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A System that gags whistleblowers

Will the new government find a way to engage?

 

On 21st November, The Economic Times reported, “Within a year and half of Ranbaxy whistle-blower Dinesh Thakur getting $48 million for revealing wrongdoing, there has been a fourfold jump in the number of Indians reporting secret tips about misconduct and fraudulent practices to US regulators.” The paper seems to suggest that the whistleblower spirit is blooming in India, even though US lawyers are clearly linking it to the publicity and reward that the Ranbaxy case generated for Mr Thakur. 

 

In truth, the picture in India is bleak. While martyrs like Satyendra Dubey and Shanmughan Manjunath’s sacrifice, at least, generated public anger and awareness (partly because both came from elite institutions and made the rare decision to serve the people rather than chase a fancy paycheque or Ivy League degree), most whistleblowers in India continue to be harassed and  persecuted. 
 
Consider just one example. Subhash Sawant is a popular union leader from Central Bank of India who led a relentless battle to expose the dubious dealings  of its former chairperson Homai Daruwala. As a consequence of the support lent by Bank insiders to the whistleblower, the charges against Ms Daruwala were proved. The Bank spent Rs70 lakh in defending her through the politically-connected Abhishek Manu Singhvi (he was paid Rs50 lakh in fees). This also made it to the public domain due to Bank union’s efforts. 
 
In 2009, Mr Sawant retired from the Bank, but continues to be agitated about the impact of  rising bad loans. He has been creating awareness among the public about how funds are being doled out to chosen industrialists. On 3rd November, Central Bank of India issued him a notice for failing to maintain good conduct as a retired employee and providing ‘misleading information’ to the media about bad loans and their recovery. If the action is taken to its logical conclusion, Mr Sawant’s pension and benefits from the Bank would be affected. 
 
Central Bank of India, has had many controversial chairpersons, including Ms Daruwala, who only got a ‘letter of displeasure’; but it is attempting to silence a bold union leader by threatening his pension. In order to understand why the Bank  wants to silence Mr Sawant,  take a look at the massive bad loans that he has been drawing attention to. 
 
Just 16 corporate groups account for bad loans of Rs4,255 crore. Of these, one particular loan is probably making the Bank’s senior management very jumpy—it is the outstanding of Rs316 crore to Sujana Towers, a company belonging to the recently inducted minister, YS Chowdary, of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP). The Bank claims that Sujana Towers is not an NPA when it is. The table reads like a list of the more outrageous rip-offs of Indian banking by corporate India. It includes the notorious Winsome Diamonds and Forever Diamonds. Three companies belong to the S Kumar group whose promoters continue to be rich, while they owe big money to lenders.
 
Then there is Kingfisher Airlines with dues of Rs365 crore, the Housing Development and Infrastructure Limited and others. 

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COMMENTS

Rangarao Ds

2 years ago

Why not MODI government try to redeem all these substantial NPAs and add to the treasury for nation-building work, instead of chasing the mirage of black money abroad?

Rangarao Ds

2 years ago

Why not MODI government try to redeem all these substantial NPAs and add to the treasury for nation-building work, instead of chasing the mirage of black money abroad?

SuchindranathAiyerS

2 years ago

In 1947, the sine qua non of a "Nation" the rule of law" and the foundation of a "democracy" equality under law were dismantled. This dismantling of law was enshrined in the Constitution. India ever since has punished the victims to reward the tyrants as is the norm in any sleazy tyranny. Those who do not "Quit India" will have to face the rape of justice if not a more physical and material rape. This is India!

It's White and Hot but is it Really White Hot Chocolate?

Does McDonald's beverage meet the FDA definition of white chocolate?

 

Just when you thought the whole “not-really pumpkin-spiced” latte kerfuffle was over, there’s a new one brewing over White Hot Chocolate beverages.


A reader, whose business centers on chocolate, wrote TINA.org upset that a major fast-food chain –McDonald’s — is misleadingly labeling its warm winter beverage “white chocolate” when it doesn’t have the necessary ingredients to be called white chocolate.

 

The FDA is clearer about white chocolate than it is about pumpkin spice. The agency defines white chocolate as a product that has a minimum of 20 percent cocoa butter– also known as cocoa fat– which comes from the cocoa bean. So we investigated.


McDonald’s lists in its ingredients for White Hot Chocolate  something called “White Chocolate Flavored Syrup,” which is made with sugar, condensed nonfat milk, water, salt, potassium sorbate and xantham gum. No cocoa butter there, or anywhere else on the ingredients list. 


When we asked the FDA about this, spokeswoman Jennifer Corbett Dooren said that while the agency can’t discuss specific products, “if a beverage has an ingredient named white chocolate that ingredient should meet the standards of identity for white chocolate.”


We reached out to McDonald’s for comment  but have not heard back.


Not wanting to single McDonald’s out,  we also took a look at some other popular hot chocolate purveyors.


Starbucks


In its online description of its White Hot Chocolate, Starbucks says it is a “traditional hot chocolate beverage made with white chocolate and steamed milk with whipped cream.”

 

Further, it says when it calls something “white hot it means it’s hotter than hot. So when we say our White Hot Chocolate is creamy, we mean it’s creamier than creamy. We’ve added buttery white chocolate flavored sauce to make our traditional hot chocolate even richer.”


That’s a whole lot of hot. But it’s the “flavored” part that has us wondering if cocoa butter is the “buttery” the company is referring to in its description or it is something else. But we just don’t know because Starbucks doesn’t list exactly what’s in its flavored sauce.  And the company — at the center of the pumpkin spice controversy, didn’t respond to our requests for more details about its ingredients.


Dunkin’ Donuts


We found out even less about Dunkin’ Donuts’ White Hot Chocolate. The company said it is no longer offering the beverage and thus “we are unable to provide the ingredient list as we do not want to create confusion among customers.”


It seems the issue of whether something labeled white chocolate is a white hot mess — make that a costly white hot mess. This summer, Ghirardelli Chocolate Company agreed to pay out $5.25 million to customers to settle charges in a class-action lawsuit that it falsely advertised certain products as white chocolate when the products didn’t contain cocoa butter.


So before you go ahead and purchase a white hot cup of chocolate, you might want to inquire whether it actually contains the  key ingredient –the all important cocoa butter.


Courtesy: TruthInAdvertising.org

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