Saturday, November 15, 2014

Mahatma Gandhi on Journalism

Famous quotes of Mahatma Gandhi on Journalism :  

The sole aim of journalism should be service.

Journalism has become the art of “intelligent anticipation of events.”

Journalism should never be prostituted for selfish ends or for the sake of merely earning livelihood or, worse still, for amassing money.

Journalism has a distinct place in familiarizing and expressing public opinion.

A Journalist’s peculiar function is to read the mind of the country and to give definite and fearless expression to that mind.

The newspaperman has become a walking plague. He spreads the contagion of lies and calumnies.

The press was called the Fourth Estate. It was definitely a power but to misuse that power was criminal.

Newspaper today had almost replaced the Bible, the Koran, the Gita and other religious scriptures.

The newspapers should be read for the study of facts. They should not be allowed to kill the habit of independent thinking.

In the East, as in the West, the newspapers are fast becoming the people’s Bible, the Koran The Zend-Avesta and the Gita rolled into one.

Freedom of the press is a precious privilege that no country can forego.

An itch for new is a variety of dissipation, debilitating to the mind and spirit, unless it is properly curbed.

The liberty of the press is a dear privilege, apart from the advisability or otherwise of civil disobedience.

The newspapers had become more important to the average man than the scriptures.

Courtesy :

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

If I am pushed, I would think of one more book : Vinod Rai

Sunday, 21 September 2014 | J GOPIKRISHNAN | in Agenda

In a free-wheeling interview, Vinod Rai, whose tell-all book has brought up several debatable topics, shares with J GOPIKRISHNAN  the intricacies of his tenure as the 11th Comptroller and Auditor General of India

Your critics are asking what your motive to have come out with this book now is . How do you answer such queries?

Actually after retirement, I thought of letting this thing be a closed chapter. Whatever CAG can say, we had put it in our reports. But still some people were making allegations against me and the institution. My colleagues also suggested that I should put all these things in a book, which can be understandable to the common man.
Our CAG reports are not widely circulated and are technical in nature. I thought we should educate and alert the younger generation. These details will give them a perspective of our system and would lead to a demand for transparency in the future. As alleged by some people, I am not trying to attack anyone, neither do I have any motive.
In this book, you have devoted an entire chapter on the CBI’s ‘dirty tricks’ against you after the 2G scam came to light. Were you hurt by the UPA Government’s dubious move to turn the CBI on you?

I am not hurt. I was extremely surprised when I got an e-mail from a journalist, Dheeraj Tiwari, of The Economic Times on November 30, 2011, asking me for response on the CBI move to launch a preliminary enquiry (PE) against me.

I straight away called CBI Director Amar Pratap Singh. He said no such thing was proposed against me, but a probe had been launched against my former colleague Atul Rai. He sent an officer providing the details of the case.
The information report provided by the CBI officer showed that a PE was registered against Rai, CEO and MD of IFCI, and unknown officials of the Ministry of Finance. The allegations related to some investment decisions of IFCI. Rai worked with me in the Finance Ministry before he took command of IFCI. According to the PE, in February 2007, I apparently helped Rai to be expeditiously relieved from the ministry to become the CEO and MD of IFCI. In many places in the CBI report, my name was mentioned in a bid to put pressure on me and create innuendos. CBI’s PE gives an impression that Rai and I are close relatives. Let me state that I don’t even have a distant relation with him.
I decided to take on the CBI Director and told him that I will go to the media if the agency dared to do such nasty things. I asked him, “How can you do such things against a constitutional authority. If I am challenged, I will go to the media and expose it all”.
You must be aware of the persons behind this dubious move, but haven’t mentioned them in your book.

They decided to hit me personally after the 2G scam blew out. It was to injure my credibility and break me, to make me weak. I don’t want to name or identify the person or persons behind this move. Obviously, they were showing their vendetta for the CAG report on 2G. It must be a person powerful enough to influence the CBI Director.
Anyway, now your enemies are no more in power and you don’t have to worry about the CBI case.

The CBI has not yet closed this case. Why is it not closing this PE? It is simmering somewhere. Can you treat officials like this? I am a constitutional authority. Can the CBI do such things? Are they empowered to put my name in their information reports?
In your book, there is no mention about the role of your former boss and then Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the 2G scam. After the CAG report, his role came out and even courts have said that he and A Raja decided the price and approved the sale of shares to foreign companies jointly. How did your audit miss this angle?

We have audited the documents from the DoT. We also checked the documents from Finance Ministry. We have found objection of Finance Ministry officials. Those days, we did not come across these documents. These things had not been brought to our notice.
Later, it was proved that Chidambaram always insisted on illegal non-paper method for communicating with Raja.

No comments. Those days these things were not available to us.
CAG officials are facing tough resistance from Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance in KG Basin audit. What is your advice to the Government in this regard?

They are not co-operating. Documents are not shared with us. The Government has to take a call. Actually, the Government invited us to conduct an audit on KG Basin. Hence my suggestion is that in an original contract, there should be a clause providing liberty to the Government to appoint a Government auditor as and when it wishes.
Now you are facing legal actions for your revelations. Sanjay Nirupam sent you a notice. What is your strategy?

If they want to pursue the case, I am ready. I have said only the truth. They have abused me, called me names in the PAC meeting; there are minutes of the meeting. I will request the Speaker for the proceedings of the PAC. I must tell you that some good samaritan MPs had already given me all details which will prove what Nirupam and Sandeep Dikshit did to me in the meeting.
Moreover, there is a letter written by PAC Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi to all MPs condemning certain MPs’ behaviour towards me. This letter details how these MPs behaved with me in the PAC meeting. In that letter dated November 18, 2011, Joshi cites a Speaker’s ruling which made then Defence Minister VK Krishna Menon apologise to the CAG. These things are enough for me to prove my points in the court. I am ready to face anything, if they want to proceed.
But your book is silent on the JPC proceedings. We have heard there are certain Congress MPs like Manish Tewari who did the same to you.

No, it was different. Manish was aggressive in questioning. In PAC, Nirupam and Sandeep were calling me all sorts of names. They used the words — fraud, politically motivated etc. In public, politicians and ministers called me rogue, r-virus, Bhoomihar from Ghazipur etc. I have explained all these things with fitting rebuttals in my book.
Certain media organisations were also after you.

Generally, media always supported CAG and widely published our findings. Of course, some were against us; very few have vested interests. But most of the people in media always supported us.
What are your future plans? Entering politics or writing more books?

As far as politics is concerned, I can say no, never. I am not fit for politics. More books? Well, if I am pushed, I would think of one more book. I have not yet taken any decision on future plans; may be I will in a month’s time. I am not saying no to more books.
So you have more arsenal in store…if you are pushed?

I said if I am pushed, I will write one more.

[Published in 'The Pioneer'  on Sept 21, 2014]

Friday, March 28, 2014

Rules flouted to aid Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio : CAG

DoT  rules  flouted to aid Reliance Jio : CAG

‘The Pioneer” -  January 20,  2014 | J Gopikrishnan | New Delhi

After the exposé on irregularities in the KG Basin, the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) has found blatant violations of Department of Telecommunications (DoT) rules and favouritism in the manner the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Group was allowed entry into the telecom sector. The CAG has raised several uncomfortable questions about the favouritism shown to Reliance Jio during the audit of 3G / Broadband Wireless Access auction.

The CAG’s recent findings and questionnaires to DoT detail the way the Government provided a backdoor entry to Mukesh Ambani’s company in the telecom sector in 2010. The apex auditor also claimed that favouritism was shown to the company that led to possible loss of more than Rs 20,000-crore to the exchequer during 2011-13.  The CAG also blamed DoT for providing monopoly to Reliance Jio in the broadband and 4G sector by withdrawing State-owned companies BSNL and MTNL.

The DoT has not yet answered the CAG’s queries on violations.  Documents available with The Pioneer show that auction for Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) Spectrum was stage-managed to give backdoor entry to Reliance Jio.
The CAG in its preliminary findings said, “a small company” Infotel Broadband Services Private Limited (IBSPL) was given approval to take part in the auction in mid-2010 without meeting the net worth limit and allowed to bid for more than Rs 12,750-crore.
The small company, with a turnover of just Rs 16 lakh and a single subscriber, had only Rs 3-crore authorised capital during auction. “The DoT did,  however, neither seek the sources of funding for furnishing the EMD (Earnest Money Deposit) of Rs 252-crore (1,500 times the company’s annual turnover or 100 times the paid-up capital of the company) in March 2010, at the time of application for the BWA spectrum,” said the CAG’s preliminary findings, seeking response from the DoT.
The IBSPL won the auction in all circles of India. Within hours of winning the auction, the subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) was allowed to take over 95 per cent of the shares of the small company. The takeover deal was worth Rs 6,000-crore. In the preliminary findings, the auditors say this deal created a windfall of more than Rs 4,800-crore to the IBSPL, which became the RIL’s subsidiary.
The auditors blamed the DoT for violating the mandatory lock-in period of three years, which bars acquisitions and mergers in the telecom sector. “A non-participant company exploited the loophole left by DoT officials in the eligibility criterion for obtaining BWA spectrum by acquiring a winning company without participating in the auction process, within hours of closure of the auction process, thereby vitiating the sanctity of the auction process,” said CAG.

The four-page communication to DoT, signed by Senior Audit Officer Rajendra Kumar, details the RIL’s surrogate takeover plans of the small company during March-June 2010. The auditors also blamed DoT for allowing Reliance Jio to obtain voice service facility while paying only for the BWA Spectrum, which is widely termed as 4G in the Indian telecom sector.

According to CAG auditors, Reliance Jio only paid Rs 12,750-crore for getting broadband operations across India. But later the DoT granted voice facility also without charging any extra money. According to the questionnaire sent to DoT, the auditors pointed out that for the similar voice service facility, the 3G auction winners paid more than Rs 33,000-crore for operating in all circles in India during the same period. Sources in CAG indicated that apart from favouritism, this move of DoT created a clear loss of Rs 20,000-crore to the public exchequer.  

After Reliance Jio’s entry, the State-run BSNL and MTNL withdrew from the broadband sector. These PSUs were also granted BWA spectrum. The Union Cabinet recently approved the reimbursement of money to BSNL and MTNL. In its communication to DoT, CAG said this move will leave “virtually the entire field to a company that had not participated in the auction process.”

Questioning the withdrawal of State-run companies, CAG officials indicated this was a clear move to provide monopoly in broadband sector to the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio.  

[This report was published in "The Pioneer" on Jan 20, 2014]

26/11 hero still fighting the enemy within!

26/11 hero still fighting the enemy within!
"The Pioneer -  November 26, 2013 | J Gopikrishnan | New Delhi

Even as the nation observes the fifth anniversary of the 26/11 terror attack on Tuesday, a paralysed NSG Commando is fighting a legal battle against the Indian Army for justice. Havildar PV Manesh who got the Shaurya Chakra has been transferred from his hometown in Kerala to New Delhi and his helper has been taken away.

Mercifully, the Delhi High Court has stayed the transfer, and asked the Army and Government of India to file a reply by January 24, 2014. The Army may come out with its own justification, but the fact remains that the commando needs round-the-clock care and attendance. 
However, the High Court’s order may not be the end of Manesh’s ordeal. He has been constantly abused and harassed by Army officials and even a plea to Defence Minister AK Antony, by his wife has not helped matters.
Manesh went into a coma for four months after being hit by a grenade thrown by terrorists. The right side of his body is paralysed and a splinter is still lodged in his head. During the NSG operation in Hotel Oberoi, Manesh saved 40 people and eliminated two terrorists before being hit.
After a wheelchair-bound Manesh was discharged from hospital, the Army posted him to the Territorial Army Unit in his hometown Kannur. He was also allotted a bystander to help him. Manesh belonged to the 27 Madras Unit of the Madras Regiment and was in NSG on deputation.
Manesh’s troubles began when he went in for Ayurvedic treatment, which helped him to the extent that he started walking small distances with the help of a cane by the end of 2009.
However, the Army refused to meet his medical expenses claiming that Ayurveda was not approved for reimbursement. After the Delhi High Court’s intervention, the Army was forced to pay the bills as a special case.
On September 17, the Army issued Movement Orders to Manesh asking him to join the Unit in Delhi . Manesh’s pleas urging the Army to let him remain in his hometown Kannur, where he was accommodated on compassionate grounds, were not entertained by the authorities of his Unit.
Shockingly, the Army authorities took the decision to move Manesh a week after his wife Sheema appealed to Defence Minister AK Antony urging him to retain her husband in the hometown station of the Territorial Army, given his physical condition.
According to officials in the Defence Ministry, on getting her petition, Antony instructed the “authorities concerned” to retain Manesh permanently in his hometown unit of the Territorial Army as a special case. Despite this, the Army Unit ordered Manesh to join Delhi by October 30. Meanwhile, the authorities also called back the helper who had been assisting Manesh to move around for the past five years.
After all doors were shut on him, Manesh approached the Delhi High Court. The bench, headed by Justice Gita Mittal and Justice VP Vaish stayed the transfer order on October 22. The next hearing of the case is posted on January 24.
Apart from citing his physical inabilities, Manesh said in the Writ Petition that he was abused and threatened by the Commanding Officer of 27 Madras Unit. His wife’s petition to Antony clearly talked about constant harassment and threats by the authorities of the Regiment. “Due to the harassment by the authorities, he suffered illness, fits and headaches,” said Sheema’s letter to Antony .

Manesh, Sheema and their five-year-old son live with aged parents in Kannur. He is currently undergoing Ayurvedic treatment twice a month at a hospital 200 kilometres away from home.

[This report was published in "The Pioneer" on Nov 26, 2013]

Note : One good thing happened - I got call from Defence Minister AK Antony around 10 am, promising immediate action to ensure justice to PV Manesh.  By first week of March 2014, orders were issued to retain Manesh in his home town Territorial Army Unit in Kannur District, Kerala. Feel so happy as journalist to bring justice to a wounded soldier of 26/11 terror attack.