Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Election commission can't control paid news during elections: SY Qureshi

Chief election commissioner of India SY Quraishi said that the commission cannot control paid news during the elections."Our role comes in picture only when the candidate exceeds the expenditure ceiling. We cannot question the media, our powers extend only to candidates," he said. He added that a special body should be formed covering all media, reports Daily News And Analysis.

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Chief election commissioner of India SY Quraishi today said the commission cannot control media players indulging in paid news practices during the elections.

"Our role comes in picture only when the candidate exceeds the expenditure ceiling. We cannot question the media, our powers extend only to candidates," Quraishi told reporters here.

He said it is for the Press Council of India (PCI) to set guidelines for the media.

When pointed out that the electronic media is out of PCI's ambit, Quraishi said there is a lacunae and a special body needs to be formed covering all the media.

The chief election commissioner said the paid news issue extends beyond the election period.

"Paid news and money power are a big concern for the commission. We are trying to address these issues through proper ways," he said.

"Money power and paid news have attained serious proportion. In some states, it's widespread," the chief election commissioner said.

He said a special expenditure monitoring cell has been formed and detailed guidelines are prepared to control the money power.

Responding to a question, Quraishi said the commission is also probing the issue of names of foreigners being included in the voters' list. Goa is among the states which faces this problem, he added.

Besides Goa, a few other states have also pointed out similar instances of foreigners getting enrolled as voters, he said.

"Each and every complaint received by the commission is investigated. We see that each and every person is attended to," he added.

Read the article on Miracle of Democracy.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Poll panel to discuss money power during elections

A conference of electoral officers and administrative officials to be held in Goa will discuss monitoring of election-related expenditure and working out effective means to tackle excessive use of money power during the polls.'The conference will deliberate on various election-related issues. The aim of the conference will be to put together a comprehensive document on best electoral practices in the country,' said Election Commission Director General Akshay Rauth, reports Yahoo News.

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Panaji, Aug 29 (IANS) Monitoring of election-related expenditure and working out effective means to tackle excessive use of money power during the polls will be among the major issues to be deliberated on at a conference of electoral officers and administrative officials to be held in Goa Tuesday-Wednesday, a senior Election Commission official said Sunday.

Election Commission Director General Akshay Rauth said that Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi will also attend the two-day conference.

'The conference will deliberate on various election-related issues. The aim of the conference will be to put together a comprehensive document on best electoral practices in the country,' Rauth said.

'One of the major issues of focus is to monitor election-related expenditure and tackling money power,' the official also said.

The conference will be attended by district magistrates and police superintendents from Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and other union territories located in western India, apart from other electoral officers from the respective states.

'District magistrates and district superintendent are officials who actually conduct elections on ground. They will be giving us inputs on the most effective electoral practices during the conference,' Rauth said.

Read the article on Miracle of Democracy.

No election has been stolen by tampering with EVMs

Hari Prasad, a technocrat who was arrested recently for stealing electronic voting machines and released yesterday, will present a controversial paper on how EVMs used in Indian elections can be tampered with at a conference on computer and communication safety.The conference in Chicago in October will be co-sponsored by IT majors like Google and Microsoft, reports Hindustan Times.

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Hari Prasad, who was arrested last week for stealing electronic voting machines and released on Saturday, will present a controversial paper on how EVMs used in Indian elections can be tampered with at a conference on computer and communication safety. The paper — Security Analysis of India’s
Electronic Voting Machines — is based on the first unauthorised analysis of an Election Commission EVM and co-authored by Alex Halderman of University of Michigan and Rop Gonggrijp, a technology expert instrumental in getting EVMs banned in Holland in 1993.

The conference in Chicago in October will be co-sponsored by IT majors like Google and Microsoft.

The paper shows how EVMs can be tampered with either by insiders or by using portable hardware devices, including mobile phones, to extract and alter vote records stored in the machine. This, the paper claims, can be done either by replacing the chips or inserting an additional one when the machines are being shifted. The replaced chips can escape the security test of election officers.

“It is just a possibility,” Halderman told HT. “Our study does not show that any election has ever been stolen by tampering with EVMs… nobody can reasonably claim, based solely on the results we have presented, that an election now settled should be overturned.”

The first doubts were raised by BJP leader L.K. Advani, who suggested that the country revert to ballot voting. He got support from parties including the CPM, RJD, AIADMK and TDP, who also met election commissioners. The Congress said the EC had the final authority over the mode of voting.

The EC was quick to rebuff the claims in the paper. “The demonstration has not shown any tamperability in the EVM. The EVM cannot be tampered with by any method shown in the demonstration,” K.N. Bhar, a commission secretary, told Hari Prasad, in a letter dated August 7. “It is not possible to replace any equipment in the EVM in the election scenario.”

PV. Indiresan former IIT director and member of both the committees, said the EVMs were examined by independent computer experts and tested for security.

RTI activist who exposed corruption in Maharashtra found dead

A Right to Information activist who was in the forefront in exposing corruption in Public Distribution System, foodgrain and fuel distribution in the Marathwada region was found dead in Nanded. He was a local Shiv Sena leader. The circumstances are mysterious.Preliminary post mortem report revealed excess alcohol in his body, police said, reports The Times Of India.

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MUMBAI: A Right to Information (RTI) activist who was in the forefront in exposing corruption in PDS, foodgrain and fuel distribution in the Marathwada region has been found dead in Nanded.

The circumstances behind how 43-year-old Ramdas Ghadegavkar, a local Shiv Sena leader, died are shrouded in mystery. The death of Ramdas, who used the RTI Act, adds another name in the victim list of whistleblowers in the country.

The Shivajinagar police in Nanded, about 650 km from here, have registered a case of "sudden death", after Ramdas' body was discovered late Friday night in Mondha area, police said on Sunday.

Preliminary post mortem report revealed excess alcohol in his body, police said. His brother has informed police that the RTI activist had left home at around 8 am on Friday.

Ramdas's death comes just weeks after the murder of RTI activist Amit Jethwa from Gujarat who was killed for exposing illegal mining in the Gir forest region.

Jethwa was shot dead from a close range near the Gujarat high court on July 20 after he filed a public interest litigation (PIL) against illegal mining.

Ramdas was active in uncovering corruption in PDS, foodgrain and fuel distribution by using RTI Act. He was a local Shiv Sena leader in Nanded and the head of the district Milk Sellers Association.

He had exposed the thriving sand mafia in the region through the RTI Act. His complaint had led the district administration to initiate action on the issue.

Meanwhile, Sena district president Hemant Patil met senior police officials and demanded a CBI inquiry into the mysterious death of Ramdas.

Friday, August 27, 2010

There is an urgent need for public scrutiny of Electronic Voting Machines

Recently, Hari Prasad,managing director of Hyderabad-based Net India Private Limited stole an Electronic Voting Machine to prove that the system is vulnerable.He has done a great service to the nation. These Electronic Voting machines need to be tested for any possible security flaws — that is a standard operating procedure which is carried out by the world’s biggest technical conglomerates to make their systems foolproof, writes Samir Kelekar in Moneylife.

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An interesting incident regarding Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) has hit the headlines in recent days. Hari Prasad, managing director of Hyderabad-based Net India Private Limited, was arrested for 'stealing' an EVM.

He 'stole' the machine to demonstrate that the EVM can be tampered with. In fact, he - along with a University of Michigan professor and a Dutch security researcher - has even published a research paper on the vulnerability of the EVM.


Mr Prasad's claim is that he had approached the Election Commission (EC) with a request to allow him access to the machine, but they refused to do so; at the same time the EC claimed that the EVMs are foolproof and secure. Finding no other way to address an issue which is at the heart of India's democracy, namely free and fair elections, Mr Prasad acquired the machine by other means.

Mr Prasad in my opinion has done a great service to the nation. By showing that the EVMs can be tampered with, he has opened up a dialogue on the vulnerability of the EVMs. The EC on the other hand is blatantly misleading the Indian people saying that these machines are secure. Further, they refused to allow access to these machines to security professionals. If indeed the machines are secure as they claim, why not allow access to security professionals?

In fact, the EC should have hired ethical hackers themselves to find vulnerabilities in their machines.That is the practice followed worldwide by companies whose products can be potentially hacked. The behaviour of the EC reeks of ignorance of current security practices.


Our EC has over the years gained a good reputation for conducting the world's largest free and fair elections. But this act nullifies at least some of it.


Meanwhile, today's reports indicate that some of the top officials in India have claimed that there is a political conspiracy to discredit India's election process via this hacking attempt. Politicising everything is the nature of India's politicians. It is irrelevant to the discussion whether there is a political angle behind Mr Prasad's act or not. That certainly does not absolve the EC of its lack of attention to security vulnerabilities in the machine.

... ...

Read the article on Miracle Of Democracy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Brahma takes charge as Election Commissioner

Hari Shankar Brahma, a retired senior bureaucrat hailing from Assam, assumed charge as Election Commissioner on Wednesday. He is a 1975 IAS officer,and was the Union Power Secretary. His appointment was following the one of Quraishi as the Chief Election Commissioner, reports The Economic Times.

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NEW DELHI:Hari Shankar Brahma, a retired senior bureaucrat hailing from Assam, assumed charge as Election Commissioner on Wednesday.

A 1975 IAS officer of Andhra Pradesh cadre, Brahma (60), who retired as Union Power Secretary, was appointed to the post following the elevation of S Y Quraishi as the Chief Election Commissioner.

It is understood that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was keen on appointing an officer from the North East to the key post.

Brahma is the second person from the North East after J M Lyngdoh, who retired as Chief Election Commissioner in 2004, to become Election Commissioner.

V S Sampath is the other Election Commissioner. The Chief Election Commissioner and the other two Election Commissioners have a tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.

Read the article on Miracle Of Democracy.

Left Confused: Politics in West Bengal

The left was given massive mandates for seven successive terms in west Bengal.But, In the recent Municipal elections, the Left managed to win only 18 of the state's 81 municipal councils.The left got much public support through the agrarian reforms of the 70's.But, the benefits of the much famed land reforms weared off and they lost the support they had gained. Even sympathizers of the left find the horrors of Nandigram repulsive, writes Semu Bhatt in Southasia Online.

Read the whole article here:

"For 33 years, the Left Front has been synonymous to West Bengal politics, with people having given it massive mandates for seven successive terms. However, on June 21st, when the Left Front entered into the 34th year of power in the state, the celebrations failed to hide the despair amongst the party members about a distinct possibility of the unthinkable - collapsing of the thus-far impregnable Leftist fort in the 2011 state assembly polls."

"In the recent Municipal elections, the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left plank managed to win only 18 of the state's 81 municipal councils, 36 seats less than its 2005 tally."

"What is alarming is the rate at which this slide has happened - after all, the Left had won the assembly polls of 2006 with a huge majority."

"The Left fort was built on the unwavering support it generated through major agrarian reforms starting late 70s - to an extent unseen in any other Indian state, and decentralization of power - much before the Indian Constitution encouraged it through 73rd and 74th Amendments. The Left Front enforced land ceiling and effected an equitable distribution of surplus land to small and landless farmers. It enumerated the sharecroppers and secured their rights to crop share and tilling tenure. With the government ensuring good irrigation facility and high quality seeds, West Bengal agriculture boomed. Unlike other agrarian success stories of India, the West Bengal green revolution was unique in the fact that it was based on a small farmer economy. This positively impacted poverty alleviation in the state. Approximately 60 per cent rural households in West Bengal benefited from the land reforms, earning a life-long loyalty of the farmers that kept the Leftists in power for so long."

"The benefits of the much famed land reforms are wearing off and the second generation small farmers, who are increasingly finding agriculture an unviable option, are on a look out for jobs outside of it. To win back its farmer support base, the government has recently announced that it will buy land from willing farmers at much higher rate and redistribute it to the landless. By the look of it, however, this scheme appears more of an appeasement strategy to win back rural masses than an actual workable program."

"While the Left fared much better than most of the Indian states in land reforms, it fared poorly in both, public and private industrial sectors. In 1947, West Bengal was one of the most industrialized states of India with a huge share of 24 per cent in total industrial production of the country. Due to a combination of factors - including lack of private interest and public investment, and freight equalization policy- West Bengal's share had declined to 12 per cent by 1977 when Jyoti Basu came to power. In the following three decades, the state's share further dipped to a dismal 4 per cent."

"The vitality in rural economy had led to substantial growth in the unorganized small scale manufacturing in the state. Thus, the unorganized sector absorbed a lot of workforce, to the extent that number of workers employed in it in the state were, and are still, a lot higher than those employed in the organized sector. West Bengal, in fact, accounts for almost one-fifth of the unorganized sector workforce of India. This is the reason why despite the Left plank's neglect of heavy industries for almost three decades, it continued to retain electorate support."

"With both the primary and the unorganized sectors contribution to SDP and employment on decline, the Left Front was left to choose between ideology and industry. Little did it know - when it opted for fast track industrialization - that it is stepping into a minefield that would cripple its political fortune. Events in Singur and Nandigram were result of a very inept and insensitive handling of the land acquisition issue by the government. Even the strongest supporters of the Leftists were shocked by the police firing on women and children in Nandigram."

"It is ironical that today in West Bengal the Left is considered pro-capital while TMC pro-poor. In line with this new perception, TMC has gained support from many leftist intellectuals, civil society groups, and even the Maoists. Disillusioned with the Left government's support to the Centre in fighting red terror, Maoists sided with TMC calling it a progressive option in their fight against feudalism."

"At the moment, the Left Front is in deep trouble facing popular anger and charges of rampant corruption and poor governance; as well as possibility of split in the Left plank with couple of smaller parties moving towards an alliance with TMC."

Read the article on Miracle of Democracy.

Monday, August 23, 2010

MPs' allowances hiked by Rs 10,000 per month

The Government on Monday agreed to further hike their monthly allowances by Rs 10,000.The Union Cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, decided to increase the office and constituency allowances of MPs by Rs 5000 each per month, reports The Indian Express.

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In a bid to placate MPs demanding higher pay packages, Government on Monday agreed to further hike their monthly allowances by Rs 10,000.

The Union Cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, decided to increase the office and constituency allowances of MPs by Rs 5000 each per month.

The decision come against the backdrop of a section of lawmakers expressing unhappiness over the increase proposed by the Cabinet last week.
The Cabinet had not accepted the proposal of the Joint Parliamentary Committee to hike their salaries from Rs 16,000 to Rs 80,000 and instead pegged it at Rs 50,000 per month.

Besides, it had hiked the office and constituency allowances from Rs 20,000 per month each to Rs 40,000 per month each.

Now, the constituency and office allowance of MPs would be Rs 45,000 each per month, sources in the Government said.

The Lok Sabha had witnessed uproar last week by RJD, SP and JD-U members over government's decision with agitated members of these parties dubbing it as an insult to Parliament.

BJP, RJD, SP and JD-U leaders had a meeting with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday over the issue after which the government had assured them to take appropriate steps.

Read the article on Miracle Of Democracy.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rich MPs, poor people

A 300 percent salary hike for Members of parliament was cleared, and their perks were doubled. But, The MP's are dissatisfied as they sought Rs 80,001 salary per month as recommended by a parliamentary committee. Politics is all about money in India.The average worth of assets of an MP in the Lower House has increased from Rs 1.86 crore to Rs 5.33 crore in the last five years, reports Zee News.

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The Union Cabinet has cleared a 300 percent salary hike for Members of Parliament, from current Rs 16,000 to Rs 50,000. Not only this, the perks given to MPs have also been doubled. But the “minimal” hike has completely failed to appease our dear MPs, who sought Rs 80,001 salary per month as recommended by a parliamentary committee.

Money rules! It does, certainly. Politics has become a huge money-making business in India. According to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), the number of crorepati MPs has increased from 156 in 2004 to 315 in 2009.

The non-governmental organisation further noted in its report that the average worth of assets of an MP in the Lower House has increased from Rs 1.86 crore to Rs 5.33 crore in the last five years. How does the bank balance of our politicians go up when the living conditions of the poor and the common man continue to go down?

Just compare and contrast: There are more poor people in eight Indian states (421 million in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal) than in the 26 poorest African countries combined (410 million). The statistics were revealed with the help of a new measure called the Multidimensional Poverty Index, which was developed and applied by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative with UNDP support.

In 2009, Vandana Shiva of NGO Navdanya had said that India has emerged as the world’s capital of hunger with 214 million hungry people.

More than 70% of India’s under-five children are anaemic.

The Tata Institute of Social Sciences noted last year that two out of three of India’s 1.1 billion people still live and work in rural areas and as many as 1,50,000 debt-hit farmers have killed themselves in the past decade.

According to UNICEF, 665 million Indians don’t have access to toilets, so they defecate in public.

Skyrocketing food prices and surging inflation have further dashed the hopes of India’s ‘aam junta’.

Our politicians are unhappy with the salary hike and our citizens are dissatisfied with MPs’ performance. “Netas get salary, then they make under-the-table money with the help of the position they hold, then they get official allowances. They are robbing our taxes everyday, and we can’t do anything,” said a neighbour of mine, who was angry with the sad state of affairs of this country.

I am not against a pay hike for MPs. But some standards should be set for raising the salaries. According to the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), the per capita income, a measure of average income of a citizen, was recorded at Rs 37,490 per annum during 2008-09. The common man is not even entitled to free flights, first-class air-conditioned train travel, free accommodation and several other benefits as our politicians are.

It is interesting to note that the upcoming CWG in Delhi is in the news due to corruption, leaky stadiums, dodgy money transfers, inferior equipment. Have we ever wondered how our athletes are preparing for the games? Recently, Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna had threatened to pull out of the Games because they were not paid for its preparations. The CWG was heard to be running out of funds. Despite this, politicians are less interested in sorting this issue, but to fill their own pockets.

Indian democracy has become the government of the RICH, by the POOR and for the MONEY.

Read the article on Miracle of Democracy.

Three statistics that our MPs must consider

The pay hike of Members of Parliament are gathering anger.India's Economy has grown by 8.5 per cent in the last 5 years.The per capita income Indians stand at 2,795 Rs per month. The salary of MP's are being tripled. If Rs. 50,000 is an insult, as Lalu Prasad Yadav said, what would you call Rs. 2,795, an abomination? The trade union like activities of MPs create a huge divide between them and the people they represent, writes Gautam Chikermane in Hindustan Times.

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"As the question of how much our Members of Parliament (MPs) are paid gathers anger, here is a rational look at this phenomenon that best defines the meeting point of politics and money. I’d like to present three statistics."

"One, over the past five years, India’s economy has raced ahead by a compounded average growth rate (CAGR) of 8.5 per cent, impressive by any account, particularly in the context of one of the world’s harshest recessions since the Great Depression that barely caused a slowdown in India."

"Two, in the same period, the per capita income of its citizens has grown by 6.8 per cent. It stands at R33,540 per annum, Rs 2,795 per month or Rs 93 (about $2) per day. That’s a global rank of 143, after adjusting for purchasing power parity (PPP). "

"In this context, here is the third statistic: the salaries of MPs are being tripled, which means a CAGR of 31.6 per cent over their 2006 salary. The MPs are livid, saying it’s not enough. The last time they got a raise, it was four-fold (in 2006), so how can they settle for a three-fold rise this time?"

"We do need to pay our representatives well. In a democracy, they are our sole link to changing aspirations. The question is, how well?"

"This salary (Rs 50,000) is an insult to Parliament," Rashtriya Janata Dal President Lalu Prasad said. I would humbly like to point out, sir, that this monthly salary is 1.5 times the annual income of an average Indian. If R50,000 is an insult, what would you call R2,795, an abomination?

"I wonder why our representatives can’t see what the rest of the nation can — their coarse rent-seeking through higher salaries is creating a deep divide between themselves and the people they purport to represent."

"Honourable Members: can you please keep this raise in abeyance till your constituents are better fed, better clothed, better housed? Linking your increments to the well-being of your constituents will bring you far greater long-term dividends."

Read the article on Miracle of Democracy.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Bombay High Court: Case No.14 1995 - Should India be socialists

When the status of a 15 year old case in the Bombay High Court was checked, it was found that they haven't still listed a date. A source gave some critical information on the condition that the information will be used only in public interest.In India `truth' is still no defence in contempt proceedings. The source found judges in a huddle on Karan Thapar's defence of Capitalism. Karan Thapar shouldn't have brought Raju on his program, one said, writes Manuwant Choudhary in India Vikalp.

Read the article here:

India's courts have become technologically advanced so I searched the `official' website of the Bombay High Court to find the status of a 15 year old case - Case No. 14 1995 - thats not come up for hearing even once to see if they finally have a date listed and type the key words and you will draw a blank!

15 years and still no date!!!!

So I asked my source in the Bombay High Court to find out why this delay after all isn't there a saying `Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied.'

So after much persuasion my source gave me this critical information but on condition that I use the information only for `public interest'.

So what I write here is strictly in `public interest'...as I roughly remember in India `truth' is still no defence in contempt proceedings.

My source sneaked into the judges chamber and found three judges in a huddle.

Judge 1: "I am furious with that nasty Karan Thapar. I think we should file a contempt case against him."

Judge 2: "Contempt against Karan Thapar. But why? Karan Thapar is not Arundhati Roy and nor does that Vinod Mehta give him reams of paper in Outlook magazine. You mean to say he is a `Maoist' sympathiser."

Judge 1, ""He is worse. Karan is always nasty but I think you missed his CNBC - TV 18 show where he was at his nastiest best. But how dare he support capitalism."

Judge 3, "Yes, yes I saw that and he deserves to be sent to prison for saying that capitalism brings greater equality and social justice than socialism."

Judge 1, "Our judge A.P. Shah deserves a Bharat Ratna for defending socialism in front of the whole world and this Karan Thapar should be in prison with the Maoists and the Pappu Yadav's."

Judge 2: "But Karan hasn't killed a fly in his life."

Judge 1, "Anyone who is not a socialist should leave this country or he should live in prison. See how he had the guts to bring that old man Raju on his program. The Swatantra Party is dead. This Raju just like a ghost wants to disturb India."

Judge 2: "But Swatantra Party...isn't that the party founded by India's first Governor General C. Rajagopalahari..so how can they be now illegal?"

Judge 3: "Things have changed in India. Now we are all socialists after Mrs. Indira Gandhi changed India's preamble. And didn't you notice Praiyanka Gandhi's new hairstyle..She is the next Indira."

Judge 1: "You don't understand. See all our MPs are socialists so they have given themselves a pay rise and they have then asked the army jawans to work for free in the Congresswealth Games. Thats socialism."

Judge 3: "yes, yes, and shri. Kalmadi is still in charge of the Congresswealth Games!"

Judge 2: "But I think Karan has a point we should have heard the case in 15 years at least once."

Judge 1: "You dont understand. If we hear that case even once it will be a threat to the unity and integrity of India."

Judge 2: "You mean like Kashmir."

Judge 1: "Yes, see how they throw stones in Kashmir."

Judge 2: "But this Raju has not thrown a stone in his life."

Judge 1, "Ahh, I dont mean literal. Raju is more dangerous than the Kashmiri youth. And he has an office a stones throw away...next to the Bombay High Court. So we must be very careful."

Judge 2: "But surely, even the Supreme Court has said this is an important issue so we must hear it now at least."

Judge 3, "No, no...no,,,if it was important the Supreme Court should have heard it themselves. Even Fali Nariman could not convince them. And Raju's lawyer - no one knows him."

Judge 2: "You forget one of Raju's lawyers is now our collegaue judge in the Bombay High Court and he is respectful. I am sure the Supreme Court wants us to hear the case now."

Judge 1"The Supreme Court wanted everyone to read that book on Shivaji in Maharashtra but still the government has banned it so its not important we do everything what the Supreme Court wants."

Judge 3, "Yes, we can say that the Swatantra Party if allowed to register will create a `law and order' problem."

Judge 2: "We are not politicians. We cant say that."

Judge 1: "Then we can say we have too many other important cases to hear."

Judge 2: "Won't do..There are 60 judges in the High Court..."

Judge 1 " You dont comprehend. In American politics candidates run for elections, in India politicians stand for elections...but us we are called `Sitting' judges!"

Judge 2 "I agree but we not not supposed to just sit. We are supposed to work also."

Judge 3, "No. who says we are supposed to work. No where its written `working judges' of the High Court."

Judge 2 : "But surely we cant keep sitting over it...let us pass some judgement."

Judge 1: "Don't even think about it. Swatantra Party will bring in capitalism and we may all have to work."

Judge 2: "But then what can we tell the Supreme Court?"

Judge 1: "We can tell them the file is so old that we cant see whats written in them."

Judge 2: "No no, in Bihar recently a judge gave his order on a 40 year old property case even when the file was worm-eaten and ineligible."

Judge 1: "Ah thats Bihar. They give bail to Pappu Yadav also!"

Judge 2, "We need better excuses.."

Judge 1: "We can tell them we were watching cricket at Vengsarkars Academy in front so cricket is a national cause not democracy... See how work stops in all of India to watch IPL."

Judge 2, "Some watch only Preety Zinta."

Judge 1: "We can simply say the case has been `Disposed'."

Judge 2, "Disposed but how?"

Judge 1: "By the rats!"

Read the article on Miracle Of Democracy.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Beyond the blame game: Need for well meaning and educated Indians to enter electoral process

India's achievements in the first decade of the 21st century leaves a warm after-glow. However, many Indians are prone to playing the blame game. Politicians, bureaucrats, corporate biggies and acedemics including others are good at the blame game. The media targets people who can't hit back.Instead of blaming others and system, all well-meaning citizens should become a part of the electoral politics, writes Jaimini Bhagwati in Business Standard.

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"India’s achievements in the first decade of the 21st century leading up to the 64th anniversary of its Independence on August 15, 2010 leave a warm after-glow in their wake. At the same time, it is apparent from our writings and pronouncements that Indians are prone to playing the blame game. Namely, we tend to look for someone else to blame for our collective failures. "

"Among the accused, politicians complain about the arbitrary manner in which electoral constituencies are redrawn and how caste and other partisan considerations rather than hard work determine their re-election prospects. Civil servants are forever complaining about arbitrary transfers and postings which have little to do with their competence and are motivated by nepotism and on and on. Corporate biggies and their acolytes protest loudly against any vestige of “command and control” and “licence and permit raj”, and also protest when there is a push towards enhancing domestic and particularly global competition. Academics justifiably complain that they are poorly paid. "

"The media’s favourite whipping boys are the softer targets who cannot hit back. "

"Who is a representative and average Indian: the hard-working landless farmer or tribal who may be illiterate and insecure about the future; an outraged English-medium television programme moderator who is shrill on demand; perpetrators of the so-called honour killings; the new strains of mining mafia dons who also double as political leaders; those who murder people or destroy property in the name of religion; the educated and dedicated professionals who work diligently and honestly; the obviously corrupt public officials living extravagantly; or the acquiescing politicians or civil servants who are personally scrupulously honest? "

"It is unfortunate that after more than 60 years of Independence, the level of responsibility among some of our elected representatives seems to be lower. Maybe this was inevitable since the leaders at the time of Independence were from a self-selected group and could relate better to each other through the bonds formed during the freedom struggle. Has self-esteem among our educated, professional and political classes become brittle, aggravated by caste, income and other factors, making it difficult for us to function well as teams?"

"To summarise, if we want to progress faster towards meritocracy with social justice, there is no alternative to a wider cross-section of Indians, including the educated and well-meaning, participating directly and personally in electoral politics. Alternatively, we are likely to periodically hear from columnists about how “Nehruvian policies” continue to be at the root of our current difficulties (Jawaharlal Nehru passed away on May 27, 1964, more than 46 years ago)."

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Gujarat: Court directs mock e-voting before actual polls

The Gujarat court directs mock e-voting before the actual poll. It is to ensure that the process of online voting is 100 per cent full-proof.The Congress leaders have claimed in their PIL that e-voting system to be implemented through recent amendments in the BPMC Act is in violation of fundamental rights granted by the Constitution, reports The Times Of India.

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AHMEDABAD: In connection with introduction of e-voting or online voting system during coming civic body elections, Gujarat High Court has advised the state government to go for a trial mock election before actual election to ensure that the process of online voting is 100 per cent full-proof.

When the hearing came up on the PIL filed by Congressmen raising doubts on efficacy of the new mode of casting vote, a bench headed by Chief Justice SJ Mukhopadhaya observed that the experimentation should not be done during the election process. In case of any trouble in casting vote through internet or mobile phone, the entire exercise of conducting election will suffer. Therefore, if the authorities want to experiment to see that the system functions in proper manner, it has to be much before the actual election.

The Congress leaders have claimed in their PIL that e-voting system to be implemented through recent amendments in the BPMC Act is in violation of fundamental rights granted by the Constitution. Hence the authorities should be restricted from allowing citizens to cast their votes online through mobile or internet.

The PIL has also claimed that online voting system could infringe the element of secrecy maintained in electoral process. It has been contended that free and fair elections as well as secrecy of ballet is granted as fundamental rights in Article 19(1)(g) of the constitution.

However, in the registration process of e-voter, a person is given biometric card and a password. While casting a vote, there will be no control of election commission, and there are chances of coercion and influencing the voters, the petition stated.

The petition has also contended that there is no provision to verify the voting done online. Moreover, secrecy cannot be maintained in e-voting as the services of a private service provider will be availed in this process. There is also no safety contemplated in e-voting so far as identity of voter is concerned, because the voter was expected to cast his vote from either home or cyber cafe or from mobile. In this situation, it was difficult to find out true identity of the voter and there were chances of dummy voters participating in electoral process.

Further hearing on this issue has been kept on August 27.

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Rajya Sabha: Bill to regulate foreign contribution to non-profits passed

The bill to regulate foreign money received by religious and nongovernmental organisation got clearance when when Rajya Sabha passed Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Bill, 2006, on Thursday.The bill prohibits certain categories of individuals and organisations from accepting foreign funds and hospitality without prior government permission, reports Daily News And Analysis.

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The government made significant progress towards regulating money received by religious and nongovernmental organisations when Rajya Sabha passed Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Bill, 2006, on Thursday.

The bill prohibits certain categories of individuals and organisations from accepting foreign funds and hospitality without prior government permission.

Once it becomes a law, churches, temple trusts, religious outfits such as Vishwa Hindu Parishad, NGOs, political parties, etc will have to account for every single penny they receive from donors abroad.

The law will debar persons prosecuted or convicted for indulging in activities aimed at religious conversion through inducement or force, those prosecuted or convicted for creating communal tension or disharmony and those likely to engage in propagation of sedition or advocate violent methods from receiving foreign contributions.

It will ensure the acceptance of foreign contribution by a person should not affect prejudicially the sovereignty and integrity of India, security, strategic, scientific or economic interest of the state, public interest, freedom or fairness of election to any legislature, friendly relations with foreign states and harmony between religious, racial, social, linguistic, regional groups, castes or communities.

Home minister P Chidambaram said during a debate on the bill, which will replace the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976, that the government will have the power to cancel registration of organisations that receive foreign funds but do not reveal accounts.

“There are over 40,173 organisations receiving foreign contribution in the country, and half of them do not report the inflow of funds and do not file accounts.

“Where is the money going? This requires to be regulated. Hence, we need a stricter law,” he said, adding that legitimate charitable and social activities would be permitted to access foreign funds.

Apart from the aforesaid, the law will affect election candidates, correspondents, editors, printers and publishers of newspapers, judges, government servants, members of the legislature and political parties and employees of units owned or controlled by the government.

Read the article on Miracle of Democracy.

MPs not satisfied with three fold salary hike, and increase in perks

The MPs of the country are not satisfied with the three-fold salary hike.After the union cabinet approved the hike, MPs other than those from the Congress, BJP and the demanded a salary not less than that of a secretary to the government of India, which is Rs. 80,000 a month. Many commented that such demands were not justified, reports Hindustan Times.

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Hours after the union cabinet approved a three-fold hike in salaries of Members of Parliament (MPs), MPs other than those from the Congress, BJP and the Left got the Lok Sabha repeatedly adjourned demanding a salary not less than that of a secretary to the government of India. The bill concerned is likely to be introduced in the Lok Sabha on Saturday.

A secretary in the government gets R80,000 a month. The three-fold hike for MPs leaves them well short of that — at R50,000, up from R16,000 a month.

Added to this are constituency and office allowances, which have been doubled to R40,000 each a month. In all, a MP would get around R1.45 lakh per month including salary and allowances (see graphic), once Parliament approves the changes.

The money is less than what MPs get in a month in countries such as Singapore, US, Canada and in the European Parliament, whose per capita income is 12-20 times higher than India.

In Singapore, an MP gets R6.18 lakh a month (converted into Indian currency).

“This salary (R50,000) is an insult to Parliament,” said Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)chief Lalu Prasad in the House, contending the government had rejected the recommendations of its own committee.

Soon after the Lok Sabha started business, MPs led by Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party and Prasad were on their feet rejecting the cabinet decision and demanding a minimum salary of R80,001.

Amid the pandemonium, the Lok Sabha approved amendments in two laws without any discussion.

The cabinet had decided to defer the issue on Monday when ministers Ambika Soni and Vyalar Ravi said it would not be “appropriate” to raise the salary of MPs when people were reeling under high inflation, but intense pressure from non-BJP, non-Left MPs, including some from Congress, forced the government to approve the salary hike. The last increase in MPs’ salaries was in 2006 when it went up from R4,000 to R16,000 a month.

According to information provided by MPs during 2009 elections, the average assets of a Lok Sabha MP is R4.5 crore, excluding those whose assets are more than R100 crore.

“The demand for such a huge salary hike is not justified,” said Anil Bairwal, national coordinator of Association for Democratic Reforms.

Read the article on Miracle Of Democracy.

Cabinet approve hike in MP's salary three fold, increase in perks and pension

The Cabinet approved a three fold hike of the salaries of MP's. The basic salary of the MPs will be hiked from Rs 16,000 to Rs 50,000 per month. The salary hike is lower than the figure of 80,001, which was recommended by the parliamentary committee, reports Yahoo News.

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New Delhi, Aug 20 (PTI) Salaries of MPs will be hiked by more than three times with the Union Cabinet today approving a bill over which differences among ministers had surfaced earlier this week.

A meeting of the Cabinet gave its nod to the bill under which the basic salary of the MPs will be hiked from Rs 16,000 to Rs 50,000 per month. However, this is much less than the figure of Rs 80,001 recommended by the parliamentary committee which had said the MPs should get more than government secretaries as the former are above them in the hierarchy.

The Cabinet also approved increase in office expenses of parliamentarians from Rs 20,000 to Rs 40,000 per month. The constituency allowance has also been doubled from Rs 20,000 to Rs 40,000 per month, government sources said.

The limit for interest-free loan for MPs for buying a personal vehicle has been hiked four-fold to Rs 4 lakh from the present Rs 1 lakh. The government also approved a hike in road mileage rate for vehicles used by MPs from Rs 13 per km to Rs 16 per km.

Spouse of a parliamentarian can now travel any number of times in first class or executive class, the sources said. Pension benefits have also been increased from Rs 8,000 to Rs 20,000 per month.

Earlier this week, the Cabinet had deferred a decision on it in view of lack of consensus. The dissenting Ministers had referred to the farmers' suicide and allegations of corruption in Commonwealth Games while making the point that the hiking the salaries of MPs at the moment would be seen in the bad light.

Read the article on Miracle Of Democracy.

Pay hike to cost the country Rs 60 lakh for each MP, per year

The MP's of India are dissatisfied by their pay hike. The Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Janata Dal stalled proceedings in the Lok Sabha on August 20. MPs argue that their present salary is lower than that of a secretary level government employee, reports Times Now.

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A 300% hike is not enough for our Members of Parliament; now they want it to be 500%. Dissatisfied by the quantum of hike in the salaries approved by the Cabinet, the Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Janata Dal (United) stalled proceedings in the Lok Sabha on Friday (August 20). MPs led by Lalu Prasad and Mulayam Singh Yadav created an uproar and forced two adjournments before the final one for the day.

The MPs contended that the government had insulted Parliament by rejecting the recommendation of its own Committee to raise the basic salary from Rs 16,000 to Rs. 80,000 per month. MPs have argued that their current salaries are lower than a secretary level government employee.

However, a back-of-the-book calculation by TIMES NOW has estimated that effectively MPs annual salary per month is now Rs 5 lakh including free air tickets, Dearness Allowance, accommodation, rent telephone and electricity bills and constituency allowance. Like all employees have a 'Cost to Company', to maintain their lifestyle these MPs have a Cost to the Nation that goes up to Rs 5 lakh a month - or 60 lakhs a year!

Finally, compare the above to an Army officer, whose last salary hike on an average was 40 % compared to an MP's 300%.

However much the public may disapprove, for once all MPs have been united on the issue of increasing their own salaries, the only dissonance being why they can't get even more.

Read the article on Miracle Of Democracy.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why Our MPs Deserve More

People look at the five fold salary hike of MPs with cynicism. They find it unjust that MPs are placing themselves over the civil service. But, if you look at it objectively, you will find that the decision makes sense. An MP has several expenses, which many meet from their own pockets. Low salaries would only lead to more incentives for corruption. If we want to attract better talent to politics, we should pay them accordingly, writes Coomi Kapoor in The Indian Express.

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"The unanimous proposal of a joint committee of Parliament to award MPs a five-fold salary hike, from Rs 16,000 to Rs 80,001, has seriously offended a section of the middle class. Some suggest cynically that there is nothing in a parliamentarian’s performance to justify this demand. Others snigger at politicians placing themselves in the same salary slab as the top ranks of the civil service. "

"Despite the general scepticism, however, when one looks objectively at the figures, it is justifiable for our MPs to expect a substantial pay hike. The concept that MPs are performing some sort of social service, which should not be compensated by payment at par with the general job market for skilled labour, is a hangover from the freedom struggle, a time when those who entered politics were generally motivated purely by idealism. "

"Today MPs have either to be rich, or peddle their influence. There is little room for an honest middle and lower-middle class MP to stretch his official income and perks to fulfil the numerous demands of his constituents, as well as to maintain his family. "

"In fact pegging salaries at unrealistic levels merely provides an incentive for corruption."

"One smart-alec suggestion which has cropped up is that if they want a pay hike, MPs should have to perforce sit through the day, rather than merely sign the register and pocket the daily allowance. A common grievance is that our legislators waste precious Parliament time in uproars and walk-outs and are usually absent during serious debates in the House. But today, the basic requirement for an MP is to be accessible to his constituents, helping resolve the myriad problems of the voters and working for the development of the constituency. Scoring debating points in Parliament has very little role in the decision-making process."

"The joint parliamentary committee on MPs’ emoluments fixed an MP’s wages at Rs 80,001, reasoning that they deserved at least one rupee more than a full secretary to the government of India, since they are the actual formulators of public policy, while bureaucrats are merely the implementers. Their work hours are longer than bureaucrats’, they argue. "

"Some, including the CPM and L.K. Advani, have reservations about MPs deciding on their own pay structure and have argued that such matters should be best left to a pay commission. While the ethicality of our MPs legislating to give themselves a raise is a valid question, almost no one raised an eyebrow when the IAS worked out a particularly sweet deal for itself under the Sixth Pay Commission, without cutting numbers. Our burgeoning bureaucracy illustrates the classic case of the fence eating the crop. In comparison, the proposed hike in MPs salaries would be a flea bite for our national budget."

Read the article on Miracle Of Democracy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Congress richest party, BSP biggest rise in assets

The Right to Information (RTI) has disclosed that all political parties are in excellent financial health.The political parties have disclosed the details of assets and liabilities following orders from the Central Information Commission Congress is the richest party, and BSP shows the biggest rise in assets. The regional parties are not far behind, reports The Times Of India.

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NEW DELHI: Even as Parliament appears split over the contentious issue of MP's salary hike and the country reels under inflation, the data gathered from Right to Information (RTI) has disclosed that all political parties are in the pink of financial health.

Congress -- that has now been in power for the past six years-- has the highest income Rs 497 crore as on March 31, 2009, and its aggregate income has increased to Rs 1,518 crore between 2002 and 2009, while its assets have also increased by 42%.

BJP and BSP have declared their income for 2009-10 at Rs 220 crore and Rs 182 crore, respectively.

With national parties making a fortune, how can regional parties be far behind?

The maximum growth rate in total assets from 2002-03 to 2009-10 has been shown by BSP (59%) followed by NCP (51%) and SP (44%).

The analysis was arrived at from income tax returns, and assessment orders of political parties accessed by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) under the RTI Act.

Parties have disclosed details of assets and liabilities following orders from the Central Information Commission (CIC).

Among the other parties, the income shown for 2009-10 by CPI is Rs 1 crore, RJD (Rs 4 crore), SP (Rs 39 crore), NCP (Rs 40 crore) and CPM (Rs 63 crore).

While Congress had the maximum aggregate income between 2002-03 and 2009-10, BJP came in second with an aggregate income of Rs 754 crore and BSP with Rs 358 crore.

The aggregate income for the same period for Rs 7 crore for CPI, Rs 15 crore for RJD, NCP (Rs 109 crore), SP (Rs 263 crore) and CPM (Rs 339 crore).

Another indicator of the growing wealth of parties is the trend of acquiring assets.

While BSP has been the most active in acquiring assets -- at Rs 286 crore --

Congress remains on top of the charts on this count as well.

BJP has Rs 261 crore in assets followed by CPM (Rs 185 crore), SP (Rs 178 crore) and NCP at Rs 32 crore.

As on March 31, 2009, the maximum capital fund was shown by Congress (Rs 549 crore), followed by BSP (Rs 286 crore) and BJP (Rs 246 crore).

RJD showed capital fund of about Rs 60 lakh, CPM of Rs 185 crore and SP (Rs 178 crore).

Congress has also shown the maximum amount of bank borrowing (Rs 49 crore) followed by BJP (Rs 13 crore).

In a statement, ADR and National Election Watch emphasised the need for political parties to have transparency in their accounts and funding.

"All advanced democracies of the world have detailed laws defining how the political parties should function. In India, several commission like the Law Commission of India, National Commission for the Review of the Working of Constitution and the Election Commission have recommended bringing in a law to this effect. Unfortunately, the law makers have refused to budge," the statement said.

Read the article on Miracle of Democracy.

Rajasthan: Local elections to 126 civic bodies on 18 August

Elections for the 126 civic bodies, would be held in the Jaipur state on Wednesday. More than 35,000 EVM's(Electronic Voting Machines) will be used in the poll. The votes will be counted on August 20th, reports The Times Of India.

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JAIPUR: Elections for the 126 civic bodies, including a municipal corporation and two municipal councils, would be held in the state on Wednesday.

The votes would be cast between 7 am and 5 pm. The state election commission has set up 4,142 polling stations in areas where the elections are scheduled. Over 35,000 electronic voting machines will be used in the polls. The government has declared a holiday in the constituencies going for polls.

Counting of votes will be held on August 20. Election for vice-chairmen and deputy mayors will be held on August 21.

The state police have made elaborate arrangements to ensure a free and fair polls, said an official.

Read the article on Miracle of Democracy.

Be law makers again: Serious intent behind private members' bill

The primary role of the MP's is to legislate, though it is much forgotten by the Voters. Yet, Government exclusively draft new laws and pass them in the parliament. Any MP can introduce bills in the parliament as private members' bills, but it is bound to fail. Yet, many MP's do so for various reasons, including to prove their competence in coming up with the right solutions.MP's can do much to change the impression that they don't work once they get elected, writes C.V Madhukar in The Indian Express.

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"In an era when most voters seem to ask the MP what he did for the constituency during his years in Parliament, it would be useful to remind ourselves that the primary role of our MPs is to legislate. Yet the task of drafting new laws, and seeing that they are passed by Parliament, has in practice become the exclusive preserve of the government of the day. "

"In such a situation, as individual MPs, what options do our MPs have to fulfil their role as law makers? In parliamentary parlance, any MP who is not a minister is referred to as a “private member”. Any MP can introduce bills in the House — as “private members’ bills”. "

"But, as with so many aspects of our Parliament, this is designed to fail. "

"When the probability that it will become law is close to zero, why is it that some MPs still make the effort of introducing these bills? A number of positive reasons: some MPs choose to use this as one more way of demonstrating their competence in not just understanding an issue, but also coming up with possible solutions through a legislative proposal. MPs also believe that this is an important way of signalling to the government the need for legislation on some critical issues. Even though the bill may not be passed, it sometimes brings out the “sense of the House” on an important policy issue, which can then be taken up by government."

"Before the voting age was reduced from 21 years to 18 years in 1989, there was a private member’s bill that proposed such a change. The debate on the floor of the House showed that MPs across party lines were in support of such a move. That bill was not passed, but the government later brought a bill to amend the Constitution to bring about this change. "

"There are some opportunities for MPs to express their views on issues, independent of the party diktat. In Question Hour, MPs ask questions of the government irrespective of whether they belong to the ruling party. Similarly during Zero Hour, MPs raise important issues cutting across party lines. Private members’ bills also offer the same space to MPs, one where they can raise issues independent of party considerations. It would be useful if more MPs used these opportunities to demonstrate leadership on critical issues on the floor of the House, as active MPs who take the institution of Parliament seriously enough to warrant active participation. This would go some way in addressing the perception that MPs do not do any work once elected. This will also help individual MPs prove that they are not mere “rubber stamps” of the political party leadership, which enforces its writ using the whip and the anti-defection law. "

Read the whole article on Miracle Of Democracy.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gujarat: E-voting in municipal election failing to attract voter

The state Election Commission has extended the date for registration of online voters in six municipal corporations of the state from August 16, to August 21. The poor response from people led to this decision. The response was not up to the expectations, reports The Indian Express.

Read the article on Miracle Of Democracy.

The state Election Commission (SEC) has extended the date for registration of online voters in six municipal corporations of the state where civic polls are to be held in the first fortnight of October this year. The last date, which was earlier declared to be August 16, has now been extended to August 21.

The decision was taken following poor response from the people. SEC secretary P S Shah said people could not go to registration centres due to heavy rains over the last 10 days and hoped more people would turn up at online registration centres now with rains having stopped.

According to SEC officials, a little more than 500 persons have got themselves registered for online voting so far and the maximum response is from Ahmedabad, where 152 came forward, followed by Surat (125), Jamnagar (115), Vadodara (75), Rajkot (64) and Bhavnagar (10).

Officials say the response was much poor than expected although a large number of people in Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat are computer-savvy. Shah said heavy rains could have prevented people from visiting the registration centres.

The online voting system is being introduced in the state on an experimental basis at an initial cost of Rs 31.6 crore for the first time in the country. The idea came from Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

According to Shah, online voting option would be available in polls for municipal corporations of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Bhavanagar, Jamnagar and Rajkot.

Those willing for registration as online voter can download the application forms from http://sec.gujarat.gov.in and submit after filling them up at the nearest designated centre.

Username and password would be sent by e-mail and mobile, respectively before the polling day.

According to Shah, there would be four steps to caste an e-vote. The first step involves logging with username and password, select candidate in the second step, confirm selection by entering a
passcode received on mobile phone and in the fourth step, voter would get a receipt of the vote cast.

Goa: Promise of online voter registration from November

On-line voter registration will become a reality from November onwards in Goa, says the state electoral authority.A nationwide project to network offices of the various state electoral authorities and the Election Commission of India is on the way, said the assistant chief electoral officer Arvind Bugde, reports The Times of India.

Read the article on Miracle Of Democracy.

Although its promise didn't materialise earlier, the state electoral authority has assured that on-line voter registration will become a reality from November onwards.

Speaking to TOI, assistant chief electoral officerArvind Bugde said that its implementation would be part of a nationwide project to network offices of the various state electoral authorities and the Election Commission of India.

"We have to demonstrate the software to the ECI. The next summary revision of the electoral roll will be sometime in November, Therefore we plan to go online before that," Bugde said. The qualifying date for new voters for the next summary revision will be - the person has to be 18 years of age as on January 1, 2011. "Implementing this software will give us the facility of an online national database and related intelligence will be made available to us," he added.

Bugde also informed that electoral reforms have been undertaken. "Now, transposition of your name within the assembly segment will require you to fill up Form 6 with details of your part number and serial number. Also, in the case of new voters, it will be easier for you to register if any of your family member has voting rights," he said.

"You have to mention the name and EPIC details of the concerned family member while filling up the application and that will be verified by us. However, if none of your family members are on the voter rolls, verification of your details as mentioned in your application will be undertaken by us. If we find the details suspect, the application will be rejected," the assistant chief electoral officer said.

At present, the state electoral authority has achieved network connectivity across all talukas by availing the Goa Broadband Network (GBBN) facility. "Any correction to the voter roll is being done internally by us through the network. The data is routed through the central NIC server in Porvorim and a login name and password has been given to the different Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) in Goa. It has saved us a lot of paperwork. Now, data entry operators enter the voter's details, and once verified by the ERO, it is added to the electoral roll. With this software and the hardware already in place, it has helped us in seamless communication and we are currently ahead of other states in the process to implement the online voter registration facility," Bugde said.

"Those applying for voter registration online will be given a unique application number. This number will help them track the progress of their request; for example: if one changes residence and has applied for transposition of name to another constituency," he explained.

Independence Day: 10 Milestones in these 63 years

Political Independence was gained by India in 1947, but it took a long time for India to gain many other freedoms.In 1950, India turned a republic and in 1951, land reforms were initiated. Ambedkar reformed Hindu personal laws.1n 1973, judged were superseded in the appointment of CJI.The emergency took off our freedoms.The constitution abolished untouchability and the Narasimha Rao Government initiated economic reforms, which pushed us into an era of prosperity, writes Manoj Mitta in The Times Of India.

Read the whole article on Miracle Of Democracy.


"India gained political independence on August 15, 1947. But there were many more freedoms that were won, bit by bit, over many years. Some were the result of executive decisions, others were gained through legislative or judicial intervention. But all of them played a major role in helping to shape India as a liberal democracy. Manoj Mitta picks 10 major landmarks on the road to liberty."

"1. The promulgation of the Constitution, 29 months after Independence, was indeed the first major freedom milestone. For, it had more than turned India into a Republic on January 26, 1950."

"Nothing could have been, for instance, more alien to our caste-ridden society than the very notion of equality."

"2. The big political policy battle in the first three decades of independent India was to deal with the concentration of ownership or control of land in a few landlords and their intermediaries. The Jawaharlal Nehru government introduced the Ninth Schedule in the Constitution in 1951 in order to insulate land reforms from legal challenge. "

"3. Besides serving as the chief architect of the Constitution, dalit leader B R Ambedkar made the blueprint for reforming Hindu personal laws."

"4. The judgment delivered by a 13-member bench — the biggest ever — in the Kesavananda Bharati case in 1973 led to the first ever supercession of judges in the appointment of the Chief Justice of India."

"5. One of the casualties of the Emergency was the most basic of the fundamental rights, the right to life and personal liberty. "

"6. It took about three decades for the judiciary to make one radical departure from the Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence inherited from the colonial rule. The breakthrough lay in recognizing the Indian reality that a vast section of the population did not have the resources to approach the courts for enforcing their fundamental rights. In a bid to reach out to such needy people, the Supreme Court diluted the inherited principle of locus standi so that others can take up their cause in the form of what has come to be recognized as “public interest litigation”."

"7. The first time the President ever differed with the government on any legislation was when Rajendra Prasad came out on the side of reactionaries in opposing reforms to Hindu personal laws. "

"8. Though the Constitution outlawed untouchability, it was not until 1989 that India got a law specifically dealing with violent manifestations of this socio-religious menace."

"9. In 1989, the Rajiv Gandhi government amended the Representation of the People Act making it mandatory for all political parties to swear by, among other values, socialism. Barely two years later, the next Congress administration, which was headed by P V Narasimha Rao, jettisoned socialism in all but name when it ushered in economic liberalization."

"While the immediate provocation was to tide over a foreign exchange crisis, economic reforms have come to stay irrespective of the electoral fortunes of successive governments. The demolition of the licence-permit-quota regime unshackled entrepreneurial talents in various fields. This in turn earned India the reputation of transforming into the fastest growing economy after China."

"10. No list of freedom milestones of India can of course be complete without the transparency revolution wrought by the 2005 Right to Information Act.


Friday, August 13, 2010

August Kranti: India's revolution goes on long after Independence

Madhavrao Sindhia used to recount a story of man pounced upon by commuters on a train when he threw away a ticket on the platform. Such a spirit was rare in India after August 9, 1942.Words like hartal, gherao, bandh, andolan, sanghatan and satyagraha entered our everyday speech after that day. Chakravarti Rajagopalachari once said that Gandhiji wouldn;t have approved of the Quit India violence when Gandhijis views on the subject were ambivalent, writes Sunanda K Datta-Ray in The Pioneer.

Read the whole article in Pioneer.

"When he was Railway Minister, the late Madhavrao Scindia was fond of recounting a possibly apocryphal story of public-spirited commuters on Calcutta’s Metro (this was before Delhi had one) angrily pouncing on a man who had screwed up his used ticket and thrown it on the platform. Apparently, they forced him to pick it up and deposit it in the litter bin. The Metro was theirs; it had to be kept tidy."

"Such concern for public property has been rare since this week shook the mighty British Empire 68 years ago."

"India hasn’t looked back since August 9, 1942. It was a day of widespread disturbances that exalted protest and made opposition a way of life. Its legacy incorporated words like hartal, gherao, bandh, andolan, sanghatan and satyagraha into everyday speech. "

"It’s difficult to say how much of the Quit India violence was premeditated. “If any people think they are helping Gandhiji by these ruinous activities, they are deluding themselves and bringing cruel discredit on him,” Chakravarti Rajagopalachari admonished, magnanimously exonerating Gandhi of blame for lawlessness. But Gandhi’s own attitude was more ambivalent than Rajaji’s comment suggests. The Mahatma stood for non-violent non-cooperation and made a fetish of the sanctity of means over ends, even to the extent of reiterating that means were the end. But his “Karengey ya Marengey (Do or Die)” exhortation at Bombay’s Gowalia Tank went further than the Congress resolution’s pledge of “a mass struggle on non-violent lines on the widest possible scale” which sanctified violence and vandalism in the name of freedom."

"The 1942 protest was originally going to be called “Get Out” but Gandhi thought it impolite. He preferred Quit India. Rajaji opposed it for the sound reason that disenchantment with the British was no reason to welcome the Japanese “who will be ten times worse”. Mohammed Ali Jinnah called Quit India a “Himalayan blunder”. Communists argued at the 1948 Calcutta Conference whether it was a movement, a revolution, a revolt or an uprising. Eventually, they decided on “August occurrences”. The politically correct speak of August Kranti."

This analysis of Indian democracy can be found on Miracle of Democracy.

Law minister promises consultations on electoral reforms

The government on Friday expressed its inability to enforce compulsory voting in India.Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily said in the Lok Sabha that people can't be forced to Vote. Moily said that he was not against compulsory voting, but added that he is against enforcing the idea through a stand alone law, reports The Hindu.

Read the article on Miracle Of Democracy.

Observing that people cannot be forced to vote till they have a choice to elect candidates with a clean image, the government on Friday expressed its inability to enforce compulsory voting in the country.

“Till the time people have a choice to vote for candidates with clean image, they cannot be forced to vote. It would be fatal for democracy and lead to disillusionment,” Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily said in the Lok Sabha.

He was replying to a private member’s bill on compulsory voting tabled by J.P. Agarwal (Congress), who later withdrew it.

Mr. Moily said while he was not against the idea of compulsory voting, “a stand alone law won’t take us anywhere.” He said enacting another law was not a remedy. “It should not be ornamental. We have to add flesh and blood to it,” he said.

The Law Minister said the Dinesh Goswami Committee formed in the 1990s had delved into the subject of compulsory voting and recommended against it as it was found to be impractical.

He said situations like illness, preoccupation and use of force by political parties can prevent people from voting.

While expressing concern over low voter turnout, Mr. Moily said it was not a reflection on the electorate. He claimed that illiterate people were more aware of their rights as voters than the educated lot.

Mr. Moily said there was no dispute with any aspect of the bill moved by Mr. Agarwal.

“This Bill has provided a roadmap on how to enlighten the electorate and reach that goal. Voting is as much a duty of the voters as it is to taxation and other such duties. Voters are the foundation of this great democracy. It is a fundamental duty every citizen should perform,” he said.

Pointing out that about 31 crore out of the 71 crore voters do not vote, Mr. Moily wondered if candidates winning with less than one-sixth of the votes polled reflected the will of the electorate.

“Clearly, we cannot boast of being the largest democracy with the largest electorate in the world, if this situation prevails. It will be a tragedy, travesty of democracy...we have to set this right,” he said.

Wondering if it was necessary to “motivate, coerce and tempt” voters to exercise their right to franchise, Mr. Moily said, “It will be ideal when a day comes when we need not canvass for votes and the entire electorate comes out to vote voluntarily. This will certainly happen one day. All of us (members) should work towards this.”

He said the situation would be called ideal if voters can come out and vote fearlessly. “Voters have several reasons to keep away from voting. Fearlessness will liberate a person. Voters should come to polling booths without fear of violence and persecution,” he added.

Pointing out that compulsory voting was experimented in 20 countries, the Minister said all of these nations continued with this policy even today as it was proved successful.

Mr. Moily said many voters, after registering, found their names struck off from the electoral rolls, adding the government planned to bring in accountability in enumerators.

“Election is a festival of democracy that we enjoy. Conduct of free and fair elections depends on the performance of three stakeholders — the election machinery, political parties and the electorate. All of them must be responsible. I think somewhere we missed accountability,” he said.

The Minister said he planned to hold a national consultation on comprehensive electoral reforms in three months and a quick perception study or survey to find out why people kept away from voting so that a viable solution could be found to the problem.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

SC should not make law in place of Parliament: Judge Katju

SC should not make law in place of parliament. Supreme court is not an interim parliament, said Justice Markandeya Katju. He added that Supreme Court judges should do their jobs and not become a Parliament and make laws. The comment was made during the hearing of an inter-country adoption case, reports The Indian Express.

Read the whole article on Miracle Of Democracy.

Justice Markandeya Katju, a sitting judge of the Supreme Court, on Tuesday unleashed a stinging criticism of the tendency of the apex court to don the role of law-maker.

“Can the Supreme Court convert itself into an interim Parliament and make laws in vacuum? Supreme Court judges should do their jobs and not become a Parliament and make laws,” Justice Katju said.

The comments from the senior judge came during the hearing of an inter-country adoption case.

The case deals with the six-year long search of 30-year-old man of Indian origin, adopted by a German couple in 1973, for his biological mother. The man, Arun Dhole, had moved the Supreme Court in 2005 after the Bombay High Court rejected his complaint that neither the Maharashtra Police nor the adoption agency was helping him trace his mother, who is referred to as just “young lady” in the official records.

Dhole claims he was “kidnapped” and given in adoption to the German couple when he was just four weeks’ old, on the “strong recommendation” of a political family in the state. The adoption centre officials however maintain that his mother had “abandoned” him and disappeared, never to get back in touch with the centre to know about the baby.

Dhole hinges his case on a 1984 Supreme Court judgment of Lakshmi Kant Pandey vs Union of India in which the court held that foreign adoptive parents could reveal information about the biological parents to their adopted child once the latter reaches the “age of maturity”. This judgment is widely believed to have clarified the law on inter-country adoption.

“What is the Supreme Court saying here? I am against the Lakshmi Kant Pandey judgment and other Supreme Court judgments like this. What is this... if there is no legislation the Supreme Court starts making laws! Judges should just do their jobs,” Justice Katju said. “I will raise my voice against this, and will keep on raising it.”

“The Supreme Court is not an interim Parliament,” Justice Katju added, saying otherwise Parliament should be “closed” and shifted to the Supreme Court. Justice Katju’s observations follow on the heels of a recent declaration by CJI S H Kapadia that the SC would not hear “matters of poliicy”.

Election commission refutes claims by US academic of EVM vulnerability

A representative of the Election Commission of India, Alok Shukla and an American university professor, Alex Halderman clashed publicly over contradictory claims regarding the machines at an industry conference on Electronic Voting Machines. Halderman said that Electronic Voting Machines are vulnerable to tampering, when Alok Shukla denied it, reports The Hindu.

Read the whole article on Miracle Of Democracy.

This week the debate on whether electronic voting machines in India are tamper-proof reached boiling point in faraway Washington, as a representative of the Election Commission of India and an American university professor clashed publicly over contradictory claims regarding the machines.

Mr. Halderman, who said that he and his colleagues had worked with Mr. Prasad to demonstrate the vulnerability of EVMs to tampering, pleaded with Mr. Shukla to call off efforts by the ECI to have the Indian police question Mr. Prasad.

Mr. Shukla, however, pointed out that if the Indian police had sought out Mr. Prasad after his television appearance it was because he was known to have government property in his possession and that such unauthorised access to EVMs could have serious consequences for election results themselves.

The technical arguments surrounding the question of the vulnerability of EVMs to tampering were also in stark contradiction.

On the one hand Mr. Shukla, along with P.V. Indiresan, former director of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, argued that “Indian EVMs are fully tamper-proof when used under complete administrative safeguards prescribed by the ECI. There is no justification in the demand for a change in the voting system.”

Yet Mr. Halderman noted that based on the experiments that he and his colleagues had undertaken they could demonstrate that EVMs were vulnerable firstly to the so-called “dishonest display” attack whereby a microcontroller and a Bluetooth radio chip could be smuggled into the device using a genuine-looking display board.

Mr. Halderman alleged that the Indian EVM was also susceptible to attack through the use of an electronic clip, which attached directly to the EVM chips and could rewrite the votes stored there. Not only could the votes be changed through this “electronic form of booth capture,” but the secrecy of election data could also be violated as the clip would allow the attacker to copy out the votes stored.

He said the paper, wax and string seals used to protect EVMs had been “widely discredited” and were entirely vulnerable to tampering. “Machines [are] stored around the country in a variety of locations, from abandoned warehouses to schools, etc. [and it is] likely many of them could be accessed by criminals, especially with the aid of dishonest insiders,” he said.

However Mr. Shukla and Mr. Indiresan denied these claims.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

ECI to give demo on EVM, hopes to remove doubts about tampering

The Election Commission of India has invited citizens to a programme called ‘Verifiability, Transparency & Accountability in Elections', to see a demonstration by NetIndia which has claimed that the electronic voting machines can be tampered with. NetIndia was asked to prove their claims, reports The Times of India.

Read the whole article on Miracle Of Democracy.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has invited citizens to a programme called ‘Verifiability, Transparency & Accountability in Elections' (Veta), to see a demonstration by NetIndia which has claimed that the electronic voting machines can be tampered with. The ECI said that the demonstration should be given under actual conditions in which EVMs are used.

The commission has asked NetIndia to come to the ECI at New Delhi at 3 pm on Tuesday and prove their claims.

The NetIndia, which was associated with Veta, on several occasions had in the past demonstrated how an EVM can be tampered.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Parliamentary debate on price rise: The colour of money

The negotiation of discussion on the price rise has stalled the parliament for a week. There were debates on the issue in the recent past too. The MP's don't subscribe to the view of Milton Friedman that inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon.Subsidy cuts, public distribution, hoarders and black-marketeers were blamed for the price rise, when monetary policy wasn't, writes M R Madhavan in The Indian Express.

Read the whole article here.

Parliament was stalled for a week as the government and opposition negotiated a discussion on the price rise of essential commodities.

Finally, Lok Sabha had the debate on Tuesday, and Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

There have been several debates in Parliament on this issue in recent years. Indeed, this issue has been debated in each of the previous three full sessions of the current Lok Sabha. It is interesting to see what issues were brought up in these debates.

Monetarist economists, such as Milton Friedman, believed that “inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon”. Not all economists agree with this view but almost all of them will say that change in money supply is an important contributor to price changes. However, our MPs do not seem to subscribe to this view. In nine debates since 2004 in the Lok Sabha, 224 speeches were made by MPs. Hardly any speech connected monetary policy with inflationary pressures. Subsidy cuts were mentioned 94 times while the public distribution system was blamed 43 times.

Another favourite scapegoat was hoarders and black-marketeers who were responsible for driving up prices — mentioned 42 times. A few speeches mentioned failure of monsoon and shortfall in crop output.

Note that all these issues are related to supply bottlenecks. There is hardly any mention of demand-led factors. This may be the politically expedient position. Loose monetary policy and a high fiscal deficit are not mentioned, possibly as no one wants to be seen as criticising either a pro-growth stance or rising government expenditure.

The debate this week saw a similar pattern. Fifty-five MPs expressed their views. Just one of them mentioned monetary policy as a possible tool to manage inflation. It is interesting to see that the content of parliamentary debates on inflation have not changed over the years, regardless of the actual inflation situation.

Cost of 268 projects overshoots Rs 50000 cr due to delays

The cost of 268 of 578 projects overruns to the tune of Rs 50,295 crore, the Government admitted. The details of the timeframe for implementation weren't disclosed. The reasons for cost include delay in procurement of equipment, law and order problems, inadequate infrastructure and rise in input cost, reports Business Standard.

Read the whole article on Miracle Of Democracy.

The government today admitted to cost overruns to the tune of Rs 50,295 crore in 268 of 578 ongoing projects, but did not give details of the timeframe for implementation.

As of April this year, the cost overruns in these 268 projects touched Rs 50,295 crore, Minister of State for Statistics and Programme Implementation Sriprakash Jaiswal said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

The projects in question were all worth above Rs 150 crore.

The main reason for cost and time overrun include delay in procurement of equipment, law and order problems, inadequate infrastructure and rise in input cost, Jaiswal said.

The cost overrun of these projects is 16.5 per cent cent of their original approved costs, the statement said.

Last Month, Jaiswal had said in a reply to the same house that of 631 ongoing projects, costing Rs 100 crore and above being monitored by MOSPI, as many as 327 delayed projects reported a total cost overrun of Rs 52,213 crore till March end this year.

It was stated in the reply last month that the cost overrun of these projects was 15.8 per cent of their original approved costs.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

UK: Indian origin mayor says politics without power is a waste

Neeraj Patel is the first Kannadiga to become a mayor in the UK. He is a doctor who was born in a politically active family and bred in a small town."Winning an election is like winning a war. And every thing is fair in this love and war. Politics is war without bloodshed and politics without power is a waste of time." , said he, reports Daily News And Analysis.

Read the whole article here.

Dr Neeraj Patil has a first to his credit — he’s the first Kannadiga to become a mayor in the UK. On his first visit to Bangalore after the “historic” victory, the first citizen of the London borough of Lambeth made time to share his view on politics, at a felicitation ceremony on Saturday.

“Politics had always been a passion, but I never had the courage to jump in. The secret to my success is that I have always been true to myself,” he told a roomful of students, politicians, bureaucrats, teachers and fellow Kannadigas who had come to meet the “man who had made them proud in a country that had ruled India for centuries”.

The doctor who was born in a politically active family and bred in a small town — Kalamalapur — in Gulbarga moved to the UK in 1994. He was elected councillor of Lambeth before he was chosen mayor in May this year.

“Winning an election is like winning a war. And every thing is fair in this love and war. Politics is war without bloodshed and politics without power is a waste of time. Politics is a bloodsport. Politics is not about appeasement, it is about making the right decisions for the benefit of the people,” he said at an event organised by Amruta Institute of Engineering and Management Sciences that was attended by mayor SK Nataraj, minister R Ashok, managing trustee of Adamya Chetana Tejaswini Ananthkumar, environmentalist AN Yellappa Reddy and others.

Peppering his speech with Sanskrit sayings and quoting well-known Kannada poets, Dr Patil said that the secret to his success in the elections is “concentrating on the campaign, working and studying hard and his Indian accent that people in his constituency just love”.

Commenting on Indian democracy, he said three aspects need to be looked into – recruitment, funding and electoral reform. What does he have to say about the political drama being played out in the state and the common citizens staying away from politics? “Politics is seen as a joke everywhere. Even in the UK, 100 MPs were accused of misusing taxpayers’ money. Citizens have to make sure they choose the right candidate. As for the common man, he is equally responsible for the political situation because he too is selling his vote.”

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Speaker's logic for rejection of adjournment motion, makes Opposition task tougher

Speaker Meira Kumar's logic for rejection of adjournment motion makes the task of the Opposition tougher. She said that the adjournment motion was admitted on the failure of government to discharge "the duties which are enjoined upon it by the Constitution and the law", reports The Times Of India.

Read the whole article on Miracle Of Democracy.

Speaker Meira Kumar's decision to disallow adjournment notices given by the Opposition for discussion on price rise can be trend-setting as it clarifies that the said section cannot be an instrument to force discussions on routine issues.

Kumar, while agreeing in her ruling on Wednesday that rise in prices of essential commodities was a matter of concern, said adjournment motion was admitted on the failure of government to discharge "the duties which are enjoined upon it by the Constitution and the law". Quoting former Speaker G S Dhillon's ruling, she said the government's decision (to hike fuel prices) was its executive function and did not involve any failure of constitutional or legal duties.

The chair promised to consider notices under other sections for discussion on price rise.

The ruling may prove a dampner for the Opposition as it raises the bar on what constitutes a fit case for adjournment motion. While a similar demand by the Opposition in the last session was dismissed on the grounds that the issue raised had to be specific and of immediate occurrence, the fresh ground laid adds to the criteria for adjournment -- failure of government to discharge its constitutional and legal duties.

Observers feel this will test the Opposition when it next thinks of invoking this section. A conscious BJP drew lessons from the earlier rejection and, as Sushma Swaraj said, limited the notice to hike in LPG and kerosene prices.

Now on, to have a realistic chance of having its way on discussions, the Opposition may have to look at other possible options.

As the deadlock in Parliament persisted, Kumar on Thursday said she was trying to find a "way out" by taking all parties along. "It is the issue of price rise... it is a serious issue... and people also want something to happen. Let us see how we find a way out by taking everyone together," she told reporters.

Politics of mediocrity: The art of pulling down the hero

Shekhar Gupta wrote in his piece "The power to one", that a hero will be a person with no past and no greed for the future. He cited the cases of TN Seshan and JM Lyngdoh as election commissioners. However, their past records were not that good. They used their powers creatively. Manmohan Singh is a man without a past and no greed for the future. He is not able to work the way he would like to, writes K Subrahmanyam in The Indian Express.

Read the whole article here.


"In his piece, ‘The power of one’ (IE, July 31), Shekhar Gupta has highlighted the role of heroes in public service. When he argues that all it takes to transform an institution is one person with no past and no greed for the future, he is seeking people who will emerge from anonymity to perform the necessary act of heroism, and then disappear into noble obscurity."

"He has cited the examples of T.N. Seshan and J.M. Lyngdoh as election commissioners, and how they built and ensured the credibility and impartiality of the election commission. Certainly, the country owes them an enormous debt of gratitude. At the same time, one should not overlook the way the executive has tried to ensure that there will be no future Seshans, by expanding the commission into a three-person body, and making sure that no chief election commissioner gets a long enough term to strengthen the commission further."

"The same is true of our Supreme Court. While the US has had 17 chief justices in 221 years of its history, India has seen 36 chief justices in 63 years since Independence, with an average tenure of a mere 21 months. "

"The entire Indian political, administrative and judicial system has been structured to maintain the status quo."

"When T.N. Seshan and James Lyngdoh were appointed chief election commissioner and member of the three-person election commission respectively, the calculations of the powers-that-be, based on their past records could not have been that they would carry out their tasks in the spirit and style they did. "

"This interpretation of the personalities and roles of the two election commissioners is not intended to diminish the sterling roles they played. But election commissioners and the judiciary operate in constitutional enclaves which provide them a splendid autonomy, and which these two officers used creatively."

"The posts of central vigilance commissioner and director of the Delhi Special Police Establishment, to call the CBI by its appropriate name, do not enjoy that constitutionally-guaranteed autonomy. The enactment governing the CVC clarifies the limits of his supervisory functions. "

"Let us look at the irony of the situation today.That qualification of a man without a past and one without any greed about the future will not fit anyone more aptly than our prime minister, Manmohan Singh. Is he able to make the office of the prime minister what he himself would like it to be? He had to threaten to resign to get his way on the Indo-US nuclear deal, a threat he cannot hold up for every issue he wants to promote. As an accidental PM with no career in the party, his powers and ability to innovate are circumscribed. It is highly doubtful, if he had risen through the party hierarchy, whether he would have still been a man without a past or greed for the future."

"In spite of all this, there is no denying that the role of the individual is very important in day-to-day good governance. An index of good governance is the average tenure of people in important offices. Shuffling people in high offices and ensuring they do not stay long enough to assert their autonomy is the surest way of ensuring centralisation and stunting institutions. That is the state of Indian misgovernance today. "