Reality Check India

Last day to replace candidate !

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 30, 2007

 

Today 30-Jun-07 is the last day for presidential nominations. In these few hours, the UPA (led by the Congress Party) can replace Mrs Pratibha Patil with someone preferably clean. If finding a clean person is not possible than they can atleast find someone accused of lesser charges.

The media continues to play the role of intrigue maker. Since, a large majority of Indians are incapable of second-order thinking – the real issues are prevented from taking centre stage.

Here is a prime example – you can find similar language in all Indian media (broadcast or print)

The race for Rashtrapati Bhavan is getting murkier by the day with allegations and charges being leveled against UPA nominee Pratibha Patil with alarming frequency.

More

Can you spot the twist in the language ?  Probably not. It is because we are used to this kind of “even handed” coverage.

Dear IBNLIVE reporter : The race for Rashtrapati Bhavan is not getting murkier. Mr Shekhawat is still clean and respected across all parties. Only the UPA candidate is getting murkier

Here is an interview pattern, this also points to the BJP’s complete lack of ability to handle the media.

1) Host asks about grand larceny charges against a presidential candidate

2) Abhishek Singhvi or Jayanti Natarajan fumble or make the great point that “but we are not as bad as Mr Modi”

3) Interviewer then hands the BJP representative a bitch slap, by scolding them – “but Mr So and So, why are you making political capital out of this ?” or on some minor point about the independent nature of Mr Shekhawat’s candidacy.

As far as this presidential race is concerned the NDA is clean, repeat clean. It is only the UPA (led by the Congress Party) whose candidate is facing innumerable charges.

Dear media, do not try to extend the murky blanket to Mr Shekhawat. He is one of the oldest living non-Congress leaders in India, actively involved with the Swatantra Party even though he formed the Jan Sangh. There is not a single charge of corruption against him in 55 years of political life. Even more remarkable considering his career includes 3 terms as Rajasthan Chief Minister. If you have any specifics about legal issues surrounding Mr Shekhawat, lets hear it. If you dont, the presidential race is not murky, the UPA candidate is.

My electoral college vote goes for Mr Shekhawat – former sub-inspector of police.

Yes, I know about the vote bit – just kidding.

————————————————– 

Links from the good friends at the National Interest blog. Good job guys, keep it up. Irrespective of the results of the presidential election, you have really provided alternate coverage via the blogging medium. For now, we can live with that.

Yossarin has collated a comprehensive list of charges .

Lex (a group of Supreme Court Lawyers) take on the legal issues including the various blanket immunities

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PM rushes to Pratibha Patils defence

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 28, 2007

 

We finally have the PM come out in support of the presidential candidate Pratibha Patil. He dismissed charges against her as mudslinging.

“Many sugar factories in Maharashtra faced financial problems and it was not proper to target Patil”

Prime Minister Mr Manmohan Singh

This quote captures the essence of Indian political scenario better than a thousand blogs. Every entity is sought to be measured against something even lower that it. After a few years that entity, which is now par for the course, is measured against something even lower – and downward we go.  

Is the honorable Prime Minister saying that it is quite common in Maharashtra for politicians to do the bank-sugar-factory-scam routine ? If the troubles of the sugar mills and co-operative banks are mere business downturns, then can someone please explain how it has been so beneficial to their kith and kin ? Mere coincidence, perhaps.

No whip Mr Dasmunshi

It seems Mr Dasmunshi is completely ignorant of the rules of the Presidential election. Apparently, he does not like Mr Advani’s public campaign to make the MLAs and MPs of the UPA and Left parties to vote for Mr Shekhawat. See here :

Replying to the NDA’s allegations, Dasmunsi on Wednesday said the Election Commission should take note of BJP leader L K Advani’s call for a public campaign to “mount pressure” on MPs and MLAs of UPA-Left to vote for Shekhawat.
Terming Advani’s remarks as “dangerous”, he alleged at a press conference at Congress headquarters that the safety and security of the elected representatives would come into question in view of such statements

Source : IBN

Reality Check is now forced to page Mr Dasmunshi.

1. There are no nominated candidates of a party, nor any party symbols. Parties simply extend their support to a particular candidate. Not only is Mr Shekhawats independent status correct, it is also in line with the spirit of the presidential elections.

2. Mr Advani has every right to appeal to individual MLAs and MPs of the electoral college. In fact, if the BJP is still a force – it must spare no effort to appeal to individuals in the electoral college. Mr This is how is is supposed to be.  Mr Advani really needs to step in and save his party, the young guns (Sushma, Naqvi, Jaitley, even Rajnath) are not firing.

3. Mr Dasmunshi should know that the election to the highest office is not the same as voting for a bill or motion in this house. In case of the presidential election, you cannot issue a whip to your party members to vote for a particular candidate. In addition, this is a secret ballot – not a show of hands.

4. It might even be punishable under the law for parties to issue a whip to its members, because it would be tantamount to coercing, compelling, threatening or forcing a member to vote for a particular candidate. In fact, even “undue influence” cannot be used on any member of the elctoral college. See Presidential Elections Act – 1952 Sec 18.

5. This means that the projected figures for Mr Shekhawat vs Mrs Pratibha Patil that are shown non-stop in the media, is completely against the spirit of the presidential election. Every member is free to vote his mind without any threat of party influence such as an invisible whip.

To wrap up, a couple of links :

1. Allegations of swindling Kargil contributions by the now defunct co-operative bank employees.

Bank employees, in a petition filed before a court, have alleged that Dilip ran up a bill of over Rs 20 lakh talking to stockbrokers in Mumbai from a phone belonging to the bank. The employees allege they collected a day’s salary for a Kargil soldiers’ welfare fund but the money never reached beneficiaries. The bank also lent money to the Muktabai Cooperative Sugar Factory, which too was set up by Pratibha and is now defunct. 

See http://www.dailypioneer.com/indexn12.asp?main_variable=front_page&file_name=story1.txt&counter_img=1

The future supreme commander of the armed forces better answer the above allegation, which is part of a petition pending in court. Read about the legal immunities enjoyed by the President here.

2. A hypothetical what-if scenario from Barbadkatte titled “Dawood’s RTI plan“.

3. The “Nation Demands Answers” logo.

 

Next up – faculty

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 26, 2007

Hey Prof Atelite Institute , nice research paper but what is your caste ?

Will our best institutes hear words like the above in the years to come ?

Pratap Bhanu Mehta had already warned in March that the OBC quotas will soon be imposed in all faculty positions at central institutes. Yes, that includes IITs, IIMs, AIIMS, and IIScs. See here for RC coverage “Open Category Faculty

The government today has issued a directive asking all central institutes to implement the 27% quota for OBCs in faculty positions. Click here for the actual directive.

New Delhi, June 25: The 27 per cent quota for Other Backward Classes has been extended to lecturer posts in universities run by the Centre.

The human resource development ministry has asked all central universities and deemed universities to implement the quota for OBCs on the basis of a declaration of intent made after the Mandal commission flare-up.

The Backward Classes Commission, through which the central recommendation must pass, has also given its stamp of approval.

“The government is using the fact that it doesn’t need to go through the legislation route to implement job quotas to bring reservations for lecturers silently,” said Nisha Tomar, the Delhi University co-ordinator for the anti-quota group, Youth For Equality.

Source : The Telegraph

All teachers and students, look around your department for the presence of upper castes. Whether they are rich or poor, meritorious or practise nepotism, whether pro-reservation or anti-reservation, whether they are socialists or capitalists or communal-casteists, whether they want data or life-stories, nothing matters.

They are merely next.

You many want to sign this online petition. http://www.petitiononline.com/E162/

Presidential spin attempts

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 25, 2007

 

First, a quick question. 

” What does Article 361 of the Indian Constitution say ? How is it relevant to the issues surrounding the presidential candidate Pratibha Patil ?

Answer at end of post.

– – – – – – –

Lets quickly recap (in time order). 

Candidate claims the veil was to protect Indian women from lustful muslim invaders.

Candidate allegedly harbors little brother G.N.Patil who is a murder suspect.  CBI is going to file a chargesheet soon.

Sugar factory run by candidate owes 17.74 crores.

Pratibha Bank waived loans of kin before RBI shut it down. 

Vijay Kumar Kakade, former president of Pratibha Sahakari Bank Karmachari Sangh, told The Indian Express that with the cancellation of its licence and commencement of liquidation process, the bank was closed and people lost their jobs. “Pratibha Patil was responsible for this. There is no personal enmity with Patil madam, but we want to tell our countrymen that such a person is going to occupy the highest office.” 

Read more here

Now, we hear even more dramatic things :

Not only did she assure the House that the government would take “appropriate steps” to ensure that all citizens adopted family planning measures but added: “We are also thinking of forcible sterilization for people with anuvaunshik ajar (hereditary diseases).”  Read full story here

Reality Check wonders if corruption could be counted as a hereditary disease.

It is now clear that Pratibha Patil the new president appointed by the Congress Party has a lot of explaining to do. Barbarindian has exposed the lame attempts by Abishek Singhvi here.

The lamest kind of spin is when you try to use “timing” as a talking point. The CNN-IBN anchors just lets these slip by without any attempt at countering them.

The BJP really needs to take to the streets on this issue if it is still a legitimate politial force. The BJP is already making the cardinal mistake of letting others define them. If the party organization keeps quiet when a national talk show compares an elected CM with Osama Bin Laden and freely uses smear words like communal – then you have lost the game.  Sue the channels or say Goodbye !

Host : What do you have to say about these very serious charges X,Y,Z against your candidate ?

Spin Meister : For 10 years, no one cared to talk about these cases. Now, just hours before the presidential nomination – people are bringing out these stories. The timing is highly suspect.

RC : Yes, the railway TTE does not stop you on the street and check your tickets for next weeks train.  Try again.

Spin Meister : Shut the eff up Reality,  who invited you to this interview ?

– – – – – – –

Answer to question at top of post.

Article 361 of the Indian Constitution

361. Protection of President and Governors and Rajpramukhs.—

(1) The President, or the Governor or Rajpramukh of a State, shall not be answerable to any court for the exercise and performance of the powers and duties of his office or for any act done or purporting to be done by him in the exercise and performance of those powers and duties:
Provided that the conduct of the President may be brought under review by any court, tribunal or body appointed or designated by either House of Parliament for the investigation of a charge under article 61:
Provided further that nothing in this clause shall be construed as restricting the right of any person to bring appropriate proceedings against the Government of India or the Government of a State.
(2) No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President, or the Governor of a State, in any court during his term of office.
(3) No process for the arrest or imprisonment of the President, or the Governor of a State, shall issue from any court during his term of office.
(4) No civil proceedings in which relief is claimed against the President, or the Governor of a State, shall be instituted during his term of office in any court in respect of any act done or purporting to be done by him in his personal capacity, whether before or after he entered upon his office as President, or as Governor of such State, until the expiration of two months next after notice in writing has been delivered to the President or the Governor, as the case may be, or left at his office stating the nature of the proceedings, the cause of action therefor, the name, description and place of residence of the party by whom such proceedings are to be instituted and the relief which he claims.

Who is this guy ?

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 22, 2007

Who is this guy ?

Clues :

1. Currently based in Bangalore

2. Famous words : “Sare jahan se accha”

3. Had to get out of a burning vehicle in 1984.

4. Completely ignored by the media, even though he is the ONE and ONLY expert in India in his field .

rks.jpg

Answer in Comments section.

First Slovenian woman astronaut

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 21, 2007

So, the Atlantis is scheduled to return today. Reality Check wishes everyone on board, Sunita Williams and six others a safe flight back home. In the interest of balanced coverage, let us also point out that Sunita Williams is the first woman and third astronaut of Slovenian descent. The other two are Ronald Sega and Jerry Linenger.

This morning I turned on the TV channels here in India. Indians are going way overboard in claiming Sunita as one of their own. Are we suffering from such low self esteem that we try to appropriate an American woman flying on an American technological marvel called the Atlantis ? 

 

Students performing “Havan” in Patna (Img source : Patna Daily)

Some more,

As US-based astronaut Sunita Williams gets ready for a comeback after her six-month space voyage, girl students of a Varanasi school on Tuesday conducted a holy fire ritual to wish her good luck. 
 
Chanting Sanskrit shlokas, they said Williams, who was born in India, inspired them.

UP Schoolgirls pray for safe return of Sunita

If Sunita Williams is merely “US-Based”, then George Bush is just a “US-Based Englishman”.   Who has given these kids such false information ? I can understand their yearning for a role model, but it should be rooted in facts. The media is squarely to blame for this.

Whats happening in Slovenia ?

In this media din, most people do not even know that Sunita is as much Slovenian as she is Indian. Her mother is of Slovenian origin. She not only took samosas to the space station but also “smoked sausage from Azman meats in Euclid“.

So, I decided to check the online Slovenian papers if there was similar mass exuberance there. After all, she is the third astronaut of Slovenian descent and the first female.

http://www.einnews.com/slovenia/  

http://www.topix.net/world/slovenia

A people completely devoid of national pride, lacking any interest to scratch the surface, to search for facts, completely satisfied with celebrating mechanical promotions, following campaigns of small time politicians, making movies catering exclusively to wealthy immigrants in Jersey or Southall, picturizing all movie songs (except slum item numbers) in locations ranging from Kazakhstan to Switzerland to Malaysia depending on the producers budget, all of this and a burning desire to jettison national identity. Yes, we can have PIO Universities  and NRI Quotas when our own people run from pillar to post seeking basic quality education. Why, Is not the world a flat place ?

Yeah baby, we are true global citizens – except for the inconvenient 15 minutes at airport immigration.

A prudent man in India

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 20, 2007

I have mentioned this quote before, but everytime I read it – I get the chills. 


“Who is a reasonable man and who is a prudent man? These are matters of litigation.”

TT Krishnamachari

The reasonable and prudent man is a very common judicial test used in US and English law. The grand blunder we Indians made was to allow its use in constitutional law. I encourage everyone to read the constituent assembly debates which are available online (as of now).

Guha on St Stephens

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 16, 2007

Historian Ramachandra Guha (who was a St Stephanian from ’74 to ’79) has a piece in The Outlook on the recent decision to hike the Christian quota to 40% in that institute. (Thanks to ravisrinivas for providing a link to this article. )

It is important to note here that while St Stephen’s was founded by Christians, it is funded by the state. According to the Union ministry of education, fully 95 per cent of the expenses of the college are met by the University Grants Commission. Why should a college that draws so heavily on the public exchequer be allowed to choose 40 per cent of its students from 2 per cent of the country’s population? The new policies are claimed by their proponents to be ‘legal’, but they are surely unethical. They are also profoundly unhistorical, based on a wilful ignorance of the traditions and legacy of St Stephen’s College.

Read full article here

A quick look at the faculty page reveals that it is mostly hindu and a few muslims. If the institute hikes the Christian quota to even higher levels, what is the impact on these teachers ? 

What about the constitutionally recognized Dalits ?

Another curious twist is the concept of 10% quota to Dalit Christians. Prima facie this appears to be completely unconstitutional because at the moment there is no such category called “Dalit Christians”.  To put it in another way, there is no person in India who is Christian and who has a Scheduled Caste certificate. So, who gets to declare what Christian group is a Dalit ?  If this nomenclature, which is loaded, is allowed to be used – will it undermine the union governments right to classification (which is horribly broken itself – but that is beside the point) ?

 “This is sheer violation of law. They are doing all these to promote Christianity at the cost of social and educational needs. How can they reserve seats for those who do not even exist legally?” said one of the faculty members of St Stephen’s college on the condition of anonymity.

Source : Pioneer

It is only the Union Government that has the power to classify anyone as Dalits or ST.  In the case of Christians/Muslims this requires a further constitutional amendment. How can a network of churches and bishops issue these certificates ? What if tomorrow Jamia issues Dalit Muslim certificates ?

An almost direct analogy would be the Shankaracharyas issuing ST certificates to the agitating Gujjars to be used in majority institutions.

Filed under : Indian Secularism

St. Stephens Delhi hikes quotas

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 13, 2007

 

The prestigious St. Stephens College Delhi is proposing to hike the quota for Christians from 30% to 40%.  The general “merit” quota will be cut by a corresponding 10%.

Saumya Saxena scored 92 per cent in her XII boards and she was sure of getting admission into the prestigious St Stephens College in Delhi University but she might be in for a huge disappointment.

The coveted minority college is planning to increase their seats in the Christian quota by another 10 per cent, which means that the seats in the General quota will also be reduced by 10 per cent.

Source : NDTV

It appears that the principal of the college is almost taunting the public when he says :

The policy is the initiative of the recently appointed officiating principal Valson Thampu. He has been quoted as saying that the “TMA Pai judgment in 2002 clearly states that 50 per cent of seats in a minority institute must be reserved for members of the minority community. It’s a constitutional obligation. In fact, I’m being unfair to the Christian community as the policy proposes to reserve just 40 per cent of the seats.”

Source : Indian Catholic

Thank God for small mercies.  I wonder what is preventing him from hiking the Christian quota to 50%, which he admits is a constitutional obligation. He need not be unfair to his community at all.  He is not doing the other minority communities or the public a favour by witholding the extra 10% seats. He should send a clear signal to remind everyone that St Stephens is a Christian institution first and foremost. The affected public can in turn tailor their individual responses towards these institutes.

In general, I think minority institutes must be allowed to only accept candidates from their communities. If they admit people from outside their communities, what is the rationale for their minority status ? Is this a scheme to promote minority ownership of public colleges ?

The government should come down hard on minority colleges that accept a large number of open category students. Perhaps a 3-5% intake can be allowed for others. Check out the bulletin of CMC Medical College Vellore here.  In this medical college (which is one of Indias best) the split up is (see page 2 of bulletin) : Out of 60 seats for MBBS ( 44 Christian + 6 Staff + 2 SC /ST + 1 Central Govt Nominee + 7 open competition ) This model is much better than colleges like St Stephens which are minority managed but not really minority in intake (even after this new proposal they still accept 40% open category).

Help the cinema hall

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 5, 2007

Here is a short case study for you to solve. 

 cine.jpg

Assume you are the owner of RC Cinemas. You run a single multiplex with five screens in a small town in India. The town has a population of 1 million (10 lakhs). Times were good earlier , but recently your profits have started to slide. You have now decided to do something about it. First, you want to find out which movies were most popular in the recent past and which were running to empty halls. You are convinced that this would give you a fair idea of the viewing preferences of your townfolk.

So, you summon your two managers. You then ask them to go forth and get this information.  

Manager 1 : Sab, this is easy. Lets just count the number of tickets sold for each movie. This is easy and will give you an accurate idea of the viewing preferences of our town.

Manager 2 : I have a better idea. Let us do a comprehensive survey of our townfolk. Let us ask them what movies they saw recently and what they would like to see. There are a few agencies that do this type of poll, can I call them ?

Manager 1 : Sab, this is crazy. Why did you even make this guy a manager ? If you ask the townfolk they will say I want to see “Mahabharata”, “Ramayana”, or “Jesus Christ” – but they will turn around and queue up only for Mallika Sherawath or even Shakeela. You cant trust these guys – Saar. The best way is to directly measure what they paid money and saw. I can bring you the answers in ten minutes.

Manager 2 : Sir, with your permission, I want to thrash this fellow. Dont trust him. A survey is much better because we can also ask those who did not come to our multiplex at all. We can also cover those who have not seen a cinema in years. Sir, please remove this uneducated manager and let me be the only manager. I cannot work with him.

You : <- What do you do ? ? ? Do you go with Manager 1 or Manager 2 ? ?