Daily Archives: July 17, 2011

The biggest threat to democracy today is “corporate mafia” brought about by liberalisation … activist lawyer Prashanth Bhushan

The biggest threat to democracy today is “corporate mafia” brought about by liberalisation
…. activist lawyer Prashanth Bhushan

Bangalore: The biggest threat to democracy today is “corporate mafia” brought about by liberalisation, leading to public resources being entrusted to private enterprises which are not transparent and are solely interested in profits, activist lawyer Prashanth Bhushan said today.
“In the guise of liberalisation, a new kind of business has been created – privatisation – where public resources whether it is forest, water, spectrum or wealth of public sector organisations are entrusted to private enterprises where there is no transparency, value of assets is unlimited and profits as high as 90 per cent,” he said.

This, Bhushan said, has led to coming up of ‘corporate mafia, the biggest threat to democracy today.

Public-private partnerships have fuelled enormous incentives for corruption, Bhushan one among the 10-member Lokpal panel, alleged.

Referring to the “mining mafia” of Reddy brothers in Karnataka, he alleged that mining leases of strategic minerals in forests and critical areas have been given to their units, besides private mining firms in the last nine years, in violation of government policy.

“Over 250 such mining leases were granted in the state without any transparency or public auction”, he said.

He alleged that mineral resources had been exploited at a rate which will see everything exhausted in 20 years.

“The mining mafia has made the state government change its policy at the expense of public exchequer, ecology, common man and equity” he said.

More than two thirds of iron ore mined in Karnataka is exported to China and other countries, he alleged.

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India not ready to tackle black money’ , Gurumurthy

‘India not ready to tackle black money’

ENS Economic Bureau

Last Updated : 16 Jul 2011 01:00:51 AM IST

CHENNAI: The participation of the middle class is very much necessary to fight corruption in the country, said noted columnist S Gurumurthy, while speaking on the topic ‘Tax havens and black money abroad’ under the auspices of the Rotary Club of Madras here on Tuesday.

“Suspects are ruling India and they are not ready to tackle black money reaching the tax havens abroad,’’ he said and added, “Black money amounting to $462 billion has gone out of India between 1948 and 2008.’’

“When V P Singh was the Prime Minister of India, some honest attempts were made to unearth black money, all due to a huge campaign against tax havens at that time. In 1986, a survey had revealed that as much as $300 billion black money had been deposited in Swiss banks by Indians, which amounted to 40 per cent of the Swiss economy,’’ he said.

Stating that black money could never exist without the protection from the state, Gurumurthy said that participatory notes and FII
investments also contributed to a large extent to the promotion of black money in the country.

“All illegal money is moving out of the country and there is a powerful mafia in the west allowing black money to exist despite a movement against tax havens spearheaded by countries like Germany and France, including the US administration led by Barack Obama,’’ he remarked.

He said the economic crisis in 2008 had completely destroyed all fundamental economic theories as the message one could derive out of it is — it was not the economic crisis, but it was economies in crisis.

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Madras miscellany: The Ashe murder … From The Hindu

Madras miscellany: The Ashe murder


A little over a year ago, the then Government of Tamil Nadu stated that it would build memorials to honour three persons who had “heroically fought the British”. I don’t know whether the memorials have come up or not, but if the memorial to Vanchinatha Iyer had come up by now in his native Shenkottai, Tirunelveli District, as promised, it would have been appropriate for this year is the centenary of his killing of Robert Ashe, the Collector of Tinnevelly District, a crime that was the cause célèbre of the time.

Ashe had played a significant part in bringing about the closure of the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company, started by V.O. Chidambaram Pillai to take on the British India Steam Navigation Company that had for long monoplised trade in the southern part of the Bay of Bengal. He had also been responsible for charging VOC and a colleague Subramanya Siva with sedition — for which they were convicted.

The Pondicherry branch of V.D. Savarkar’s Abhinav Bharat Society (New India Society), led by V.V.S. Aiyar — it could not function in the Madras Presidency being a banned organisation — decided to make Ashe pay a price for his actions. And Vanchinatha Iyer was its instrument.

On June 17, 1911, Ashe and his wife Mary were on their way to Kodaikanal on holiday. Their exclusive first class coach was detached at Maniyachi Junction in order to be attached to the Boat Mail which was expected a few minutes later. Suddenly, two men burst into their compartment and one of them fired from close range at Ashe, who was busy chatting with his wife, killing him on the spot. While his accomplice fled into the safety of the crowd that had gathered at the station to get a glimpse of the Collector Dorai (in those days, considered all-powerful in the district), the other ran into a lavatory on the platform and, when cornered, shot himself dead. He was identified as Vanchinatha Iyer of Shenkottai. The 25-year-old was the son of a forest guard.

Among the papers found on Vanchinatha Iyer’s body was one which read: “Every Indian is at the present time endeavouring to drive out the Englishman who is the enemy of {our} country and to establish Dharma and liberty — we 3000 Madrasis have taken a vow. Make it known, I, the least of them, did this day commit this act.”

The letter had the police suspecting a conspiracy and they searched Vanchinatha Iyer’s house. Letters found there led to a trail of a plot that had been hatched by a Neelakanta Aiyar, from a village near Sirkali, in conjunction with members of the Abhinav Bharat Society in Pondicherry. Warrants against V.V.S. Aiyar, Subramania Bharati and others in Pondicherry, then French territory, could not be executed. Neelakanta Iyer and 13 others were charged with conspiracy to murder and waging war against the King Emperor.

Because an Englishman was killed, a three-judge bench, led by the Chief Justice, conducted the trial. The accused were defended by J.C. Adam, a leading British barrister, T. Prakasam, later to be Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, T.M. Krishnaswami Iyer, later to be Chief Justice of the Travancore High Court, M.B. Devadoss (later a Justice of the Madras High Court), and others. All 14 accused were found guilty and given sentences ranging from seven years to a couple of years. A five-judge bench heard the appeal and confirmed the sentences.

Justice C. Sankaran Nair, one of the three-judge Bench, delivered a different judgement from the others, even quoting Subramania Bharati in translation: “When will this thirst for liberty and freedom be quenched…. .” He found the accused not guilty of the charge of murder and only a couple of them guilty of waging war against the King. The five-judge bench included Justices Abdul Rahim and P.R. Sundara Iyer. While the three British judges were for dismissing the appeal, Justice Rahim wanted all the appellants released and Justice Sundara Iyer expressed doubts about the conviction but would not commit himself further.

Neelakanta Sastri, a journalist who had published several anti-British journals from Pondicherry and had had them smuggled into the Madras Presidency, was only 21 when the 93-day trial began. Over 100 witnesses were examined. After his release from prison, Neelakanta Sastri took himself into the wilderness and became an ascetic. Vanchinatha Iyer is remembered only in a railway station name-board — Vanchi Maniyachi Junction.

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One more Navrathna moving to China ?? – BHEL bets on Chinese inputs to beat cost squeeze

BHEL bets on Chinese inputs to beat cost squeeze

Anil Sasi

An inside view of BHEL,Trichy unit. (file photo)

An inside view of BHEL,Trichy unit. (file photo)

Company looking at sourcing castings, forgings and specialised products

equipment major Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) is looking to
actively increase its vendor base in China in order to competitively
source specialised inputs needed for its Indian units, a top company
official told Business Line during a recent interaction.

a sharp increase in the commodity cycle, this is one of the key
strategies the engineering major hopes to deploy extensively to check
rising material costs, BHEL’s Chairman and Managing Director, Mr B.P.
Rao, said.

“There are some clear advantages in
sourcing products from China, provided the quality aspects are strictly
adhered to. We are looking to increase our source base there,
especially for materials such as castings and forgings, as well as
specialised products such as P91 and P92 steels,” Mr Rao said.

and ‘P92′ steels find use in pipelines and power unit components that
are part of conventional boilers on account of their high strength at
elevated temperatures.

BHEL has deputed marketing
and sourcing personnel at its newly established China office who would
facilitate the procurement of raw materials. The options in the long
term include enabling the company to order power generating parts when
they see potential for procuring for another project.

idea is to explore and establish a vendor base to procure inputs in the
long run,” Mr Rao said. According to analysts, despite rising labour
costs and a widespread power crunch, Chinese intermediate goods
suppliers continue to be ahead of European and Japanese companies due to
the massive capacity additions that China has made during the last 10

The Chinese still score over suppliers from
other parts of the world in terms of shorter delivery lead times, apart
from savings on costs.

Material costs down

from China, along with a bevy of other cost-cutting measures, has
enabled BHEL to keep material costs in 2010-11 at the previous financial
year’s range of around 59-60 per cent. This, despite a sharp uptick in
material costs over the last few months.

“We have
been focussing extra hard on material cost reductions. Integrated
operation improvement initiatives like design-to-costs and lean
manufacturing have also been initiated,” he said. Besides, higher
expenses by the company on research and development, specifically on
indigenisation of products that were being imported earlier, is further
helping the company prune overall project costs.

Mr Rao said he was confident of pegging input costs this fiscal in the same range as was achieved in 2010-11.

prices are increasing. So there will definitely be pressure on our
costs… But imported technologies are going to be more localised during
this year than last year. Combined with all the other measures, we
should be able to keep costs in check.”