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BW Businessworld

Jottings | CBI: Blowing In The Wind

As a furious Arvind Kejriwal alleged that his office had been raided and sealed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), it brought back memories of similar press briefings by West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee.

As a furious Arvind Kejriwal alleged that his office had been raided and sealed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), it brought back memories of similar press briefings by West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. For decades now, Opposition benches have cried hoarse about the ruling party’s control over India’s premiere investigating agency, so much so that CBI was often referred to as Congress Bureau of Investigation. But time has proved that when the Opposition bench graduates to the government formation the fate of CBI remains the same: the caged parrot has been used time and again for political ends. Be it investigations against Mamata Banerjee’s associates for their alleged involvement in the chit fund scams or raiding Virbhadra Singh’s house on the day of his daughter’s wedding; it is strange that CBI investigations gain ground only when political scores are to be settled. For the past few years, the same investigating agency has gone from claiming incriminating evidence against Amit Shah in the 2002 Gujarat riots to exonerating him; of course, the ruling party changed at the Capital. Despite an emphatic denial by CBI of raiding the Delhi CM’s office, Kejriwal is smelling a rat. The CM’s limited point is that any complaint about his principal secretary should have been shared with him before the raids. CBI on Tuesday raided the office of the Delhi CM’s Principal Secretary, Rajendra Kumar. This office at the Delhi secretariat is just next door to the CM’s cabin. The raid could potentially be the latest flash-point in what has been a highly troublesome and tumultous relationship between the AAP and the BJP-ruled Centre ever since Kejriwal assumed power.
— Suchetana Ray

Well Done, Prabhu
The power of social media knows no bounds. A couple of weeks ago, a Howrah-bound train with 27 kids from Dehra Dun’s Asian School found themselves starving as the train was diverted because of maintenance work. To make matters worse, the Kumbha Express they were travelling in had no pantry car. A teacher seeing the plight of the famished children, turned good Samaritan, and began tweeting for help, tagging Union Railway minister Suresh Prabhu. Within hours, a clutch of railway officials landed up at Varanasi station with food and victuals to bail out the kids. Similarly, a train delayed due to thick fog near Fatehpur, had a poor 5-year-old wailing for milk. The desperate father in Delhi began tweeting and the thread was picked up by Prabhu. Before the mother could say Jack Robinson, milk arrived. This proves if those that run governments and public services keep their eyes and ears open and their mobile phones on, help is just a tweet away. Also some ministers seem to take their jobs more seriously than others, as custodians of public interest.
— Gurbir Singh

American Parallel
India isn’t the only country with intolerance troubles. In the US, Donald Trump has been kicking up a storm with his outrageous comments and suggestions, particularly one that called for Muslims to be kept out of America. Tempering the comment a little bit on seeing the outrage it created, he said, they should be kept out for now.

For anyone in India, Trump-style comments are the stuff of everyday politics. Sometimes used to divide, sometimes to divert, they’re now wholly unsurprising and often don’t receive as much condemnation as they deserve. Trump’s remarks have done so, however, with even the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finding them distasteful. The problem is that many people agree with Donald Trump as he plays much the same trick as Indian politicians often do, breeding intolerance in the bargain.

Of the many voices that have objected to Donald Trump’s comments is India-born Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, who exhorted people not to “let fear defeat our values”.
— Mala Bhargava

At Cross Purposes
Has the time come to revisit some of the provisions of the Competition Act, 2002 – the law that deals with imposing financial penalties? The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has so far imposed a total penalty of around Rs 14,000 crore on companies that violated the relevant section of the competition laws. But it managed to collect less than one per cent of the amount, due to judicial appeals. In fact, in some of the instances, companies have managed to get relief from either the Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT) or higher courts. Recently, COMPAT set aside CCI’s June 2012 order imposing a penalty of Rs 6,300 crore on 11 cement manufacturers.

Recently, in a separate matter, CCI had submitted to the Madras High Court that it would not enforce the penalty of Rs 420 crore that it imposed on Hyundai Motor India for anti-competitive practices in the sale of its spare parts through authorised dealers alone. There are other examples, too. In order to strengthen CCI, the law should be amended in a way that some portion of the penalty submission becomes mandatory.
— Ashish Sinha

Duplicitous Congress
After holding the country to ransom with protests in Parliament, especially the Rajya Sabha, senior Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, Anand Sharma, and Jairam Ramesh, have been at pains to underscore that the protests “were not linked to the GST legislation or the National Herald case”.

The evidence, however, shows otherwise. After a washed-out monsoon session, the winter session of Parliament began on a promising note. As BW Businessworld noted at the end of the first week, Parliament’s productivity this session stood at 95 per cent. Then came the Delhi High Court order in the National Herald case on 7 December, and all hell broke loose. From the next morning, both Houses were disrupted, with Congress MPs and supporters crying “political vendetta”. If vendetta was such a pressing issue, why was Parliament allowed to run in the first week? Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s outreach on GST may not have produced immediate results, but the government was ready to consider two of the Congress’ three demands. So the Congress cannot claim that the government was being “unresponsive”. All in all, the continuous disruptions this winter session by the Congress cast the mainline Opposition party in a poor light. More importantly, it robbed the country of the opportunity to roll out GST by the 2016 deadline.
— Suman K. Jha

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 28-12-2015)




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