Monday, July 25, 2011

Are You Wondering if B.S. Yedyurappa Will Resign?

It is now about 48 hours prior to the official release of Karnataka Illegal Mining report to be make public by the Lokayukta (Ombudsmen) Justice Santosh Hegde. Anything can happen in the state as well as national politics after that. Speculations are abound. The English 'mainstream' TV media should be salivating for *breaking news*, to take the focus away from the *heart-breaking news* of scams of the other party, for which there seems to be a cushy soft corner.

To help you kill some time during this period, some interesting points and questions.

B.S.Yedyurappa, in short BSY, has built BJP and its earlier avatars, meticulously in Karnataka from ground up for nearly 4 decades. He achieved something impossible to even imagine just 25 years back.. a majority government headed by a 'north Indian' BJP, in a south Indian state! Kudos to him as well as the marvelous list of achievements his government has pulled off over the past three years.

You can listen to a very long list of achievements of Yedyurappa government, from the horse's mouth itself here:

B.S. Yedyurappa. Image from Rediff
Since, I am not writing this to present Global Investor's meet, or 20-point implementation or the dozens of awards the state won on development efforts, lets get back to the mining part. If you followed Delhi based 'national' media, you might have only heard of 3 things: a) land scams. b) illegal mining. c) why isn't he resigning. :)

Here we go with some thought provoking questions, not in any particular order, while leaving the conclusion to yourself ...
  1. How many channels screaming Karnataka,Karnataka, told you that Sonia Gandhi won from the same mine district Ballary? Has anyone bothered to investigate who supported on the ground with manpower and finances?After all mining in Ballary didn't start yesterday.... even in 1999, Ballary had nearly 25% of India's iron ore deposit and all political parties had close mine connections.
  2. Did NDTV or Times Now inform that Karnataka Lokayukta might be indicting Anil Lad, based on leaked portions of the reports? Anil became a RS MP with Sonia's blessing. If never heard of Lad family, please check this out from Congress4India website.
  3. Amazing NDTV! They talk about politicians mining Ballary - But Sonia Gandhi, who became an MP from the same Ballary, isn't even mentioned :) How 'neutral'!
  4. It's so funny that media channels talk about BJP's double standards on corruption, while they ignore Delhi Lokayukta's damning reports against a sitting CM and her government. We will cover that a bit later right here.
  5. What Times Now or NDTV wouldn't tell is that, Hegde's report might show Rs.20000 crores of loss (per leaked reports) since the year 2000. In that Yedyurappa government's tally during the past 14 months might be Rs.1827 crores. Simple maths tells me that Congress and Janata Dal Secular's portions might be as high as 90% in that case. Why aren't they being slammed on national channels? You guess..
  6. If Yedyurappa has to resign, don't you bet that he should take Deve Gowda family MPs,  Congress MP Dharam Singh, UPA minister SM Krishna? By the way where is that Rameshwar Thakur who allowed plenty of mining licenses as a governor during president's rule? Hmn... I don't know if any other 'Presidents' rule ever allocated so many licenses, so 'urgently' :)
  7. Now you want some numbers? Here we are: Mining licenses recommend by CMs versus granted by Government of India: Dharam Singh (CON): 43/33; HD Kumaraswamy (JDS) 47/22; UPA government headed by Sonia Gandhi (during President's Rule) 22/14; and Yedyurappa (BJP) 22/2. What? So Yedyurappa, the big bad boy, only got two mining licenses in the entire decades of super busy mining industry of Karnataka? Numbers are making a bit more interesting now.
  8. Now to some very thorough & hard reading exercise: The same Karnataka Lokayukta, Santosh Hegde, had published his first report in December 2008. See Page 161 from that very detailed original report copy, for which the link was just provided. Congress CM Dharam Singh was held responsible  for causing a big loss of Rs.23,22,11,850 to the exchequer. Nice... I didn't see any 'national' TV channels going ballistic on Dharam Singh even today, while he is prettily sitting as a Lok Sabha MP in the parliament!
  9. Ballary Mines. Image from Deccan Herald
    Getting unnerved by numbers? Don't worry, here's is a short, but very factual summary of what Karnataka illegal mining saga is all about. Must read if you didn't get a full flow of what's happening till now - by a self professed 'vertebrate' journalist, Vicky Nanjappa.
  10. Are we missing a big fish over here, while focusing too much on the 'evil' BJP government? Let's see.. In May 2008, BJP came to power on its own. Right after 3 months, in August of 2008, Karnataka High Court quashes 36 mine licenses sanctioned by a 'former' Chief Minister from 2003.  So who could that 'former' CM be? Even Mr. Hegde skipped the one and only one, Mr. S.M. Krishna :)
  11. How could Hegde not have ONE mention of SM Krishna's name in 2008 or 2011 mining reports (per leaked info), when High Court quashed 36 Krishna sanctioned licenses? Aha.. now you are asking the questions..
  12. I wanted to ask at this point: Dear Mr. Hegde, 128 out of 152 Karnataka mining lease recommendations were sent by SM Krishna, HD Kumaraswamy, Dharam Singh and Governor Thakur. Were they all 100% "pristine" & law-abiding in terms of execution? We know  you might name one or two of them, but why not ALL?
  13. Are we forgetting someone else? Let's see.. Oh yeah, in fact, it was then mining minister V Muniyappa under SM Krishna's government in 2003, who allowed quarrying even in forest areas! Jairam Ramesh would have tore his hair in the public if it was in 2010:)
  14. You thought that was extreme? You have more fun, just in Karnataka: It's not just in 2003, but much earlier in 2000, the same Muniyappa and SM Krishna combo had allowed private parties mine in forest areas! Hello Mr.Jairam Ramesh :)
  15. Now that you have heard about some 'partners in crime', how many told you that Yedyurappa was the first CM of India who banned iron ore exports? (Incidentally, it was the Congress Rajya Sabha MP & Spokesperson, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who was the lawyer for anti-ban teams!) Also, it was him, who ordered the Lokayukta investigation to go beyond the year 2008 duration? I guess not many.. Oh.. did you at least know, that when Karnataka banned ore export from 9 ports under its control, Manmohan Singh's UPA government didn't bother to ban the 10th port, under central control, even after repeated pleading?
  16. After 15 questions, your head might be spinning.. So we were told that Yedyurappa was the 'baddest' guy occupying a CM's seat in India by the English media. Let's see how does the same media treat others? 
  17. First, our dearest Sheila Dikshit. The other side of Indian media immediately pops up. Four months after the Shunglu report, protests, arrests, this Delhi Congress CM is 'Surf Excel' clean :)
  18. Not just that, do you know that even an ordinary minister of this Congress CM has guts to hit back at a hapless Lokayukta? You must be wondering by now, why is Karnataka Lokayukta is 'special' for media, while that hapless Delhi Lokayukta never comes to prime time TV shows to hit at his state's CM?
  19. Not just corruption, but do read Kanchan Gupta's blog on how the same Sheila Dikshit & her MP son, shamefully washed hands off 66 deaths:
  20. Aha.. is it dawning to you by now that if you are in the good book of 'some' dynasty,  even the President of India will give you a clean chit herself, no matter what the Lokayukta screams!
  21. That's enough on Delhi's CM and that state's Lokayukta. How about a couple of other cases, specifically focusing on illegal mining? It has been one year since the late Congress CM YSR's son-in-law & brother-in-law's huge illegal mining issue in AP came up in the state assembly. Has the 'national' media done even one prime time show on this? 
  22. If I have to start writing on the *famous* Reddy brothers of Ballary, where they came from in Ananthapur district of Andhra Pradesh, what was their connection for a long number of years with the then Congress strongman YSR, I might need another blog for itself.. For this blog, its enough to mention that, Karnataka politics knew for long time who might have shielded Reddy brothers, from the other side of the border!
  23. Even as late as 2008, large scale illegal mining was happening in Haryana, despite the ban.  Did the media bother to do any investigation by itself?
  24. Here's the most notable thing: While a big portion of Indian media's efforts were to lose sleep on why Yedyurappa hasn't resigned, Time magazine published a list of the worst abuse of power in the entire world, cutting across generations. Surprise.. surprise.. Sonia Gandhi's greatest achievement as the chairperson of UPA, just happened to be 'crowned' the all time 2nd WORST abuse of power in the world!-  TIME: Top 10 Abuses of Power : India's Telecoms Scandal - By Ishaan Tharoor Tuesday, May 17, 2011  . Ironically, that page was written by none other than Kerala Congress MP's Shashi Tharoor's son, Ishaan :)

So, are you still wondering if Yedyurappa will resign?
Will he?
Should he?
Should he alone, while the others mentioned above, roam free?

Drop in a line of comment so that me and others reading this can get your point of view.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lord Anantha Padmanabha and an interview with a Self Styled 'Secular'

The big news in India of course is the Anantha Padmanabha (Lord Vishnu) temple and it's stellar rise to the top of the richest temples in the world chart, in a matter of week to 10 days.

While walking in the park this morning, I did a fantasy interview with a self-styled 'secular' (watch the quotes).Have fun..

Me: Good morning.. Nice weather? Huh..
Self Styled 'Secular' (SSS): Brilliant weather. I love these cloudy mornings in Bengaluru. 

Me: Heard about that Kerala temple's secret chambers and immense wealth being counted right now?
SSS: Who doesn't? An incredible treasure find. Its already 1 lakh crore rupees and growing. I am excited about the prospects of helping so many poor people of the country. What an incredible waste it was lying in dark below the earth! 

Me:  Ho. ho... slow down buddy. Let me ask you if you have ever been to Thiruvananthapuram.
SSS:  Never

Me: OK.. I take that you have interest in Padmanabhaswamy's worship at least.. I mean Lord Vishnu, pilgrimages, sending or dropping in person the donations..
SSS:  Naa.. I don't have any such delusions. After all God is a manmade figment of imagination. I am a proud atheist. 

Me: Alright.. Everyone has their choice. Is it just you, or anyone in your family who still visits temples, donates money to the Lord or services?
SSS: My wife and her mother used to.. but after all the US trips, we have kind of decided to be modern. You know, away from all such medieval superstitions.

Me: Well... I respect your beliefs or the lack of it. But let's not get to who's superior and who's superstitious kind. So shall I take it that no one in your family ever donated anything to Anantha Padmanabhasway's temple?
SSS: You are damn right man.. Thank goodness! Their money always went to better social causes rather than those stupid hundi donations which someone will misuse anyway.

Me: So why this sudden interest in temple's wealth then?
SSS: Why? C'mon dude.. there's stinking amount of money which can be used for so many projects. Like building hospitals, national highways, sponsoring government projects etc. It would be silly to leave it lying there in the basement. 

Me: But...isn't there a government to take care of such projects?  Isn't that collecting income, excise, wealth and other taxes from people? Aren't there NGOs, for-profit businesses?
SSS: Yeah.. but we are poor country, so it doesn't hurt to have another 1 lakh crore to help with government projects. 

Me: Sir.. Do you even understand that there is a Travancore Royal family, which has preserved this secret wealth for 222 years? There is also a temple trust that is quite honest, which is very much capable of doing what they want with this money? After all it is Lord Vishnu's money.
SSS: C'mon... Cut that BS of Lord's money. It was people's wealth that got into temple. The kings collected taxes, exploited Dalits and minorities and hoarded their wealth in the temple. You know how it works..

Me: But Mr.. Before India became a republic, most wealth was in the hands of Hindu, Sikh & Muslim royal families or the Christian British. Don't you think, we need to look under present laws which gives 100% ownership of that wealth to the Padmanabhaswamy's temple?
SSS: *grudgingly*.. whatever.. But it's criminal to let it stay there.

Me: So what you want to do? Just burn the entire wealth in our generation itself?
SSS: Why not? If you don't mind me saying it.. we can even bail out the birth place of the Western civilization, Greece with over $22 billion wealth out there.. Ha ha... Just joking OK?

Me: But my question is.. why only Travancore temple's money?
SSS: Because that amount is huge.

Me: I can show you huge amounts in many other places too, which are not currently being used for your government hospital, national highway and other government projects, serving all citizen of the area.
SSS: Like what?

Me: Take for example Wakf properties of Muslims. Every major state/city has huge tracks of land passed on from medieval period. Why can't some of they be sold for building national highways?
SSS: Rubbish.. We are a secular country dude.

Me: OK.. how about Christian missionary money? Did you know that 10 out of the top 20 foreign money recipients in India are Christian organizations? That too after the government has data of only half or so or foreign remittances to religious organizations? My rough calculation shows that during each 8 to 10 year period, missionaries get the same money as the entire wealth of Lord Vishnu found in Kerala, accumulated over centuries. I haven't even accounted the 'black' portion or domestic collection.
SSS: But sir.. you are again talking like a communal. Laws of secular India let them use that money for services that they want to provide to the society. You are educated.. you must know how incredible Christians are in building schools and hospitals.

Me: Yeah.. but there is rampant conversion too using that money, in the guise of services.
SSS: Let's stop deviating. OK? It's none of our business what they do with their donations.

Me: Hmnn... So Wakf properties can't be sold to build national highways. Missionary money, which is huge, can't be accounted for government projects. But you want to calculate how many KM or national highways or how many hospitals can be built using Kerala temple's money? How 'secular'!
SSS: You are not understanding... Are you by chance an RSS member?

Me: No.. but why?
SSS: You seem to have this crazy notion of dipping into minorities' wealth. I just got that idea. It's a dangerous thing that usually Hindu fascists like VHP and RSS preach.

Me: Hindu fascists? Hmn.... By any chance you know how many tribal schools, medical services and natural calamity reconstruction projects those 'fascists' take? That too without ever converting anyone to their religion like the missionaries?
SSS: I have a serious doubt that you are a closet RSS guy.. We have been walking for 30 minutes now, and you are coming again and again to a turn where there' absolutely no interest in productively using Kerala's new found treasure.

Me: *laughing*.. don't worry about me being any 'closet' guy. I don't have to. In any case, do you know that the princess of Travencore royal family has made it very clear that what's being counted now is not any treasure, but the property of the temple in secret cellars? There's a huge difference.
SSS: Whatever... All I care is that it should be put to good use.

Me: Me too.. But there are a few things. One its is an inter-generational wealth. Our generation does not hold any kind of monopoly over that. Temples usually had such large amounts of wealth for tougher times like natural calamity. I guess you would agree that Ghazni, Ghori, Nader Shah etc. didn't come to India for summer vacations :)
SSS: Haha.. Good one. But I don't get this inter-generational thing. It's out there. Let's use it.

Me: What I meant is that we should leave it fully to the decision of the trust headed by the royal family of Travancore. They have preserved it very well for 222 years. They could use a part of it for trust's educational, medical, food and other projects. But it's their wealth. From when did we become moralisers in this country to tell others on what they should do with their wealth?
SSS: But its not anyone's personal wealth.

Me: Doesn't matter. It's Lord Vishnu's donations from public and royals. That's all matters. Just like how we don't tell missionaries, Wakf boards or even rich people like Ambani, what to do with their money, we shouldn't bother in Kerala temple's case. Even a 'secular' CM like Chandy isn't poking his nose, which is a great thing. Isn't it?
SSS: Huhhh... I have a feeling that you guys want to waste this once-in-a-century opportunity to uplift the downtrodden. Dude.. it's a golden opportunity!

Me: But just like how you wouldn't like anyone telling you to give, not donate voluntarily, to pave national highways, you shouldn't force someone too.
SSS: But it's a temple...

Me: Haha.. Someone wrote online yesterday. Temples and Lords are communal... but their wealth is secular! Man.. I am laughing hard that you are driving exactly at that logic!
SSS: Whatever...*rolling his eyes*. I guess we have walked enough. They will lock the park at the end of morning hours. Let me take a leave. Again.. think once more. So much can be done using that wealth lying idle at the basement!

Me: No thanks..It's not my money, nor my family's. Neither it's public money that citizen of the country have collective ownership of. So, I wouldn't lose sleep on what Padmanabhaswamy temple's trust does. They could just bury it back for 222 more years! It's their wish..
SSS: You guys... *grumbling*

Me: What? *smiling*
SSS: Nothing..Gotta go..

Me: Have a great day.
SSS: Yeah.. you too..

There we parted ways..And within hours, I am hearing that the wealth value has shot up much more than the Rs.1 lakh crore. I hope my self styled 'secular' or SSS friend is getting a good sleep at least tonight, not bothering about what Travancore temple trust will do with that 'idle' wealth :)