Chief information commissioner says nothing to hide, just implementing the decision that was taken some days ago
New Delhi: Leading by example, the head of the Central Information Commission (CIC), Satyananda Mishra, and five information commissioners today made their assets public. The information commissioners reached a consensus to declare their assets voluntarily on the CIC website at a meeting last month, where they also agreed to update the information on an annual basis.
"We took a decision in the last week of March to voluntarily declare our assets on the website. We thought when there is nothing to hide, why not place them in public domain," Mr Mishra, the chief information commissioner, told PTI.
The declaration which came after initial reluctance by the CIC, shows that only two information commissioners, ML Sharma and Shailesh Gandhi, own a car. Mr Sharma said he owns a Maruti 800 which he bought in 1993 for Rs2 lakh. He has also declared other assets which include agricultural land and a house in Jaipur that he built in 1989-90 with a loan from HDFC.
Information commissioner Annapurna Dixit declared two houses that she owns in Delhi and Nainital that have a combined value of about Rs50 lakh. Information commissioner Sushma Singh has one house in Ranchi that she purchased in 2004 and another in Indirapuram, Ghaziabad, that was purchased in 2008.
Mr Mishra has given exhaustive details of property owned by him that includes ancestral property in his native place in Orissa, a house in Bhubaneswar and one in Bhopal which he owns together with his wife. He has also given details about the property owned by his wife, who is a professor at a post-graduate college in Bhopal. "I had used the same format which I used to give when I was working as a civil servant," Mr Mishra said.
Information commissioner Deepak Sandhu gave details of five properties, which include agriculture land worth Rs 1,000, two plots in Kilokari in Delhi valued at Rs40,000, a house in Barog, in Himachal Pradesh, worth Rs50 lakh and one in Chandigarh worth Rs5 crore. Some of this is jointly owned with her husband and some of it she inherited from her mother.
Information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi also declared property details of his family. The former entrepreneur has listed a house worth Rs80,000, a car worth Rs5 lakh, jewellery (self-estimated value) of Rs31 lakh, bank deposits and such instruments of about Rs71 lakh and cash of about Rs11 lakh. His income from salary and interest is about Rs31 lakh, while expenses were about Rs16 lakh during the year.
The step taken by the Commission is a complete turnaround from its position during the tenure of chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, whose five-year term ended in September last year, when some information commissioners were against posting the details of their assets on the website.
Mr Habibullah had said that although the commissioners were ready to declare their assets, they were against the idea of putting the information in the public domain, on the website of the CIC.
Mr Gandhi was opposed to that view and he went ahead and declared his property details on his website. Mr Habibullah then directed the officials to understand the practice followed by other commissions. But no concrete step was taken.
JGI Ventures is launching a program to incubate young student entrepreneurs with a fund base of Rs500 crore
JGI Ventures, a venture fund promoted by Dr R Chenraj Jain, is launching a program to incubate young student entrepreneurs with a fund base of Rs500 crore. The venture fund is linked to the IDEA (Incubating & Developing Entrepreneurial Ability) program launched by JGI Ventures.
JGI iDEA is post graduate program in entrepreneurial ability with guaranteed investment & incubation of student's business idea. The program is spread in 3 phases of 10 months, 08 months & 12 months. In the first phase, the student will be trained on the "how and why" of business ventures in a residential campus in Bangalore. In Phase 2, the program will facilitate exposure and study of developing and developed international markets like China, Hong Kong, Germany, Philippines, and England in addition to absorbing the Indian market conditions. An international business exposure to the student entrepreneur is mandated, as early global outlook has long-term multiplier business gains and the actual business plan will be developed in this phase.
In the last phase, JGI Ventures will incubate the student entrepreneur venture, and through the next 12 months, highly experienced and accomplished professionals will continuously provide infrastructure support, expert advisory services, mentoring and coaching on all key entrepreneurial aspects. The entire gamut of strategy, marketing, HR, finance, legal understanding will be dealt with during the incubation period. Importantly, JGI Ventures will provide active assistance in terms of networking, funding, customer and acquisition. Existing family run enterprises will also benefit in terms of growth funding options being made available in addition to the above.
JGI Ventures has already incubated 46 start-ups with a combined turnover of around Rs147 crore and has plans to incubate 350 businesses by 2015 with a combined turnover of Rs3,500 crore.
The bashing of the bank’s management continues unabated in its in-house publication. A full-blown war has broken out within one of the leading Indian nationalised banks. The latest issue of the officer’s organisation’s journal is all out against Corporation Bank’s expansion plan
On 10th February, Moneylife had reported (Corporation Bank top management under fire from employees) on how the bank's officers had blamed the top brass for formulating faulty policies that had not only "inconvenienced" the staff, but had also led to the erosion of the customer base in several areas. This no-holds barred salvo was carried in Officers' Voice, a monthly journal of the (registered) officers' organisation of Corporation Bank.
Now it's obvious that this earlier outburst against the bank's top management has now blown into a full-scale war.
Corporation Bank aims to expand its branch network to 2,000 by March 2015, from the existing strength of 1,361 branches in March 2011(1,069 branches as of March 2009).
However, Officers' Voice alleges that "In this frenzy to have growth and expansion in branch network, the bank is unable to provide the basic issue of functionality in each new branch on the launch date."
The front page editorial in the April 2011 issue of Officers' Voice (Moneylife has a copy of the same) says that "nearly 70% of new branches are opened through 'soft opening'."
According to the journal, this kind of a "soft opening" is merely "a new word coined to open the branches without the premises and staff. The branches proposed to be opened will be given a branch code in the CBS (core banking solution) system to meet the branch expansion target. Thereafter, the search for premises and furnishing will begin, and by the time the branch starts functioning, to give service to the public, it will take another 2-4 months."
The editorial continues, "It is observed that out of the 152 branches opened since December 2010, 105 are not logging into the CBS to record transactions-clearly the branches are not functioning. The Branch Manager posted to a proposed new branch is in a quandary as he is advised to canvass for business. But there are no premises which he (the manager) can show to the customer if asked about the location of the branch. This issue came up for discussion in the Executive Committee meeting of the Officers' Organisation held in January 2011."
Officers' Voice says, "It was decided to conduct a study regarding the 'soft opening' of branches during the current year. The results of the study reveal that the bank had soft-opened about 50 branches at the end of December 2010. Out of this, about 30 were yet to open in reality as the fixing of premises and furnishing were yet to be completed. The Bank had soft-opened 102 branches by 12 March 2011. About 80 of them were yet to start functioning. There were two branches which had been soft-opened in March 2010 and the real opening was in only March 2011-a full year after the soft launch.
"Even though managers have been posted to the new branches, the complement of officers, clerks and sub-staff is not available. Vacancies that arise on account of business growth, retirement, promotion, resignations etc. are not taken into account. The net addition to the staff strength during the period from March 2009 to March 2011 is 1,369 whereas 307 branches have been opened during the same period. These new branches would require 1,535 staff as per the minimum staff complement agreed to be provided by the Bank management.
"Manpower planning is not in sync with the branch expansion and business plan. In new branches, it is often noticed that the Branch Manager and the officer are at the counter, which not only affects the business growth, but also the image of the bank.
The journal also says: "The existing branches also struggle under the manpower shortage as the staff is diverted from the existing branches to meet the needs of the branch expansion programme. With the large scale recruitment of experienced staff during the next 3-4 years, there is an urgent need to relook at the manpower planning."
In fact, a few months back, a Corporation Bank officer on inspection duty was assigned to inspect a new branch. As he could not locate the branch he contacted the Head Office. It was found that the branch was 'soft-opened' and yet to start functioning, says the journal.
Corporation Bank has set itself a goal of reaching Rs5 lakh crore business and plans to set up a network of 2,000 branches by March 2015, under what it calls its "five-year plan". In addition to these branches, according to the bank, 12 additional zonal offices will be set up during 2011-12.
Corporation Bank has recorded Rs1,67,000 crore in business. It has around 3,500 service outlets across the nation, served by 13,000-odd bankers. The bank provides Cash Management Services, Gold Banking and m-Commerce. It also grants online approvals for educational loans and it has implemented 100% CBS in all its major branches. It has also been trying to tap into the unbanked rural sector by targeting remote villages through low-cost branchless banking via the business correspondent model.
But despite all these ambitious plans, how will the bank manage to achieve these targets when there is an open revolt brewing among its top executives? It remains to be seen what action the board of Corporation Bank will take to resolve this tussle.
Here are a few caricatures that the bank's officers' journal has carried in its latest edition: