The Force is with us, the people of India. Our overpowering hunger for an end to corruption is our greatest strength and, supported by the Force, we can only win in the end
It would be worth everybody’s while to revisit the first three movies of the ‘Star Wars’ series made in the late seventies and early eighties—Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi.
The Force (the Life Force that pervades the Universe) is with us, as ObiwanKenobie and Luke Skywalker and other heroes in the films keep repeating to their followers. The Force is with us, the people of India. Our overpowering hunger for an end to corruption is our greatest strength and, supported by the Force, we can only win in the end.
And the politicians have made the hazy battle lines clear. They have lined themselves with and identified themselves as the people on the Dark Side of the Force, which supports and buoys up the villains in the Star Wars series.
Our friend Ricken Patel, founder of Avaaz, the worldwide organization, sent me an email today, an email which also went to hundreds of thousands of activists all over the world. Mr Patel said in the email:
“Something big is happening. From Tahrir Square to Wall Street, from staggeringly brave Avaaz citizen journalists in Syria to millions of citizens winning campaign after campaign online, democracy is stirring. Not the media circus, corrupt, vote-every-five-years democracy of the past. Something much, much deeper. Deep within ourselves, we are realizing our own power to build the world we all dream of.”
“We don’t have a lot of time to do it. Our planet is threatened by multiple crises—a climate crisis, food crisis, financial crisis, proliferation crisis... These crises could split us apart like never before, or bring us together like never before. It’s the challenge of our time, and the outcome will determine whether our children face a darker world or one thriving in greater human harmony.”
Ricken Patel did not mention the endemic, epidemic corruption that has crept into the body of India like the viruses that weaken, maim and even kill people. Corruption is our prime concern, though the other crises that Ricken mentions are equally important.
So, people of India, let us prepare ourselves for a long battle against corruption. The Mahabharata war ended in 18 days; our war might last 18 decades and our children’s children and their grandchildren will be fighting it long after we are gone. But the Force is with us. The people of India will win.
I must admit I was one of those cynics who thought nothing much would come of the Congress promise to introduce a strong Lokpal Bill, giving life the “sense of the house” which emerged when Parliament discussed the Lokpal idea.
But even I am appalled at the transparent plots and conspiracies that torpedoed the already weakened Lokpal Bill.
I now throw a gauntlet to all political parties. The ruling coalition ducked voting in the RajyaSabha since the Lokpal Bill had been scuttled by poor floor management and the stabs in the back by coalition partners and the opposition.
Though I am not sure what the technical position is, this amounts to a moral defeat of the government. If he is an honest man, and he is touted all over as being one, prime minister Manmohan Singh has no choice but to submit the resignation of his government to the president and call for a mid-term general election, with the main issue being corruption.
The politicians will be against a mid-term election on the excuse that there isn’t enough money to fund an election within three years of the previous election.
If money were the only hurdle to a mid-term election, there is no problem: Let them bring out all the black money earned through bribes and kickbacks, the money stashed away in foreign bank accounts and use it for the elections.
At least, part of the money squeezed out of an unwilling people will go back to some of the people.
The Sahara group company has again published similar ad which earlier came under the scanner of the RBI
Sahara India Financial Corp Ltd (SIFCL) has issued an advertisement in newspapers, on Saturday, extending the premature payment to its depositors’ to 31 March 2012. However, the Sahara group company has not given any reason for it. The latest ad is identical to earlier one issued by the company in August and also does not have logo of the company or signature of any official.
The August ad issued by stated that it would repay its total liabilities of Rs73,000 crore by December 2011, four years ahead of the deadline. However, this ad came under the scanner of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The apex bank was examining the company's claim about repaying its total liabilities and was looking into the trail of the deposits as well as the authenticity of the print advertisement.
In its recent announcement the ad says, “In continuation to our pre-payment notice published in various newspapers during the month of August 2011, as regards to pre-mature payment of entire deposits of liabilities by December 2011, this is to inform that the Board, on the request of all concerned people including our Honourable Depositors, has extended the date for making the pre-mature payment of the entire deposit liability from 31 December 2011 to 31 March 2012. Subsequent to this pre-payment, the company will have no liability of single paisa.”
Expert pointed out that the claim of making pre-mature payment of deposits of Rs73,000 crore four years ahead of the due date, conveys a false and misleading impression about the financial strength of the company.
The advertisement has once again set off a discussion on whether the RBI should formulate rules about disclosures in advertisements issued by regulated entities. For instance, this particular Sahara advertisement does not have the logo of the company and the signatory has been identified only by the designation.
Moneylife had reliably learnt that the company's total liability is around Rs5,000 crore. But even this may not be a cash repayment, and may well be a transfer of deposits to another entity.
In 2008, the RBI had directed SIFCL, which is a residual non-banking finance company, not to accept any deposits and to repay the depositors on maturity, after it found that the company was not complying with the rules and regulations that are laid down for this activity.
The company, however, challenged the directive of the RBI and the matter went up to the Supreme Court, which asked the apex bank to provide SIFCL a personal hearing and make a fresh order.
Subsequently, the RBI issued a fresh directive to SIFCL, asking the company to bring down its aggregate liability to depositors to zero by 30 June 2015 and repay its depositors on maturity.
The company could not be reached as the phone number of its corporate communication department, given on its website, is invalid. Even our e-mail message sent by them seeking reason for extending the payment date, bounced back.
In June this year, market regulator SEBI also restrained two other Sahara group units, Sahara Commodity Services Corp (earlier known as Sahara India Real Estate Corporation) and Sahara Housing Investment Corp, from accessing the securities market to raise funds till payments are made to the satisfaction of the market regulator.
Jeffrey Sachs captures the angst of a country in trouble but has no effective solution