The powers-that-be are just mouthing tokenisms—or plain untruths. The common man is fed up with corruption, and the truth will soon be out
Unless you live on another planet where there is no access to the media, you are certainly aware that we live in turbulent and tumultuous times in India now, and every hour has the possibility of launching a new twist in what is rapidly becoming a sequence of events more complex than in any soap or political drama. And if you are, like many others from the English-speaking class of people who think they make the perceptions in India, basing your opinions largely dependent on what you see on television then you are not to be blamed if you give it the same importance as a low-grade opera.
In this context, there is a lovely line from Amitav Ghosh's latest book "River of Smoke", which pretty much sums things up: "Bahram smiled to himsef as he listened: the arguments were marvellously simple yet irrefutable. Really, there was no language like English for turning lies into legalisms". (page 349, Indian edition).
If one were to go solely by the English media in India, then it would appear as though the debate is of larger value than the problem itself, if ever there was a problem to start with. Barring the judiciary, which in any case does not join the debate except very rarely, everybody else is there to (a) get a point of view across and (b) fervently hope that the real issue is side-tracked as soon as possible.
However, if one were to choose to dig into the regional language media, or better still, go walk-about, or as in this case, head out by bus and metro/local trains, and mix with the people who really count for things when the elections swing by again, then it is visible outright that there is an elephant in the room which they are not ignoring anymore—and that this elephant is also called "the big lie" or "the big lies", since there are more than a few lies being conveniently pushed into the background by the people we like to think of as "the opinion makers" in India.
First Big Lie: The arguments for and against the fast and protest by Anna Hazare are taking on a bigger role than the main problem of corruption itself. This may appear to be the case if we keep seeing television, but in reality, on the ground, the common man appears to have little time for this angle. She is very clear—corruption at all levels, especially the so-called "clean and high" levels, is the major issue. And she has had enough.
Second Big Lie: The present government is trying its best, and trots out facts like people currently in jail. Again, the common man is not taken in by this, because she knows that these people are in jail despite the government trying their best to keep them out and free on the roads. Especially Kanimozhi, who people are convinced is an example of another reality on the ground in India—send the dispensable female relative to jail when it becomes apparent that somebody from the family has to be sacrificed.
Third Big Lie: The common man does not have the intelligence to understand the finer points of the Lokpal Bill, or any other anti-corruption legislation or steps sought to be introduced. Serious debate on the subject, therefore, needs to be between people who are supposedly of a higher order. In actual fact, down and dirty on the road, the 'smallest' of people who appear to be raring to go once Lokpal becomes law, know more about the intricacies of the Lokpal Bill than do most of the people debating the issue on television.
Fourth and most important Big Lie: This movement will blow way like tumbleweed in the wind. Nothing could be further from the truth-and one big reason is that the sheer number of people from the "nothing more to lose" category is frightening. Whether they are retired people with pensions secured or middle class affluent who have something saved up, this is an agitation coming up from the angry but reasonably full bellies of the middle class, who have the lasting power and the determination.
In Delhi, at least, as I write this late at night on the 15th, magistrates are being requisitioned to handle large numbers of people who plan to court arrest, and certain sports stadia with facilities for sanitation as well as providing basic facilities are being readied. In the rest of the country it is likely to be the same, hopefully. The middle class, if it does not get this, will certainly raise yet another huge din—and that the government hardly wishes to play with.
But one thing is true, for sure, in this collection of big lies—the truth will come more from non-traditional media like the Internet and word of mouth. And for that, some of us hope to carry our portable devices with us as we head to court arrest. And the truth is—it does appear as though this protest is now a movement.
“We do not see an immediate impact on India’s sovereign rating (BBB-/Stable) resulting from the lowering of the US sovereign rating to AA+. However, ballooning fiscal deficit constrain India’s sovereign ratings” S&P’s sovereign analyst Takahira Ogawa said
New Delhi: Standard and Poor's (S&P) has said there is no immediate threat to India’s sovereign debt rating of BBB, though loose fiscal policy and the government’s inability to carry forward economic reforms could have implications in the medium-term, reports PTI.
“We do not see an immediate impact on India’s sovereign rating (BBB-/Stable) resulting from the lowering of the US sovereign rating to AA+,” S&P’s sovereign analyst Takahira Ogawa told PTI.
S&P recently lowered the sovereign rating of the US to AA+ from AAA. The ratings are opinions that reflect the ability and willingness of the rated entity to meet financial obligations.
The decision to lower the sovereign rating of the US had deleterious consequences for stock markets all over the world, including India.
Referring to problems with regard to high inflation and the fiscal deficit in India, Mr Ogawa said, “Potential longer-term consequences may point to negative factors.”
He further said that while tight policies could have a positive bearing on the country’s rating, deterioration in fiscal health and setbacks on the economic reforms front might result in a downgrade.
India has been struggling to deal with inflation, which is nearing the double-digit mark. Headline inflation stood at 9.44% in June, while food inflation was 9.90% for the week ended 30th July.
On the fiscal side, rising prices of crude oil and high food and fertiliser subsidies, coupled with the inability of the government to raise Rs40,000 crore from the divestment of equity in public sector companies during 2010-11, could create problems.
Inflation, Mr Ogawa said, “Remains India’s biggest challenge in the near-term, as high inflation could push up credit costs and dampen the country’s economic growth trajectory.”
Although the pace of food price rise seems to have stabilised to ‘some extent’, prices of manufactured products are still increasing, he said.
Referring to public finances, Mr Ogawa said, “Ballooning fiscal deficit also constrain the sovereign ratings on India.
Continuing its fiscal consolidation policies into fiscal 2012 will be a key challenge for the government.”
India’s sovereign rating, S&P said, could be raised if “the government continues to reduce the public sector’s deficits materially.
“For example, future government initiatives to significantly reduce subsidies for fertilisers, foods and fuels would be a positive factor in improving the expenditure structure of the budget and reducing the negative influence of potential external shocks on India's fiscal position,” the agency said.
Welcoming the NSE decision, USE managing director and chief executive T S Narayanaswami said charging a fee is important. “You are not in business if you don’t charge a fee, but in charity,” he added
Mumbai: The United Stock Exchange (USE), which has premier bourse BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange) as its largest shareholder, has said it will soon take a call on imposing service charges on currency derivatives trading, reports PTI.
“We welcome the decision by the National Stock Exchange (NSE) and we will take a call on imposing charges soon. Our board will meet by the last week of this month to decide on this,” USE managing director and chief executive T S Narayanaswami told PTI here.
Welcoming the NSE decision, he said charging a fee is important, otherwise it will not be business, and pointed out that everyone was doing it for free all this while, impacting the sustainability of the private players.
“The NSE decision to charge a fee should help the business. You are not in business if you don't charge a fee, but in charity,” said Mr Narayanaswami.
On 12th August, the country’s largest stock exchange by volume, the NSE, had said it would start levying charges on currency derivatives trading from 22nd August.
The move came within two months of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) holding the largest currency player guilty of abusing its dominant market position with subsidised and unfair pricing and slapping the NSE with Rs50.5 crore in penalties in June.
The CCI order came pursuant to a complaint by rival privately held (Financial Technologies) exchange MCX-SX. The MCX Stock Exchange had also welcomed the decision by its rival bourse and said it was a very positive development for the currency derivatives market.
The NSE had been claiming that it waived the charges for the benefit of the market and the consumers and all market players—including exchanges, members and consumers—have benefited from the move and it would challenge the CCI order.
When asked if the broking community will take such a decision kindly, Mr Narayanaswami said, “By and large, brokers should accept as long as they have liquidity. Frankly speaking, I don’t expect any protest from the brokers.”
Whether he sees any price war in the wake of the NSE move, he said: “I won’t be surprised if there is price competition.”
But he refused to comment on whether he would charge less than the rival NSE.