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What Will Secure India’s Future?


How will India modify its polity and economy to compete in a world controlled by power concentrations managed by centralized oligarchies.

Starr Report - Book Cover

Starr Report – Book Cover

Rule of Law

It was a curious sight.

Appointed to investigate the scandals of President Bill Clinton, in the investigations phase, Kenneth Starr regularly unloaded small trucks full of documents.

Going by the number of document-boxes, the total documents exceeded an estimated 100,000 pages (2500 pages per carton x 40 cartons), during the investigations– with a final report that was 445-pages.

Even before the case went for impeachment hearings to the Senate.

As a private lawyer, he was appointed an independent counsel by a three-judge panel to look into allegations surrounding the Clinton’s Whitewater business venture and that later expanded to include the Lewinsky scandal. His seven-year probe cost $70 million.

via Ken Starr: Bill Clinton Impeachment ‘Unhappy’ But ‘Right’ Decision – ABC News.

A Capitol Hill police officer watched as boxes of documents containing testimony and transcripts of taped conversations were loaded onto a cart. The documents were released Friday.  |  Source & courtesy - http://partners.nytimes.com; Credit: Agence France-Presse;  PHOTO STEPHEN JAFFE

A Capitol Hill police officer watched as boxes of documents containing testimony and transcripts of taped conversations were loaded onto a cart. The documents were released Friday. | Source & courtesy – http://partners.nytimes.com; Credit: Agence France-Presse; PHOTO STEPHEN JAFFE

Watching the Kenneth Starr Circus, the reality of YummRika’s legal system was plain.

Finally, the Kenneth Starr Circus also cost the American tax-payer,US$ 80 million (Rs.350-400 crores).

In USA, a serious prosecution needs more than a 100,000 pages of documents, ten or more lawyers & paralegals, a judge and jury, with a trial spread over a few years.

Can anyone else, except the President of the United States of America (POTUS) fight against the Government of the United States of America (GOTUS). Or a high-profile international case like that of Julian Assange.

Can a common citizen, funded by the tax-payer fight the GOTUS, funded by his own meagre income?

Members of the Senate staff took boxes of evidence for the impeachment trial back to their offices Wednesday.  |  Carol T. Powers for The New York Times; source & courtesy - nytimes.com

Members of the Senate staff took boxes of evidence for the impeachment trial back to their offices Wednesday. | Carol T. Powers for The New York Times; source & courtesy – nytimes.com

A former federal judge under Ronald Reagan, Kenneth Starr served as United States Solicitor General and was at one time a leading candidate to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. In 1994, Starr replaced Robert Fiske as the independent counsel tasked with investigating the Whitewater controversy, a scandal which eventually morphed into the Monica Lewinsky investigation. President Clinton’s impeachment trial came to define Starr’s time in the office.

Starr’s case against Clinton is laid out in the 445 page report to Congress now known as the Starr Report, released in September, 1998. That report, which was released to the public and became a best seller led to an accusation that Clinton had lied under oath about his relationship with Lewinsky and ultimately to a House vote to impeach.

Clinton was acquitted by the Senate in February 1999, and Starr resigned from the Office of the Independent Counsel that October. The office was later dissolved and replaced by the U.S. Justice Department Office of Special Counsel.

via Ken Starr – Where Are They Now: The Clinton Impeachment – TIME.

Transcripts of grand jury testimony by President Clinton and Monica S. Lewinsky and other related documents went on sale Monday at the Government Printing Office bookstore in Washington - Monday, Sept. 21, 1998 in Washington.  |  Credit: The Associated Press; source & courtesy - graphics.nytimes.com; AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Transcripts of grand jury testimony by President Clinton and Monica S. Lewinsky and other related documents went on sale Monday at the Government Printing Office bookstore in Washington – Monday, Sept. 21, 1998 in Washington. | Credit: The Associated Press; source & courtesy – graphics.nytimes.com; AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Indians, new to Desert Bloc legal systems, are eager to have a law for every thing – and jail for everyone.

नऐ फ़कीर को भीख की जल्दि
(New-initiates are always over-eager. Even when it comes to begging).

Per Desert Bloc jurisprudence, ignorance of the law is no defence. So, while legal experts can take a few years to decide if specific actions are a crime, a common man is expected to know the millions of pages in legal documents, judgements, rulings and case laws for each action.

Otherwise, he pays.

Rule of Law should be one of the first things that will need to be reversed if India is ever to break out from the current system, which has engendered tremendous dissatisfaction. To start with 80% of the laws from statute books must be scrubbed out.

Coming to corruption

In China, corrupt officials in the last 30 years, after more than 100,000 executions, the problems of corruption remains. More than 100,000 killings by the State of corrupt officials has only created new defence mechanisms.

For instance, now Chinese officials become what in China are called ‘naked officials’ – 裸体官员; (pinyin) luǒtǐ guānyuán, often shortened to 裸官 (pinyin) luǒ guān. ‘Naked’ officials.

By global standards, India does have yet have scams which equal two-thirds of India’s GDP. Like the US Defence Accounting scandal – which at one point was US$8 trillion – when the US GDP was about US$12 trillion.

The Department of Defense, already infamous for spending $640 for a toilet seat, once again finds itself under intense scrutiny, only this time because it couldn’t account for more than a trillion dollars in financial transactions, not to mention dozens of tanks, missiles and planes.

The House and Senate are expected to begin floor debate on a Bush administration proposal to make sweeping changes in how the Pentagon spends money, manages contracts and treats civilian employees.

The Bush proposal, called the Defense Transformation for the 21st Century Act, arrives at a time when the nonpartisan General Accounting Office has raised the volume of its perennial complaints about the financial woes at Defense, which recently failed its seventh audit in as many years.

WHAT HAPPENED TO $1 TRILLION?

Though Defense has long been notorious for waste, recent government reports suggest the Pentagon’s money management woes have reached astronomical proportions. A study by the Defense Department’s inspector general found that the Pentagon couldn’t properly account for more than a trillion dollars in monies spent. A GAO report found Defense inventory systems so lax that the U.S.Army lost track of 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 Javelin missile command launch-units.

And before the Iraq war, when military leaders were scrambling to find enough chemical and biological warfare suits to protect U.S. troops, the department was caught selling these suits as surplus on the Internet “for pennies on the dollar,” a GAO official said.

via Military waste under fire / $1 trillion missing — Bush plan targets Pentagon accounting – SFGate.

Tired of years of audit failures by the DoD,

A new bill introduced in the Senate would create “new incentives and enforcement mechanisms to force the Pentagon the pass an audit,” according to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), the bill’s principal sponsor. The “Audit the Pentagon Act” (S.3487) will, according to Coburn, “help the pentagon to help itself.”

Coburn, along with co-sponsors Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) have all been critical of what they see as DoD’s inability to achieve a clean audit.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has directed the department to achieve full audit readiness by 2017. The bill would create new incentives to encourage DoD and the Military Departments to achieve its auditability goals.

If a Military Department achieves an audit with an unqualified opinion after FY2013, the thresholds for reprogramming actions not requiring prior approval would automatically increase by: $60 million for a procurement program; $30 million for a R&D program; $45 million for an O&M budget activity; and $30 million for a Military Personnel budget activity.

via Senators introduce new legislation to force a clean DoD audit « American Society of Military Comptrollers (ASMC).

Under Indian Governmental audit norms, a failed audit automatically invites, judicial prosecution and administrative actions against relevant officials.

So, India’s over-emphasis on corruption in a State, designed for enrichment of the Few, is misplaced. The answer is not tinkering with the broken system, but on working on भारत्तंत्र Bharattantra.

As long as we want the State to acquire more power, we can only control and minimize corruption.

Simplistically speaking …

Imagine putting someone in a chocolate /icecream /mithai factory – and expect them to never taste any of their stuff all their lives. We have given the State so much power, money, that we are going to see our chocolate /icecream /mithai factory workers eat some of this stuff.

The way out of corruption maze is to reduce the role of the State.

Have we got used to spoon-feeding by a hyperactive media? (Cartoon by Don Addis).

Have we got used to spoon-feeding by a hyperactive media? (Cartoon by Don Addis).

Media that spoon-feeds

Informing, exposing, expounding, media is touted as India’s deliverance.

Many (mostly in the media itself) see media as an answer to many of India’s ills.

To understand the role of media better, let us turn to …

Don Addis (1935 – 2009) was a cartoonist who usually delivered on the promise of one picture is worth a thousand words. Regular readers of 2ndlook have seen a few of Don Addis cartoons.

One of the trick that modern media plays with us is how it feeds us with junk – and gives us a perception that we are getting mental nutrition. In general, media credibility has suffered in the last 2 decades, yet on specific issues, there are greater degree of convergence.

World seems to going binary – either, or; Left, Right, Socialism, Communism; Private oligarchies (USA, Russia, Japan, Britain) or Public Sector Bureaucracies (France, Germany, China).

Global media is dominated by a few news agencies like Reuters, Bloomberg, API, and AFP. These agencies in turn are fed by various think tanks and research organizations, which then dominate global debate.  In the last few years, top 10 websites control 75% of the web traffic. Hollywood dominates the big screen. Organizations like Google monitor every click on your computer– which is available to any determined bureaucrat. If not easily, with some difficulty.

Big media, kept at arm’s length, separated by Chinese walls from the State, keeps the myth of Free Press alive. To dominate the debate, censorship is not the only solution. It is not even a preferred solution.

More noise is equally effective.

I get worried

When an editor starts with

I see three reasons why the future of this country is secure.

The first is that India is being dragged, kicking and screaming, to a rules-based regime.

The second is that the information asymmetry that traditionally allowed the haves (as in those with information) to lord it over the have-nots is eroding and might soon cease to be.

The third is that Indians today are less accepting and forgiving of corruption than they once were.

via Respect for the rules – Views – livemint.com.

On all three points, I would fault R.Sukumar – the author of post above and the editor of Mint.

The future of this country will be secure only when we get the Indian State to focus on the three important issues facing India, which are:

  1. defence
  2. Defence
  3. DEFENCE

 

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  1. September 15, 2012 at 11:07 pm

  2. Sridhar
    September 16, 2012 at 2:50 am

    Your conclusion that India should focus on DEFENCE and three times – I totally disagree. Sukumar is right. You seem to have some some bias but I cannot figure out what it is. You seem to discredit everything that is anti-congress or Govt. Slowly I can see through your mask.

    India does not need defence of the levels of global powers. It is sufficient to build one that is sufficient to take care of the region/neighbourhood.

    India needs the Anna, Baba and anti-corruption movements to keep the Govt in check.
    And India does not need 51% FDI in retail. I do not know what great cause Walmarts have championed to give them this bonanza. The local traders, smes, middlemen, farmers and many other small shop owners will be wiped out which is very very bad for the economy because everyone will be looking out job than be self-employed and economy will play into the hands of these big Retail giants who will dictate more and more terms to Govt. just like how FED is now going endlessly with QE, Indian Govt. will transfer wealth from Govt. to Pvt entrepreneurs without anything in return.

    Instead of tasting the goodies in the Govt. chocolate factory the workers are distributing the chocolates to all their children, friends, children’s children, friends’ friends etc. This is totally self-defeating to the Govt.

  3. Anonymous
    September 17, 2012 at 6:27 am

    Hello Anuraag,
    I had requested this on your latest 2ndlook post also, could you please address the issue of FDI in retail and it’s champions in the Indian Government, Media as well as ‘experts’ like Atanu Dey, who seem to be blinded by the ‘free-market ideology’ to the exclusion of ground realities. He seems to have a devoted group of followers who seem unable to take a 2ndlook at their dogma.

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