The PM’s daily jottings—full of doom, despair and dyspepsia
"Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace...
...It's a tale told by an idiot, full
Of sound and fury, signifying nothing"
CONFIDENTIAL: FOR THE PM'S EYES ONLY
Ah William, Bill the Bard, Bill the Bald, Master Shakespeare, genus genius-you wrote five hundred years ago and yet how beautifully you describe the state of my mind.
Everything is dark. Inflation; an economy beginning to downslide; stock markets plunging like the necklines of third-rate actresses; Anna Hazare; an angry middle class. And an heir to the throne—the less said about him, the better.
Corruption everywhere; cases in court, monstrous avarice coupled with the intelligence quotient of the classical village idiot; the wanton and senseless destruction of Air India, one of India's iconic assets.
The 2G scam was the worst. Why, for Heaven's sake why, did those lowbrows choose to meddle in an area which could have yielded one lakh seventy five thousand crores to the exchequer? We could have wiped out a large part of the national debt, cleaned up the Budget so that it does not look like a bankrupt's balance sheet, reduced deficits and still have had quite a bit left over for rural development and employment.
But no. These fellows had to meddle to make a few thousand crores of black money. And they did not have the intelligence to cover up their tracks; they had to leave wide-open trails that even the CAG could follow.
There is a new corruption scandal erupting every day. And it looks as if everybody in government and Parliament and the Assemblies will have to wear the noose of the Jan Lokpal around the neck forever.
I wish I could be like Amma Jayalalithaa. She is arresting people by the dozen for land-grabbing and other economic crimes. But I can't do that either. She is arresting her political opponents; I have to arrest my own party-men and alliance partners!
No, no, this is becoming too much. I am a gentle man who never interfered with what my fellow man was doing. I assumed that everyone is as honest as I am.
I want to quote Woody Allen: "God is dead; Marx is dead and I am not feeling too good either". (Or was it graffiti in a New York subway?). And the Ayurvedic kashayam (potion) doesn't help either. I want to quit; the whole beggar's breakfast of a political situation was not of my making, anyway.
Got to meet Soniaji Amma Madam, now that she is back from Sloan Kettering or wherever she went.
Back from meeting Soniaji Amma Madam. Not a very good session. She looked pale, wan and tired. I asked her about her trip abroad. She made a cryptic statement: "I have made all the necessary arrangements." For what, I asked. She twisted her face into what she thought was an enigmatic Mona Lisa smile.
She agreed the political situation was tough. Everybody in the UPA was feathering his nest—and what huge nests they were. "We should not have allowed it. Something has to be done."
I asked her whether she wanted me to resign. "What!" she screamed, "and leave my son in the cesspool?"
"No, no," I said. "I have not been feeling well recently. The pressure and stress of the job are taking their toll. I don't think I will live very long."
"Manmohanji," she said sternly. "This kind of talk will get us nowhere. Look at my family. See how much we have sacrificed. We have always been ready to die for our country."
"But, Madam Soniaji, I prefer to live for my country."
(R Vijayaraghavan has been a professional journalist for more than four decades, specialising in finance, business and politics. He conceived and helped to launch Business Line, the financial daily of The Hindu group. He can be contacted at [email protected]).
The development comes in the wake of an alarming increase in illegal mining in various states. The government has recorded 24,405 cases of illegal mining in January-March 2011, almost 30% of the cases in the entire 2010
New Delhi: In a step aimed at curbing illegal mining, the government on Tuesday said it will put in place an online system by December which will register all mineral-related transactions in the country, reports PTI.
The development comes in the wake of an alarming increase in illegal mining in various states. The government has recorded 24,405 cases of illegal mining in January-March 2011, almost 30% of the cases in the entire 2010.
“We are going to introduce an end-to-end accounting system by the end of this year for all mineral transactions including mining, selling, transportation and export by miners, traders and exporters. This will check illegal mining,” mines secretary S Vijay Kumar told PTI.
Under the online system, registration of miners, traders and exporters of major minerals like iron ore, lime and bauxite will be a must, Mr Vijay Kumar, who chaired a high-level meeting of senior central and state government officials to expedite mineral concessions and check illegal mining, said.
The registration will be done under the Mineral Conservation Development Rules (MCDR) by amending it.
At present, there are not enough legal provisions for the central intervention in illegal mining in states, but the magnitude of the problem is so high that as many as 82,330 cases were detected in 2010, almost double the 41,578 cases unearthed in 2009.
The Central Coordination-cum-Empowered Committee (CEC) in its meeting yesterday also decided that the government will use satellite imagery to curb the menace.
States have been asked to curb illegal mining by improving monitoring of the mineral system through empowered committees and district level task forces and plugging loopholes in the royalty collection system.
The committee also reviewed the position regarding various important aspects of the mineral concession regime in the country, and stressed the need for bringing about more efficiency and transparency in the system.
The meeting was attended by representatives from ministries of environment and forests, defence, home affairs, steel, civil aviation, railway, shipping and finance. Officials from the Indian Bureau of Mines and Geological Survey of India also participated in the meeting.
Representatives of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu were also present.
Private players alleged that BSNL is demanding erroneous termination charges from private players which is against TRAI’s recommendations
New Delhi: Private telecom operators on Tuesday said they have approached the Telecin Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to resolve the ongoing network disconnection issue with BSNL and alleged that the PSU was not co-operating with the industry players, reports PTI.
“We have given our representation to TRAI to issue an order. TRAI has taken our case for legal consideration.
Hopefully, something should happen by 26th September,” GSM industry body COAI director general Rajan Mathew told PTI.
Mr Mathew added that BSNL should work in public interest and wait for recommendations of TRAI on interconnect usage charge, which is under process.
BSNL had asked private operators to pay Rs165.62 crore IUC charge in Maharashtra and Rajasthan by 19th September or face disconnection from BSNL network.
Industry bodies COAI and CDMA have said the BSNL chairman and managing director has given them time till 26th September to make the payments.
Private players alleged that BSNL is demanding erroneous termination charges from private players which is against TRAI’s recommendations.
“Till the time TRAI does not come up with fresh recommendations on IUC, its recommendations on IUC given in 2009 stands,” CDMA industry body AUSPI secretary general SC Khanna said.
On BSNL’s remark that some players have paid the amount demanded by the company, Mr Khanna said small players who have less amount to pay may accept the charges but big players will not agree to the demand.
He added that BSNL subscribers will suffer the most in the event of disconnection of network compared to private operators.
“Since 1998, I have been in this association and we have always received disconnection threat from BSNL. It started from the time BSNL had 76% market share but now they have 14% market share. The muscle they used to flex no longer exists,” Mr Khanna said.
He said in case BSNL disconnects private operators from network, BSNL customers will not be able to call or send SMS to customers of other operators, while customers of other operators will be able to connect mutually.
“We are not worried, but telecom industry is going through a bad phase. Margins have declined. BSNL is making loss and any lacuna in service will make them suffer more,” Mr Khanna said.
According to private players, BSNL has demanded termination charges of up to 65 paise per call from them, which is against TRAI’s IUC norm of 2009, that states the charges to be as 15 paise per call.
Termination charges are a part of IUC which an operator pays to the other for landing calls of its user on the other players’ network.