Citizens' Issues
How meaningful change can come about

We should demand that all government orders with financial implications be made available on the web, complete with record of proceedings with a time limit of seven days allowed to any citizen to appeal. A wrong order can be challenged in court with all the evidence available in public domain. This simple change in Government Business Rules can make a huge impact


Currently, the primary purpose of the government is to (mis) manage trillion-rupee budget for selective advantage of a few. This has become possible by using the executive privilege of secretly (mis) interpreting the law. The government issues orders ostensibly in public interest, but it is not always so. This special privilege to keep files secret and issue orders has attracted the corrupt to the government power.

 

The primary interest of the government is the business of money management. Maintaining law and order, or promoting sports, safety on roads or railways, technology development, exploitation of women by criminal elements, all become distractions to the government’s main thrust of handling trillion rupee cash flows. Only opportunities where cash flows can be used for private benefits get the highest priority.

 

This process is driven by corporations, media management and heavy funding of elections. Criminal elements necessarily find a place in such a set-up. Politics is designed to divide the electorate along caste and creed and with various kinds of appeasement. The purpose is not public interest. The power has to be gained at any cost to control the mammoth cash flow.

 

This has become possible by those innocent-looking file covers—all sworn to secrecy, like in a mafia organisation, in the name of the nation's security and protection of constitution, but abused to subvert public interest. The files remain secret. Orders issued with confidence merrily misinterpreting public policy and rules made under law. Many of those who start by being honest end up as villains of circumstances. Also even when the government does the correct thing, it is viewed with suspicion because the processes are kept secret.

 

In this Right to Information (RTI) is just another sop, to offer sanitised crumbs of information to the barking dogs. Another group of stakeholders are created, who think they are heroes fighting for public cause, but actually playing into the hands of another set up of additional bureaucracy, creating a maze of rules and regulations, as to how to get information. They get lost in appeals and court cases. The government continues in its main activity, having successfully diverted the so-called activists. Further, they are asked by the government to wait for computerisation of processes before the promised transparency in working can be achieved. No time frame for that. The government is not really interested to do that. They will say huge infrastructure is needed and training of personnel, etc.

 

One major symptom of this malaise is the profile of Parliament. Many are charge-sheeted leaders. Rapes and murder charges are quite common. Elections are such that no honest man can hope to win. That is because the corrupt bring in huge sums of funds and liquor, along with bought off opinion makers, local strongmen and convert the state organs of police or civic bodies into villains of circumstance.

 

The stakes are so high in the business of running the government involving trillion rupee returns, that human greed takes over and all values are thrown overboard. We get a show of democracy where many good persons are made useful idiots, through smart perception management techniques.

 

We see horrendous events occurring in society but media and intellectuals very cleverly fill the spaces of newspapers and TV time with serious sounding verbose debates, carefully avoiding the root cause of why the government has become what it has become—a honey pot for the corrupt who hardly care for public service.

 

So we find over 60 years of this model of governance, dying cities, a creaking railway, failing airways, dismal sports, increased misery of poor, mind-boggling rise of the wealthy, rich boys mowing down poor on roads in expensive cars, poor public healthcare but high-end corporate healthcare for the wealthy, no protection for common women but special protection for the rich and powerful.

 

The police, law and order machinery, all get tuned to serve the purpose of the government’s main thrust of protected mismanagement of public funds and assets. Public service is secondary. Rapes are common along with murders. Judicial processes are allowed to become dysfunctional by overloading the system with more and more crimes. In more than 70% to 90% of the cases it is the government which keeps on appealing to next court and also causes adjournments, delaying investigations.

 

Public service is not the main thrust of a public servant. Innocent youngsters take out candle-light matches, show placards, the media dutifully cover this and mouth the appropriate words. Poems written and encouraging words like we join and fight together, etc, and statements like zero tolerance to crime, offered soberly to just tide over the moment. Soon all is forgotten. The same thing repeats all over again. But every time people protest with same gusto as if it is the first time. This criminally dysfunctional state is protected by innocent youth working as jawans at borders putting at stake their lives.

 

Any outburst of the anguished crowds on street are managed with tear gas, water canons, detentions, promise of inquiry, crocodile tears of sympathy, a commission of inquiry…

 

The highest sop the government offers after lot of struggle is another stronger law, poorly drafted, to add insult to injury. That is a harmless concession for them. After all it is the government which has to investigate, file a charge-sheet, pursue in court of law, with multiple opportunities to kill the effect law by sheer procedure and time. This is our democratic republic. In the history of our nation over 60 years, not one political leader’s daughter got raped and killed. While security is promised to citizens, in practice it is all provided to the VIPs.

 

India's intellectual capital also suffers in such a regime. Invariably any budding technology of Indian origin, which can threaten very expensive foreign and imported technology, gets crushed by the government under its iron boots of bureaucracy using committees to discredit and condemn. In this the government is joined and prodded by the considerable financial muscle of foreign technology giants who naturally would like to protect their business.

 

The result is obvious. India keeps on importing technologies which are not denied by foreign countries, but where denied, like space and earlier nuclear energies, Indian engineers have proved their mettle. It shows nothing is wrong with Indian intellect, but it is a matter of how to maximize cash flow benefits for the favoured. So imports are done at huge mark-ups. The file covers hide the facts, as to how facts were misrepresented and how committees of prejudiced persons and useful idiots brought in, to serve the rulers’ main thrust of making money.

 

Like wealth, security to family, good education, good food, best of things in the world remain promises for all citizens, but really provided only to those who are in charge of coffers of the government and their friends in business of managing the show.

 

Another symptom of corrupt ruling is forming committees to take every decision, to avoid accountability. All being of the same feather, the issue is pre-decided. Here again proceedings are kept secret so that enough time barriers are erected for discovery of misdeeds. So, do we still want to help only the corrupt to rule us? How long we collectively want to act innocent victims of the system? Or some of us try and jump over the dividing barrier to be on the side of winners? Yes, this does happen. We are humans.

 

A time comes in the life of every nation and humanity in general, when this process of sucking the blood of many by a few reaches intolerable limit. The Delhi case is one such moment. If you allow this moment to pass, this generation too will fail the nation as the earlier ones. We must now seriously try and expose the well-hidden and protected secrets of evil power in the government. The link between the government abusing and molesting public interest in the secrecy of file covers and our daughters, wives & mothers losing the right to fearlessly move out of home must be understood.

 

What we need to do not to get another law but modify the government business rule.  A lot can be achieved overnight.

 

We should demand that all government orders with financial implications be made available on the web, complete with record of proceedings with a time limit of seven days allowed to any citizen to appeal, point out mistakes sand request the government to correct it. In case the government finds it justified, it has the opportunity to revise the order and finally issue the order, without anyone being held responsible for the mistake. But if the government sticks to the original order, despite being challenged, then court’s review can be sought by the citizen. If the government is found wrong, then the accountability for wrongdoing wantonly gets fixed on the government functionary with adverse consequences, while the order also gets set aside. This process becomes fast because all proceedings are readily available to all concerned. There is no time delay for collecting information. Then the executive and judge will be on the same footing interpreting the law/public policy and passing orders openly and not in secrecy.

 

If this is done, it becomes difficult, almost impossible, to rape the fairness and justice because the politicians will be denied the shroud of secrecy granted by file covers as now. So their interest to acquire power evaporates. By nature they are not for public service, which is the only thing the government power will allow under this modified Government Business Rules. So they will leave. They will not invest anymore in elections to get into power by hook or crook. It will help to build a new India.

 

It will need just one cabinet meet to adopt this and the cabinet secretary will have to notify it under the Government Business Rules for working of ministries. The states will follow. How do we get it done is the challenge. First we have to be aware. Let people know where the evil is hiding. Instead of fighting too many shadows and wasting energy, we can concentrate on this issue. Public knowledge will expose the media games and lay bare the tricky perception mangers’ schemes. Constitutionally, a public official cannot enjoy privilege of secret interpretation of the law, a privilege even Supreme Court does not enjoy. That gives an opening for judicial intervention. We are not helpless. We can do this. We need not suffer anymore.

 

(Rajaram Bojji or B Rajaram as he is popularly known is former managing director of the Konkan Railway and also inventor of ACD Technology.)

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COMMENTS

LALATENDU SWAIN

4 years ago

There is a lot of negativity running right through the article.
It is impractical to expect that the suggested process will reveal what RTI has allegedly failed to uncover! On the contrary, your suggestion will end up clogging the system so badly that whatever little good is currently being achieved, will have to be abandoned in the pursuit of "Transparency."

Vaibhav Dhoka

4 years ago

To maintain SANITY in society our country needs to overhaul justice delivery system.

HC asks IRDA to specify roles of TPA in settlement guidelines

Directing the IRDA to go ahead with the process of finalising the regulations, the HC asked the authority to specify the role of TPAs and state whether more powers could be given to the Ombudsman while hearing consumer complaints

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has said the Insurance Regulation and Development Authority (IRDA) can go ahead with the process of finalising regulations for settling insurance claims and for the role of third party administrators (TPAs) and powers of Ombudsmen, reports PTI.

 

The division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice AV Mohta was hearing a public interest litigation filed by social worker Gaurang Damani about the hardships faced by Mediclaim policy holders.

 

IRDA told the court that it had submitted draft regulations which would be placed before the Ministry of Finance for final approval.

 

Directing the IRDA to go ahead with the process of finalising the regulations, the HC asked the authority to specify the role of TPAs and state whether more powers could be given to the Ombudsman while hearing consumer complaints.

 

"The ombudsman as of now only has power to decide the approval or rejection of a claim but he has not been empowered to impose penalty or increase the claim amount," the Chief Justice said.

 

The next hearing would be on 12th February.

 

Damani has alleged there are no standard guidelines to settle claims and it is left to the whims and fancies of the TPAs who are in fact not entitled to settle claims but are found to be doing so in several cases.

 

"TPA receives financial incentives to reduce claim ratio," Damani's petition says, adding there is discrimination in settling insurance claims of individuals and that of corporate clients.

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Open offer for United Spirits postponed; awaits final SEBI nod

The proposed open offer for an additional 26% stake in United Spirits entails Diageo to purchase about 3.8 crore shares at Rs1,440 per share

Mumbai: The open offer for buying 26% in Vijay Mallya-led United Spirits, which was to start on Monday, has been postponed, pending final approval from market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), reports PTI.

 

JM Financial, the manager for the open offer, has said that since the "final observations from SEBI" are awaited, the schedule has been revised.

 

"... The revised schedule of activities will be intimated in due course," according to a filing made by United Spirits to the BSE.

 

Global liquor major Diageo Plc is to acquire 26% shareholding in United Spirits through the open offer worth Rs5,441 crore, as part of a deal to buy up to 53.4% stake in the company.

 

As per the detailed public statement (DPS) issued in November last year, the open offer was to start on 7th January.

 

Shares of United Spirits declined 1.12% to close at Rs1,915.25 on the BSE.

 

As per the transaction, announced on 9th November, Diageo is acquiring a 27.4% stake in USL, through a combination of purchase of shares from existing promoters and a preferential allotment of share, for Rs5,725.4 crore.

 

Any acquisition of 25% or more stake in a listed company triggers a mandatory open offer for purchase of additional 26% stake from the public shareholders and the same needs to be cleared by the market regulator.

 

The proposed open offer for an additional 26% stake in United Spirits entails purchase of about 3.8 crore shares at a price of Rs1,440 per share, totalling to Rs5,441 crore.

 

United Spirits, the country's largest spirits company, is part of Vijay Mallya-led UB Group, whose aviation venture Kingfisher Airlines has been going through turbulent times for many months now.

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