Citizens' Issues
Anti-corruption crusade: Some adorable actors, erudite writers, chatty politicians and otherwise outspoken business leaders preferred to stay silent

It’s intriguing that some very public figures chose to keep silent during the weeklong protest which galvanized people against the scourge of corruption

Alert readers who have been following the massive television reportage on Anna Hazare's campaign against corruption in India would have noticed some specific and important absentees in the entire episode-largely people, and even entities, who usually have an opinion or a long comment about anything and everything. Remember, one of the earlier essays on this subject on Moneylife did say that many business people would prefer NOT to have a strong anti-corruption law because it would impact them in a detrimental way?

So, here's our list of some who could have said what they felt like, but did not. Or if they did, then maybe they were like the astrological magazines that get printed and published after the event, pretending to have made predictions. We would also like to hear from you about some names you think were missing, with your comments.

The first notable absentee has to be the FM radio industry, nearly all over the country. Not one radio jockey could be heard giving their views, or if they did, it wasn't loud enough. Guess we all need Aamir Khan and friends to break into a radio studio first?

The next notable absentees were various trade bodies, like CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) which was having its National Conference on the same days and made no official statement, though the Bajajs and Munjals did say something. And FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) who did come up with one, but it was after the protest. (Read it at http://www.ficci.com/industry-watch.asp?rid=20127.) The rest have, ironically, be silent about matters pertaining to corruption. However, almost all of them have held seminars and conferences on corruption, so maybe they don't really want it removed. A bit like the UPA government?

Among erudite writers and actors on the subject, one noteworthy name missing was Shobhaa De, who tweeted a bit and then withdrew to Singapore. And Amitabh Bachchan, who apparently said that he does not have to proclaim his views on corruption to the whole world, though he has done it often enough in movies. I guess in both cases, real life is different from reel life, and they could probably have Shah Rukh Khan explain things? Arundhati Roy could have done a 33-page essay, but she is probably trying to save the house she built on forest land in Madhya Pradesh.

Mohandas Pai of Infosys exclaimed on television that his employees were free to do what they wanted in their own time but as a company they stayed away from politics. Fair enough. But where is NASSCOM when you need them the most. Some of us may remember the late Dewang Mehta; he would not have let such an event go past him without giving us a percentile number on the growth of corruption.

Sharad Pawar did say something, which probably resulted in a lot of other politicians NOT saying anything, after they saw what happened to him. And we also missed Mani Shankar Aiyar, who is always good for a laugh, and more. Amar Singh has not been seen or heard for a long time, either; or the parking spots around Jantar Mantar were not big enough for Bentleys.

Cricketers have all turned bowlers, it seems, and were afraid of getting out LBW to their own googlies. Other sportsmen, too, were not forthcoming. One of the cola companies had a line that said "BE THE CHANGE", but were probably shocked to see how far things had gone; real change could see them out of business.

There must be others who did not have a view either way. If you have some names, do write in on the comments section below, so we know.

User

COMMENTS

RAJESH B SHAH

6 years ago

MAHESH BHATT, JAVED AKHTAR, SHABAN AZAMI, KAPIL DEV ALSO DID NOT SAY ANYTHING FOR A VERY OBVIOUS REASON AS THEY ALL ARE SMART ENOUGH TO REALISE THAT THEY ALL ARE IN GLASS HOUSE AND IF THEY DARE TO SAY SOMETHING, EVEN BY MISTAKE, AGAINST VESTED INTEREST THEIR GLASS HOUSES WILL COME DOWN IMMEDIATELY. SIMILARLY ALL THOSE, WHOM YOU HAVE MENTIONED, ARE ALSO VERY SMART AND SELFISH PEOPLE WHO KNOW WHAT THEY HAVE DONE IN PAST AND WHAT THEY ARE DOING AT PRESENT. NO TRADE BODY WILL SAY ANYTHING AGAINST CORRUPTION AS THEY ALL ARE HEADED BY SPINELESS AND SO CALLED BIG PEOPLE WHO ALL RESORT TO CORRUPT PRACTICE WHENEVER THEIR INTEREST IS IN DANGER. SOME YEARS BACK, SAY ABOUT 40 HEARS OR MORE, ALL SUCH INSTITUTIONS WERE HEADED BY STALWARTS WHO HAD, WHAT IS CALLED "MAHAJAN VRUTI" IN GUJARATI, AND WHO COULD SEE OVERALL INTEREST OF THE SOCIETY AT LARGE. THEY WERE THRE IN ALL SUCH TRADE BODIES TO HELP THEIR RESPECTIVE TRADE COMMUNITY TO PROSPER WITHOUT RESORTING TO CORRUPT PRACTICES AND TO CONTRIBUTE SOMETHING TO THE SOCIETY. AT PRESENT ALL SUCH BODIES ARE FULL OF "VAMAN PEOPLE". THEY CAN NOT LOOK BEYOND THEIR PETTY INTEREST. IT WILL NOT BE OUT OF PLACE TO MENTION HERE THAT SO FAR TRADERS HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO PURSUE OR FORCE THE MAHARASHTRA GOVERNMENT TO ABOLISH OCROI FROM MUMBAI BECAUSE ANY AGITATION OF TRADERS AND INDUSTRIALISTS HAS NEVER BEEN LED BY ANY HONEST AND SINCERE TRADE ORGANISATION. WHENEVER A CALL WAS GIVEN FOR STRIKE FOR TRADERS ALL THOSE BIG PEOPLE WERE THE FIRST TO CARRY ON THEIR BUSINESS ACTIVITIES SECRETELY. THEY ARE LEAST INTERESTED IN ABOLITION OF OCTROI AS THEY ARE MASTERS IN EVADING OCTORI AND THEY ARE NOT AT ALL INTERESTED TO SEE THAT SMALL TRADERS ARE BENEFITED.

H N Nagaraj

6 years ago

Well it is now clear who needs a strong anti corruption law and also effective implementation. When RTI was enacted, it is the bureacrats who first resisted. Now most of the prominent public figure is absent indicating their option for continuum of status quo. But I feel the time has come for change and to force the change for better.

Yash Verma

6 years ago

Well written & interesting, mostly correct. Writer seems to have forgotten Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati, two great politicians keeping silent during Anna Hazare's crusade. Victory, of course, belongs to the aam aadmi.

K B Patil

6 years ago

Raghuram Rajan had writtent a book titled: "Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists". I havent read the book but heard about it. In it he says that the present day capitalists are those, who, after benefitting from capitalist policies, do their best to keep others from benefitting likewise. So, it is no surprise that India's top industrialists are keeping quiet. Probably, if they had come out in support of Anna Hazare, they would have been accused of hypocrisy. However, they should realise that it is a more open society now and the sooner they change their style of functioning, the better. However, it is not right for bodies like CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM to keep quiet. It gives out a signal that they are not for fairness and transparency. Corporates have been demanding tax and other concessions far in excess of what our poor farmers have been getting. The 2G scam has shown how what some of our big corporates have been upto. The result is all stink and not a whiff of perfume.

REPLY

shadi katyal

In Reply to K B Patil 6 years ago

One is surprised to read comments by educated people like you who has not red the book but have given opinion on hearsay.How can anyone make such comments or is it the nature of the world capitalism which we in India has allergy too.
For your guidance Capitalism doenot mean only money or investment but our labour and innovation etc. is part of that capitalism. Do you think if we give you investment funds you can run any project without the other parts anything.
It is a pity that we had been so brain washed with socialistic and Communistic ideas,thanks to KGB 5,000 misinformation articles in Indian
press that we are confused with the word.
Look at the Eastern European nations development compared to even India after mother Russia imploded.
The industrialist might have their own reasons which they may explain and good reason.

K B Patil

In Reply to shadi katyal 6 years ago

I have only commented on the tendencies of most of our corporates. No comments have been made on the superiority of any system, socialist or capitalist. If you are so confident of the capitalist, just read these lines taken from a regular column by an American: The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation's income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous - 12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades - and more - has gone to those at the top. In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran. While many of the old centers of inequality in Latin America, such as Brazil, have been striving in recent years, rather successfully, to improve the plight of the poor and reduce gaps in income, America has allowed inequality to grow.

You have defended the industrialists saying that they might have their own reasons. We all know how successful the Bombay Club was at promoting crony capitalism.

pravin

In Reply to K B Patil 6 years ago

there you go again.quoting stiglitz's speech about 1% income and similar nonsense.read cafehayek's takedown on such economic illiteracy/innumeracy. it is like saying that my 50 yr old self(wealthy) is the cause of the lack of income of my 20yr old self (struggling).
the only way to make pronouncements on such things is to track a set of people thru their lives and observe if they move up in income.

Rajan Manchanda

6 years ago

Many business magnates survive / Thrive because of corruption. They cannot be expected to join the anti corruption brigade.

We do hope the Lokpal Bill is very stringent and takes care of corruption may it be in the form of cash / kind / services.

Various trade associations should have gathered and passed resolutions supporting Anna Hazare if they believe corruption should be eradicated.

nagesh kini

6 years ago

Other Rahul Bajaj who has always been vocal on corrupt practices begining with corporate lobbyists FICCI, CII, NASSCOM and the big wigs were absent.

What happened to our Bollywood like Anil Kapoor who acted in a full movie as CM for a day. Arundati Roy who goes to jail, Chetan Bhagat?

All the middle class , students, elders coming out in full strength made a lot of difference - giving it full Peoples' Power punch.

Shadi Katyal

6 years ago

What is the reason of this jubilation, nothing has been presented and nothing will be achieved. Yes I am sorry to be party spoiler but we failed to understand what have we achieved and why was this needed at this juncture?Was this revival of Gandhi's old trick to go on fast.
The question is being aske4d that since Mr. Hazare has been on this anti corruption movement for decades in his area do we have any proof of anything he has achieved. The writer should give us some views.
His getting Bihar and Gujrat politicians show more or less a game plan architected by some one else.
Why should any business house or other person of some name from any area of life be active when there is nothing to achieve.
Does anyone knows what is LOK PAL BILL and what it covers. We are talking of a nation who has not yet signed the Anti Corruption Bill of United Nations since 2005. A nation seeking seat at UN is shwoing the 140 members who have signed that how we protect our corrupted officers as they are the source of our undeclared income.
Does the AAM AADMI knows that these officers are protected by the Constitution of India and Mr. Mukerjee yesterday declared that those Laws will remain on the books.
This is India and motto will never change
CHALTA HAI BHAI

Praveen kalra

6 years ago

I understand all the people mentioned by you need politicians/bureaucrats for survival. Businessmen for obvious reasons, most of the filmstars dependent on IT department, we know the level of corruption in sports.
Just wanted to know whether proposed Lokpal Bill will also bring local bodies under it like local municipal corporations. Also how to tackle corruption in private sector.

ramchandran

6 years ago

Industrialists Rahul Bajaj, Ratan Tata , KumarMangalam Birla speak only when their line of business gets affected!! (Tata on privacy, Birla on Idea still holding on to licenses of Spice).
Less said the better about our actors (Rajnikant included)
Cricket: Sachin Tendulkar, Dhoni couls have batted for the poor aam aadmi
What about our beauty queens who repond to the tiltle questions with answers like they would save the world etc!!!!(Ash,Sush!!!)

REPLY

malq

In Reply to ramchandran 6 years ago

Thank you for writing in. Maybe more of us do not let them know what we should be letting them know?

pravin

6 years ago

i dont want to speak on behalf of the "erudite" people missing in action.
however,public choice theory tell us the following:
a)big businesses love regulation because they have captured the regulator and use the regulator to raise economic entry barriers.no wonder CII etc kept quiet.they are part of the system and not victims
b)some people might have actually perused the lokpal bill proposal and found it naive and painfully oblivious of the concentration of powers it proposes.it is like a beneficient dictator that these folks are in search of.dream on!
c)the only solution to corruption is to reduce the size of the govt -drastically.if they cannot make economic decisions,there are no avenues of corruption.have you ever heard colgate bribing its buyers? in theabsence of market control exercised via connections/power over regulators and property theft,companies will have no choice but to serve consumers and live or die by their choices.
d)how come nobody wants to speak of the abrogation of the fundamental right to property in this country? is eminent domain and "public good" as defined by politicians acceptable? arent all the tribal /rural agitations about land/property grab by the govt for the benefit of their cronies in business?
property rights at the mercy of the power elite -that is the biggest scandal.
bribing the pandu because of some moronic traffic signal rule is not on the same plane and those circulating silly SMSs need to wake up and think a little deeper.

REPLY

Malq

In Reply to pravin 6 years ago

Thank you for a very informative response.

Someone Sensible

6 years ago

Awesome article! This needs to spread around as a reminder of how sometimes silence is louder than words....

Cautious opening indicated for Indian stocks: Monday Market Preview

Spiralling crude prices and a slow down in the region’s economies kept Asian markets mixed early on Monday while Wall Street settled lower on Friday on oil prices

The local market is likely to open on a cautious note as high crude prices resulted in a mixed opening for the Asian pack in early trade on Monday. Brent crude jumped to a 32-month high on Friday above $126 a barrel on concerns about long-term supply disruptions. Wall Street ended lower on Friday on oil prices and the Federal budget imbroglio. The SGX Nifty was down 12.50 points to 5,846.50 from its previous close of 5,859.

Besides, the government will release industrial output data, as measured by the Index of Industrial Production, for February today. Analyst polls indicate the figure in the range of 4.5%-5%. Also, the holiday-shortened week will keep investor sentiment guarded.

After a strong rally last month, which was preceded by a subdued performance in January and February, the market was almost at a standstill in the week ended 8th April in the absence of any domestic triggers. The market registered gains on the first trading day of the week, but subsequently turned south and declined sharply on Friday.
 
Overall, the Sensex advanced 31 points (0.16%) to end the week at 19,451, and the Nifty rose 16 points (0.27%) to 5,842.

The market rallied 9% in March on strong foreign institutional investor (FII) inflows, but the flows slowed down last week. FII investments, which were strong till Tuesday, fell in the latter part of the week.

With fundamentals unchanged and foreign institutional investor interest shifting to other markets, a slowdown is on the cards. While the gains accrued last month could erode slowly, weak Q4 earnings may also push the market back, even as policymakers keep an eye on high crude prices and cost pressures.

US markets extended their losses for the second day in a row on Friday as crude jumped $2.49 to settle at $112.79 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest price since 22 September 2008. The development enhanced concerns that inflation would derail the recovery. Also, budget negotiations in Washington where Republicans and Democrats were in the final day of talks to reach a budget agreement weighed on Wall Street.

The Dow fell 29.59 points (0.24%) to 12,379.90. The S&P 500 shed 5.36 points (0.40%) to 1,328.15 and the Nasdaq declined 15.73 points (0.56%) 2,780.41.

Brent crude jumped $3.98 to settle at $126.65 a barrel, its highest level since August 2008, as the violence in Libya and unrest in the Middle East drove oil prices higher. US crude settled up $2.49 to a 30-month high of $112.79.

Markets in Asia were trading mixed in early trade on Monday on high crude prices, adding to the existing woes in the region. Japan’s core machinery orders fell 2.3% in February from the previous month. The figures are expected to fall sharply ahead as the 11th March earthquake and tsunami and a subsequent nuclear crisis disrupted supply chains and production. Chinese imports rose $1.02 billion, marking its first quarterly deficit since 2004. However, for the month of March, China reported a small trade surplus of $140 million, following a $7.3 billion deficit in February.

The Shanghai Composite gained 0.25%, the Hang Seng was up 0.05%, the Jakarta Composite rose 0.07% and the Seoul Composite was up 0.10%. On the other hand, the KLSE Composite declined 0.40%, the Nikkei 225 fell 0.33%, the Straits Times was down 0.38% and the Taiwan Weighted lost 0.28% in early trade.

Back home, amid introduction of illegal online forex trade by certain companies, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked credit card issuing companies to not permit payments for such transactions. The regulations under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999, do not permit resident Indians to trade in foreign exchange in domestic or overseas markets.

The RBI’s mandate comes in the wake of introduction of overseas foreign exchange trading on a number of Internet and electronic trading portals, luring the residents with offers of guaranteed high returns based on such forex trading.

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ED slaps FEMA charges against top telecom firms

The ED is zeroing on the transactions made by Swan, Loop and S-Tel with legal entities based outside India to find out whether any guarantee/counter guarantee were given to obtain funds from abroad and the first source from where they originated
New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday slapped various charges of FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) violations to the tune of over Rs4,300 crore against top telecom firms allegedly involved in the second generation (2G) spectrum scam including Swan, Loop and S-Tel, reports PTI.

The Directorate in its complaint filed before the Competent Adjudicating Authority for FEMA violations said it is also probing “suspected contravention” of forex rules in Virgin Mobile, a joint venture of Tata group.

The Adjudicating Authority in this case is a Special Director rank officer of the ED.

The ED, India’s law enforcement and economic intelligence agency, has charged Shahid Balwa-promoted Swan Telecom, with committing FEMA contraventions to the tune of Rs3,608 crore.

“This contravention was done by the company in issuing shares to a foreign investor and resident investor under an agreement and had issued shares to a foreign investor on an abnormal value to avoid the permission of FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board), Government of India,” the ED said in its complaint against Swan Telecom.

Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd issued 44.73% shares to Dubai-based Etisalat and 5.27% shares to Genex Exim as per agreement on 23 September 2009.

Swan Telecom while issuing shares to foreign investor under the agreement also allegedly contravened the provisions of the laid down rules prescribed by the commerce and industry ministry by appointing a director who had been nominated by Dubai-based Etisalat and arrangement of a steering committee having members of their foreign partner for functioning of Swan Telecom.

The ED also alleged that Swan Telecom had disclosed that issue of equity to Genex Exim was under resident category but during investigations it was found that “it was an indirect foreign investment in Swan because funds into Genex were brought from Dubai.” 

“Thus issue of equity on 17 December 2008 by Swan to Etisalat and Genex totalling 50% under automatic route was in contravention” of various sections of FEMA “for the amount of Rs3,608 crore”, the ED alleged.

In the case of Loop Mobile India Limited based in Mumbai, the ED alleged FEMA contravention to a total amount of Rs431 crore.

“These contraventions are done by the said company in not reporting the receipt of funds from abroad within the stipulated period of time to Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in not reporting issue of shares to foreign investor within stipulated period of time and in purchasing shares of an Indian company from the funds of foreign direct investment,” the ED said in its complaint against the firm.

“The Directorate has also come across suspected contravention in Virgin Mobile (Tata group) and is analysing the pricing issue of shares between Unitech and Telenor,” the ED said.

In its complaint against Loop Telecom, the ED has charged the firm with forex violations to the tune of Rs184.28 crore.

“These contraventions are done by the said company in not reporting the receipt of funds from abroad within the stipulated period of time to RBI and in not reporting issue of shares to foreign investor within stipulated period of time,” the ED said.

The least amount of FEMA contravention was found to be at Rs96.60 lakh against S-Tel Private Limited based in Gurgaon after the ED investigation.

“This contravention is done by the said company in not refunding the balance of the FDI to foreign investor within stipulated period of time,” the ED said in its submission against the firm.

The Directorate charged Chennai based Wellcom Communications India and Wellcom Communications for a total amount of Rs11.87 crore in forex violations.

“These contraventions are done by the said company in not reporting the receipt of funds from abroad within stipulated period of time to RBI and in not refunding the balance of the FDI to foreign investor within stipulated period of time,” the ED said in its complaint against the firm.

The Directorate is zeroing on the transactions made by these companies with legal entities based outside India to find out whether any guarantee/counter guarantee were given to obtain funds from abroad and the first source from where they originated, the ED said.

The ED, according to its submission, is also probing the source of funds, ownership of the companies based in foreign shores and end-use of foreign funds.

“For this (probe of sources of funds and ownership) letters have been issued to the source abroad based in 12 countries and Letters of Request have been sent to five countries for investigation outside India,” the ED said.

Other aspects of the forex violations probe by the ED include “cash guarantee issue of Sistema” and the “issue of merger of companies after issue of licences.” 

According to ED sources, the penalty in such cases of FEMA contravention is usually three times of the amount involved.

The ED also submitted that its other angle of probe in the 2G spectrum allocation scam—under anti-money laundering provisions—are underway.

“Investigation under PMLA 2002, is under progress.

Action would be taken against individuals and companies who have figured in the charge-sheet filed by the CBI,” the ED said.

“We have not been able to confirm specific details in the charge-sheet yet. Telenor Group invested Rs61.2 billion over four tranches in a 100% transparent manner. Since Telenor Group increased its ownership in Unitech Wireless at each stage, the Indian authorities were informed about each investment. Telenor Group also announced each investment to media.

“Our investments have gone into the joint venture company and not to Unitech to result in any windfall gains. These are the funds with which Uninor was started and developed into a 25 million subscriber operation today. Beyond this, we will be able to respond once we know what the specific charge is,” director of communications, Telenor Group, Glenn Mandelid said in his reaction.

“We have not received a copy of or are aware of the charge sheet filed by the ED and hence unable to comment on the same,” a Swan telecom spokesperson said.

A Loop Telecom spokesperson said, “We are unaware of any such matter and therefore are unable to comment on the same.”
 

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