All RBI Governors who have stayed in office beyond four years have contributed significantly to the banking system. So there is no need for mainstream media to gossip about the future of Governor Rajan post 16th May verdict
Mainstream media, during the last few weeks, starving for controversies, has been generous in dishing out gossips about the continuance of Dr Raghuram Rajan as governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), if the dramatis personnae in New Delhi change post-16 May 2014. This writer is not interested in joining issues with those who argue the case on either side mixing politics and economics(or banking?). Still, as one who had defended in the media, the case for an extension of term by one year for Dr Rajan’s predecessor during the first half of 2013, some observations on the subject from this writer may be in order.
As part of his remarks at the Brookings Institution, on 10 April 2014 Dr Rajan made the following observations qualifying them as his personal views:
“Central bankers are usually reluctant to air their concerns in public. But because the needed change has political elements to it, I take my cue from speeches by two central bankers whom I respect greatly, Ben Bernanke in his 2005 'Global Savings Glut' speech, and Jaime Caruana in his 2012 speech at Jackson Hole, both of whom have raised similar concerns to mine, although from different perspectives. Before starting, I should disclose my interests in this era of transparency. For the last few months India has experienced large inflows of capital, not outflows, and is seen by the markets as an emerging economy that has made some of the necessary policy adjustments. We are well buffered with substantial reserves, though no country can be de-coupled from the international system. My remarks are motivated by the desire for a more stable international system, a system that works equally for rich and poor, large and small, and not the specifics of our situation.”
This article is not about the content of Dr Rajan’s 10th April speech, which has focus on monetary policy from an international perspective, but to re-emphasise that the present RBI Governor has taken his present job seriously and any talk about destabilising his position post-16th May can do harm to Indian economy, but may not have much impact on his pursuit of the objectives he cherish.
Those who are still in doubt are invited to read his book 'Fault Lines', which had won the FT-Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2010. In the introduction to the book, Dr Rajan explains the use of the metaphor of fault lines thus:
“In geology, fault lines are breaks in the Earth’s surface where tectonic plates come in contact or collide. Enormous stresses build up around these fault lines. I describe the fault lines that have emerged in the global economy and explain how these fault lines affect the financial sector.”
Quoted this, to flag the clarity maintained throughout the book, in explaining the multi-dimensional economic riddles bothering governments, planners, economists and other stakeholders at this crucial stage of economic development and suggesting possible solutions.
About the content of the book, I am not making any comment, but would go with Indian Express which said: “Brilliant. No other word for it…Buy it. Read it. Read it again.”
Dr Rajan concluded his postscript of 'Fault Lines' with the following observation: “We have uncovered deficiencies, and we know that the system has little capacity to sustain a repeat. We will bicker, no doubt, and we will try easy options. But eventually, as we realize that there is no alternative to addressing our real problems, democratic debate, coupled with human ingenuity, will come up with widely acceptable solutions to our problems. We may not see those solutions now, but so long as we are aware of the problems we have to solve, and work on them, I have no doubt that solutions will emerge.”
The optimism about India expressed in the chapter “Afterword: What Lies Ahead for India” explains why Dr Rajan is in India today. Destiny has now positioned Dr Rajan in a slot from which he will be able to contribute towards realising his vision. Let us wish, Reserve Bank led by Dr Rajan will guide Indian financial sector to play the proactive role in the country’s growth story, making this decade special for all Indians.
It has to be said to the credit of Government of India (GOI) that, even if it was in self-interest, generally, compared to other statutory bodies and public sector units (PSUs) the RBI has been getting a fair deal in selection and timely appointment of its head and his deputies. The appointment process in July-August 2013 was more transparent and at that time, all had accepted that among the candidates considered, the most meritorious had been selected.
This should have given considerable confidence to Dr Raghuram Rajan while taking over charge from Dr D Subbarao in the first week of September 2013.
I had observed in an article written on the subject during August 2013 (The Global ANALYST, September 2013) as under:
“The only negative in the whole affair is, as on several occasions in the past, once again GOI has opted for a short-term appointment. This time it should have been for a five-year term in the first instance itself. We are not privy to the information as to whether the decision to appoint Rajan for three years was because of a casual ‘cut & paste’ from previous appointment orders or because GOI thought, if friction between RBI and GOI persists, changing RBI Governor more often is a soft option. As someone in the media already observed, the flip side is, if things do not go well, Dr Rajan could choose an assignment anywhere, a choice, many in top positions in India do not have.
Ideally, RBI Governor should have an average tenure of five to 10 years. If such a norm was followed, Dr Rajan would have been perhaps the 15th Governor of RBI. Now he is 23rd! All Governors who have stayed in office beyond 4 years have contributed to the strength of the central bank.”
(MG Warrier is former general manager of Reserve Bank of India.)
The case of Pune-based women constable Jayashree Mane, who was slapped by her senior male colleague for using RTI, continues to be in limbo as the department has yet to admit the FIR. Taking a serious note of the incident the National Commission for Women has ordered an enquiry into the matter
It is distressing and agonising to note that even when a member of the law enforcing outfit, in this case, Jayashree Mane – a constable working in Pune Police not only finds it difficult to lodge a first information report (FIR) but even the Pune Police Commissioner, who is the law enforcing authority, does not seems to take the matter seriously.
Acting on the petition by the writer and Akshay Dawadikar, the National Commission for Women (NCW) has sought detailed report from Pune police about the matter. After the receipt of the report, the matter will be probed by a counsellor appointed by the NCW. Further course of action will be decided by the commission after submission of Counsellor’s inquiry report which is called Brief Transmission Report (BTR).
Mane was slapped on Saturday, 3rd May night by her senior male colleague for using Right to Information (RTI), which led to his vacating the room that he had illegally occupied. However ever since, the Pune police is allegedly doing a cover-up for the accused, Police Sub-Inspector (PSI) Machindra Shinde instead of giving a fair opportunity to Mane to lodge her FIR. On Tuesday, Mane says she was asked to go away by Police Inspector Mehendale of the Shivaji Nagar police station where a tame non-cognizable complaint has been lodged.
Mane had asked under RTI, as to who has been allocated a particular room in the Shivaji Nagar Police Lines residential quarters. She got a reply that it is vacant and has not been allocated to any police employee. She had also filed a RTI regarding three other people who were occupying the police quarters without even being employed in the police force. When Mane complained against all the four people to her seniors, PSI Shinde also had to vacate 'his room', which had perhaps angered him. Mane has also used RTI to procure copies of duty register, which clearly show that several women constables have not been marked for 'duty' for several months but continue to receive regular salary.
This writer, who has taken up the cause of Mane along with RTI activists Vijay Kumbhar (he is out of station) and Dawadikar, met Pune Police Commissioner Satish Mathur with a petition seeking immediate lodging of FIR, putting up the information that Mane has sought uptil now, which comprises 200 RTI applications on its website and treating this case as one of sexual harassment at workplace. Commissioner Mathur assured us that action had already begun. However, there we could not see any action throughout Tuesday.
This propelled this writer and Akshay Dawadikar to take recourse to the online grievance cell of Maharashtra unit of the National Commission for Women -NCW. The online complaint appeals for immediate lodging of FIR by Mane against PSI Shinde. It states, “no FIR was lodged today and instead Women Constable Jayashree Mane was insulted and sent away by PI Mehendale when she went to file FIR. Vinita Deshmukh and Akshay Dawadikar had met Police Commissioner Satish Mathur at 12 noon on 5th May appealing him to lodge FIR against the accused Machindra Shinde, but despite our written appeal nothing has been done. Hence at 5.15pm Vinita Deshmukh lodged online complaint with Maharashtra's National Commission for women at www.ncw.nic.in - link to my acknowledgement is: http://ncw.nic.in/OnlineComplaints/frmCmpReceived.aspx?CmpID=C1401836
We got an acknowledgement online as follows:
Your complaint has been received by NCW on Tuesday, 6 May 2014 and has been allotted Registration / File No. : 8/C1401836/2014/NCW/NSP/KB with Login ID: C1401836 ...Use this Complaint Registration/File No. and Password for your future reference. The NCW will process your complaint and take action there on at the earliest. You may see the status of your complaint through the above mentioned Login ID and Password. You can also Contact our Counsellor at the following telephone numbers.
Phone No. 011-23237166 Counsellor : Ms Kavita Bhandari Phone No. 011-23234918 (241) 011-23219750
Following are details of my online complaint with Maharashtra unit of National Commission for Women:
Young woman constable Jayashree Mane, who works at the Shivaji Nagar Police Station has filed over 200 RTI applications in a bid to cleanse the irregularities and corruption in the Pune police department; on Saturday evening, 3 May 2014, she was stung with a slap by her senior male colleague, PSI Machindra Shinde, a constable in the Shivaji Nagar Police Station, at around 9.30pm when she was on duty as night guard. He told her that because of her RTI information he had to vacate his room. POLICE IS REFUSING TO FILE FIR, ALTHOUGH, ME, RTI ACTIVIST ALONG WITH RTI ACTIVIST AKSHAY DAWADIKAR, met Pune Police Commissioner Satish Mathur personally in his office at 12 noon on 5th May nothing has happened even today. Instead, Mane was turned away from the Police Station where PI Mrs Mehendale has taken down a tame complaint.
Following are the details of the complaint. Kindly take immediate action.
Pune is one of the pioneers of implementation of the RTI Act through the efforts and passion of citizens and activists. However, 34 year old woman constable, Jayashree Mane, who works in the Shivaji Nagar Police Headquarters in Pune, has shown unprecedented guts by using RTI to expose irregularities and corruption in the police department for which she has filed more than 200 RTIs.
On Saturday, 3rd May, Ms Mane was on duty at gate no2 of Shivaji Nagar Police Headquarters, at around 9.30pm, when Police Sub-Inspector (PSI) Machhindra Shinde, senior to her and guarding gate no1, started walking towards her. His ire perhaps was hidden due to the fact that, he had to vacate his official `kholi’ (room), which he had been occupying illegally, after Ms Mane procured information to this effect, under RTI. Ms Mane, who was a few minutes earlier with her other women constable colleagues, was asked by PSI Shinde about their whereabouts. When she said that they have gone out for dinner, he seized the opportunity of her being alone, and slapped her hard across the face and ear. Ms Mane fell down and was writhing in pain. PSI Shinde ran away from the place.
Mane, approached her senior officer PN Suryawanshi to register a complaint, but she says, he wrote down in the station diary that she was not beaten up. Ms Mane then went to the Shivaji Nagar Police Station where the lady Police Inspector, Ms Mehendale wrote down a 'wrong' complaint to 'protect her seniors' says Ms Mane and compelled her to sign on it. She did not agree and insisted that PI Mehendale lodge a first information report (FIR). Finally, a non-congnisable offence was registered and so it is akin to a weak complaint.
Ms Mane has procured a medical report from the Sassoon Hospital and is in a perturbed state of mind. What is worrying is that, despite being a whistle-blower and exposing irregularities and corruption in the Police department, her seniors are allegedly trying to hush up the issue by denying her right to lodge a FIR.
RTI activists are very perturbed about the incident as it seems to be pro-accused than pro-victim. Hence, we are appealing to Pune Police Commissioner Satish Mathur with the following requests:
1. Ms Mane has played the role of a whistle-blower, by exposing wrong doings in the police department. We request you to give protection to Ms Mane by helping build up her confidence and assuring her that she will be given full justice. For this, we request you to ensure that the investigative officer hears her out fully and objectively, as she has allegedly been a victim of harassment at workplace and humiliation.
2. Ms Mane’s complaint to the Shivaji Nagar Police station has been treated casually. We appeal to you to register a strong FIR
3. The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed that, in cases of assault or fatal attacks on RTI users/ activists, the RTI applications, the victims filed and the information provided to her/ him should be suo motu put up on the website. We request you to put up all the information that Ms Mane had sought including the documents relating to Mr Shinde’s allegedly illegal stay in an official 'room' immediately, within 24 hours. This will ensure that the accused is not shielded and that citizens know the kind of RTI applications filed by her.
4. We request you to look at the 'harassment in work place' angle as the physical assault on the night of 3rd May, seems like the last straw on the camel’s back
5. We also request you to act on this case quickly, seriously and in utmost fairness to bring it to a logical end. This will ensure that the faith of the people in the law enforcing system is not shaken.
I request the Maharashtra State Women;s Commission to urgently take action and ensure that a strong FIR is lodged at the Shivaji Nagar Police Station and a case of sexual harassment and harassment at work place is also registered in the FIR.
Vinita Deshmukh - senior journalist and RTI activist
Akash Dawadikar - RTI activist Pune
Delhi based RTI activist, Veeresh Malik, advises that online grievance cells of the state and central government are effective tools. He is a veteran in successful battles and suggests, “consider filing multiple Public Grievances about the same episode online with
# State of Maharashtra - same complaint as above
# Department of Home - specific complaint about the IPS officers involved if any
# Ministry of Women and Child Development - complaint as a woman assaulted by a male colleague
# O/o CAG - revenue loss for misuse of accommodation.''
Looks like e-complaints are the latest weapons for the common man. We shall pursue and let you know the outcome. Requesting us to join us in this e-battle. Please write to me at [email protected], if interested.
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)
In view of the rising bad loans in state-owned banks, the AIBEA said the RBI should periodically publish the list, the union government should amend recovery laws and take criminal action against wilful defaulters
The All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA), while revealing wilful defaults worth Rs70,300 crore in 400 loan accounts in public sector banks (PSBs), has demanded a detailed probe in to the loan sanctioning and loans turning into bad assets.
“Why these loans are not coming back? Who is responsible and accountable? If the bank executives have given the name, let there be a probe. If there is a political nexus, let it come out. Country should not be for somebody’s default. People should not be punished for corporate default,” said CH Venkatachalam, general secretary of AIBEA in a statement.
According to the bank employee's union, over the past seven years, there are fresh bad loans worth Rs4.95 lakh crore only in PSBs, while during the same period, these lenders wrote off bad debts worth Rs1.4 lakh crore. Gross non-performing assets (NPAs) and bad loans in the PSBs have increased to Rs1.64 lakh crore as on 31 March 2013 from Rs39,000 crore as on 31 March 2008.
AIBEA also launched a nation-wide campaign that stresses on three key point, like the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) should periodically publish the list, the union government should amend recovery laws and take criminal action against wilful defaulters.
Earlier in December, the bank union had pointed out that the top four bad loan accounts add up to a massive Rs22,666 crore, which include Kingfisher Airlines and Winsome Diamond and Jewellery Co. The Vijay Mallya-owned and now defunct carrier is the biggest defaulter and owes Rs2,673 crore to PSBs. Mumbai-based Winsome Diamond and Jewellery Company (erstwhile Su-Raj Diamond India Ltd), with dues of Rs2,660 crore, is the second highest defaulter, followed by Electrotherm India Ltd at Rs2,211 crore, the union said.
Some of the other big-ticket defaulters include, Zoom Developers Pvt Ltd (Rs1,810 crore), Sterling Biotech Ltd (Rs1,732 crore), S Kumars Nationwide Ltd (Rs1,692 crore), Surya Vinayak Industries Ltd (Rs1,446 crore), Corporate Ispat Alloys Ltd (Rs1,360 crore), Forever Precious Jewellery and Diamonds (Rs1,254 crore), Sterling Oil Resources Ltd (Rs1,197 crore) and Varun Industries Ltd (Rs1,129 crore).
Here is the list of top 406 bank defaulters...
In addition, the bank employee association also wants responsibility fixed on banks’ top brass for the loans that have turned bad, allow banks to share information on NPAs and wilful defaulters under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, and declare wilful loan default as a criminal offence.
Pointing out that the credit appraisal committees of public sector banks had powers to sanction single loans up to Rs400 crore in the case of large banks and up to Rs250 crore in the case of small banks, Vishwas Utagi, General Secretary, Maharashtra State Bank Employees Federation, an affiliate of AIBEA, had alleged that promoters of large defaulting companies diverted bank loans into real estate and floated cricket outfits for competing in domestic league matches.
Speaking with reporters in Mumbai, Mr Utagi alleged that NPAs of banks were the money fraudulently siphoned off from the banking system. Demanding strong legal remedies by the government and the regulators to redeem these public funds, he said, “Banks are dealing with the hard-earned savings of the people, and today the total deposits in banks in India have crossed Rs75 lakh crore.”
According to the Union, over the past seven years, there are fresh bad loans worth Rs4.95 lakh crore only in PSBs, while during the same period, these lenders wrote off band debts worth Rs1.4 lakh crore. Top four defaulters of state-run banks constitute Rs23,000 crore of NPAs, the AIBEA had said.
In order to highlight the increasing bad loans or non-performing assets (NPAs) menace in PSBs, the bank employees observed 5 December 2013 as 'All India Demands Day' by wearing badges and holding rallies.