Citizens' Issues
Charu Deshpande suicide: Tata Steel's Prabhat Sharma booked by Vasai police

Prabhat Sharma, the head for corporate affairs at Tata Steel has been booked by Vasai police for allegedly abetting the suicide of Charu Deshpande, the steelmaker’s former PR chief

Vasai police, who are investigating the alleged suicide of Charudutta (Charu) Deshpande, former chief of corporate communication of Tata Steel, has booked Prabhat Sharma, the steelmaker's head for corporate affairs.

 

This follows a complaint by Forbes India's former editor Indrajit Gupta against the Tata Steel official for allegedly abetting the suicide of Charu Deshpande.

 

57-year-old Deshpande, was found hanging at his Vasai home on 28th June this year. No suicide note was found. His friends and former colleagues alleged that he had been harassed.

 

Police have registered a first information report (FIR) and booked Sharma under Section 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

 

According to Gupta’s complaint, Charu, a senior official at Tata Steel, was constantly humiliated and harassed between May 2012 and May 2013 following which he took the drastic decision to end his life.

 

Soon after Mumbai crime branch began the probe, the investigating team had laid their hands on a piece of evidence from Charu's another residence in Borivili.

 

Two diaries of 2012 and 2013 were found in which Charudatta Deshpande had mentioned about the happenings in office. And in one of the pages, he had even written notes and named some Tata Steel officials.

 

The content of the pages clearly depicted the mood of Charu, and it indeed reflects that he committed suicide due to unhappiness and frustration at work place, a police official had said.

 

In July, nine journalists, including the Forbes India ex-editor and president of the Press Club of Mumbai wrote a letter to Ratan Tata and Cyrus Mistry, chairman of the Tata group, alleged that there was a concerted attempt by “Tata Steel officials and the PR agency to pass off his (Charu's) death as a heart attack, and not a suicide.” (Death of a PR Man)

 

The letter says that Charu was accused of ‘leaking’ confidential documents to journalists for a Cover Story titled “Remoulding Tata Steel”; that he was confined under virtual ‘house arrest’ for two weeks in Jamshedpur and repeatedly threatened.

 

Charu (as he was known) joined Tata Steel a year ago after a long stint with ICICI Bank and Mahindra & Mahindra. He had resigned from Tata Steel a month before his suicide on 28th June.

 

It was discovered that Charu Deshpande was the first person in Tata Steel who, despite being appointed at a very senior level, was not confirmed in service after completion of his probation.

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Food Security Bill: How the UPA is making mockery of Parliament’s decision

The UPA has bowed down before the WTO and limited the grant of food subsidy to just four years in the Food Security Bill, alleges EAS Sarma, former secretary to the GoI, in a letter to Sonia Gandhi

EAS Sarma, former secretary to Government of India (GoI) has alleged Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is bowing to pressures from developed countries to limit the grant of food subsidy to just four years against the provisions in the Food Security Bill.

 

Mr Sarma, in a letter to UPA chairperson and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, said, “If the benefits of the food security law were to last only four years, it would inevitably lead one to the conclusion that UPA has enacted the law only to gain political mileage for the coming elections and not with any commitment to the need to provide nutritious food to the low-income groups.”

 

Here is the letter sent by Mr Sarma to the Congress president…
 

Smt Sonia Gandhi

President

Indian National Congress

 

Dear Smt Sonia Gandhi,

 

Subject: - India's stand at ensuing Bali session of WTO is an affront to National Food Security Act, 2013 enacted by the Parliament

 

The National Food Security Act, 2013 enacted by the Parliament on September 12, 2013 is a progressive law aimed at ensuring the supply of nutritious food to millions of low-income groups of the population. The law emerges from the right to nutritious food and right to live, a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution.

 

When the law was enacted by the Parliament, the leaders of INC tried to draw political mileage by saying that it was the Congress that spearheaded the initiative to introduce the law.

 

Hardly two months after its enactment, this Act that truly belonged to the Parliament has come under a serious threat as a result of UPA government's haste in making commitments to WTO prior to the Bali session of the world organisation scheduled to take place in December this year.

 

Apparently, under pressure from the developed countries, the government has caved in to agree to a 4-year “peace clause” (see enclosed report), tacitly accepting the latter's contention that food subsidy is a “market distorting subsidy” and limiting the grant of the subsidy to a time frame of four years. In other words, when the Parliament of this country has provided a permanent statutory foundation for food security as a fundamental right, the UPA executive has bowed down before WTO and introduced a time limitation, a concept not envisaged by the Parliament. In a way, it amounts to holding the Parliament in contempt and defying a fundamental right of the citizen provided in the Constitution. There cannot be anything more bizarre than this.

 

It is ironic that India should initially lead 46 developing countries in WTO to press the argument that the concept of food security should be deemed to be outside the world organisation's protocols on free trade, but quietly cave in to the pressures exerted by the developed countries to discard that argument overnight. In the process, the UPA government has literally questioned the sovereignty of the Indian Parliament and the applicability of the Indian laws.

 

If the benefits of the food security law were to last only four years, it would inevitably lead one to the conclusion that UPA has enacted the law only to gain political mileage for the coming elections and not with any commitment to the need to provide nutritious food to the low-income groups.

 

I am marking this letter to all political parties and Parliamentarians so as to generate a debate on the stand that the government should take before WTO, when the Parliament itself has enacted a law.

Regards,

 

Yours sincerely,

 

EAS Sarma

Former Secretary to GOI

Visakhapatnam
20-11-2013

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COMMENTS

Dayananda Kamath k

3 years ago

you allow the food to wrought in fci godowns and forget the purpose of buffer stock.those who allow food grains to wrought due to their negligence should be brought to book then we may not need a food security bill. but how will politicians earn their moolah. it is money garnering security act.

rangan v

3 years ago

food subsidy is to make bjp spend money so that bjp aprty will be alays in difficulty to raise resources and that party cannnot make money lke congress which ahs formed so many yojnas and siphoed the money from exchqr never did anyone inform that it is only for four years this is what they tell and it will becomelike reservation when no party can fford to change since each aprty wants to win the eletion

Dayananda Kamath k

3 years ago

it is mockery of people by parlimentarians. just to get votes all parties did not raise their voice and voted it even knowing very well that it is mismanaging countries finance. people have voted back congress for their earlier mismanginge of countries finance in the name of manrega. direct credit of subsidy is also to make it impossible to pin them down for irregularitis. new banks are opened because funding old banks will only leed to financing their npa and no new loans can be given.

Hemlata Mohan

3 years ago

Isn't it funny that Congress has called its own bluff?
They pushed this act in Parliament against so many odds and now they cave in!
Expediency is the name of the game !

Yerram Raju Behara

3 years ago

The Act itself is a flawed Act. Now it is turning out as a fraud on people through its representative form - the Parliament.
'A food-security strategy that relies on a combination of increased productivity in agriculture, greater policy predictability and general openness to trade will be more effective than other strategies;

Safety nets are crucial for alleviating food insecurity in the short term, as well as for providing a foundation for long-term development;

High food prices present incentives for increased long-term investment in the agriculture sector, which can contribute to improved food security in the longer term.' (IFAD, WFP and FAO, 2011)
Schedule II of the Act contains provisions relating to reforms to the agricultural sector that needed attention. Assuring sustained increase in production consistent with the growing requirements of the Act and the resources that the States should provide for implementing the Act are vital components of the agenda but receive scant attention. As the CACP points out “Assured procurement gives an incentive for farmers to produce cereals rather than diversify the production-basket…Vegetable production too may be affected—pushing food inflation further.” If these cereals do not find attractive prices and specific support prices for those that are part of the food security system, there would be serious consequences for the farm economy.
“Priority Category”: Definition of the poor has come into serious controversy lately. The criteria have to be fully in public knowledge. While the Act specified that the records have to be transparent and in the public domain, there is no timeframe for doing so by the States. So is the case for another requirement under the Act: “that the States shall put in place the needed information, communication and technology systems in place.”

The list of the eligible families should be displayed at the village Panchayat level and at the ward level in the urban municipalities. Any divergence of opinion has to be resolved at the village/ local level within one week of placing the list on notice. Such list could be prepared through a survey done by NGOs or educational institutions at the block/ Mandal levels.

All those who are within the exempted income category for payment of income tax should become eligible for food entitlement under the food security provisions.

All the tax-payers shall be the excluded category for two reasons: they have the ability to buy the food because they have regular income; they are also otherwise covered by some social security provision or the other.

Nutrition security is the whole while food security is a part of that, and therefore the law that is being contemplated should really have been a food-cum-nutrition security law rather than a mere food security law.
It is also worth noting at the outset that an important strategy for defending and expanding the rights of the poor in any scheme that seeks to guarantee a particular right is to fine-tune it to the other related schemes in a manner that all related schemes pull together all the rights that govern all the participants in such schemes. Such a synergy will guarantee all rights essential to the poor, each right reinforcing the other. Food and nutrition security is no exception to such a synergy. In fact the most important paradigm that should govern a law that guarantees food-cum-nutrition security is to define such security as the sum total of the entitlement that a poor household would access through its entitlement in all the food and nutrition related schemes that the Government implements or proposes to implement and not merely through a single programme like the TPDS. Unfortunately, the Act failed to provide this comprehensiveness
“Priority Category”: Definition of the poor has come into serious controversy lately. The criteria have to be fully in public knowledge. While the Act specified that the records have to be transparent and in the public domain, there is no timeframe for doing so by the States. So is the case for another requirement under the Act: “that the States shall put in place the needed information, communication and technology systems in place.”

The list of the eligible families should be displayed at the village Panchayat level and at the ward level in the urban municipalities. Any divergence of opinion has to be resolved at the village/ local level within one week of placing the list on notice. Such list could be prepared through a survey done by NGOs or educational institutions at the block/ Mandal levels.

All those who are within the exempted income category for payment of income tax should become eligible for food entitlement under the food security provisions.

All the tax-payers shall be the excluded category for two reasons: they have the ability to buy the food because they have regular income; they are also otherwise covered by some social security provision or the other.

Nutrition security is the whole while food security is a part of that, and therefore the law that is being contemplated should really have been a food-cum-nutrition security law rather than a mere food security law.
It is also worth noting at the outset that an important strategy for defending and expanding the rights of the poor in any scheme that seeks to guarantee a particular right is to fine-tune it to the other related schemes in a manner that all related schemes pull together all the rights that govern all the participants in such schemes. Such a synergy will guarantee all rights essential to the poor, each right reinforcing the other. Food and nutrition security is no exception to such a synergy. In fact the most important paradigm that should govern a law that guarantees food-cum-nutrition security is to define such security as the sum total of the entitlement that a poor household would access through its entitlement in all the food and nutrition related schemes that the Government implements or proposes to implement and not merely through a single programme like the TPDS. Unfortunately, the Act failed to provide this comprehensiveness.
Implementation is at the doorsteps of the State Governments while the stocks are with the Central Government and the coordination between the two would require to be non-partisan and wholehearted.

Crossroads’ tax return shows big donors, but doesn’t name them

The biggest dark money group, launched by Republican strategist Karl Rove, shows in its tax filing that it got one donation of nearly $23 million and another of $18 million (Donors names not included)

The dark money giant Crossroads GPS, launched by Republican strategist Karl Rove, told the IRS it raised almost $180 million in 2012, including one donation of $22.5 million, another of $18 million and another of $10 million. Fifty donations were for $1 million or more. Because the group is a social welfare non-profit, none of the donors have to be made public.
 

The details come from the group’s 2012 tax return, which Crossroads made available today at their Washington office. We picked up a copy and you can see it here.

Crossroads raised more than twice as much in 2012 as it collected in 2010 and 2011 combined.
 

The group also reported spending almost $75 million on direct and indirect campaign activities.
 

Crossroads GPS, also known as Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, is the largest social nonprofit active in elections. The group was created after the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling opened the door to unlimited corporate and union spending on elections, to super PACs and to hundreds of millions of dollars in anonymous money.
 

In Crossroads’ application for nonprofit status in 2010, the group told the IRS that while it planned to spend money on elections, “any such activity will be limited in amount, and will not constitute the organization’s primary purpose.”
 

In the 2012 cycle, Crossroads told the Federal Election Commission it spent almost twice as much on political ads as the next most active social welfare nonprofit, Americans for Prosperity, backed by conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.
 

Crossroads is in the crosshairs of campaign finance watchdogs, who have criticized social welfare nonprofits for exploiting loopholes in tax and election rules to be able to pour millions from undisclosed donors into campaigns. Democrats have also targeted Crossroads for special attention. In 2012, the lawyer for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign asked the FEC to force Crossroads to register as a political committee and disclose its donors. (So far, that hasn’t happened.)
 

“There is no way in the world that $20 million-plus contributions, $10 million-plus contributions, that are funding campaign ads should be kept secret from the American people,” said Fred Wertheimer, the president of Democracy 21, who has worked to rein in outside spending in politics for decades.
 

Social welfare nonprofits are allowed to spend money on elections, but they are also supposed to be able to prove that social welfare is their primary purpose. ProPublica has focused extensively on how many of these groups have poured much of their resources into political races.
 

Tax returns are one of the few places in which groups are required to detail both their revenues and expenditures and justify their social welfare mission. But the returns are often filed more than a year after an election.
 

About 150 of these nonprofits reported spending more than $254 million in 2012 on ads, phone calls and mailings. Most of that money — more than 85 percent — was spent by conservative groups.
 

Crossroads GPS and its sister super PAC, American Crossroads, provide a blueprint of how these outside-spending groups work. The Rove juggernaut gives potential donors the option of giving to a super PAC, which has to report its donors, or to a social welfare nonprofit, which doesn’t.
 

Some people and corporations prefer the anonymous option. American Crossroads, for instance, raised about $117.5 million in the 2012 cycle, according to the FEC, as opposed to the $180 million Crossroads GPS collected.
 

Both super PACs and social welfare nonprofits can accept unlimited contributions, unlike candidates and regular political action committees.
 

The Wall Street Journal first reported an early look at Crossroads GPS’s tax return last Thursday. (ProPublica initially asked for a copy of the group’s tax return on Thursday morning, but Jonathan Collegio, the group’s spokesman, said, “It’s not available yet.” He also said it wasn’t available on Friday, the deadline for filing the return. On Monday, Collegio said the return was available for pickup.)
 

In a cover letter accompanying the tax filing, Collegio positioned the group as a balance to unions and other liberal groups. “Crossroads GPS serves as a counterweight to well-funded labor unions and other far-left advocacy groups that promote more government, more regulation and higher taxes,” Collegio wrote.
 

He also pointed out that the group didn’t just get big contributions. It also had 1,254 small donors, who gave less than $5,000 each. (That works out to $348,361, or .2 percent of Crossroads total revenue.)
 

On its tax return, Crossroads justified its social welfare mission in part by saying it spent more than $74 million on public communication and building “grassroots to influence policymaking outcomes through grassroots mobilization and advocacy.” It also said it spent more than $3.2 million on research and handed out more than $35 million in grants, mainly to similarly aligned social welfare nonprofits active in politics.
 

Of those grants, Crossroads gave $26.4 million to Americans for Tax Reform, and $2.15 million to the Center for Individual Freedom. It told the IRS that these grants were not supposed to be spent on elections.
 

In the group’s statement, Collegio said the group had a ratio of 60.2 percent of social welfare spending to 38.8 percent of political spending in 2012. (It is not clear where the missing 1 percent went.)
 

Among the things Crossroads appears to have counted as part of its spending on social welfare are tens of millions on ads criticizing Obama in swing states in 2012.

Most of those ads stopped short of telling people how to vote and didn’t need to be reported to the FEC.
 

The IRS says it considers an ad to be political simply if it seems aimed at influencing an election, not just because of when it runs. But so far, despite promises to crack down on social welfare nonprofits engaged in too much political activity, the IRS has taken a hands-off approach to the groups. Its most significant enforcement action so far has been to deny the recognition of one small Democratic group and its affiliates in 2011.
 

In May, a scandal erupted over the IRS targeting the applications of conservative Tea Party groups for extra review, and since then, it’s not clear how — or if — the agency is going to tackle the highly charged issue. The battle will soon move to the courts. In August, Democracy 21, Public Citizen, the Campaign Legal Center and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, filed a federal lawsuit aiming to force the IRS to block social welfare groups from engaging in overt campaign spending.
 

There is another potential hurdle for Crossroads GPS. As of this month, according to the IRS website, the agency hasn’t yet recognized the tax-exempt status of Crossroads, which applied for recognition in September 2010. That’s a longer wait than faced by any of the major politically active social welfare nonprofits applying since the Citizens United decision.
 

Courtesy: ProPublica.org

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