Necessary Illusions of the Indian Prime Minister

Originally published under Pattanayak’s personal column ‘My Undefined Track’ in www.saswat.com, this article carries observations that seems similar to what majority of Indians certainly feel. Patriotic conscience speaks through this article. Hence I call upon all, who, despite desire to say, could not coin appropriate words to say what should they have said, to see how their feeling has come out correctly.–Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

By Saswat Pattanayak

I don’t have any problem with Manmohan Singh per se. What hurts is the expectation of people to expect any better from him.

Apparently only after the Indian PM shamelessly praised the “good governance” model of the British colonial rule, both the rightist and leftist parties have vehemently stood up against him.

True, Singh insulted the sentiments of all patriotic Indians who still find a reason to live with dignity, only in name of sacrifices of the indomitable freedom fighters who laid down their lives to drive the British out. They find a reason to live with dignity in a country whose prospects are marred by widespread poverty, corruption and unemployment. For nearly six decades now, people have been celebrating their existence in the ravaged land because they could not simply afford to disrespect the lives lost in pursuit for self-governance. Hope prevailed high that Indians shall one day reap the benefits of the freedom struggle, redeem faith in the belief that autonomy from foreign rule held the key.

And this abstract panacea in the form of self-aware third world nationalism for concrete afflictions characterizing the “developing” countries has finally been challenged. The people have been woefully represented by leaderships that have sung the praises of exploiters, homegrown and foreign.

And this time, since he was “emotional”, a capitalist leader has been just accidentally become more direct in his praises.

The centrist or even left of the center party, Congress has nothing to complain. They knew it was coming. Manmohan Singh indeed earlier during his tenure as finance minister had submitted an economic modernization plan that was a joy to the right wing parties. Instead of being rejected wholeheartedly, it was accepted for its reform values. And those reforms as we know served the capitalistic interests of foreign concerns. India was soon converted into the largest sweatshop in the world market. Pretending to be complaining the domestic capitalists (who had earlier funded rightists to power in 1977) easily gained stronghold of economy to vote right wing nationalists to power. They knew for example, any business with McDonald’s was only going to help the franchisee owners in India! They thus furthered the plan of domestic privatizations and indeed sold off more than half of public properties to any business house that could afford, in lieu of kickbacks. They worsened it such that people exercising their Hobson’s choice had to throw them out of power (even if the only difference was their colors as religious fanatics). But the rightist soon made Sonia Gandhi an issue. No way they were to accept that lady or anyone else from Congress, save for one man. And that man was the architect of liberalization in India: Manmohan Singh. Only after Singh was installed the right wingers kept silence. And since then, much to their expectation and merry, the privatization policies continued.

Between the bad and worse, Indians went on paying heavy prices as privatization went murkier. As privatization went on appeasing the foreign concerns and their domestic partner capitalists, Singh appeared everywhere, from Charlie Rose Show to Time Magazine. At one of these points of mutual adulations, Singh thought of expressing his gratitude to the ideology that had raised him to this level of shrewdness. Oxford University.

Singh said,

As the painstaking statistical work of the Cambridge historian Angus Maddison has shown, India’s share of world income collapsed from 22.6 per cent in 1700, almost equal to Europe’s share of 23.3 per cent at that time, to as low as 3.8 per cent in 1952. ..Indeed, at the beginning of the 20th Century, “the brightest jewel in the British Crown” was the poorest country in the world in terms of per capita income.

And yet unashamedly unruffled and praising the British for this downfall of Indian economy that resulted in profiting the super-rich sycophants of the Raj, and torturing the mass population of downtrodden, Singh philosophized almost to justify everything that had gone wrong. Indians must have been hungry dogs, as Churchill had said. And hence we were never meant to know how to govern good, Singh confessed, as though to speak for himself and absolve himself of his incompetencies:

‘Even at the height of our campaign for freedom from colonial rule, we did not entirely reject the British claim to good governance. We merely asserted our natural right to self-governance.’

Singh’s understanding that British had “good governance” and that people of Indian did not reject the British (a bunch of lunatics those freedom fighters at the gallows must have been, considering Singh’s beliefs) in India has to be sympathetically understood. Here is a man firmly committed to the idea of selling the hapless indigenous to the mighty foreign, in lieu of some recognitions (in this case a honorary degree or two). And his entire life has been dedicated to this cause. From Garibi Hatao (Eradicate poverty) to Garibko Hatao (Eradicate the poor), the motto of capitalism is well ingrained in this man. What else did the Center expect from the PM?

As for the Left, they should have nothing to complain either. They are out of wits. Why else would they have ever lent any support to a government led by an avowed pro-market economist? Why are they objecting to Singh as anti-nationalist, when they could not attack him ever for being a staunch capitalist? Moreover, should the Left pledge allegiance to the cause of narrow nationalistic politics or to the international mobilizations against capitalistic expansions?

Finally, amidst the mud, the pigs enjoy the most. The rightist parties are clear winner in this case. Just when Advani and Joshi and the team of vandals were about to face charges for inciting communal violence, nothing would have come as a better relief. Such a ruckus was after all created by their own man. Singh, if anything, is the dream of the right-wingers in India. They needed someone who would be smart enough to fool the masses by slogans of development, sabotage the communists by policies, promote the financiers of right-wing politics by disinvestments, represent the profit interests by privatization, sophisticatedly draft market economy mantras that won’t sound offensive, kill Sonia Gandhi as a leader, represent the rightist interests outside the country, and finally praise the British rule (considering the long standing support of the right wingers towards British rule for which they were infamous during the freedom struggle, and for which they were infamous after they killed Gandhi and were banned for anti-national activities in the newly independent India).

In ways as should not appear surprising at all, Manmohan Singh is the man from the extreme Right of the political spectrum. Under him the private business will flourish, private rules of law will dictate the land (the recent Gurgaon incident where hundreds of workers were brutalized by police force commissioned by Honda), private multinationals will spread their wings and benefit the commercial interests of domestic partners, disinvestments will continue at full pace and the British Raj will be praised.

Those of us who are surprised are fools. For us who are shocked, we must realize that the people deserve the kind of government they elect. Only in a so-called ballot-driven democracies, do politicians like Manmohan Singh stay in power even after all that has been said and done.

And the right-wingers want the system to flourish, so that they can rule the country without the participation of the people (how many consciously vote anyone?), so that they can manufacture consents with use of their media (Advani on Zee TV claiming that millions want Ram Mandir!), and finally can sing the praises of their colonial masters!

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REVENUE COLLECTION REVIEWED: TAX EVATION GOES ON

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa revenue collection target may not be achieved if staff crunch is not removed. Ms. Rajalaxmi, Principal Secretary of Commerce & Transport Department apprised the Finance Minister of this when he took up a revenue of revenue collection in the State Secretariat last afternoon.

In the name of reform, the state Government has curtailed majority basic posts and all of the field offices are facing severe staff crunch.

However it transpired that that the C&T Department, under Ms. Rajlaxmi, has collected tax worth Rs.84.97 crore out of the target of 400 crore by end of June. Similarly collection by Excise is 66.16 crore as against target of 500 crore.

The Commercial Tax Department, which works under the Finance Minister himself has also not been able to reach the target. It has collected 515 crore by June end out of the target of 3000 crore. It was targeted to collect 445 crore from entry tax; but the collection is only 76 crore.

A sample of what happens:

If we look at a recent vigilance raid at Baragarh, a district headqrs. Town of western Orissa, how the Finance Department Officers are hand in glove with tax evaders will come to notice.

Despite departmental check gates in the border, a black market operator was importing several truck loads of consumer goods everyday and hording them in a building that looks uncared for from outside. He has many clients to whom the imported goods were eventually supplied. This operation was going on safely for years. The Commercial Tax officers were giving him full protection and the man was never taken to task for evasion of tax. Getting clue from a source, the C.T. wing of the Vigilance department placed at Sambalpur, raided the spot in the early hours of July 27 and unearthed huge tax evasion. The horded commodities were scrutinized and a sum of Rs. 2,00,05,737/- was clamped on the operator as unpaid tax.

But the most astounding development is that the manager of the operator has been booked as all the goods are imported in his name. He is Sushil, a poor man who works for the clandestine operator. The Commercial Tax officers know this operator. But they don’t reveal his name. They don’t take any action against him. Their allegiance to this operator is so very solid that they have already received this heavy amount exceeding 2 crore from Sushil and thereby succeeded in providing required seal to the offender.

It is not that there is no way to find out the real offender. Sushil has no financial stamina to pay forthwith a sum of money that exceed two crore. Where from he brought this heavy amount to deposit forthwith?

This question can easily lead investigation to the real culprit. But, all higher-ups in the Finance department including the Minister show reluctance to poke their nose into it.

No wonder a junior Commercial Tax Officer, who takes home Rs.7500/- only as salary every month, was found by vigilance in a recent raid to have accumulated around a crore of Rupees beyond known source of income.

Will the Minister come out of the cocoon of revues in the chambers of the Secretariat and steer the Bargarh case out of the files of the local CTO in order to find out who the real tax evader is?

SERIOUS ALLEGATION AGAINST ORISSA CHIEF MINISTER

Naveen Patnaik Allegedly Involved with a Scam of Rs.300 Crores

Orissa’s highest circulated newspaper ‘Sambad’ has raised a serious allegation in its July 27 edition against Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik that warrants urgent attention.

It brings Naveen’s role as Union minister of Steel and Mines into question.

When he was the central minister, he subjected the Public Sector NALCO to a 300 crore loss in a design to help a private company of Mukunda group styled, International Aluminum Producers Company Ltd.(IAPCL)

According to its report, IAPCL had cultivated NALCO during Naveen’s regime as Union Steel Minister into its fold. Naveen’s close ally Pyari Mohan Mohapatra was then in the NALCO Board of Directors. It wanted and the Center approved to invest 30 crore in IAPCL. Subsequently it was steered into an agreement to purchase end products of IAPCL as and when commercial production commences. It did not happened. But oblivious of impacts it may have on its own economy, NALCO purchased the IAPCL plant at 300 crore of Rupees under clandestine pressure.

Sambad claims, the IAPCL plant was not existent in reality. It existed in papers only. And, hence and the money spent in purchasing of this ghost plant by NALCO was straightaway a loot by the schemers.

Naveen Patnaik should react to this and place everything on records, at least in Orissa’s official web site, so that this alleged felony could be best estimated.

HONDA SHOWROOM AT BHUBANESWAR EXPERIENCES PUBLIC WRATH

The NEWS Syndicate

Gurgaon is around 1800 KMs away from Bhubaneswar; but the oppression perpetrated by the Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) on its workforce through Haryana Police, reported in these pages, has stirred conscious people of Bhubaneswar to come out strongly in support of the victims of the Japanese Company.

Hundreds of general public instantly joined a Communist Party of India (CPI) rally on July 26 to demonstrate their wrath in front of the Honda showroom at Sahid Nagar. The manager of the showroom closed it down even as local police protected it by arresting leaders of the march.

The rally demanded for immediate reinstatement of all the dismissed workers by management of HMCI as well as judicial but time-bound probe to find out who of Haryana authorities was the agent of the MNC in executing the evil design against workers fighting for their job security at Gurgaon.

The demonstrators demanded adequate compensation from Haryana to the workers physically tortured by its police.

That the Multi National Company is determined to harass the workers is amply established by the very fact that the number of dismissed hands has exceeded a thousand. Our people must rise and frustrate unfair labor practices of such velocity resorted to by foreigners in our own land by purchasing tacit support of the governments elected by our people, the protestors said.

HONDA-HARYANA NEXUS BRUTALIZES WORKERS

OrissaMatters Bureau

New Delhi:
Police atrocity is so rampant in India that majority of human right cases come from custodial offences. But what the Haryana police did on July 25 has shown that the khaki clad hounds not only can brutalize human rights but also can thwart rights of the nation to have a fairly living work force. They have established that in the era of globalization a worker can protest against exploitation by a Multi National Company only at a severe price: broken limbs and bleeding injuries.

An overwhelmingly large pack of policemen cordoned off a group of workers of the Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI), a Japanese MNC, near the Mini Secretariat, Gurgaon and brutally assaulted them. More than 700 workers were injured, many of them critically. When the Haryana government puts the figure at 65, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil has put the figure at 92 in a statement in Parliament a couple of hours ago.

The workers had been agitating for over a fortnight against the HMSI management�s arbitrary and vindictive dismissal of over 1000 workers on a long standoff involving the mistreatment of a worker. About six months back a worker had been hit by a management official. When four workers supported their colleague, they were dismissed in sharp contravention of Law of natural justice. Fifty more who protested against this action were served suspension notices. By now, over 1000 workers have been thrown out of their jobs over this issue.

Yesterday�s rally was one of the series of protests demanding reinstatement of the dismissed workers. Workers have also been asking for higher wages in view of the Company�s growing profits. Negotiations have remained fruitless, the Haryana government�s labour department acting probably dubiously against the interests of the workers.

What happened yesterday, July 25, confirms this allegation to a large extent. The police had arranged for a big contingent apparently to foil the workers� protest rally. As the protesters reached the Mini Secretariat at around 1 p.m. further reinforcements arrived. The workers were cornered by the lathi-wielding policemen and maliciously thrashed.

Police claim that the workers had a scuffle with them in the morning on the Mehrauli- Gurgaon road. One DSP was injured in this and some police vehicles were set on fire along with the local SDM�s car.
But eyewitnesses told media, the police attack was unprovoked. Police did not act to disperse the crowd. Its motive was definitely designed to �teach the workers a lesson� so that they could be tamed.

The incident has drawn wide condemnation from opposition parties with the Prime Minister expressing his deep anguish and concern.

It reflects the same mindset that the British Police had unleashed at Jalianawalabag against unarmed Indians. The irony is that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who factored opening up of Indian economy to multinationals, had praised the British rule in his recent visit to UK for the pattern of Police that has perfectly fitted into independent India.

Communist Party of India, which leads the HMSI workers Union, has declared to raise a countrywide agitation against this blatant act of oppression by the Honda-Haryana nexus.

The atrocity is so much crabby, cruel and condemnable that anti-worker-by-nature politicians are also eager to express solidarity with the tortured workers of Honda.

(The NEWS Syndicate)

The NEWS Syndicate

Rocks discovered by Spirit Rover, currently engaged in exploration on Mars surface, are being given names that are held in high esteem in public perception.

Agencies reporting Dr Steve Squyres, Principal Investigator of the NASA’s Mars mission, have informed that NASA has named one such rock as Odissi, the world famous classical dance form of Orissa.

Santoor, Kanchunjanga and Nilgiri are few of the Indian names that NASA has given to the rocks discovered.

“We’ve tried to use names from various cultures” said Dr. Squyres.

“Spirit is now barely 50 metres from the summit of the Columbia Hills, which was named after the Columbia Shuttle that met a tragic end two-and-a-half years ago. The Columbia Hills also has a hill named after Indian astronaut Kalpana Chawla,” he informed.

PEOPLE PERISH UNDER PROJECT INDUCED POVERTY

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa Government is busy in distributing mines to companies from outside States and even to foreign companies such as POSCO. But the people displaced in the process are perishing under utter negligence. The Revenue Secretary T.K.Mishra, admitted before the Assembly Committee that the mining dependent Companies are not adhering to Resettlement & Rehabilitation (R&R) Policy of the State Government.

It is shocking that people displaced due to various projects have not been rehabilitated despite lapse of decades. People ousted from their habitats to facilitate construction of the Hirakud dam fifty years ago are yet to be settled, the Committee heard.

Members of the Committee expressed deep anguish over the Government’s failure to provide PATTA (records of right over land) to those of the displaced persons who were affected by the Hirakud dam, even though five decades have elapsed.

Presided over by Deputy Speaker Prahallad Dora, the Committee on July 22 wanted to
know about the action taken, if any, against the companies and establishments that have been violating the R&R Policy and ignoring the project-affected peoples’ legitimate demands.

It transpired that not only private companies, but also Public Sector industries and mining companies under Central Government like the Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL), National Aluminum Company (Nalco) and Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) have contravened the policy.

When members expressed concern over willful failure of MLC to support peripheral improvements, the Revenue Secretary informed that the Company is taking advantage of several flaws in the Coal Bearing Act, but this being a Central Act, the State Government is unable to do away with the defects.

Has the State brought this to the attention of the Center? Has the administration seriously prosecuted any body for contravention of the R&R Policy? Has ever the State fixed up responsibility on any for failure to issue land records in favour of people who are projected to have been rehabilitated? If yes, what punishment are the errant officers given?

One cannot say if these questions would ever stir the Committee for answers.