Indian SMEs, South Africa to work on expanding small business base

India will share its experience in developing the SME sector to help it promote economic growth and job creation in South Africa

Johannesburg: More than 70 small and medium scale businesses from India will interact with the local industry in Johannesburg to help South Africa evolve a strong SMEs base to boost growth and job creation, while showcasing their products at the SAITEX exhibition, reports PTI.

India's Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector contributes 45% to the country's manufacturing output and 40% of the total exports. It employs over 60 million people.

Indian High Commissioner Virendra Gupta said that India will share its experience in developing the SME sector in South Africa to help it promote economic growth and job creation at the annual South African International Trade Exhibition (SAITEX) next week.

Addressing the media, Gupta said India would be a partner country at SAITEX this year, with the biggest-ever participation to show the kind of collaboration that was possible between India and the countries of Southern Africa which would also be at the expo.

"India will be the most prominent and most visible participant at SAITEX this year," Gupta said, adding that there had been robust trade between India and South Africa despite the economic downturn in recent years.

The trade between the two countries is around $10 billion and it is expected to reach $15 billion by 2015.

"I believe the need of the hour in South Africa is SME development, and I believe this is an area where the engagement between India and South Africa can be expanded considerably," he added.

The participating SMEs will showcase how that sector has helped India to diversify and broadbase the country's growth.

SMEs make it possible for people own businesses and generate real and effective empowerment, Gupta said.

They are also most effective for job creation, which is a pressing challenge and priority in South Africa, he added.

"We in India are ready to share our experience, both in terms of what kind of industrial activity and also policy frameworks need to be developed and our participation in SAITEX should go to underscore what the companies in those sectors can do here."

The Indian delegation will have a composite 500 square metre exhibit at the three-day expo, instead of scattered stalls through the huge venues in the past.


The race for the White House: Reading the tea leaves

Opinion polls are only a snapshot at a particular time and election campaigns are dynamic and ever changing. As governor Romney ratchets up the attack on the failed Obama policies, the election dynamics could change

Reading opinion polls in July to decipher what is going to happen in November, is not much better than the medieval practice of reading tea leaves to decipher the future. This was a European practice in which tea was drunk from the cup leaving behind tea leaves, which an expert interpreted to tell you about the future.

Opinion polls are somewhat better, but only just. One realises this when one sees them going here, there and everywhere, but one is bound to take notice if three opinion polls say more or less the same thing. Recently the Wall Street Journal opinion poll, the Quinnipeg opinion poll and the London Economist's opinion poll all noticed that in some crucial swing states the electorate is moving in favour of president Obama. This is despite all the bleak news on the economy, the fact that Mitt Romney has sewn up the Republican nomination and the mis-steps of the Obama campaign. Overall in the new Wall Street Journal/NBC news survey president Obama had a three-point lead over governor Romney 47% to 44%. In the swing states (the ones identified by the survey as the battleground states) he had an eight-point advantage and that advantage has widened from a two-point advantage in April. Similarly the Quinnipeg University swing states poll has president Obama ahead of governor Romney 45%-41% in Florida, 47%-38% in Ohio and 45%-39% in Pennsylvania.

 “If he can keep these leads in all these key swing states through Election Day he would be virtually assured of the election,” Peter Brown of Quinnipeg said. Similarly the position of president Obama had strengthened among the Hispanic voters in June. Something is moving the electorate at this early date. The question is what that something is?

The New York Times electoral map shows 217 electoral votes solid or leaning Obama. This includes states like New York and California, Washington and Oregon. 206 electoral votes solid or leaning Romney. This includes states like Texas, Alabama and Georgia. It is the 115 electoral votes which are a tossup where the election will be decided. To win the Electoral College 270 votes are required.

The swing states in this election according to the New York Times are Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada and New Hampshire. In three of those states a noticeable shift is occurring in favour of president Obama. Four of the eleven swing states are in the Midwest and the Obama campaign has been heavily advertising about governor Romney and his background as the president of Bain Capital in these states. These advertisements portray governor Romney as a job destroyer rather than a job creator in this election year when jobs are the main issue. This is obviously biting and the view of governor Romney is being obviously coloured by this early advertising.

In a new USA Today Gallup poll of swing states an overwhelming majority of voters remember campaign advertisements over the past month and one in twelve say the commercials have changed their minds about president Obama or governor Romney. This is a small margin but one that could prove crucial in a close race says the USA Today. At this point president Obama has the advantage. Among swing states voters who say the advertisement have changed their minds about the candidates rather than just confirmed what they already thought, 76% support the president with 16% favouring governor Romney. It should be mentioned that in the USA Today opinion poll in swing states president Obama is ahead of governor Romney by a very slim margin.

Writing in the American Prospect, Jamelle Bouie says that the Obama campaign has reversed the substantial lead that the Romney campaign had in Florida with an attack of Romney’s connection with Bain Capital. This is biting among white voters of all ages among whom governor Romney has a substantial lead. Now president Obama is ahead in the polls by 4% points and has narrowed the gap among white voters .This is also against the general demographic trends in Florida which should support governor Romney.

There is a movement seen in favour of president Obama among the Hispanic voters. Hispanics said they preferred president Obama to Mitt Romney by a whopping 40% that is 66% to 26%. President Obama’s proactive stand on the Hispanic vote has clearly helped him. After his announcement of amnesty in favour of young Hispanics who are educated in America or have served in the military, this has obviously impressed and enthused the Hispanics and has led to some movement. Further as the Economist poll suggests the swing states have a lower unemployment rate than the national average and this is also could be a part of the reason that the president Obama is doing better in the swing states.

There could also be an acceptance or resignation with an 8% unemployment rate as the “new normal” which might also end up hurting president Obama less. Also the fact that the manufacturing jobs are coming back to America may be helping president Obama in the rust belt states. Hence it is a bundle of factors which is helping the president. But opinion polls are at best only a snap-shot at a particular time and election campaigns are dynamic and ever changing. As governor Romney ratchets up the attack on the failed Obama policies the election dynamics could change. Also as the Republican and the Romney campaign begins serious advertising the numbers could start to move in the other direction. However, it seems that at least in the early going president Obama has weathered the attack.

(Harsh Desai has done his BA in Political Science from St Xavier's College & Elphinstone College, Bombay and has done his Master's in Law from Columbia University in the city of New York. He is a practicing advocate at the Bombay High Court.)


Did the Chief Information Commissioner subvert RTI provisions to protect a CIC officer?

Do CIC officials consider themselves above the RTI Act? Strangely, a larger bench to over-rule the decision of one of the most respected information commissioners of the CIC is not required to deliberate on the penalty

When and why would the Chief Information Commissioner under the Right to Information Act (RTI) constitute a larger bench to over-rule a decision of an information commissioner? The fact is that he simply cannot do it. Decisions of the Central Information Commission (CIC), pronounced through its information commissioners are final and binding according to section 19(7) of RTI Act, 2005. The legislative intent is very clear, there will be an unhappy party for every decision, and if every decision is to be reviewed, the CIC would be bogged with review petitions. Yet, in a bizarre decision, this is precisely what the CIC has done in a recent case and it can only be construed as illegal.

Lets us look at the issue. My father, Kishanlal Mittal, an RTI activist in his own right, requested the following information from Central Information Commission on 15 March 2011:
(a)    Copies of all petitions/affidavits pertaining to the decisions of your Information Commission on RTI appeal/complaints or any other RTI related matter filed in any high court/Supreme Court.
(b)    Copies of all replies, affidavits, documents and records submitted by your Information Commission to the high court/Supreme Court in connection with any of the above cases.
(c)    Copies, with file noting, if the CIC has decided not to contest any case(s) filed by a public authority.
(d)     The basis of selection of legal professionals to represent CIC in above cases, list of legal professionals selected, and remuneration including contingencies paid to them.
(e)     The information may be provided on a DVD considering the policy of CIC to digitize all documents.

The CPIO (Chief Public Information Officer) on 28 March 2011 replied saying the information cannot be provided by the CIC. An appeal was filed with First Appellate Authority of CIC, who upheld the decision of CPIO... The Adjudicating Authority (AA), in her order of 9 May 2011, claimed to have heard the joint secretary, law of CIC, to whom no notice of hearing was issued and consequently was not present during the hearing—thus making farce of the hearing proceedings. The arguments advanced post-facto were designed only for denial of information. It is also amply evident that the AA has proffered the arguments of the “legal cell” which is the contesting party in this case-and did not apply her mind independently.

Mr Mittal filed a second appeal with CIC dated 15 May 2011 praying for the order of the appellate authority be quashed and information be provided without any further delay.
The case came up for hearing before Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi on 12 March 2012. He did not agree with the order of appellate authority and observed that information can be denied only U/S 8 or 9 of the RTI Act, 2005. He also lamented that the neither the CPIO nor the appellate authority made any effort to provide the information. Not only did Mr Gandhi order the information to be provided by 15 April 2012; but also issued a show-cause notice on the CPIO asking her to explain why action should not be taken against her for not providing the information in time mandated U/S 20(1) of RTI Act, 2005.

On the appointed day of the show-cause hearing on 15 April  2012 the then CPIO informed Mr  Gandhi that Akashdeep Chakravorty, joint secretary, law of CIC is the person responsible for providing information and he had not provided any information till date to the appellant. Mr Gandhi then issue a show-cause notice to Mr Chakravorty to appear before him on 14 May 2012 with information and explanation for not obeying the order of the Commission. Needless to say Mr Akashdeep never appeared before the Mr Gandhi.

Fearing penalty and disciplinary action, Mr Chakravorty circulated a note to the secretary, Central Information Commission to constitute a larger bench. Secretary, CIC, on 26 April 2012 recommended to Satyanand Mishra to constitute a larger bench and immediately on 27th April, Mr Mishra accepted the recommendation and directed a larger bench to be constituted consisting of Mr Mishra, Ms Annapurna Dixit and Shailesh Gandhi. The case files were recalled from the registry of Mr Gandhi. Needless to say that that the hearing of the larger bench were never held till the time Mr Gandhi retired last week.

Large benches are constituted in the CIC to deliberate on important points of law. Here the decision on the case was already taken and only point remained was to penalise Mr Chakravorty. Mr Mishra is making an ingenious attempt to reinvent the law by attempting to reverse an order passed by a brother information commissioner. It is not only unethical but also bad in law directly contravening provisio 19(7) of RTI Act, 2005. A three-member bench is certainly not required to deliberate on the penalty. This makes amply evident the sinister attempt to prevent Mr Chakravorty from being penalised. It must also be remembered that in the past, Mr Gandhi had ordered an inquiry to be conducted against Mr Chakravorty.

How does an ordinary citizen deal with such blatant illegality perpetrated by none other than the CIC? Can the RTI Act be perverted only to rescue the CICI’s own officer from being penalised? Do CIC officials consider themselves above the Act? Strangely, a larger bench to over-rule the decision of one of the most respected information commissioners of the CIC is not required to deliberate on the penalty.

(Girish Mittal is a Mumbai-based RTI activist.)



P M Ravindran

5 years ago

Nothing new here. The RTI Act has been effectively subverted by the information commissioners and the judges. Please refer my blog RTI Act-Shailesh Gandhi and Schopenhauer's Law of Entropy at and Six years of the Right to Information act at

Sudhansu Mohanty

5 years ago

Shameful and disgraceful! A case of fence eating the crop! Every one knows that the CIC organizations in the Centre and the States have become a happy place for post-retirement sinecure for bureaucrats. Look at the lobbying to get on to this bandwagon. It's a wonderful place for continuing (pray, who wants to retire?) with the perks one is used to all life and how did it matter if certain things are pushed under the carpet? Not long ago one had seen the news emanating through an RTI application how one of these august denizens working as Secretary, DOPT was pushing his own case for appointment as an Information Commissioner - and happily succeeding in his mission!Can you expect any objectivity, fairness, and transparency from these 'unique' people specializing in this brand of toadyism? Get real, my dear!


P M Ravindran

In Reply to Sudhansu Mohanty 5 years ago

The job of an IC is like a mole compared to the mountain of a job of a munsif. Reduce the status, pay and perks of an IC (including the CIC)to that of a munsif and see how these IAS/IPS cronies disappear and leave the field open to right thinking citizens!

Dr V S Prasana Rajan

5 years ago

A legal notice is served on The Secretary , Department of Personnel & Training, based on the information so provided by Money Life, and the time limit for the reply of the notice is set to be 2 months. If reply is not provided, criminal proceedings u/s156(3) & 200 CrPC 1973 will be initiated.

Shahid Khan

5 years ago

The problem is in the process of selection and appointment of Information Commissioners, which is completely opaque and smacks of cronyism.
How is it that the CIC and State Commissions are full of retired IAS/IRS officers?
Not more than 50% of the Information commissioners should be retired bureaucrats. Rest should come from the world of judiciary, academics, management, public service activists.
The CIC should always be a retired High Court Judge or jurist qualified to become a High Court judge.


MK Gupta

In Reply to Shahid Khan 5 years ago

To the best of public memory and knowledge, none other than from the (mainly) IAS, IFS, CSS and IPS has ever even been considered and no IRS certainly has been made member anywhere. One must be pliable and "reasonable" to be considered!

Rajkumar Singh

5 years ago

I would suggest that this lacunae in the system must reach and known to the whole country and it is possible only if a signature campaign is started to mobilise the support of the people from all our the country to get their opinion.

Once, this is done, your 100% problems is solved, because the momentum will shake those in power and they will find it hard to save their face, and surrender before the demand!

If you chose this tool, please do not forget to make me the first signatory to the said petition without any legal recourse but using our basic fundamental right to register our dislikes!

MK Gupta

5 years ago

No doubt about it. After all, what is the source of the persons adorning these "regulatory" bodies? They are selected by the people (political and bureaucratic) in power only, and whatever party or coalition is in power--be it BJP, CPM, TMC, BSP, SP, DMK, AIDMK, TDP..., etc.,--the situation remains the same. There is no transparency in selection of the members and the officers (either on deputation or by lateral entry, fom IAS/IPS/CSS only) and the only criterion is the degree of the person's clout with the top echelon and, of course, "service"rendered by them during their "illustrious" careers and record of "irreproachable integrity"as certified by the selectors!



In Reply to MK Gupta 5 years ago

What NK Gupta has written in the comments is entirely true. First, just to contain the public outcry and also to accommodate pliable people, as in respect of all such sojourns for retired people who have been "faithful", the RTI Act was enacted indeed for public consumption and as a tool to face the opponents. The fact that RTI ACT is of no use to the common man is clear from the facts that, first, it is mired in legal jargons and debates, thus opening yet another avenue for successful practitioners to keep their hold on the system and, second, in many states, the govt. is not bothered to make the authority functional with scant regard for the stated objectives of the legislation inter alia by thwarting all attempts of the aggrieved and public spirited people finding the truth behind the murky happenings in the administration, thanks to the "reliable"bureaucrats. It is strange why the RTI platform should necessarily necessarily have been made a very fertile grazing ground for the legal profession and ordinary commoners barred from presenting their cases in simple terms while the accused permitted the protection of the govt. In an erstwhile Marxist-ruled state now under a people's rule, the bureaucracy and its political bosses are hardly even bothered about the RTI, as most of the govt. machinery, including the municipal bodies are. In fact, the Act remains a tool for the bureaucracy for finding post-retirement greener pastures.

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