POSTED BY Buzz ON Oct 14, 2012 AT 18:44 IST ,  Edited At: Oct 14, 2012 18:44 IST

For those who came in late, the backgound:

Dr Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust, an NGO run by law minister Salman Khurshid and his wife Louise Khurshid, has been at the centre of many allegations of financial misappropriation and forgery that have been refuted by the law minister and his wife.

Arvind Kejriwal, sitting on a protest at Parliament Street police station, has been demanding Khurshid be arrested for alleged misappropriation of funds from the Ministry of Social Justice by his trust, quoting a CAG report which alleges “misappropriation of a grant of Rs 71.5 lakh, interest of Rs 15.49 lakh thereon and the irregular release of a further grant of Rs 68.25 lakh”.

According to the report, on the basis of recommendations of the Uttar Pradesh government, a grant-in aid of Rs 71.5 lakh was sanctioned to Dr Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust Delhi, as a non-recurring grant in 2009-10 for distributing aid and appliances under a scheme to be implemented in 17 districts across Uttar Pradesh.

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Oct 14, 2012 AT 18:44 IST, Edited At: Oct 14, 2012 18:44 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Sep 20, 2012 AT 21:44 IST ,  Edited At: Sep 20, 2012 21:44 IST

Apart from some common-sensical, clear-headed advice, the prime minister's former media advisor throws in some rather astonishing insinuations for good measure in his column for the Hindu:

In this moment of “crisis,” it should be sobering to remember that during the last Lok Sabha election the Congress had crossed the magic figure of 200 seats, a feat that had eluded any political party since 1991. Yet the historic advantage was squandered away in internal confusion and distractions, producing a massive disjointedness in the government’s functioning and policies, which in turn invited trouble and challenge from different quarters and institutions. Those in the judiciary and other constitutional institutions smelled the spilt blood within the UPA and felt doubly empowered to muddy the political waters. The result was the so-called policy paralysis. The country’s best interests demanded that decision-making break out of this paralysis; and, it was natural that any attempt to break out would be resisted by vested interests and political rivals and would produce some kind of convulsion.

Read the full piece by Harish Khare at the Hindu: An opportunity, not a crisis

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Sep 20, 2012 AT 21:44 IST, Edited At: Sep 20, 2012 21:44 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Sep 06, 2012 AT 23:39 IST ,  Edited At: Sep 06, 2012 23:39 IST

Coincidentally, two independent pieces make substantially the same point: that things may not be as bad as they might seem. The poison coming out is a form of cleansing, not a sign of greater disease, says Pratap Bhanu Mehta in the Indian Express:

...just in the last week, three central elements of India’s dirty political economy, which at first sight might seem unconnected, have arguably reached a new inflection point. Our political economy was founded on state complicity in communalism, a disregard of law and regulation by big companies, and the plunder of natural resources. But there is a distinct possibility that things may never be the same again..

The Naroda Patiya judgment was significant for several reasons. It has, for the first time, convicted senior politicians for complicity in a riot. This will send out a powerful message. As many people have pointed out, if such convictions had been achieved in the case of the1984 riots, our history would have been different...

Though seemingly unrelated, the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in the Sahara case, ordering an unprecedented Rs 17,400 crore to be returned to investors, is also part of the maturation of our system. This is the first time a really big fish has been hauled up for what, based on the court judgments, seem egregious violations. This judgment will empower regulatory institutions like Sebi, whose effectiveness has been undercut in the past by the uncertain course of the law...

Despite vicious attacks on the institution of the CAG and the controversy over numbers, there is now one incontrovertible fact. No state will, any longer, be able to dispose of mines in the recklessly casual way that they did in the past. You can actually begin something of a clean-up of this sector...

The BJP is overdoing its blockade of Parliament. But the government went out of its way to wreck the key institutional device for public reason — the committee system...

An editorial in the Business Standard makes the same point:

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Sep 06, 2012 AT 23:39 IST, Edited At: Sep 06, 2012 23:39 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Aug 20, 2012 AT 23:51 IST ,  Edited At: Aug 20, 2012 23:51 IST

Pratap Bhanu Mehta in the Indian Express says the three reports are raising deep and fundamental questions about governance. Taken together they amount to an incontrovertible indictment of government.

A lot of the whispering against the CAG reports comes from an unstated fear: such scrutiny will slow down decision making. It will create economic uncertainty. These risks are present. But we have to face the fact that there is a lot more poison waiting to come out of the system. The system now needs to respond constructively and internalise new norms of governance, based on horizontal accountability, transparency and public reason, instead of arbitrary discretion. The CAG’s reports are part of the great cleansing now under way. In the medium to long run, these will make government stronger, not weaker, because it will be forced to ask the right questions.

You can contest the CAG’s numbers. But the reports, even if they do not say it, leave us in no doubt that the government is a rotting ancient regime. It is a deep morass of evasions, dereliction of duty, and outright fraud on the taxpayers. The responsibility for this runs to the highest levels, including the prime minister. He is, doubtless, an honourable and honest man. But will he admit that the government is at least guilty of a sin even worse than corruption: gross incompetence of the kind that has put the country’s future at risk?

Read the full column at the Indian Express: Great cleansing act

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Aug 20, 2012 AT 23:51 IST, Edited At: Aug 20, 2012 23:51 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Mar 22, 2012 AT 23:58 IST ,  Edited At: Mar 22, 2012 23:58 IST

In response to the Times of India story of March 22, 2012, titled CAG: Govt lost Rs 10.7 lakh crore by not auctioning coal blocks, which stated that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had estimated in its 110-page draft report that the coal ministry's decision to award 155 coal acreages without competitive bidding had led to "undue benefits" of Rs 10.67 lakh crore to private and public firms, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) today issued a press release saying:

CAG writes to PM clarifying the coal block issue

With reference to the lead story published in the Times of India today titled “Government lost Rs 10.7 lakh cr by not auctioning coal blocks: CAG”, the Prime Minister has received a letter from the Comptroller and Auditor General of India at 1:30 pm today.

Among other things, the letter clarifies that:

“In the extant case the details being brought out were observations which are under discussion at a very preliminary stage and do not even constitute our pre-final draft and hence are exceedingly misleading. … Pursuant to clarification provided by the Ministry in exit conferences held on 9.02.2012 and 9.03.2012, we have changed our thinking  …. In fact it is not even our case that the unintended benefit to the allocatee is an equivalent loss to the exchequer. The leak of the initial draft causes great embarrassment as the Audit Report is still under preparation. Such leakage causes very deep anguish.”

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Mar 22, 2012 AT 23:58 IST, Edited At: Mar 22, 2012 23:58 IST
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