Follow @vijayjdarda
Latest Updates

Mountain of expectations in the sea of challenges!

Even if Narendra Modi is the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, at present, he is the Prime Minister of the country, so his functionings hould not be seen from any party's perspective. I am a born Congress man and can sharply be critical but when I analyse the term of Narendra Modi as an editor, then a scene floats before me, in which the challenges are like the ocean and there is a mountain of expectations in it. Now the moot point is will the mountain of expectations be able to save people from the waves of problems?
 
Bypassing all electoral predictions three years ago, Modi’s charisma netted the BJP as many as 282 seats out of the 543 Lok Sabha seats and ensured a whopping 336 seats to its alliance. Of course, what Modi has said has drawn the youth of this country towards him. Modiji appeared to be a ray of hope for the youth. After three years this hope is also Modi's biggest challenge. At present, about 50 per cent of the population of India is 25 years old and 65 per cent of the population is under 35 years of age. Narendra Modi has a great responsibility to channelise the energy of this young population. The formula of 'Make in India' is very attractive and if it is implemented properly then this can be the best recipe to remove unemployment. China has spread its mantra of 'Made in China' to the whole world. Will we be able to spread the recipe of 'Make in India' outside the country? Such a scheme called Skilled India has been launched, but it will also take time to show results. Will our country's youth wait for long?
 
There is no doubt that Modi ji is trying day and night to see the results of the schemes in the near future. He works 14 to 16 hours a day. His time management is very good. His ability to understand the issues is amazing. Whatever his views may be in the eyes of others, but Modi ji is very clear about his ideas and there is no confusion. Of course, this is his positive side. He has linked the 28 million poor to the banks. LPG connections have been provided to more than 2 crore poor households.
 
Modi ji took the bold step of declaring a war on corruption. Today, from minister to bureaucrat all are frightened. This is no small matter! Bureaucrats are coming to the office well in time and the playing of golf in lunch time has stopped. Everyone's accountability has been fixed. He has strengthened the Prime Minister's Office and enhanced the involvement of Intelligence Bureau (IB).
 
The bold step taken by Modi about demonetisation may have attracted a storm of protest and opposition but its benefits will become apparent in the times to come. My guess is that within five years the cash currency will end. Crores of people will fall in the tax slab. One thing seems very good to me that when he was chief minister, he had criticised the plans of the Centre, but now he is implementing the same as Prime Minister. He did not let his ego come in the way. Indeed, on becoming the Prime Minister, many such things are known, which nobody knew about. Not even the Deputy Prime Minister. I would like to tell you an incident. When Morarji Desai became the Prime Minister, then Inder Kumar Gujral was the Ambassador of India in Russia. Morarji Bhai was a fan of America and Gujral Sahib was a person of the Left thinking! Gujral Sahib immediately resigned. Morarji Bhai called him and asked the reason. Gujral Saheb told the reason for the difference between both of them. Morarji Bhai said that 'you have to be there for friendship with Russia in the information that has come to me after becoming Prime Minister'. Gujral Saheb believed and I should tell you that the major arms deals were executed during his tenure. It is good that Modi ji did not allow politics to come in the plans designed for the good of the country's people and continued it.
 
I would also like to appreciate that Modi ji has given more respect to Gandhi ji than even the Congress. Before Independence, Gandhi ji spoke of clean India. Now Modi ji has given a glimpse of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Whenever I go abroad, I wonder if our country will be so clean. The mind is pleased to see the clean rivers. In Japan, even the garbage house looks like an art gallery! Hope that Modi ji will take this campaign of hygiene far ahead.
During his election campaign, Modi ji gave a slogan of ‘achche din’. Now people are asking when will the good days come? Job promises have not been fulfilled. Inflation is getting uncontrollable. I believe that unless small industries are started in the different parts of the country, till the closed industries are restarted, infrastructure work is increased, from where will employment be generated and how inflation will reduce? The problem can not end so long as the banks do not stop harassing the new entrepreneurs. Large industrial houses have taken lakhs of crores of loans and they take new loans too. Those who do not have their assets, they should get more loan than their assets. The challenge to control these situation is on Modi ji. 
 
One big issue is that of the farmers of this country too. If the BJP waives off the debt of the farmers as soon as the BJP came to power in UP, then the question arises as to why the debts in other BJP-ruled states have not been waived off? Farmers are expecting this from Modi!
 
When Modi ji took oath as the Prime Minister, the heads of SAARC countries had come with the best wishes. Now we have to see whether we have fulfilled those expectations? Can you remove their pain by building a strong India? There is an old saying that you can live happily when your neighbours are also happy! Modi ji needs to do a lot on foreign policy.
 
Within the country there are many such issues like Naxalism, terrorism in Kashmir, and insurgency in north eastern India. If Modiji can overcome them, generations will remember him. In recent years, atrocities against women have increased, incidents of offending their honour have increased. It can be said that law and order is the responsibility of the state, but the women of this country are looking at Modi ji with hopeful eyes for protecting their honour.
 Another big responsibility on Modi ji is to respect the critics. Opposition is scattered and fragile. In this situation, Modi ji will have to work on the theories of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. In Nehru ji's time the opposition was weak but still he gave opportunity and respect to the voice of the opposition. He used to inspire the young MPs to speak. He used to listen to his criticism. Right now some people in the country are making a mistake of treating criticism as pure antagonism. Modi ji must curb this.
 
Nonetheless, whether there be a Congress government or a government of Modi ji in the country, we have to see that India becomes strong. Tricolour keeps fluttering proudly, India  becomes a poverty-free country, Indian youth’s aspirations are fulfilled. Farmers should become strong and India should become the guide of the world. Our neighbours should become our friends. If Modi ji can do all this, then his stature will rise even higher.
 
Before I conclude
After the terrorist attack in Manchester, there was an extraordinary expression of human emotion. The people gave shelter to the children who had got separated from their parents. Muslim taxi drivers ferried many injured to hospital and brought other people home but did not take a single penny. The nearby gurudwaras not only provided food to the affcted people but also accommodated them. Many people in the Sikh community came forward to help the victims. I salute these captains of compassion.

 

Indian win in Jadhav case a diplomatic victory

hail Prime Minister Narendra Modi, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and my friend and famous lawyer Advocate Harish Salve for the initial victory in Kulbhushan Jadhav case.
I congratulate the Prime Minister and the external affairs minister because they took a decision in a very diplomatic way on the sensitive issue. The Prime Minister must have pondered the question as to whom to send to the International Court of Justice at The Hague to plead the Jadhav case! He could also have sent the attorney general  of the country Mukul Rohatgi. Normally the attorney general is present in the court on behalf of the government, but in this case, the Prime Minister and the external affairs minister did not worry about who would say what! He decided to send Harish Salve, who has brought glory to the country through his legal acumen.
 
Congratulations to Harish Salve because he has crowned the country with glory. In Jadhav case, he has also set a great example. Generally he  charges huge fees. His fees are sometimes in crores too. In the Vodafone case, he got a fee of more than Rs 100 crores. In the instant case lawyer Harish Salve took only Rs 1 as a token fee. With this sacrifice, he has raised his personal respect; he has also set a benchmark in the field of advocacy. He is the son of a senior Congress leader NKP Salve and by his magnanimous gesture has brought laurels to him and his mother Dr Amberi. Likewise, he has brought glory to Nagpur where   he spent his childhood.
 
By taking only Rs 1 as fee  Harish Salve has sent the message that when it comes to the country, people are ready to make any sacrifice in any way. Young people sacrifice. When difficult times come, people come forward. This sacrifice by Harish Salve has also conveyed that the whole country stands as one in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav. We all know that Jadhav has been trapped by Pakistan. He was abducted from Iran and the confession video that Pakistan is showing the world is nothing more than a facade. Forcibly, he has been made to confess to the crime.  Had he really been a spy, would he confess? No spy ever confessed to spying. There is no doubt that Jadhav is innocent. He has become a victim of the ISI’s machinations.
 
I believe that the initial victory in the International Court of Justice in the Jadhav case is a big victory for India’s diplomacy and it can also help Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan’s domestic politics. By using this, he can put pressure on those people who keep on fuelling unrest. Everyone knows that there is no true democracy in Pakistan, where democracy is not being allowed to flourish by the army and the ISI and now the terrorists have also joined hands with them. The army and ISI enjoy unbridled power there. Terrorist organisations are dominating. Nawaz Sharif can abide by these court rulings. Nawaz Sharif should keep in mind that within two years he has to go before people in the elections. Two years later, Narendra Modi too has to seek people’s mandate afresh in the general election. There is a possibility that Sharif will win. At that time he will be more powerful. Then with Pakistan’s situation, he will be able to make better relations with Modiji.
 
My information is that they want to have a better relationship with India but China is a big obstacle in this. China does not want relations between India and Pakistan to improve. That’s a very big move. It has made America dependent for many things. It is building roadways from Asia to Europe for business. In Beijing last week, in the presence of 28 big leaders of the world and representatives from 120 countries, China announced a new Silk Route, and the amazing thing is that it has described it as the path of peace. This peace is actually a trick that is why India has not participated in it.
China is trying to join the Afghan peace process, selling warships to Bangladesh and giving arms and money to Pakistan. The deal of 30 fighter aircraft is almost complete. Here, in the case of terrorist Azhar Masood, it is vetoing in the United Nations against India. China has confused India’s friend Nepal too. Actually China knows that India is emerging as a superpower, so it is currently laying siege around India. Except Pakistan, our relations with other SAARC countries like Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have always been cordial but in recent years the cordiality has declined. This situation is not right. If the country is worried then surely the Prime Minister must either be looking for some way or implementing the measure he finds best. I feel that he should send a positive message to the friendly countries and take the country into confidence vis-a-vis our relations with neighbouring countries like Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka
.
Another concern with diplomacy is that the people of this country fear that historically our most trusted and tested friend Soviet Russia is now going away from us? This concern has arisen because Russia and Pakistan are becoming closer. Pakistan and Russia have done manoeuvers a few months ago. We have to see where our international policy is headed to. There is no harm if we are going to be close to the US. We should have good relations with everyone but friendship with Russia is special though friendship with America can not be ignored in any case. For, whenever we are in trouble, Russia has supported us. We are battling China on one side and Pakistan on the other. In such a situation, the tried and tested old friend Russia must be with us!
 
Before I conclude
 
I salute those girls of Gothada Tappa Dahna village in Rewari district of Haryana who forced the government to accept their demand. The girls were demanding the extension of school facility from 10th standard to the 12th standard, but no one was listening. Actually, the government rule in Haryana is that if there are 150 students in the 9th and 10th grade, then the school can be extended to 12th standard. In this village school, there were only 70 students in 9th and 10th standard, so the government was reluctant to accept the demand. The girls sat on dharna. The minister came and gave assurance but the girls said that the order must be issued! Within a week, the government had to give in. The school will now be teaching till the 12th standard. It is called passion for education! Hope this passion grips the whole country!

Will situation in Kashmir remain like this?

Kitni Khubsurat Ye Tasveer Hai
Mausam Bemisal Benazir Hai
Ye Kashmir Hai... Ye Kashmir Hai..!
 
 Some 35 years ago this song of the Bollywood movie Bemisal was a super hit. That time we used to hum this song often. But now everything has changed. The weather is still Benazir (superb), but now it is not the Kashmir which could be visited for seeing snowy beauty and attractive tulips without fear. The Kashmir valley no longer houses the spiritual resonance of Sufi music. Now, bullets from rifles, bomb blasts, throwing stones at the Army to keep the terrorists alive, are common occurences.
 
The news of a Pakistani flag fluttering in Kashmir makes me restless and I begin to wonder how can that be? How can it be forgotten that when the war was going on in the country for freedom, the people of Kashmir were influenced by the progressive and modern ideology of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah. The movement that Mohammed Ali Jinnah launched for separate Pakistan never got support in Kashmir because the people of Kashmir were treading the path of secularism. Under the leadership of Pandit Nehru, India was being established as a democratic and secular republic, so it was a natural step for Muslim-majority Kashmir to remain with India.
 
We all have loved Kashmir, we loved this part of our country from the bottom of heart. Be it winter or summer -- in every season -- tourists from all over India used to visit the valley. I remember the times when the houseboats -- shikaras -- were not available in the Dal Lake because people did not want to stay in the hotel, they wanted to stay in the houseboat. I have seen that period and sitting in a shikara have enjoyed the beauty of Dal Lake. This year the look is exactly opposite. The houseboats are lying vacant, the shikaras are tied to the shores. One of my Kashmiri friends was telling me that the scourge of terrorism has taken away the people’s livelihood. The construction of a houseboat takes more money than the money spent in building a luxurious house in a city. Those who took the loan to make the houseboat, they are more upset. Now neither the tourists from the country are coming to Kashmir nor from the foreign countries. In most parts of Kashmir there are no other means of employment. So just imagine how the Kashmiris’ life must be going on?
 
During the uneasy climate of terrorism, I have gone to Kashmir several times and I have been trying to understand the situation from the friends there. I can claim with certainty that the common Kashmiri seeks peace because many of their generations have been ruined. This is the most dangerous phase for the new generation. The terrorists first started burning schools and colleges and today the circumstances have developed in such a way that children of schools and colleges are throwing stones at the Army. You will be surprised to know that after the death of the terrorist Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016, there has been no learning activity in the 8,171 primary schools, 4,665 upper primary schools, 960 high schools, 300 higher secondary schools in the Valley. In the last 10 months schools were open only for 46 days. Forcible closure and curfew for months have affected children’s life the most. When the children are going to school, parents are unsure whether their child will return home. This is extremely dangerous situation because the future of a whole generation is at stake.
 
The need of the hour is to control the situation quickly and open the channels of communication with the group that wants to talk within the ambit of the Constitution. Not everyone in Kashmir is subversive. Please note that if lakhs of people turn up for the funeral of terrorists, the same number of people turn up on the death of a soldier or policeman. If one Burhan Wani becomes a terrorist, then an Ummer Fayaz also becomes a lieutenant in the Indian Army. Thousands of Kashmiri youths stand in the queue for recruitment in the Army. Obviously, a few mercenaries are creating trouble. The evidence is available that shows that stone throwers are paid every week to throw stones.
 
 Now there is the urgent need to renew initiatives. Many committees had been formed. There have been many reports. There is the need to act on the suggestions. I would like to remind that in February 2003, the Central government, defense and home secretary N N Vohra had been appointed as the negotiator to interact with Kashmiri groups. Krishnachandra Pant, Arun Jaitley and Ram Jethmalani have also played the role of the negotiator on behalf of the government in one round. Ram Jethmalani had spoken to several different separatist leaders as chairman of the Kashmir Committee. The Indian government had created another committee in which the educationist M M Ansari, journalists Dilip Padgaonkar and Radha Kumar were inducted. All of them gave their suggestions, but it seems that there was no specific action on these suggestions.
 
In the last week of August last year, a delegation of 26 MPs from 20 parties went to the valley, but it returned empty handed because Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and other prominent leaders had refused to meet this all-party delegation. I would like to remind that separatist Hurriyat came forward to negotiate after the situation normalised between 2008 and 2010 because the Army and paramilitary forces had crushed the terrorists at that time.
 Even today, the need is that the terrorists and Pakistani agents are crushed on one hand and on the other the balm on the wounds of the common Kashmiri should be applied. The world knows that Kashmir is an integral part of India and Pakistan does not have the power to take away Kashmir from us. We should talk about getting back Pakistan occupied Kashmir. As long as we are not aggressive, Pakistan will harass us. Actually all this needs willpower. If Narendra Modi is able to bring Kashmir back on track, then he will not only become the darling of the country but the whole world. But at the moment people are asking: Will the situation in Kashmir remain like this?
 
Before I conclude
 
Every meeting with thespian Amitabh Bachchan is unmatched. On Thursday, I went to congratulate him for his film ‘Sarkar-3’. In a scene of this movie, he is reading ‘Lokmat’. Personally, he is my friend; he has always showed his  love for Lokmat group. Amitabh ji’s speciality is that he moves ahead with time, is very punctual and keeps an open eye on the country and the world. Actually, he is unmatched. He merges into the character he plays.

 

 

 

Why is our economic system gullible to frauds?

 
There is no decline in the reports of frauds and scams involving the banks that are making headlines on a daily basis. Just came to know about the latest case of embezzlement. Zoom Developers having operations in Mumbai and Indore fraudulently obtained loans to the tune of Rs 2,650 crore from 25 banks. Prior to this, we have seen the cases of Vijay Mallya and Jatin Mehta who fled the country after committing frauds on banks.
 
There are allegations that Vijay Mallya and Jatin Mehta siphoned off Rs 9,000 crore and Rs 7,000 crore respectively before fleeing the country. It may be recalled that the 57 companies, whose names the government had given to the Supreme Court in a sealed envelope in June last year, owed Rs 85,000 crore to the banks. It is only a part of the amount that banks have not been able to recover. Replying to a question in June 2016, the government had told the Lok Sabha that the NPAs (Non-Performing Assets) of 49 public and private banks, i.e. bad debts, have gone up to Rs 6 lakh crore.
 
So the question arises as to how the banks fall victim to frauds on such a large scale? Either the bank officials did not understand anything or they were themselves involved in these frauds. There can be no doubt on the efficiency of the bank officials, which simply means that it has been the case of their collusion in this fraud! If a farmer wants to take a loan for a micro business or a house or a vehicle, the banks ask for so many papers that it leaves no scope for any fraud. If you are taking a housing loan, the records of the last 20 years of that land are traced. Every paper is examined and verified. When I had raised this issue in the Parliament asking why farmers are not being given loan for the purchase of cows and buffaloes, the then finance minister P Chidambaram had denied it. I had illustrated with example to prove that those who had sought loan for purchasing cows and buffaloes were told to bring certificate of eligibility for drawing milk! You may feel shocked on hearing this but this is the reality. If the bank does not want to give loan then it will ask for such certificates and documents which anyone just cannot provide. But if there is collusion with big industrialists then the requirements for all such papers are kept aside. Mini small scale industry is also not given any concession. They also have to run from pillar to post to obtain loans.
 
I had been a member of the Standing Committee on Finance for 14 years. The committee gave a number of suggestions to improve the banking system but the banks never follow them. Many such incidents came up before the committee which surprised the members. I wrote a letter to the chairpersons of all the banks seeking information about people whose debts had been declared NPAs and who were now doing business under a different name? But no bank replied to that letter! I did not get any reply despite sending a reminder! Finally I wrote a letter to the finance ministry asking for information but did not get any reply from there too! You can understand how the fraudsters are protected.
Those who defraud banks enjoy themselves and bank cannot recover money from them. In fact, this money belongs to the common man because the banks earn profits by distributing their deposits as loans but due to such fraud, the bank incurs losses. For example, on an average, you get 6 per cent interest on your deposit, but when you take a loan from the bank, you have to pay an average interest of 12 per cent. If a big amount of this 6 per cent profit of the banks becomes NPA, the loss is eventually thrust upon the common man. Interest on deposits can increase if the bank earns profit and there are no bad debts. Thus, if lower interest is being paid on the deposits then the fault lies with the functioning of the banks, which are putting the money of the common man in the hands of industrialists. I believe that in these cases unless the long arms of law catch up with all the concerned right from the bank officials to the chairpersons, the scandals will not stop. The investigation should be so fair that no one should be spared but sadly this is not happening.
 
After all, who will answer the question as to how Vijay Mallya fled with Rs 9,000 crore and Jatin Mehta decamped with Rs 7,000 crore? Who will explain that when Vijay Mallya's company was sinking how was he given loan on the basis of old assessment? Certainly, there must be complicity of the banks in this whole affair! Does the country not have the right to know which bank officials are hand in glove with these scamsters?
 
We should be grateful to Raghuram Rajan to a great extent for introducing transparency in the system because of which we are now aware of the scandals, but I believe there is a need for greater transparency. Even now the names of those who have swindled the money of the banks are not being made public. It is argued that it will affect the industry but I believe that such statements are made to save the scamsters. If someone is party to a scandal, why his name should not be made public? When the recovery team goes to the village to seize the tractor or other belongings of a farmer for the recovery of loan and insults him publicly, why should the scamsters not be dealt the same way. Farmers and small borrowers fail to pay loan installments due to some genuine problem but they never try to perpetrate any fraud. On the contrary, the businessmen who commit fraud do it with the intention to swindle.
 
In fact, the finance ministry, the agriculture ministry and the banks should develop a system so that the farmers and agro industries (dairy farming, food processing, and cold storage) should get cheaper loans. What is needed is a critical thinking that no economy can promote defaulters because it will disrupt the entire structure of the economy. Raghuram Rajan also said that the rules of RBI should be strictly adhered to in case of NPAs.
 
It is good that private banks have improved their customer service. Improvement in nationalized banks too is necessary. This is an era of competition. I would like to mention here that the chairperson of State Bank of India Arundhati Bhattacharya has taken several steps to bring in reforms but there is still scope for a lot to be done. Remember that if the banking system is not reformed then the country will not be able to move ahead on the path of progress!
 
Before I conclude
 
S S Rajamouli has really proved to be the Bahubali of the film world. The unmatched blend of historical fiction and his imagination has proved to be a milestone for the Indian film industry. Not only in the country but also abroad, first the 'Bahubali: The Beginning' and now the 'Bahubali 2: The Conclusion' have become superhits! Earning record aside, in my view he has taken the Indian film world to the global level. There is no match to Rajamouli in terms of technique and imagination.