Citizens' Issues
Back to the future: We must create an encyclopaedia of corruption

It is necessary to turn the floodlights on the corrupt and their activities, which will hopefully help to deal with corruption. The final instalment of a three-part article, proposes a website that will report on anything that is connected to corruption in the country

First, a comment. Anna Hazare has dug his heels in on three points that must be included in the Lokpal Bill: inclusion of the lower bureaucracy, creation of Lokayuktas in all states and citizens' charters for all services provided by governments and their agencies. These demands are reasonable; the government must concede them, otherwise the Lokpal will be crippled before reaching the starting gate.

Now, we move on to the matter of working on an encyclopaedia of corruption.

The corrupt are creatures of darkness. They are like the Morlocks in HG Wells' novel, "The Time Machine", who live underground. They are like Dracula and his clan who suck people's blood in the night and disintegrate when exposed to sunlight. We, therefore, need to turn thousands of powerful floodlights on the corrupt and their activities. Once exposed to the public eye, they will shrink and shrivel and hopefully fade away.

I propose we create an encyclopaedia of corruption, or graft, or scams, or kickbacks or money-laundering, or black money-call it what you will, it is the same thing. The sub-title of this compendium could be, "What you always wanted to know about corruption but were afraid to ask your local politician".

I will begin by putting up a website-I have already begun work on this-that will switch on a thousand floodlights on all aspects of corruption. And I invite all readers of Moneylife and their friends, and anyone else interested in this venture, to join me.

I suppose we should begin with giving our creation a name. I thought of or Other suggestions for a name are welcome.

The content of the website, I feel, should cover anything connected to corruption in India. Definitions, areas which abound in opportunities for corruption, covering government departments, public sector, customs and excise, direct tax departments, banks, state electricity and water boards and (unfortunately) the courts... the list is endless. There are quasi-official agencies like banks, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the stock exchanges, the mutual fund industry, that need to be watched and studied.

And then we have methods used in taking bribes and kickbacks; methods of sending black money outside the country like under-invoicing and over-invoicing of exports and imports; and other methods that shrewd industrialists and politicians use. And benami and other methods used to salt away the black money created by corruption.

We will need articles on corruption and methods of fighting it by learned experts. We will need to create teams of people skilled in investigation, like journalists, lawyers, financial experts, chartered accountants, RTI activists who will jointly and singly investigate government deals and tenders, suspicious actions by SEBI and the stock exchanges.

In about a month, I will be ready with the plan of the website and its contents. I welcome suggestions on the contents and any other aspect of the encyclopaedia on corruption.

We will request Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, to give use for publication on the website, all information he has about shady deals by Indians, lists of Indians having huge, secret bank accounts, etc.

The list of activities is endless; and so is the journey. The culture of corruption is so deep-rooted that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will continue to work on the encyclopaedia long after we have passed into the vast Unknown.

But for now, come on people, let the fun begin.

(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].)




5 years ago

great job

Rupin Dang

5 years ago

Excellent idea! This will work...

Let's make it searchable and indexable, with a weekly Google "cache" collection, so nothing gets erased! But personal and contact information should be present, to prevent witch-hunting and targeting good folks...

Enough talk all around! You're actually suggesting action-able action...

We're with you. Let's make every little dirty deed in India public. The Facebook of the bhrast!


5 years ago

Good initiative . Please let us know when the site is in action. Is there some place where you are getting inputs and thoughts on what can go on the site etc.. let us know so that we can contribute to the discussion.
A city wise segregation will allow people to look it up and contribute effectively to the cases.


5 years ago

How about (rhymes likes corrupt india or corrupt ends here) or

Cement sector profitability headed towards its lowest in a decade, on supply glut, reports Crisil Research

With demand growing far slower than production, cement manufacturers will find it difficult to pass on increasing costs to customers, which is likely to result in a steep reduction in profit margins by 2012-13

Crisil Research has forecast that the profitability of the cement sector will decline to its lowest in a decade by the next financial year, mainly due to a huge glut in supply.

The independent research house said in a statement, describing the highlights of a study it has completed recently, that the supply glut will slacken cement manufacturers operating rates, consequently restricting their ability to pass on a sharp rise in power and fuel costs to consumers.

"The magnitude of the demand-supply imbalance and cost escalation will halve the cement industry's EBITDA margins from the current 20% to around 10% in 2012-13-the lowest level in the past 10 years," said Prasad Koparkar, head of industry and customised research at CRISIL Research.

Crisil estimates that over the next two years cement capacities will rise by 60 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), while demand will increase by much less, about 30 mtpa. Operating rates of cement manufacturers would, therefore, plunge to around 72% in 2012-13 from an already subdued 78% in the last fiscal.

In fact, the cement sector has been under pressure for some months now due to rising input costs and lower demand, particularly due to the slowing pace of housing construction that has historically been the largest contributor to cement demand. This, together with the seasonal drop in demand, has resulted in a decline in cement prices by about Rs35-40 a bag over the past couple of months.

According to Emkay Securities, demand growth has also been impacted by a slowdown in government infrastructure projects, and project clearances that have affected private spend. Interestingly, the country was importing cement a couple of years ago for construction work related to the Commonwealth Games.

Even as demand has turned sluggish, cement manufacturers are increasing capacity since the past couple of years. Ultratech Cement is spending over Rs2,000 crore on a unit, with installed capacity of three million tonnes, in Rajasthan's Jhunjhunu district. Birla Corporation has invested Rs4,000 crore to increase its cement production capacity. Shree Cement has commissioned its 1.80mtpa clinker grinding unit at Udaipur Udasar, in Sri Ganganagar district of Rajasthan.

Cement stocks have been mixed this year, The Moneylife Cement Index is down by 9% since 1st January 2011, against a 21% drop by the benchmark Sensex. The cement index comprises 29 companies. The only gainer since January has been NCL Industries (up 16%). Ultratech (down 2%), Ambuja Cement (down 5%) and ACC (down 6%) are down. Tow others Barak Valley Cements (down 51%) and Dalmia Bharat Sugar and Industries (down 55%) have lost heavily.

Crisil expects costs of power and fuel, a major input for cement, to increase by as much as 18% in the current financial year, in view of the steep increase in coal prices by Coal India, the leading supplier. An increase in effective excise duty rates will also lower cement manufacturers' net price realisations by 2%-4%.

Looking ahead, the research firm believes that small-sized cement manufacturers (with capacities of less than two million tonnes per annum) will likely post losses of about 2% at the EBITDA level in 2012-13. However, large cement manufacturers (with capacities of 10 mtpa or higher) would fare better than the industry average, with EBITDA margins of about 12%.

Key reasons for the better performance of large cement manufacturers is their greater use of captive power and inherent economies of scale. These companies meet three-fourth of their power requirements through captive generation. Small cement companies, in contrast, get a mere 5% of their power requirements through the captive route, and source the remainder from the more expensive grid power.

"Captive power can make a critical difference to cement profitability," said Ajay D'souza, head, Crisil Research. "Every 10 percentage point increase in captive power consumption can improve cement companies' EBITDA margins by 50 basis points."


REpower bags order to set up wind power projects in Canada

REpower has concluded a contract with WindWorks Power Corp for supplying 25 wind turbines for five projects in Ontario, Canada

REpower, which is a part of Suzlon group, has bagged orders for setting up wind power projects in Canada. Wind power entity Suzlon has about 95% stake in REpower.

According to statement from Suzlon, REpower has concluded a contract with WindWorks Power Corp for supplying 25 wind turbines for five projects in Ontario, Canada. However, financial details were not disclosed. "The wind farms will generate a total output of more than 50 MW," the statement noted. These turbines are scheduled to be delivered in 2013.

REpower Systems' managing director Helmut Herold said that for Ontario, these projects would not only serve to expand renewable energy sources in the region but also create numerous jobs as well as help in supporting the local economy. REpower Systems is the Canadian subsidiary of REpower Systems SE.
In the late afternoon, Suzlon Energy was trading at around Rs34.20 per share on the Bombay Stock Exchange, 4.6% down from the previous close.


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