The recent FDI in retail was a recent example. Before we discovered this miraculous need for money, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce report on FDI in Retail in May 2009 had categorically recommended against it. Now, the plan is shelved, but India assured Walmart that it was only a pause, and FDI in Retail was going to happen. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was blunt “I need the money”. In the meanwhile, the rent-a-gurus waxed eloquent about how the FDI in Retail will save our farmers. None answer a simple question – why would any business pay the farmer more for something available on the open market for less? There is no explanation for why existing retail chains we have never developed the infrastructure the firang ones will apparently conjure up.

People who opposed FDI in Retail were branded as anti-progress and pro middle-men, even when they were presenting data of damages to the small farmer in the land of the Walmart itself. And the middlemen though inefficient, are citizens of India, and don’t deserve policies designed to destroy millions of them. There are no explanations on how to manage the massive unemployemnt that would happen either. As though the corporates are magic wands – pay more to the farmer, give employment to more people, sell cheap to the buyer. Someone needs to find a calculator.

Like Pavlov’s dog, when we hear money, we *know* corporations are best. That is the non-negotiable conclusion and starting point and we choose data to fit it. For example, in 2011, our trade with China reached a record high. That was the headline. And in the article, it mentioned that trade deficit was also higher than ever before. The trade hit USD 73.9 billion in 2011 – USD 12.2 billion dollars more than USD 61.7 billion in 2010. The trade deficit rose to over USD 27 billion. Indian exports out of all these numbers are USD 23.4 billion. In other words, the amount of exports is smaller than the trade deficit.

If your idea of development is selling the country as a market, what else do you expect? It is no secret that money spent goes out. Household savings are at a 13 year low. Far from the days of our undeveloped country, where people saved for prosperous retirements and National Savings Certificates doubled money in five years. Now have “disposable incomes” which seem to be less and less disposable.

There is nothing wrong with the capitalism or globalization, but systems have no soul, no ethics – it is the government that regulates practices and determines how they grow and profit, and where the line is drawn, so that the common man is not devastated – and in turn can sustain a market. When you subjugate democracy and well being to drain a flood of money to an entity that gives you a beam of money where you need it, it is the country losing that flood. If you are the government, you can’t hide from this indefinitely.

People blaming capitalism are missing an important point. What capitalism can and can’t do is determined by the government, it is unrealistic to say corporates did it. Corporates would be forced to clean up if the governments enforced laws. There are many countries where corporations can’t make the kind of messes they make here. But then, they pay the governments less, so the it is the government choosing the suffering of the people over money. To the extent of adopting non-transparent practices deliberately to hide exploitation from citizens.

Ripples from a waterdrop.

No business invests more money than it expects to earn. This is a basic fact of good business. When we are privatizing water, whoever thinks it is a remedy for loss suffered by the government is delusional. That money comes from consumers – many of whom may drop out of tax brackets. Would be more efficient and less harmful to install donation boxes countrywide.

The government’s new policy aims to recover losses by removing subsidies to the agricultural and domestic sectors. It sees no difference between water as a necessity and water as a source for commercial profit. Why would a corporation see a human’s need for survival as something to support? The welfare of humans is not their responsibility. It is not corporations whose names will be tarnished if people die of thirst. Records worldwide will note it against the name and human rights record of the country.

Another delusion is that corporates are free of corruption. Witness the disinformation between what is happening and how it is presented to see how policies are being systematically promoted for profit. Corporate corruption isn’t about trickles like bribes, but flash-flood policies that siphon resources till they dry out. Corporates are opaque and unaccountable in ways that governments are not. Citizens have no control over private entities. People can vote out governments, but only change service providers who are very similar to each other anyway. CEOs earning more than your average ministers, executives taking flights, staying in five star hotels, massive staffs and their smart uniforms and shiny shoes… comes from the consumer. But when a necessity like water is put in the hands of a corporation, then it is citizens of a democracy being forced to sponsor these expenses for survival – there is no choice here.

What right does a government have to take a fundamental necessity of life entrusted to them; that no government created; and the infrastructure developed from decades of taxes and efforts of many governments and sell it off to patch ongoing deficits temporarily?

As water becomes more and more scarce, people will kill and die for it. Strategic experts say that the next wars will be fought over water. If water is converted into a commodity for profit, what will it mean in terms of wars within the country? No one seems to think of what desperation for an essential for survival can mean to one under threat of losing access to it. If inflation triggered the flood of anger over corruption, what will lack of water trigger over privatization? Our whole awareness of India has been reduced to “consumer” and measures of well being to GDP and stock index. We’re driving our way into a ditch.

The real question is, what else is there and why is it not explored? How about requiring companies to clean up after themselves or pay fines and lose licences? We have an increasing array of destroyed water bodies. Why not make deals with corporates to clean them, sue polluters and sell their water for a specific time period to recover investment? This will mean the development of the country as well as privatized water. But it isn’t an instant profit market, so it will not fetch the government much money.

Our whole financial policy is becoming one of “selling ancestral wealth to live lavish lives” and the scary part is that no one sees anything wrong with this. No one is thinking that in an increasingly unequal country with a vast young population and decreasing birth rates, in three decades we are going to hit a massive old population with very little money and not enough young people or money to care for them.

In our greed for getting money into the government at all cost to show a “successful government”, the country is paying an increasing price. Adding water to the mix is sowing the seeds of a genocide or French Revolution, because everyone needs water.

RAPE LINKED TO LAX SECURITY.

NIGHT POLICING MORE IS LESS.

GURGAON JOB RESTRICTIONS UNLAWFUL.

March 16 2012: By: Vijay Panjwani, Advocate Supreme Court

Honesty, punctuality, a propensity to keep promises, the attitude towards corruption are matters shaped in great part by norms and social beliefs and the behavior patterns can become habitual. In democratic India what can be done by government depends in great measure on how ordinary people think and what people believe in…Quote from the Economic Survey published by TOI, Delhi 16-3-2012 on Page 15.
The Gurgaon abduction and rape of a mother of three year old boy while commuting in a taxi along with her brother from pub named ‘Last Chance’ to her home. And the other case of a girl accompanied by her one year old baby being raped. The public pain and sympathy is overflowing in favour of the victims even as we were discussing the murder of Narendra Kumar 30 year old IPS officer taking action against illegal mining after midnight in Morena District, Madhya Pradesh following other such incidents in the same state in Satna and Panna Districts.
Several questions arise in such sexual violations of the human body. In Gurgaon cases violence was forced upon to over-awe, subdue, and surrender.

  1. What are the duties of the pub owner.
  2. Liability for damages in public law in addition to statutory rights to compensation.
  3. What type of State policing is required.
  4. Whether there is State duty to eradicate social and criminal activities. In doing so can State restrict the right to work of needy women by notifying 8 PM as time to stop work but in doing so does not restrict entry of women guests in pubs after 8PM. Is it true that most pubs open after 9PM in Gurgaon and close at 2 AM. Can any pub stop entry of a girl working inside or outside the pub upto 8 PM from changing her status to guest after 8 PM. Is it illegal to facilitate single males to enter pubs requiring female-male entry only. Can a pub which knowingly benefits by the escort service provided by rape victim turn around and say she has nothing to do with the pub.
  5. Is Violation of victims Human Right to security enforceable.
  6. 1993 UN General Assembly resolution to eradicate violence against women compliance in India.
  7. Whether victims of rape entitled to immediate No Fault compensation by State.
  8. Whether pub owner liable to pay compensation to any woman ‘working’ for the ‘benefit’ of his income. What meaning to be given to the terms ‘benefit’ and ‘working’ strictly statutory or liberally enlarged.
  9. Whether necessary to go into issues like skimpy-tight clothes, inviting conduct, after thought on being exposed to family, blackmailing for money, etc.
  10. Whether punishment for rape to be reduced to minimum two years from the present 7 years for higher rate of conviction.
  11. Whether the seven persons who gang-raped Gurgaon victim mother of 3 year old son deserve to be babotised and would this punishment amount to ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ which is illegal
  12. Whether accused persons liable to punishment also liable to pay compensation to the victim.
  13. Whether paying capacity is a distinct separate issue from liability to pay.
  14. Can a public interest petition be filed in any Hon’ble High Court in writ jurisdiction for compensation and eradication of criminal activities.
  15. Can any other person or her friend/relation/Advocate in addition to or in place of the victim file such a PIL petition.
  16. For Gurgaon rape victim,, is the High Court P&H the only forum or she can approach Supreme Court directly.
  17. Can the victim alternatively or in addition also approach National Human Rights Commission at Delhi for compensation, etc.
  18. Why are both the National Women Commission and State Women and Child Commission weak and helpless. What is their role.
  19. Media follows pick & choose policy in highlighting victims and whenever it does victim gets relief. Can this role be adopted for social netizens.
  20. [20] What action to be taken against the beat constable for failing in his duty to expose and curb criminal activities within his assigned patrolling area. He is at the base of police corruption and the best whistle blower.

These questions need attention of every citizen particularly women on the net because answers and action taken would improve our social attitude and security environment. It can rescue women from getting into the net. More than heightened law enforcement need is for attitude change as propagated by Finance Minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee in the Parliament on 15th March 2012 while speaking on the Economic Survey. Jai Hind.

8

Increasing privatization of necessities means citizens are forced to make purchases from private entities that are opaque to scrutiny and unaccountable to people. It is a permanent profit.

Privatizing essentials for living is undemocratic, because private corporations are not chosen by the people and they are not accountable to the people. We are a democracy, though these days many thought leaders seem to see it as a handicap. Things defined as necessities and included in the human development index MUST have government provided options, even if private entities offer their own services too. Like phones, healthcare, PDS or buses. Some things – air, water, land and sunlight – must NEVER be turned into the hands of anyone not accountable to citizens. Our ancestors weren’t fools to worship them – they are the foundations of life itself. Better than saving the cows, the Nationalists should save these.

Shifting the burden of responsibility from accountable government to opaque, private entities

This may seem like a small matter, but it is not. This is the government forcing people to make purchases from private entities, and I don’t see how any government has the right to impose them on people in a democracy. If companies want to sell better water, let them create their own networks for whoever wants to buy it – and source it from anywhere except this country – make it from the sea for all I care. It is possible. It requires technology, but the fancy corporates have abundant and better tech, I hear. Shouldn’t be a problem.

Supposed experts argue that the government is inefficient and that is why we need private companies. This is pro-privatization bull shit. Indian Government organizations run some of the most amazing, intricate and huge infrastructures in the world. ISRO has some of the greatest space programmes in the world for a fraction of the budget of the NASA and definitely not proportionately less capacity. Our Army is one of the largest in the world. We are capable of achieving quality. Not to mention we have indigenously developed nuclear capacities. We aren’t stupid. It is strange how we excel in some services and are miraculously incompetent where corporate alternatives exist. Or perhaps, those with possible profits in privatization keep quality low to prepare the stage by saying, oh, the government can’t do better, we are not private.

Are corporations really more efficient?

India’s telephone network is one of the largest in the world. Public transport, water pipelines… We can reach to every citizen of the country for things like vaccination, census, elections. Show me the corporation that has capabilities of this scale. We privatized electricity in Mumbai, but show me the corporation that electrified the many villages that need it instead of taking over already profitable areas. That is still this “incapable” government’s job and tax payer’s expense.

Why are there corporate subsidies, bailouts and bankruptcies if corporates are more efficient? Of course necessities being privatized will not go kaput, because we’ll cover the losses no matter what for our own survival needs. Unless they do fail and then it will be a humanitarian disaster that the tax payer must bail out to prevent humanitarian catastrophe. In other words, corporates are able to sell “better” on the basis of advertised efficiency, and make the tax payer suffer the inefficiencies that later emerge. Which CEO or upper management doesn’t get paid when the company is going bankrupt? With essentials, the consumer is powerless with choice between several corporations with similar methods and prices.

We blame the government for not making profit while operating in areas of all kinds of lack of development and think corporates that only run in profitable environments and still can make losses are better? What crap logic is this?

Does privatization bring solutions?

If privatization is the solution to everything not working, then the previous year is proof that we must privatize the Parliament instead of merely letting puppets of corporations run it. Let’s do away with elections, stop calling us a democracy and simply go with the “better option”. Let’s privatize the police force. It is far more inefficient than water supply. Whoever thinks people need cops more than they need water is insane. We take water for granted, because we still have it. As in, you and I – witness the massive protests by those whose water gets threatened over dams being privatized, built, destroyed or water sources being polluted… but wait, you didn’t hear about them.

It is also funny how the “need” for privatization is visible only in the areas where massive infrastructures built at the tax payer’s expense are peddled away to a company that couldn’t have dreamed of creating them. A company that will then bill the same tax payers more for using their creation. Big profits are made – from the “big market” India is. As economy slows, sales drop, stocks drop. No such risk with essentials. You will sell your gold and your house and yourself before you live without water.

Is no one connecting the dots to this massive collusion between government and private players? Why is this happening? Because India is a "developing country" in spite of massive undevelopedness and has delusions of being a superpower. Unfortunately, GDP cannot be faked. The money hemorrhaging through scams, misgovernance, lousy policies and plain posturing needs to come from somewhere. So we are now doing what a drunkard does - selling belongings to pay for booze.

Is it really development to sell away what the government owns?

Like the broke farmers selling their land and borrowing from moneylenders, we are selling or leasing our assets to corporates to afford running the country. We are walking this path, because we didn’t take the farmer suicides seriously enough to UNDERSTAND what was happening. Like the farmer who can’t afford seeds and sells more and more of his life till nothing is left, we can’t afford our outgoing.

Payments over $100 billion coming up. We have a few reserves, but using them will make us less super power and be the stamp on the government’s lack of credibility with money. Time to sell something. The FDI in Retail flopped because massive outcry was raised. Some other FDIs still happened. India is assuring Wallmart that the FDI too is going to happen. Pranab Mukherjee is candid “I need the money“. Never mind that a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce report on FDI in Retail in May 2009 recommended against it. Now water privatization. A bomb proof market of citizen’s needs is sold for vast amounts of money, as guaranteed, stupendous profit.

Corporations are less corrupt is a popular perception – because they 1. legitimize many payments that come out of the customers pocket (compare salaries like CEOs, perks to top management, meeting and conference and such expenses, corporate branding, dress codes, running expenses… for example) and 2. they are not transparent, so you don’t know anyway. You can’t file an RTI to find out even if you suspect. But make no mistake, you pay for the glitter. It isn’t corruption if they tell you upfront. It is only unfortunate and these costs are unavoidable cost of running the operation and you want water from it and now you must pay your bill.

Who is responsible if the poor cannot afford life essential services from private operators?

I have no wish to dictate what corporates do with their operations with non-essentials, but I think in a country with massive poverty, necessities must be as lean and subsidized as possible without trying to “recover investments” at the cost of human rights. There are arguments about “welfare state” and such. I don’t know when the word welfare itself became a bad word, but I cannot understand why it is wrong to ensure a basic human need like water for all regardless of their ability to pay for it.

Is our country really saying that staying in the country is different from having water for living in it? What next? Air? Sunlight? Earth? With India being the most polluted country in the world and radiation increasingly recognized as unsafe, they are possible. Imagine piped breathing air for enclosed spaces from villages or other areas with trees and low pollution, portable air decontaminators with bluetooth pairing with your phone and computer. Radiation and other contamination free properties available for a price. Huge roofs over cities for solar power and you can pay to enter and spend some time in the sun… But only privatized after the tax payer first pays for creating the infrastructures. And then the rest of the people should live with the lousy contaminated state of their “services” or pay up. Our experts would talk about India’s prowess in taming the four elements of our ancient texts.

Why have development indexes by country at all? Privatize all needs, and ask UN to speak with service providers over people dying of hunger and thirst, who will simply say that they are not customers, and they are not answerable for those they don’t provide service to. We can always say that we cannot help epidemics, since we don't have a service to monitor them, and we don't have the service because no one wants to pay for a service that monitors epidemics where mostly poor die. So we at least don’t appear so bad.

Life essential needs are not merely products and services, they are what make life possible

The big, fatal mistake is in buying the government and corporate bullshit that basic needs are services. They are the backbone of a country. They are the resources of the nation entrusted to elected representatives to govern to the advantage and well-being of all. That is why you don’t have corporations who built millions of kilometers of water pipelines. They developed with the taxes paid by the average person to develop the country – over decades, a little at a time. In ANY country. Like building your own home, but as a country. For your whole family. You speak of national unity and staying together and such? This is it that we are kicking away and wondering why people are breaking free.

It isn’t about corporates offering better quality or not, it is about representatives of the people being directly in control of their basic needs. Quality can be improved. You can’t ask a corporate why it provides a certain service to a certain area more than others. You can’t ask a corporate why you don’t get water, but the theme water park in your locality does or make it pay or suffer. Elected representatives have to listen or they get voted out. They have to answer. You can’t ask a corporate just how much profit it is making out of selling water to the “domestic and agricultural sector” and how much of the water is throttled and diverted to other large corporations for their purposes. It is happening already, but now you can file an RTI at least.

In theory, you could regulate what a corporate offers, manage prices, force service to needy areas, even force RTI – which should be done anyway for publicly offered services… but then you would end up taking responsibility for consequences too – witness Kingfisher and its bankruptcy over being forced to service less popular destinations. Now imagine Kingfisher selling your water. Either the poor go thirsty, or bail us out. The corporate becomes beyond the reach of any result, because it has the people by their needs.

If corporations are more efficient, why do they take over what is already working well instead of developing new assets?

Why not ask corporations interested in working in the “water sector” to pick areas with water problems and no infrastructure and develop them and bill the people for a set period before handing control over to the country?

Why not hand over our poor, damaged, polluted, destroyed water bodies to corporates, let them clean up, sue industries that are wrecking them, and make them usable again in return for using them to sell water for some years? They have the resources to make it possible, unlike citizens who cannot and governments who will not. Why not ask for development in return for controlling development? Why can’t corporates be expected to participate in building the country like citizens?

Wouldn’t that be a more logical use of a “more efficient entity”? We have huge areas with drought and such. They could do with a “solution” that is more effective than the government. Water and sewerage of Mumbai is separate from BMC to be eventually privatized. What is the problem with Mumbai’s already excellent water that privatization will fix and the BMC cannot?

Apparently, it is only the government’s inefficiencies that corporates fix. Apparently these corporates that are better than the government cannot create from scratch. And stupid citizens believe this bullshit, because we have people dedicated to telling them over and over that the Emperor is wearing this miraculous robe that is visible to the intelligent. So they ignore draining wallets and pretend to be smart rather than be publicly known as fools or worse “low society people who can’t even afford so much”.

Because we don’t expect capitalism to have a soul. We only expect it to churn out cash. Cash it earns from the masses and delivers to those in power as the price of keeping even more for itself. It is a one way flow. Few citizens other than employees have any way of earning back from these entities. Then we have the amazing numbers of inequality that activists will quote and get criticized for. We admire progress. Increasing numbers. They manage to sink once in a while in spite of such odds when their customers are no longer able to pay more to sustain them.

But asking such questions will not work. I will get a bunch of trolls calling me socialist as if it were a curse – even though I have little knowledge of socialism and am simply questioning what I am seeing being promoted as a good idea – like everything else questioned on this blog, because the maths seems fake.

Make no mistake, the strategic “experts” hit bulls eye when they say the next wars will be fought over water – apparently they don’t coordinate their bullshit with the development experts, and this is not on their bullshit agenda. Both between countries, and inside countries – as water resources become scarce, people will kill and die for water. Our government here is giving corporations the tools for future genocides, or “anti-national elements” tools for the next French Revolution. Because NO ONE can live without water.

But the mainstream media will continue to tell us that they are anti-national people wanting “our” water as long as we pay the bills.