The inside story of the British PM’s visit to India
Ardent readers have complained to me that I am writing too many serious articles for Moneylife, and that now and then there should be some relief, preferably before the weekend. Please understand, I try to find humour in everything, but lately things have been anything but funny across multiple fronts. However, as I advised a similarly woebegone lady friend in Kolkata, I plan to push the chest up and the stomach in, so here goes.
From Delhi, the big news is that the very young and dashing British prime minister visited Bengaluru and Delhi, essentially to pick up a cheque for a few dozen jet trainers, and make the right kind of noises. Place some highly quotable mentions about Pakistan, have lunch with the gin and lime set, and while he flew in on a commercial BA jetliner (a point noted by all), the rest of the gang including almost everybody from every PR company in the world flew in on private jets and blocked off all the best rooms in all the hotels in town. Even AC II-Tier berths on some trains were sold out solid, on the off-chance that the British PM may travel by train, as somebody else had done before.
But first, a short history lesson on the importance of this visit.
It is likely that David Cameron does not remind anybody else but me of Robert Clive, who was less than 50 years old when he completed his takeover of India. When he was young, he set up a protection racket and vandalised merchants who did not pay up. He then trained as a book-keeper, and sailed up the Hooghly into a highly fractured India ruled by a lot of old people, on the eastern and southern side, that was mainly the Nizam and the two Nawabs (Bengal and Avadh). He then sold arms to everybody while raising troops of his own with the money. Whenever Clive was in trouble with anybody, the Mughals would come and bail him out, and meanwhile in the rest of the world and the Coromandel Coast as well as the Malabar Coast and all the way up the Konkan till Aden, the Brits made peace with Europe (France & Company).
Then subsequently Clive moved to the west coast of India, where he took on Kanhoji Angre with the help of some other Marathas. After that he went back to Kolkata with some more Marathas and took the Mughals on. That’s because the Mughals were getting sharp and wanted to invest in the arms trade too. By now everybody in India realised that this was fun, and so they too wanted to do business with the British, so the bankers and the rest of them from the Caliphate of Londonistan took over and started rewarding the local kings and queens and their baby and baba log by rationing out gun salutes and admitting some of them to boarding schools where they learnt how to wear funny hats and were made to feel that the London Fog had been invented for them as a special favour.
After some time, the Americans who wanted to divert the attention of their own coloured people and women, wanted a share too, so they invented democracy for natives. Then Gandhiji came via South Africa and Jinnah came from Gujarat and Netaji Subhash Bose was given the heave-ho and now Cameron seems to have started the whole cycle again.
I learnt this version of Indian history at a very rundown and small bar off the now burnt-out Cutty Sark, where I was also told by somebody who claimed he was an Admiral and had the keys to the secret underground tunnel below the Thames from Greenwich to East India Quays which is where India was really ruled from, and that the Ashoka Lion was a sibling of the British Lion, and that India was lucky it did not get stuck in the other great British Trade Phenomenon — moving slaves known as blackbirds from Africa to America in exchange for gold. This was a good trade, it consisted of everybody calling everybody else a pirate, and then knocking off a few million of the native Americans too. I argued with him saying this was sad, we would have had more Indian origin people in America in that case, no? He then told me about the Last of the Mohicans, so I felt relieved, and went back in a taxi driven by a man who had four wives.
Other interesting aspects of Cameron’s visit to India not covered by the mainstream media, but discussed over rum and tonic water, at a secret location where parking is free:
Lunch at the official reception was pineapple juice, chicken/daal/sabzi, rice and roti, kulfi. Tea/coffee. That’s it.
The head of Barclays Bank was not entertaining complaints from Indian customers of the retail and credit card divisions, since now Barclays is like a government bank.
They will not return the Kohinoor because they don’t feel like it, and also Chagos Island/Diego Garcia, the Amravati railings. Most of what is lying in the British Museum is their birthright.
Terrorism from Pakistani soil was unacceptable, but he did not really condemn terrorism from British soil, because that is their birthright, too. (See above).
BBC continues to push Mark Tully who dresses Delhi sensible. The rest of the British media started the day in suit-boot-pant-tie and slowly stripped as the day wore on.
There was no discounted platter named after him at Bukhara, not even veggies or chicken tikka.
These Brits really have the formula down pat. They want our wealth, for the Crown, but won’t return the Kohinoor. And all this, despite getting names wrong — the PM called Sunil Mittal ‘Bharti Mittal’. Too many Mittals in the British firmament lately?
Back to Londonistan, then, the Khalifa awaits, these then are the real secrets of Cameron’s business visit to India. He even blocked off any possible Tipu Sultans by going to Bengaluru first.
New Delhi: Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) today expressed hope that the row over withdrawal of the cashless treatment facility at select hospitals by public sector insurance companies will be sorted out shortly reports PTI.
"Premiere hospitals and insurance companies are meeting to sort out the issue... They can come (up) with the solution today," IRDA chairman J Hari Narayan told reporters.
Representatives of four public sector companies and private hospitals are holding a meeting here to sort out the problems following withdrawal of the cashless treatment facility by PSU insurers.
New India Assurance, United India Insurance, National Insurance and Oriental Insurance had stopped the cashless service from 1st July because of alleged over-billing by some private hospitals.
"I see that more as a commission transaction problem between the insurance companies and hospitals and their network and not really as a regulatory issue," Mr Hari Narayan said.
The regulator, he added, would come into picture if there was breach of contract between the company and the insured person.
"If there is a violation of contract between a policy holder and an insurance company, that certainly is the primary function of IRDA to uphold the contract," he said, adding that a fine of up to Rs5 lakh can be imposed in case of a breach of contract.
New Delhi: Aiming to curb pilferage of public distribution scheme (PDS) kerosene and domestic liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the petroleum ministry today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to facilitate close coordination on the 'Aadhaar' project.
As per the MoU, oil marketing companies Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) will act as registrars for the UIDAI on behalf of the ministry for implementation of the project.
The 12-digit unique number that the UIDAI will generate will be combined with the smart-card project of the oil ministry for distribution of PDS kerosene and domestic LPG through biometric identification of beneficiaries.
"This would help in accurately identifying users and beneficiaries of the services rendered by the three oil firms and have uniform standard and process for their verification and identification," a senior official of the ministry said.
UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani said Rs50 will be given to the oil companies for every enrolment done.
At present, there are more than 11.5 crore LPG customers in the country and it is envisioned that by the year 2015, there would be 16 crore LPG customers.
"This partnership is something we are looking forward, which will help in de-duplication and authentication," Mr Nilekani said, adding that the focus would be on BPL families and village communities.
The ministry said the de-duplication process and the online authentication that the UIDAI offers will enhance the efficiency of oil companies in delivering services to the increasing customer base.
"The biometric smart-card based distribution of PDS SKO (superior kerosene oil) and LPG pilot project will be executed along with the state government of Andhra Pradesh. The initial pilots would be held in the city of Hyderabad, Mysore and Tumkur. Selected blocks in the city of Pune are also proposed to be covered under the pilot," it said.
The MoU was signed by Apurva Chandra, joint secretary in the oil ministry, and K Ganga, deputy director general, UIDAI. Present on the occasion were oil minister Murli Deora, Mr Nilekani and minister of state for oil Jitin Prasada, besides other senior officers.