Citizens' Issues
Concerned with the state of affairs in the country, eminent citizens write second Open Letter to our leaders calling for immediate change

The first open letter was written on 17th January. This Magna Charta wants action on land, judicial, electoral & police reforms; need for effective redressal mechanisms and measures to improve the economic and investment climate

This second letter, written by Mr Jamshyd Godrej, Justice Sam Variava, Prof M Narasimham, Mr Yezdi Malegam, Ms Anu Aga, Dr A Vaidyanathan, Dr Bimal Jalan, Mr Keshub Mahindra, Mr Deepak Parekh, Mr N Vaghul, Mr Azim Premji, Mr Nachiket Mor, Justice B N Srikrishna and Dr Ashok Ganguly wants this communiqué to “make a beginning to develop specific actions and recommendations which would be placed in the public domain, from time to time.”

Here is the complete text of the Open Letter received by Moneylife:

                               Open Letter II to our Leaders  

Mr Jamshyd Godrej, Justice Sam Variava, Prof M Narasimham, Mr Yezdi Malegam, Ms Anu Aga, Dr A Vaidyanathan, Dr Bimal Jalan, Mr Keshub Mahindra, Mr Deepak Parekh, Mr N Vaghul, Mr Azim Premji, Mr Nachiket Mor, Justice B N Srikrishna and Dr Ashok Ganguly, are a small group of like-minded citizens who are concerned with the state of affairs of the nation. On January 17, 2011, the Group released an Open Letter to the Leaders of the country which focused on four key issues:—(a) Growing Governance Deficit (b) Galloping Corruption (c) The urgent need to distinguish between ‘Dissent’ and ‘Disruption’ and (d) Environmental Challenges. The Group had mentioned that it would attempt to make a beginning to develop specific actions and recommendations which would be placed in the public domain, from time to time. It is in this context that the Group puts forward its second Open Letter.

The focus of the second Open Letter primarily is on issues pertaining to day-to-day corruption being faced by the common man, rather than ‘episodic corruption’ which the draft Lokpal Bill is intended to address.

The issues of prime concern for the Group that require urgent action are:

•    Land, Judicial, Electoral and Police reforms;

•    Need for effective redressal mechanisms; and

•    Measures to improve the economic and investment climate.

The group believes that through urgent and concerted action by the elected leaders of the country, positive transformation can begin to be achieved.

                            Open Letter II to Our Leaders  

On January 17, 2011, we, a group of like-minded citizens who were deeply concerned with the state of affairs of the nation addressed an Open Letter to our leaders. This letter focused on four issues—(a) Growing Governance Deficit (b) Galloping Corruption (c) The urgent need to distinguish between ‘Dissent’ and ‘Disruption’ and (d) Environmental Challenges. The Open Letter received wide exposure in the public domain and was generally perceived as being timely. As mentioned in the first Open Letter, the aim of the group is to develop specific actions regarding the above-mentioned issues and place these in the public domain from time to time. It is in this context that we put forward our second Open Letter.

August 27, 2011 marked a high point by the historic debate leading to the ‘Sense of the House’ in the Parliament on the Lokpal Bill. The event reinforced the inviolable primacy of the Indian Constitution. It was also an event of relief and reassurance to the vast and silent majority who constitute India’s core civil society.

We support the need for the urgent passage of a well-crafted Lokpal Bill by the Parliament. While the Parliament debates the contours of the Lokpal Bill, the discussion of the details now resides with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice. We, however, believe that the Lokpal Bill is only one small but critical step in the national task of weeding out the plague of corruption in India. This draft Lokpal Bill is intended to address EPISODIC CORRUPTION, but is unlikely to have any significant impact on the DAY-TO-DAY CORRUPTION which is insidious and demeaning.

We, the people, the common individual, seem to have no recourse in our daily life which is vitiated by corruption in almost every sphere of our normal dealings. Almost every interface of the common man with public officials is impaired by corruption, especially in the most routine transactions, such as the grant of ‘pattas’, issuing of birth/death certificates, utility connections and availing of entitlements amongst several others. Similar cases of continuous daily harassment are widely faced by small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) and numerous services and manufacturing entities.   

The Group wishes to put forward some issues which call for urgent attention and action to make reforms effective and have a positive and perceptible impact on citizens’ day-to-day life.

1.    The common man (the poor bear the greatest burden) is a silent sufferer because available Constitutional remedies remain inaccessible. Several antiquated laws require urgent overhaul to reflect contemporary realities. LAND, JUDICIAL, ELECTORAL and POLICE reforms are most urgently needed. Key recommendations and draft legislation on most of these issues are already in the public domain. It is imperative, however, that legislative reforms be constructively and constitutionally debated in a time-bound and orderly manner and not in uncivil and hostile environments. DISRUPTION, both in the Parliament and outside is socially debilitating and erodes public confidence.

2.    It is acknowledged that a strong nexus exists between certain corporates, politicians, bureaucrats and power brokers. This is one of the greatest threats for the Indian economy. It may be worth mentioning that the UK, in July 2011, enacted the ‘The Bribery Act, 2010’. The Act makes it illegal TO OFFER, RECEIVE AND FAIL TO PREVENT BRIBERY and extends culpability to the highest levels in an accused corporation. Only if timely and punitive action is taken against both, THE GIVER AS WELL AS THE RECEIVER OF THE BRIBE, will the fight against ground level corruption be won effectively.

3.   Even the best crafted legislation will not cleanse the system unless effective REDRESSAL MECHANISMS are put in place. This, however, is not possible given the acute backlog of cases pending in the courts, estimated at over 3.1 crore. India has 10 judges per million population compared to 50 in the UK and 107 in the US. The adage of justice delayed is justice denied is the key reason why the common man is unable to fight against corruption. It is imperative to increase the number of judges and other judicial officers, modernise infrastructure and implement judicial reforms such as creating additional fast-track, specialised courts.

4.   While we appreciate and support the need for environmental protection, it should be recognised that there is an impasse on ENVIRONMENTAL CLEARANCES which continues to delay several investment proposals and hamper economic growth. Among other measures, it is worthwhile considering the introduction of an online AUCTION process for allocation of natural resources which will provide the much needed TRANSPARENCY and prevent discretionary and irregular practices. Owing to several such impediments, fresh investments are not forthcoming at the pace required for a rapidly growing economy such as ours. Policy uncertainties and delays in approvals are forcing many large corporate entities to seek out opportunities in other geographies.

We wholeheartedly endorse Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s statement that economic progress must not be hijacked by internal dissensions. Therefore, India’s focus must remain steadfast on economic reforms and growth in order to reduce poverty and ensure adequate job creation. These national challenges cannot be solved by urban protests and posturing.

We are working with a group of professionals who have been specially commissioned by us to study issues of governance and public accountability. The results of this study, when completed, will be made available to the Parliamentary Committees as may be appropriate when these issues are discussed.

We wish to reiterate that through URGENT and CONCERTED ACTION by the elected leaders of our country, positive transformation can begin to be achieved.

Sd/-
Mr N Vaghul                 Mr Deepak Parekh          Dr Ashok Ganguly
Mr Jamshyd Godrej     Justice Sam Variava         Prof M Narasimham
Mr Yezdi Malegam      Ms Anu Aga                     Dr A Vaidyanathan
Dr Bimal Jalan            Mr Keshub Mahindra         Mr Azim Premji
Mr Nachiket Mor         Justice B N Srikrishna

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COMMENTS

Govindan

6 years ago

The problem with our Government offices and law courts are that there too much unnecessary procedures. All these procedures must be done away and a new transparent and simplified must be adopted. Even now many our courts are not computerized. One needs to wait for at least a month to get the copy of a judgement from lower courts.

Police reforms is a must as most our laws are archaic. Even after 65 years of independence the behavior of the policemen not changed. The corruption in Police is rampant. we need a independent state vigilance department without policemen to inquire into police corruption.

S D Israni

6 years ago

One cannot but agree with these eminent persons what they have stated in the open letter. The tragedy is our leaders who are totally self absorbed have become blind and deaf as well.

Corruption affects the entire society, but the poorest of the poor have to bear unduly high burden, as they are the biggest losers.

Today effective justice is available only to the rich and very rich, others only have illusion of justice.

One only hopes that the blind and deaf leaders will at least in their own interest perceive the rapidly deteriorating environment in the country.

USE chief Narayanasami quits

While Mr Narayansami refused to divulge further details, industry sources said that the USE chief had some differences with other senior management personnel and certain promoters of the exchange, which led to his resignation

Mumbai: A little over one year into business, the United Stock Exchange (USE) has lost its chief, TS Narayanasami, who has quit as MD and CEO of the country’s newest bourse, reports PTI.

When contacted, Mr Narayanasami confirmed that he has tendered his resignation from the exchange, but did not divulge any further details.

However, industry sources said that Mr Narayanasami had some differences with other senior management personnel and certain promoters of the exchange, which led to his resignation.

Some exchange officials sought to downplay the exit and claimed that his employment contract had come to an end.

Speculation has been doing the rounds for a couple of months now about the imminent exit of Mr Narayanasami from the USE, but he has previously scotched such rumours.

The resignation comes within a month of the USE completing one year of operations.

The exchange, which is present only in the currency derivatives segment, completed its first year of operations on 20 September 2011, and has managed an average market share of 22% in recent months.

The average daily trading volume on the exchange is in excess of Rs10,000 crore.

Its shareholders include the country’s leading bourse BSE, Jaypee Capital Services, MMTC, Indian Potash and a host of public and private sector banks.

In the past, Mr Narayanasami is said to have had differences with certain promoters and board members over the levy of transaction charges in currency trading and over plans to expand the USE’s presence into other segments such as equity trading.

Earlier, in August, Mr Narayanasami had said that USE would hold a board meeting by the month-end to decide on the levy of transaction charges, but the exchange is yet to charge anything for this market segment, although two of its rivals, the NSE and MCX-SX, have already begun levying a fee.

Also, there have been reports about a conflict of interest and a possible breach of fair trade practices due to one of its largest shareholders, Jaypee Capital, being a major trader also on the exchange.

The reports have said that about 80% of currency derivatives trade volumes on the USE come from Jaypee Capital alone.

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Credit offtake by priority sectors up 17.3% in August

Credit disbursement to the priority sector stood at Rs12.41 lakh crore in August compared to Rs10.58 lakh crore in the same month last year, mainly due to a rise in education loans and borrowings by micro and small enterprises

Mumbai: Bank lending to the priority sector grew at a moderate rate of over 17% in August due to a rise in education loans and borrowings by micro and small enterprises, reports PTI.

Credit disbursement to the priority sector stood at Rs12.41 lakh crore in August, compared to Rs10.58 lakh crore in the same month last year, translating into a growth of 17.3%.

Credit offtake by the priority sector grew by 16.3% year-on-year in July this year, according to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data.

Banks provide credit to priority sectors—including agriculture, small scale industries, retail trade, state-sponsored organisations for SCs/STs, education and housing—at an interest rate lower than their prime lending rates.

In August, bank disbursements to micro and small enterprises (MSEs) went up by 21.1% to Rs4.68 lakh crore from Rs3.87 lakh crore in the same month of 2010. In July, credit disbursement to the MSEs had gone up by 20.8% on an annual basis.

Credit offtake for education loans grew by 18% to Rs46,759 crore in August 2011, from Rs39,612 crore in the year-ago period. Bank credit disbursement to the sector increased by 14.8% year-on-year in July this year.

Export credit in August stood at Rs36,777 crore, up 11.8% from Rs32,892 crore in the same month of 2010.

Export credit increased by a mere 5.7% in July 2011.

Credit offtake from banks for housing also rose by 4.8% to Rs2.35 lakh crore from Rs2.25 lakh crore in the corresponding period last year. The sector had shown a growth of 2.7% in annual offtake during July.

Bank credit disbursement to weaker sections went up by 10.3% in August 2011. During the month under review, it stood at Rs2 lakh crore, compared to Rs1.82 lakh crore in August last year.

Credit offtake from banks by weaker sections had grown at an annual rate of 3.1% in July.

According to experts, the moderate growth in bank credit to the priority sector is in line with the general rate of credit disbursal for major sectors in the economy. Non-food credit in the country grew by 19.8% in August.

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