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Why was action taken on mere suspicion?

 

Vijay Darda : A major question stems from the 2G spectrum case that is based on suspicion and rumours without any evidence.

Why was action taken on mere suspicion?

There is an ancient tale. Someone told a person that a crow took his ear away. The person did not try to check his ear and started chasing the crow instead. The crow flew away somewhere. For a long time after that, the person remained worried that the crow had taken his ear away. One day a wise person told him: “Brother, your ear is where it should be. Why don’t you just check it!”
The verdict of the CBI Court in 2G spectrum case spontaneously reminded me of this old story! How surprising and tragic that the then Union telecom minister along with the senior officials had to suffer in jail for the scandal that was not perpetrated at all on the ground and the conspiracy that was never hatched! Seven years later when the special judge OP Saini of the CBI court delivered the verdict, the fact came to the light and we learnt actually what the matter was. The special judge Saini wrote in his verdict: “I kept on waiting for seven years, every day of work; even in summer holidays, I sat in this court every morning from 10 am to 5 pm and waited that someone armed with legally acceptable evidence would come, but no one came. This indicates that all people were victims of a common perception, which stemmed from rumours, gossip and speculation.
The special judge Saini’s comment explains just how expert our system is in creating unrest. In fact, in 2008, the allocation of 2G spectrum was done in accordance with the first-come first-served policy. In 2010, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) said the allocation was done at the rate prevailing in 2001; had the allocation been done at the current rate, then the government could have got Rs. 1,76,000 crore more. The Opposition seized the point and started attacking the government by making the same remarks. No one appreciated that the rate prevailing in 2001 was applicable at the time the allocation was made. The attack was so strong that it was declared the mother of all Indian scandals.
The CBI started investigations and the then Union telecom minister A Raja had to resign. In 2011, he and Kanimozhi, daughter of former chief minister of Tamil Nadu M Karunanidhi, were arrested. Raja was accused of directly accepting money while Kanimozhi was said to have taken a bribe of Rs. 200 crore for her TV channel from industrialist Shahid Balwa and in return Shahid Balwa’s companies were allocated the spectrum by A Raja in a wrong manner. The then Union telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura and A Raja’s former private secretary R K Chandolia were also arrested. Besides Swan Telecom’s general manager Shahid Balwa, former general manager of Unitech Sanjay Chandra, Swan Telecom’s director Vinod Goenka, Anil Ambani Group’s Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair, Kusgaon Fruits and Vegetable Private Limited director Rajeev Agrawal, as also the company’s partner Asif Balwa, Cineyug Media and Entertainment director Karim Morani were also arrested. All of them languished in jail for different periods of time from 15 months to 12 months!
All the accused in the 2G spectrum case have been acquitted. The court found no evidence of any conspiracy or any scam! Now, a serious question arises as to who will make up for the time they spent in jail or restore their social standing or compensate for the mental anguish they suffered without any rhyme or reason? Who is guilty of defaming them, and will the government send those people behind the bars, who, on the basis of mere suspicion and rumours orchestrated the imprisonment of the well-known people of this country?
It is a very big crime in my eyes and I want that such people must be put in prison so that they will think hundreds of times before levelling accusations against any innocent person. The question arises is how were these people arrested without proof? Were there some people conspiring against the then government? I am raising this question because the fake scandal has inflicted the highest damage on the Congress.
Actually this is not the only case. Due to political rivalry, more such cases were created and innocents were implicated. The scams which have not happened, those who did not get a single penny were told they were involved in scams worth millions and billions of rupees. The way in which the truth has emerged in the 2G case, it will come out in the same way in other cases too. Those who play politics will have to understand that for some time somebody can be disturbed but ultimately the truth prevails. The government should take action against such conspirators who create ‘scam’ without proof.

Before I conclude

A lot of greetings to the cricketers of Vidarbha Ranji Team! By reaching the finals of the Ranji Trophy, it has proved that there is strength in Vidarbha too! Vidarbha has been considered backward vis-a-vis cricket. A player or two have been bringing laurels on the basis of their personal talent, but this is for the first time that the Vidarbha Ranji Team has reached the finals of the Ranji Trophy. Let us hope Vidarbha emerges winner in the finals!

 

 

 

A serious challenge to turn despair into hope

 

 

 

 
 
Vijay DardaIn the glorious history of Congress, Rahul Gandhi has the privilege of being elected as the president of the party at a young age. The critics may say that he is from the Nehru-Gandhi family, so he has been anointed. But the fact remains that every process of election has been complied with in his installation as party president. It was the long standing desire of grass root party workers that Rahul Gandhi should become the president of their party. I fully hope that he will surmount all challenges.
 
Rahul Gandhi is the  scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family and the culture and strengths of this family are ingrained in him. From Motilal Nehru to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and later  Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi all have made significant contributions in empowering the country’s citizens through the party. The entire world is aware of the contribution of this family, their participation in the freedom struggle and their sacrifices for the nation. Critics should keep in mind that people are not just honoured for nothing, one does not just gain the confidence of the people without earning their trust. It is not without reason that people of the country  showered their affection on Pandit Nehru or Indiraji. There was great sacrifice that went behind the earning of that trust, confidence and affection. Rahul Gandhi has now inherited that  legacy and will march ahead in his own quest for the trust and confidence of the people.
 
Here I would like to say that you can not compare Rahul Gandhi with Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi. Generations change with time. The important point is that ingrained cultural values do not change. The culture of Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi family, their reverence for democracy, the struggle against communal forces, the intent of war against poverty has always been and still exists within both the family and the party. Congress has always strived to improve the condition of farmers, tribals, workers and the weaker sections of this country. Rahul Gandhi is also equally compassionate and committed to treading the same path.
 
Rahul Gandhi faces a lot of challenges. There was a concerted move to malign his image. In fact, according to the Goebbelsian doctrine,  a lie repeated a hundred times eventually ends up as the truth. In fact, defaming people without any basis has become an industry today. Although Rahul Gandhi's persona has proved the propaganda wrong, the times are such that communal forces, miscreants and social media can not be dismissed offhand or taken lightly. The Congress will have to fight these forces, perhaps the battles will be intense.
 
The serious challenge facing Rahul Gandhi is to combat the disappointment within the Congress and transform it  into hope. Today we see much enthusiasm in BJP and RSS workers, but once upon a time that was the Congress workers' USP. Everybody considered it a great honour to be called a Congress worker. People also used to declare their Congress credentials with pride even at the time of forming marriage alliances. Rahul Gandhi has to restore this honour to Congress workers. Soniaji tried to keep the Congress united with her untiring efforts. 
 
On a personal level, I have the knowledge that not everything worked out as per her wish, nevertheless she took everybody into confidence. Rahul Gandhi will also discover he will not get everything according to plan. He will also have to take everybody along. 
 
I would like to state one more thing that in current political scenario, money dominates all activities. Even to  organize a rally, contracts are issued right from  hiring vehicles and collecting crowds to getting people to clap. Congress is also not untouched by this. The original worker used to take people from the locality to the meeting place, used to hoist flags and spread ideas. But now this worker  is not visible anywhere. In the past people of the Seva Dal were entrusted with this task, now they are reduced to merely attending celebrations on  August 15January 26 or Congress Day in their uniforms and offer salutes.
 
NSUI is in bad shape. This platform to hunt for student leaders has been rendered useless. The dismal  status of Youth Congress is not hidden from anyone. That is the party's very base. New leaders will rise from there. But today, money matters so much in their appointments that no one without money can hope to become Youth Congress president or Mahila Congress president. People with innate leadership qualities thus are blocked from  coming  forward. This situation needs to be changed. Rahul Gandhi will have to keep himself away from the army of hangers-on. Today senior leaders also complain that their messages do not reach Rahul Gandhi. In fact, he will have to become a mass leader, whose doors are open to one and all. I would like to give the example of Sharad Pawar whom even a common worker can meet directly. And yes, the reluctant  attitude towards industrialists also must change. Some of these people may be wrong, not all. It is important to understand that industrialists make important contribution to the country's GDP. They are important partners in the development of the country.
 
Before I conclude
I congratulate Vice President and Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu, because he has objected to the word "beg”, used by members while tabling documents. In my 18 years of Parliamentary tenure, I have always objected to the words in use from the colonial days such as “Your excellency”, “I beg to lay”, “Your honour” and VT (viceroy territory) on aircraft. 
I had also written  a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and had made an appeal to remove these words. Now after the strong objection of the Vice President, I hope that such words will soon be removed from the proceedings. 

 

 

 

Do not turn India into an arena of hatred

 

 

 

 

Vijay Darda :Had the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi imagined the kind of politics in independent India as we are seeing these days? Would Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Babasaheb Ambedkar and other top leaders ever have thought that Indian politics will get mired in caste and religion over time and pollute the entire society? Surely they would not have imagined it. They would have envisaged an India with humanity as the largest religion, and caste and religion as purely personal affair not influencing the society at all. But unfortunately, this is what is happening today. Now the seeds of hatred against each other are being sown in such a way that future looks very scary.

I am from a political family myself. For 18 years, I have been part of the parliamentary politics but for the situation that is prevailing today, I blame the political parties and their leaders directly. I am also connected to the newspaper and assess the situation closely. I have felt this and you must have also felt that as soon as the elections come, the atmosphere hots up. Things start with development and do not know when they boil down to caste and religion. There is no discussion as to the background of the candidates and what are their plans for development? What has the sitting public representative done to bring about development? There is absolutely no discussion! The discussion invariably revolves around the person’s party affiliation, which religion he belongs to and what is his caste. Even the political parties give tickets to those who have the power to garner votes in the name of caste and religion or who have the power to attract votes in their favour by virtue of their money power. Have you seen any social worker, for whom all the castes and religions are one, getting the ticket? If such a person gets a ticket then he can not win because polarisation has become the biggest weapon in politics.
Unfortunately, our politicians never think that this polarisation is affecting the society! Although people may not accept it openly, the present day reality is that our society is already being divided more on the basis of caste and religion. Leaders who won freedom for India must have hoped that caste system will weaken over time and religious fanaticism will end, but the prevailing politics itself has defied the balance. Today, caste is dominating the politics and religious fanaticism is in its prime.
I do not blame anyone for this. In my view, every political party is responsible for it. The latest example being the Assembly elections in Gujarat where the first phase of voting will be held later this week. Our colleagues from the Lokmat Media visited Gujarat and found that religious fanaticism has overshadowed the all-important issue of development. In Gujarat, such messages are circulating on the social media that I can not even mention them because they are but spreading hatred. Are the politicians not aware that such messages are being circulated? Everyone knows but there is no attempt to stop it. Rather, the politicians are slinging mud at each other no holds barred!
That Indian politics is getting so tainted is worrisome for the country. Politicians will keep coming and going, parties will come and go but democracy will weaken. Leaders must understand that those who foment hatred at the time of elections will tarnish the image of the country in the longer run. Politicians must understand that this country has never been of any one class or one religion or one caste nor will it ever be. All should understand one thing for sure that whosoever is there in this country, be Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist or Christian, it is their country. The number can be less or more but they have equal rights. Nobody can be underestimated. Actually this diversity is our power. The society here has always been inspired by the philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’. Our society will develop through love and affection for each other and coexistence. If our society is weak then the country will weaken. I just want to tell the politicians, please do not turn India into an arena of hatred! Secularism is our greatest strength. This strength should not diminish. And preservation of our greatest strength -- secularism -- is the biggest challenge before the new generation.

 

Before I conclude

The latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is extremely alarming. There is a shameful increase of 12.4% in rape incidents in the country. The three big states of the country -- Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra -- are on the top three positions. I do not understand what has happened to our society? Why are the incidents of rape on the rise? Are our values on the wane? This is a serious issue. While the laws need to be made even more stringent, the society too needs to play a proactive role in instilling values among the people.

 

 

 

Why hunger, poverty do not infuriate us?

 

 

 

 
Vijay Darda : We are passing through a strange phase where there is no such thing as sensitivity. There are tall talks. Figures of millions and billions are being bandied about. Tall claims are being made about the swifter and greater development of the country. It is being bragged that India would become a world guru. Many claims may be true but how can you deny the ground reality? A person with even little intelligence too will say that first of all this country needs to fight hunger and poverty.
 
How embarrassing it is that a girl child in Jharkhand does not get enough food for several days and dies. Even more shameful is the fact that in a matter of barely few months the system has forgotten that incident! The question is not of the death of a child but of death by hunger. Even after 70 years of independence if we die for want of food, then this is a serious matter. This incident should have triggered a storm of debate across the country. Thousands of people should have taken to the streets and questioned the government over the death of that girl, but nothing like that happened and are unlikely to happen because our sensitivities have died!
 
We do not even want to know how many poor people are still there in our country? The government continues to tamper with the poverty data conveniently. One committee says that a person who earns ` 33 a day is poor, while another committee conveniently refutes it and says, no no… a person who earns less than ` 47 a day is poor! What an irony! Can a person get two square meals a day for ` 47 or get treatment if he falls ill? The government may keep juggling with the data, but the reality is that nearly 30 crore people live below the poverty line in India. There are millions of people who just get one square meal a day. Have you ever met such people? Felt their agony?
 
Should hunger and poverty not be debated in this country? Is the issue of any film or a place of worship more important than this? With hunger and poverty, the image and reputation of the country suffers and our first priority should be freedom from hunger and poverty!
 
Second most important issue is health of the people. Is government even aware of this? It is easier to say that branches of AIIMS are spreading across the country now, but the point of the matter is what is the state of affairs at our government health centres and government hospitals? Even hospitals in New Delhi are in dire straits. Health facilities in cities like Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur are poor, leave aside the primary health centres.
 
There are less than 20,000 government hospitals across the country for a population of 125 crore. If the total number of beds in these hospital are added, the figure does not even reach 8 lakh. Apart from this, there are 1.60 lakh health sub-centres, 25,000 primary health centres and 5,500 community health centres. Judged against the requirement, this number is too less but the government does not care nor does any common man raise his voice on this issue. The result is before us. The legion of private hospitals has mushroomed where treatment is beyond the reach of the poor people. I have always been saying that a law should be framed so that officers and officials occupying government posts should be treated only in government hospitals. Public representatives and their family members should also be treated in government hospital and their wards should study in government schools.
Just try it once and I am sure the condition of government hospitals will improve. My question is, when AIIMS can be known for its quality, why not other government hospitals can be so? Do you know that according to the Global Nutrition Report, the weight and height of 4 crore children in this country is not in accordance with their age! In this case, India is 120th among 130 countries of the world. We are looking to steer ourselves into the developed nations’ category. However, we should be ashamed of our position on these underdeveloped children! But who is concerned?
 
According to the report of the United Nations International Labour Organisation, there are 1.77 crore people in this country who do not have any means of employment. This year, this figure will go up to 1.78 crore people. It seems that the number of real young unemployed is more than that! These youngsters had pinned great hopes on Modiji. Are expectations being fulfilled? In fact, the discussion should be on all these issues. It should be on what can bring glory to the country and make us feel proud, but unfortunately, the nation was made to indulge in issues which have nothing to do with the lives of the people, only to avoid debate on main issues like hunger, health and drinking water supply. We are engaged in raking up the ghosts of history, while the underprivileged tribals in remote areas are dying a silent death. We are not paying any attention on how to make our future bright...! 
 
Before I conclude
The first phase of polling in Gujarat is over. The second phase will also be over this week. The victory and defeat will depend on voters' decision. But the bitter personal attacks that the country has been witness to in this election does not suit our politics at all and is against our tradition. I hope the personal bitterness will end with the conclusion of elections. Big people should have a big heart.

 

 

 

Where is our society headed?

 

 

 

 
 
 
Vijay Darda : The occasion was Diwali this year. Like every year, traditional pan supari programme was organised at Prithvivandan at Gandhi Chowk in Yavatmal where the Lokmat Group was founded. One of my childhood friends, who is a follower of Islam, came to attend the programme. We were meeting after almost 30 years. We hugged each other and suddenly wept inconsolably. During our childhood days, he used to stay close to our house in Yavatmal. I asked him, “You stay there only!” “No. I have shifted to the locality of Muslims now,” he said.
 
I was astonished. The city where people lived in harmony, had been divided on the basis of caste and creed. Telis, Dalits, Muslims, Christians, Punjabis and Kunbis now live in their localities. I asked him once again why he did not meet me for so many years. His reply was even more shocking. He said, “Vijay, you have become a wealthy person and that’s why I was hesitant to meet you.” I remember my childhood when there was no rich-poor divide; friendship meant friendship only.
At that time, Urdu and Marathi medium schools would be the same. We would celebrate 15th August and 26th January together, would make arrangements for flag hoisting together. Right from applying cow dung to lime, we would do it all together forgetting caste and religion. A Muslim trader would lend us a pipe to unfurl the flag. Once, we went to our English teacher Qureshi sir and asked him which colour is on the top of national tricolour, green or saffron? This left him absolutely incensed. He said you don’t know the colours of tricolour! Wait, I’ll punish you and make you stand under the Sun. That feeling of patriotism, devoid of even an iota of caste and religious consideration, was amazing.
 
On 15th August and 26th January, a Prabhat pheri of school students would be organised wherein students would raise the slogan ‘Bharat mata ki jai’. But caste or religion never caused any impediment then.
 
I am also reminded of Ganeshotsav during our childhood days. We all used to sweep the ground clean, decorate the pandal and worship together. There was no distinction on the basis of caste or religion. Be it Eid, Diwali or Christmas, we children would visit each other unhindered. We were children and childhood was our religion. My religion never became an obstacle in celebrating Eid. We celebrated Ganeshotsav with the same enthusiasm with which we commemorated Eid and Christmas. My mother would help me dress and prepare for Eid and Christmas. We would go to the mosque and church. I still go.
But where did that religion of childhood go? What exactly has gone wrong? I have been in the public life for quite long now and from experience I can say that our society has gone astray. Hatred has replaced harmony. It takes courage to admit publicly that the society today has been divided more than ever before. The difference of being a Hindu and a Muslim is more today than it was before! The religion interfered with the politics and created such an environment that the old bond of affection for each other was broken. The line of suspicion has been drawn so deep that it may take us generations to erase it. At the moment, there appears to be no hope. The way the organisations have been formed in the name of protecting religion and the way they are systematically nurtured, is even more dangerous.
 
This is not confined to religion only. Caste feelings have also started to unleash with alarming regularity in the past few years. Many times it seems like we are hell-bent on returning to the tribal era where people of one clan used to behead the people of another tribe! The flourishing business of casteist forces has become a source of easy money for some people. And for politicians, it is a kind of ‘vote farming’ which they promote to get good harvest.
 
In fact, the society has reached such a state where there is no such thing as role model! Had Gautam Buddha, Mahavir Swami, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Ramkrishna Paramahansa, Mahatma Gandhi, Acharya Vinoba Bhave or Sane Guruji ever envisaged such a society? Not at all. They wanted to create a society that would be ideal for humanity because this work can only be done by India, which gave the message of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam to the whole world. But we have reduced to dust the thoughts and ideas of our own great men! The society has degenerated so much that we have lost respect for each other. The new measure of respect is position and wealth. Let alone some cultured people, you may have hardly seen a rich person respecting the poor. My Babuji and my mother believed in social harmony. They sent us both brothers to municipality school so that we should understand and experience the pain of the poor. In fact, today the parents themselves do not want their child to come in contact with the poor. Many of my friends were very poor but they got the same respect in our house which we got. Such an attachment has become scarce now. These values should be taught to the children by their families.
 
Another vice -- to denigrate each other -- is spreading fast in the society. You may have experienced it yourself that when a person is before us, we greatly appreciate him. But as soon as he is gone, we start speaking ill about him. This kind of behaviour is embarrassing and dangerous for society. Why do we not take into account all that is good in that person and try to imbibe that goodness in ourselves? If we keep looking for evil then how will we get good? Believe me, if we find good, then it will help remove another big evil of the society called fraud. Though fraud and deception have been part of human history, we should hope that we will overcome this vice while progressing on the path of development.
 
I am also pained by the fact that society is deviating from the golden tradition of respecting women. The rise in the incidents of molestation and rape is agonising. Where are our kids getting these dirty ideas from? Obviously, there is some disturbance in the family and society! Clearly it seems that we have become victims of the lack of cultural values.
In the past, children would be imparted cultural values. Apart from imparting bookish knowledge, the teachers in schools would also instill values among the students. They would also be aware of what the students are doing after school and whether they are deviating from their path. Our Sadiq sir and Halbe sir never differentiated between students on the basis of their caste and religion. They equally loved all their students. Where are such teachers today?
 
It is the absence of sanskars which fills us with malaise. A restless person breaks every law of life. People flout traffic rules. When the airplane lands, people open their seat belts as if they were in captivity. Even before the aircraft halts, people get up from their seats. We have to find a solution to do away with such restlessness! If we change, society will change!
 
Before I conclude
Bill Gates has correctly said that merely reading books is not study. Our Sant Kabirdas has also said that nobody becomes a pundit by reading scriptures only! My personal belief too is that knowledge is not acquired from books alone; it is around us. Refine your skills and you will go on acquiring knowledge automatically!