General Elections 2014: The concerns and sentiments of urban voters

Over 92% of the respondents in a survey of urban people expressed deep dissatisfaction over the current administrative and political system and are looking forward to a fundamental change in the next general elections

India is a few months away from its five-yearly general elections. The outcome of this election will set the pace of India’s future economic growth considering the present regime has led to a sharply declining economy, growing unemployment, high inflation and numerous charges of corruption. High levels of corruption and poor governance would lead India’s 700 million-plus voters seek greater accountability from political candidates and look for those who could forge a change. Kartavya, an organisation which conducts Mumbai level inter-collegiate debate competitions in association with Mumbai University, conducted a survey focussed on what the respondents felt about the current state of the political system in India, what they expect of an ideal prime ministerial candidate and who they think is an ideal candidate for becoming a prime minister, and why. 

The survey which was open for over a period of two months, received over 2,500 responses with over 600 offline responses and nearly 1,900 online responses. India continues to face several challenges of poor economic growth, rising inflation and worsening current account deficit. Over 92% of the survey participants mentioned that they were not happy with the current political system.

When asked, which is the single biggest problem with India, more than half the participants replied that corruption is a major concern. As many as 35% of the survey respondents cite poor administration as the single biggest problem. Comparatively, very few are of the opinion that the poor justice system and inflation is the single biggest problem in India. Ultimately, corruption is probably the root cause of all evils.


When it came to rating the current government on corruption, cross border relations, infrastructure and economic development, majority of the participants rated—‘very bad’. Professor Abhijit A Gosavi, associate professor, Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, statistically analysed the entire survey. He combined the ‘Poor’ and ‘Very bad’ responses into one group and the remaining into another, and termed the other group as ‘acceptable’. According to his study, “for each of the factors—corruption, cross-border relations, infrastructure, and economic development, a statistically significant majority rates the government poorly, i.e., not acceptable (again politically significant).”


It is evident that the respondents are looking for a responsible PM candidate. On being asked as to what are the characteristics they would look for in a PM candidate, majority (77%) of the participants said that they would look for a great administrator who can deliver growth. According to Professor Gosavi, “Question 10 has too many options that cannot be combined. For such cases, advanced statistical tools such as regression/ANOVA will be needed.” He further says, “Roughly speaking, it is clear that a ‘great administrator who can deliver growth’ is most important to those surveyed.”

In probably the most important question of the survey, on who the participants feel, is the best candidate for the post of the PM, as many as 87% of the respondents have picked Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat. “The all important question. Although, it will be nice to see if there is any statistical difference between Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal, I suspect any tests there will reveal a statistical tie. But since only one person wins an election (even in a parliamentary system), we can combine all the non-Modi responses into one. The intervals are far apart; no question of overlap here even if we take the confidence level to 99%, indicating that Modi is very, very clearly a favourite with the surveyed group — beating everyone else hollow,” mentioned Professor Gosavi. The list included names of Manmohan Singh, LK Advani, Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mamta Banerjee and J Jayalalithaa.

When asked the reason for selecting their best candidate, majority of the respondents who chose Narendra Modi, mentioned that he is a good administrator and has proven his ability as the chief minister of Gujarat. From the survey it remains unresolved whether Modi is a polarising figure or not. According to the professor, “If we combine the ‘No’ and ‘Can’t say’, the ‘No’ and ‘Can’t say’ are winning statistically. I also analyzed this question again as 13A, leaving out those who said can’t say (is there really anyone who doesn’t have an opinion on him either way?!). That reveals a statistical tie! So it looks like it is hard to give a clear-cut answer to this question.”

In two separate questions when asked whether Modi is an able administrator and whether the Gujarat model will work on a pan-India basis. A very significant proportion thinks he is an able administrator and a significant majority believes the model will work pan India.

Similarly in questions on whether the media targets Modi in an unfair manner and whether the Godhra riots have been given more media coverage than other riots in India here again, a significant margin feels he is indeed unfairly targeted.

On asked whether they would vote in the upcoming general elections, as many as 90% of the respondents replied that they will vote in the general elections of 2014. This is significantly high considering that just a little over half the participants had voted in the 2009 general elections. On asking the reason why one did not participate in the 2009 general elections, 62.5% of the respondents mentioned that they did not have a voters’ card. According to Mr Gosavi, “This (question) was not easy to analyze given our methodology. But I tried to combine all the responses other than “Don’t have a voter card in my city” to imply that all others do have a voter card. The result shows that a significant majority do NOT have voter cards, and perhaps this issue needs to be resolved?”

With the Indian political scenario is becoming increasingly chaotic by the day, chances are we may be headed for early general elections. What happens in these elections will matter a lot. In this survey, majority of the participants were from in and around Mumbai and other urban areas. While almost 46% of the votes were cast by women in the 2009 general elections, just about 15% of the survey respondents were women. It is clear that even net savvy women on social media are neither interested in politics or personal finance issues. As we mentioned in our Cover Story on bank charges, (Read: Wake Up to Your Bank Charges) a massive 92% of the 1,500+ respondents to a survey o banking charges were men. This is rather shocking and indicates low financial literacy and apathy even among educated women, since almost everyone has at least one bank account.  


UIDAI land allotment scam: DDA accepts IAC prayer to scrap the deal

According to India Against Corruption-IAC, the plot of land formerly owned by telecom department in Delhi which is now worth Rs900 crore was allotted to UIDAI’s headquarter at throwaway price by changing the land use plan

The Delhi Development Authority’s statutory board of enquiry has accepted a prayer by India Against Corruption (IAC) to scrap change of land use (CLU) for the headquarter of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Sarbajit Roy, the national convenor of IAC, had alleged that the valuable piece of land in New Delhi, worth Rs900 crore, was leased to Nandan Nilekani-led UIDAI at throwaway price using the CLU.


“After IAC highlighted that the land was a valuable piece of land being leased off for a pittance, it seems the DDA summoned the land allotting agency (L&DO). It also transpires that the possession of the land (formerly with the Department of Telecom-DoT) is now with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL). However, another state-run unit Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Ltd (MTNL) has laid claims over the land as it is in Delhi,” Mr Roy said.


The land was transferred to UIDAI at throwaway price due to the dispute between BSNL and MTNL, which is pending before the Delhi High Court, Mr Roy added.


At present UIDAI functions from an office in Jeevan Bharti Building in New Delhi’s Connaught Circus.


According to the petition filed by Mr Roy, the land allotted by the MUD to UIDAI was misinterpreted under Section 11 A of the Delhi Development Act. He said, “Several pieces of land meant for public or semi-public use have been engulfed by some ‘organisations’ and converted to government offices, the most brazen example has been the ‘Appu Ghar’.”


Mr Roy repeatedly mentioned that UIDAI is neither an ‘authority’ nor an institution set up by the law passed in Parliament and it operates on the basis of an executive notification. As per the notification, the Planning Commission was to be the nodal agency “for providing logistics, planning and budgetary support” and to “provide initial office and IT infrastructure”.


We have sent an email to officials of UIDAI and would incorporate their response, if any, in the story.

Here is the text of IAC's complaint alleging the UIDAI has been transferred prime public land in Central Delhi at throwaway rates in conjunction with Delhi's land mafia…

1) There is no reference to the specific site / land use of the modification in the present Master Plan, i.e. the so-called MPD-2021, or at least I am unable to find it in the MPD-2021 land-use plan available on the UDM website.

2) The public notice speaks of modifying the Zonal Development Plan for Zone-D. I say there is no such plan in existence. To the best of my knowledge, the ZDP-2021 for Zone-D is not in existence. The last I heard was that a known incompetent private planner, some Mr Ribiero or suchlike, had drafted up such a ZDP for the NDMC and DUAC to suit the land mafia, but it was so patently atrocious and self serving that it is yet to see the light of day. So please show me the referred ZDP-2021 for Zone-D as I am yet to see it. It is pertinent that I am a long time resident of Zone D which, unlike every other planning zone, has no ZDP and I fail to see why I am being discriminated against in planning issues.

3) I object that the lack of an up-do-date ZDP for Zone-D is allowing some organisations to swallow land notified for public and semi-public use and convert them into govt offices by misuse of section 11A. The most blatant such example being APPU GHAR which was swallowed by Supreme Court and DMRC, and in which all the public objections opposing the CLU were CORRUPTLY ignored by DDA. The SC used the land to sell to its advocates to set up private law chambers and the DMRC put up a tall commercial building to house some Railway Freight Corporation.

4) I object that there is no such "authority" known as UIDAI. The law to set it up is yet to be passed by Parliament, and the UIDAI is functioning, illegally, on the basis of an EGOM resolution whereby a private industrialist Shri Nandan Nilekani of INFOSYS was secretly appointed its Chairman without following due process and given the status of a Union Minister. I have established this under RTI, as I was the person who brought UIDAI within ambit of RTI as an extension of the Planning Commission. It is pertinent that when the Planning Commission received a copy of the CIC order in my case, they immediately asked Mr. Nilenkani and his team to vacate their offices within Planning Commission building within 48 hours. UIDAI then had to hire offices in Jeevan Bharati Building virtually overnight. The JPC (Joint Parliamentary Committee) has also objected to the UIDAI and said it is a useless body which should be scrapped.

5) It is thus clear that after I exposed UIDAI as being a fraudy outfit, they have managed to CORRUPTLY acquire a vacant plot of land in 2010-11 which is the subject of this CLU. It needs a CBI / CAG investigation as to who all in the Ministry of Urban Development or it's offices like L&DO / DDA etc. transferred the land which was Public/Semi-Public use in nature. It needs to be seen if the plot was acquired on commercial rates or it was a concessional allocation. The entire land acquisition / transfer file should be provided to objectors. There must be a CBI/CAG/ACB investigation into the modus operandi that the plot is acquired at a cheap rate and then the land mafia upgrades it to commercial use (UIDAI is a semi-PRIVATE concern) by bribing MUD officers and ministers of UPA govt. It is pertinent that Infosys has acquired a 1,000 sq yard plot in Vasant Vihar (Zone-F) last year for about Rs105 crore, so the land rate for a prime plot in Zone D should not be less than Rs20 lakhs per sq yard or about Rs900 crore for a 4,40 sq yard plot.

6) This CLU change will have significant alterations in local / site population density. Hence the CLU must be considered by the Central Government u/s 11A(2) only. The DDA has no role to play other than issuing the statutory notice. Members of the Authority have no role to play either, and their participation in any Board of Enquiry and Hearing is a breach of statutory provision, which shall be reported to the CBI and the ACB.

7) The UIDAI already has a massive Headquarter at Bangalore / Karnataka. I seem to recall that the ZDP/ MP2021 and the NCR plans not only mandate that no new Government offices are to come up in Delhi, but also that the existing ones are to shift out of Delhi. Therefore what kind of precedent is being set by such CORRUPT CLU public notices?

8) Please take clear notice that the citizens could not object when the DDA approved numerous spot CLUs to oblige the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court of India to grab land all over Delhi to accommodate their advocate's chambers only because their judges are a law unto to themselves under the Judges Inquiry Act and the SC judgments. However, for such corrupt CLUs like the instant one, DDA officers shall and will be reported to the CBI/CAG/ACB if they persist in rolling over to approve perverse CLUs to grossly favour semi-private irregular operators like UIDAI who are being facilitated to grab PUBLIC land at throwaway prices.

9) Not only is UIDAI so confident that their CLU will be approved, they have already conducted a design competition for their building - the winning bid for which seems to have a hugely tall structure well over the 15 meter height limit. It is thus clear that UIDAI / land mafia have advance information about impending Master Plan changes to allow this. This is also definitely a matter which falls for the CBI etc. to investigate considering that the sub-zone (which may be D4 or D5) is a low profile zone with many heritage structures. []



Deepak Gupta

4 years ago

This is good news. UIDAI acts like and is treated by govt as a govt agency, when in reality is a private body. The real issue here is not the land allotement, but the fact that UIDAI needs to be brought under the ambit of parliamentary scrutiny by passing a proper law.

An organization holding biometric data for Indian citizens should be a non-profit trust, fully answerable to the public under RTI and to the parliament as a representative of the public.

RBI tightens norms for NBFC loans against gold jewellery

While prohibiting NBFCs from issuing misleading, the central bank asked them to value gold jewellery accepted as collateral at the average of closing price of 22-carat gold in past 30 days

Seeking to keep the demand for gold under check, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has tightened the norms for loans against gold jewellery.


In a notification, the RBI said, “In order to standardise the valuation and make it more transparent to the borrower, it has been decided that gold jewellery accepted as collateral will have to be valued at the average of the closing price of 22 carat gold for the preceding 30 days as quoted by the Bombay Bullion Association (BBA)."


Currently, there is no standard method for arriving at the value of gold accepted as collateral and the valuation is arbitrary and opaque.


While accepting the gold as collateral, RBI said non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) should give in writing to the borrower, on their letterhead giving the purity (in terms of carats) and weight of gold.


If the gold is of purity less than 22 carat, the NBFC should translate the collateral into 22 carat and state the exact grams of the collateral. In other words, jewellery of lower purity of gold shall be valued proportionately.


The loan to value ratio for loans against jewellery will be 60%.


The notification further said NBFCs financing against the collateral of gold must insist on a copy of the PAN card of the borrower for all transactions above Rs5 lakh. High value loans of Rs1 lakh and above must only be disbursed by cheque. It also directed gold loan companies to standardised documentation across all branches.


"It has been decided that where the gold jewellery pledged by a borrower at any one time or cumulatively on loan outstanding is more than 20 grams, NBFCs must keep record of the verification of the ownership of the jewellery. The method of establishing ownership should be laid down as a Board approved policy,” the notification said.


The central bank has also prohibited NBFCs from issuing misleading advertisements like claiming the availability of loans in a matter of two-three minutes.


Noting that unbridled growth may not be in the overall interests, RBI has also tightened the rules for opening branches by such NBFCs.


“NBFCs, which already have more than 1,000 branches, may approach RBI for prior approval for any further branch expansion,” it said.


Besides, it said that no new branches will be allowed to be opened without the facilities for storage of gold jewellery and minimum security facilities for the pledged gold jewellery.


With regard to auction, the notification said that it should be conducted in the same town or taluka in which the branch that has extended the loan is located.


While auctioning the gold, the NBFC should declare a reserve price for the pledged ornaments, it said, adding that this should not be less than 85% the previous 30-day average closing price of 22 carat gold as declared by BBA.


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