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Friday, 29 June 2012

What! Coca-Cola, Pepsi contain alcohol

London: Coca-Cola and Pepsi contain minute traces of alcohol, a study has revealed.
According to tests carried out by the Paris-based National Institute of Consumption, more than half of leading colas contain traces of alcohol, Daily Mail reported on Wednesday.

These include the brand leaders Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola, while it is mainly only cheap supermarket versions of the drink which are alcohol-free.
“60 Million Consumers”, the French magazine, published the results of the tests in its latest issue.
The tests suggest that the alcohol levels are as low as 10 mg in every litre, and this works out at around 0.001 per cent alcohol.
But the figures will still be enough to upset the thousands of Muslims who regularly drink Cola because their religion forbids them from drinking alcohol, the daily said.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Married to the Gandhis: The unbearable burden of being Robert Vadra

It’s a thankless job but somebody’s got to do it – wed and bed the Nehru/Gandhis, that is. “I gave up my life for Priyanka, fighting every day to not be a celebrity,” declares the nation’s First Son-in-law in his latest media outing. It’s been difficult, indeed. Given his multiple talents—most notably in fitness and cycling—Robert Vadra could have so easily been our very own Lance Armstrong, or at least Jane Fonda. The least the Gandhis can do is to reward their dutiful ghar jamaai with a Lok Sabha seat. And yet they demur with the wife herself publicly shooting down his modest ambitions.
Poor Robert. It’s no fun being a Gandhi damaad, or bahu, for that matter.
For starters, it’s an exercise in lifelong humiliation. Kamala was the uncultured hick bullied mercilessly by her sisters-in-law. Feroze was the upstart, first exiled and now memorialised as a troublemaker or, worse, as a sexual boor. Maneka was dismissed as a Delhi skank who snagged the bad brother, and Sonia, the dumb Italian waitress, who landed the other (and she remains so to this day).
In line with the Gandhis. Reuters
In our adoring eyes, no one is ever good enough for our political royals.
With Vadra, the insults cued in the moment the impending nuptials were announced. What in the world could our beauteous Priyanka be thinking? Outlook’s 1997 articlebegins on this auspicious note: “Businessman Robert Vadhera is unlikely to figure anywhere among the country’s 1,000 most eligible bachelors. Priyanka Gandhi‘s 28-year-old beau is short, fair, rather stocky and only moderately well-to-do.” It goes on to damn him with faint praise, describing him variously as “unremarkable man”; “an average student and not an outstanding sportsman”; and, most amusingly, as “a bit of a Puppy,” and not of the canine kind. In other words, he was all crass, no class, and unlike his predecessors, not even easy on the eye.
His own friends in Moradabad were in shock: “We haven’t stopped wondering what Priyanka could possibly see in the boy. There is nothing exceptional about him or the family.” Ouch!
But cheer up, Robert. At least, no one’s accused you of being an undercover Muslim whose rumoured exploits include making romantic advances on his future mother-in-law a la Feroze.
Worse, this constant public humiliation has to be endured in stoic silence. The golden rule of politics—spouses should be seen not heard—is sacred law in the Nehru/Gandhi family. Repeated violations can invite divine retribution. No wonder Sonia has a hard time unlearning the habits of a lifetime spent playing the family mute.
If speaking is a no-no, political ambition is a cardinal sin for outsiders; a biblical commandment Robert is either ignoring or has wilfully forgotten. Asked recently why he’d make a good politician, he replied, “I’m married into India’s first family of politics. What do you think we talk about? I’m a good learner. Like business is in my blood, politics is in Priyanka’s , and we’re married.”
Er, Robert, that’s exactly why you can never be a politician. The family has a storied history of summarily ejecting offenders without a moment’s notice. Nehru exiled Feroze for his antics in Parliament. Then it was off with Maneka, who was famously kicked out in the middle of the night for refusing to play the docile, grieving widow. The most a Gandhi-by-marriage can aspire for is to be appointed the official throne-warmer for the rightful heirs.
If rumours in Delhi circle of trouble in the Vadra household are accurate, Robert may well be next in line for ejection. This new-found verbosity bodes ill for the errant damaad who seems to have lost the weight and found his tongue. His growing biceps have instilled a soaring confidence that maybe somewhat misplaced.
“I am very determined, be it business or my fitness. I’ve lost 20 kg in five years. And in this much time, if I’d wanted to, I could have become a big celebrity. It’s been a fight to stay normal,” says Robert.
Well, if he wants to stay in the Gandhi family, he will just have to fight a wee bit harder.

Only Christian faith schools are acceptable: Amartya Sen

LONDON: Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has attacked the Tony Blair government for encouraging a society in which ethnic minorities were defined almost exclusively by their religion and for allegedly endorsing establishment of faith schools. He also said that faith schools, barring those run by Christians, should be scrapped. 

Christian schools "are perfectly acceptable" but other faith schools "are a big mistake and should be scrapped if the Government wants to encourage a unifying British identity," Sen said in an interview to Daily Telegraph. 

Claiming that the faith schools have been set up since the Government wanted to give them parity with Christian institutions, he said, "I am actually absolutely appalled." 

Sen, who has come from Harvard, is on a Britain tour delivering lectures on how religion is being used to pull this country apart and to encourage inter-communal violence. 

Speaking at the Nehru Centre last night, Sen praised Britain's multi-cultural society but criticised the Blair government for what he called two serious policy blunders - increasingly encouraging a society in which ethnic minorities were defined almost exclusively by their religion and endorsing the establishment of faith schools. 

In the interview, Sen said, "Christian schools have evolved and often provide a much more tolerant atmosphere than a purely religious school would. A lot of people in the Middle East or India or elsewhere have been educated in Christian schools. A lot of my friends came from St Xavier's in Kolkata- I don't think they were indoctrinated particularly in Christianity." But the new generation of faith schools "are not going to be like that," he added. 

Although he wanted mainstream British schools to broaden their curriculum to include more on the contribution of, say, Muslim mathematicians to science, Sen said faith schools "are a pretty bad thing. Educationally, it's not good for the child. 

"From the point of view of national unity, it's dreadful because, even before a child begins to think, it's being defined by its 'community', which is primarily religion. That also drowns out all other cultural things like language and literature. I am a believer in the importance of British identity." 

But he wanted the definition to be framed in such a way that allowed the evolution of a "plural multi-cultural society", rather than a "mono-cultural" one in which different groups lived side by side with little interaction. 

"We have many different identities because we belong to many differe nt groups. We are connected with our profession, occupation, class, gender, political views and language, literature, taste in music, involvement in social issues - and also religion. But just to separate out religion as one singularly important identity that has over-arching importance is a mistake. 

"One of the problems of what is happening in Britain today is that one identity, the religious identity, has been taken to represent almost everything." "Of course, this policy immediately has the effect of making some people extremely privileged - those who speak in the name of religion. There may be some moderate people but mostly they are extremists," he added. 

"Religion has been inadvertently politicised by the UK government in a way that is counter-productive. It makes the battle against terrorism so hamfisted and clumsy," he said.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Advani architect of Kalam candidature, I played Hanuman: Subramanian Swamy

Posted: 15 Jun 2012 10:25 AM PDT
The UPA regime's biggest trouble -- Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy -- made a startling admission on Thursday. Appearing on Headlines Today following an inside story in daily Mail Today on former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam's return as one of the strongest contenders for the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Swamy revealed that he was acting as "Hanuman" at the behest of BJP veteran L.K. Advani.
Though he praised Advani for his leadership saying the latter paved the way for the return of the "missile man" as a strong contender for the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Swamy insisted that it was he who had first came out with the idea of Kalam's return as the President.

"I spoke to Advani saying that I would like to find out the possibility of Kalam becoming the President again," Swamy told Headlines Today.
"Advani said 'go ahead and find out who all are supportive'," the man who filed several petitions against the UPA government, including those related to the massive 2G spectrum allocation scam, said.

He admitted that he was first asked to find out if Kalam would agree on his name. Kalam though agreed, he wanted a consensus over his name. But Swamy said he convinced the former scientist saying that unanimous decision was unlikely.

"I told him 'don't announce that you will not contest and do not heed to the rumours that are doing the rounds. Believe me, you can get 55 per cent votes in the electoral college'," Swamy said.

Asked if he should be credited for the sudden change of political scenario in the country, Swamy said, "I would compliment Advani rather than myself... He is a great leader... If anybody is the architect, then it is Advani. I just played the role of Hanuman."

Swamy also admitted to speaking to various political parties in and outside the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) apart from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the process of consultation with the leaders was still on.

The inside story

It was during an NDA meeting at the residence of Advani about 10 days ago where Swamy was asked to explore the possibility of bringing Kalam on board to be a presidential candidate.

Besides Advani, BJP was represented by party president Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Jaswant Singh. The other leaders present included Shiromani Akali Dal's Sukhbir Singh Badal and Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut.
Swamy started working on the mission the very next day meeting Kalam at his Delhi residence. Kalam was unwilling to throw his hat in the ring unless he was a consensus candidate. He was able to convince Kalam.

Swamy then rushed back to Advani's house to prepare the rest of the game plan. The next step was to reach out to the UPA allies, particularly Samajwadi Party and Trinamool Congress. Since SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had originally backed Kalam's name in 2002, he was easily convinced.

Though the SP resolved to back Kalam at the meeting of its parliamentary board on June 11, it kept the decision secret. However, with some doubts left in his mind, it required another round for Yadav with Jaswant Singh to make up his mind once again on Kalam's candidature.

Swamy then convinced Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee which was the tougher part of his assignment.
After the two UPA associates agreed, the political drama in Delhi was there for everybody to see. Banerjee and Yadav met many times in the capital making the dramatic announcement of their choices on Wednesday evening.

2G घोटाले में सोनिया गाँधी के विरुद्ध पर्याप्त प्रमाण हैं : डा.सुब्रह्मण्यम स्वामी

enough evidence against sonia gandhi, 2G, dr swamy, upa II, anti hindu govt, swamy vsजनता पार्टी के अध्यक्ष, पूर्व केन्द्रीय मंत्री और देश के जाने-माने कानूनविद् डा.सुब्रह्मण्यम स्वामी ही वह व्यक्ति हैं, जिन्होंने 2 जी स्पेक्ट्रम आवंटन घोटाले को जोर-शोर से उठाया। परिणामस्वरूप करीब 1.76 लाख करोड़ रु. के इस घोटाले के आरोप में कई लोग जेल की हवा खाकर इन दिनों जमानत पर हैं। स्वतंत्र भारत के इस सबसे बड़े घोटाले का मामला विशेष न्यायालय में तेजी से चल रहा है। इधर डा. स्वामी इस मामले में केन्द्रीय गृहमंत्री पी. चिदम्बरम को आरोपी बनाने की जी-तोड़ कोशिश कर रहे हैं। वे चिदम्बरम के मामले को सर्वोच्च न्यायालय तक ले गए हैं। सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ने इस पर बहस पूरी कर निर्णय सुरक्षित रख लिया है। उम्मीद है जुलाई माह में सर्वोच्च न्यायालय पी. चिदम्बरम के भाग्य पर फैसला सुना देगा। 2 जी मामले में अब तक क्या प्रगति हुई इस पर पाञ्चजन्य ने डा.सुब्रह्मण्यम स्वामी से लम्बी बातचीत की, जिसके मुख्यांश यहां प्रस्तुत हैं। - सं. अरुण कुमार सिंह

अब तक 2 जी मामला कहां तक पहुंचा है? - अभी 2 जी के मामले दो जगह चल रहे हैं। एक तो सर्वोच्च न्यायालय में और दूसरा विशेष सत्र न्यायालय में। सर्वोच्च न्यायालय में गृहमंत्री पी.चिदम्बरम को सह-आरोपी बनाने का मामला है। इस पर जुलाई में फैसला आने की उम्मीद है। विशेष न्यायालय में एक साथ दो मामले चल रहे हैं। एक मामला सीबीआई ने दायर किया है, दूसरा मेरे द्वारा दाखिल किया गया है। सीबीआई और मेरे मामले में एक फर्क है। मैं केवल राजनीतिज्ञों को आरोपी बना रहा हूं, तो सीबीआई 2 जी से जुड़े सरकारी बाबुओं और अन्य उद्योगपतियों को आरोपी बना रही है। उम्मीद है सीबीआई के मामले पर जल्द ही सुनवाई पूरी हो जाएगी, जबकि मेरे आवेदन को निपटाने में थोड़ा और समय लगेगा, चूंकि मेरा मामला राजनीतिज्ञों से जुड़ा है। उसमें अभी कई तरह की अड़चनें डाली जा सकती हैं। सीबीआई ने अपने आरोपपत्र में जिन राजनीतिज्ञों को छोड़ा है मैं उन्हें आरोपी बनाने का प्रयास कर रहा हूं। उन्हीं राजनीतिज्ञों में गृहमंत्री पी.चिदम्बरम भी हैं। मैं उन्हें सह- आरोपी बनाने की मांग कर रहा हूं।

किंतु पिछले दिनों एक न्यायालय ने चिदम्बरम के संदर्भ में आपकी दलील को खारिज कर दिया था - उस न्यायालय ने कहा कि पी.चिदम्बरम के खिलाफ ऐसा कोई सबूत नहीं है जिसके आधार पर उनके खिलाफ मामला चलाया जाए। इसके बाद मैं सर्वोच्च न्यायालय गया। वहां बहस पूरी हो चुकी है। निर्णय सुरक्षित रखा गया है। मेरी मांग है कि सीबीआई इस बात की जांच करे कि 2 जी स्पेक्ट्रम के आवंटन में तत्कालीन वित्त मंत्री और अब गृह मंत्री पी. चिदम्बरम की क्या भूमिका रही है? जिस दिन इस जांच की अनुमति दी जाएगी उसी दिन पी.चिदम्बरम को अपने पद से इस्तीफा देना पड़ेगा। चिदम्बरम के साथ मैं दयानिधि मारन को भी जोड़ूंगा, क्योंकि वे भी एयरसेल को 2 जी बेचने के मामले में शामिल थे।

2 जी के मामले में आप बराबर संप्रग अध्यक्ष सोनिया गांधी और उनके परिवार को भी घसीटते हैं। उनके खिलाफ आपके पास कोई सबूत है? - मैं उन लोगों में से नहीं हूं जो केवल बोलने के लिए बोलते हैं। मैं तभी कुछ बोलता हूं जब मेरे पास उसके पुख्ता सबूत होते हैं। सोनिया गांधी और उनके परिवार के खिलाफ तो बहुत लोगों के पास सबूत हैं। पर वे लोग कुछ बोलते नहीं हैं। लेकिन मैं चुप नहीं रहूंगा। उचित समय पर उन सबूतों को बाहर निकाला जाएगा और सोनिया गांधी को भी 2 जी घोटाले में आरोपी बनाने की पूरी कोशिश की जाएगी। जिस दिन सोनिया गांधी 2 जी मामले में सह-आरोपी बन जाएंगी उस दिन उनके परिवार के अनेक लोग भी मुसीबत में पड़ जाएंगे।

2 जी आवंटन के मामले में जितने लोग भी जेल में बंद थे, वे सभी जमानत पर बाहर आ गए हैं। उस पर आपकी क्या राय है? - चूंकि यह कोई आपराधिक मामला नहीं है इसलिए आरोपियों को जमानत मिल गई है। फिर भी मैं कहूंगा कि आरोपियों को काफी समय बाद जमानत मिली है। इससे इस मामले की गंभीरता पता चलती है, जबकि इस तरह के मामलों में जमानत आसानी से मिल जाती है। अन्य मामलों से उलट 2 जी मामले पर बड़ी तेजी से सुनवाई हो रही है।

वर्तमान केन्द्र सरकार के तीन साल पूरे हुए हैं। उसके कामकाज पर आपकी राय? - इस सरकार का विश्वास लोकतंत्र पर नहीं रह गया है। यह केवल लूटतंत्र पर विश्वास करने लगी है। हर तरफ से जनता को लूटो, उस पर 'कर' लगाओ, यही नीति है इस सरकार की। सरकार की गलतियों के कारण आज शेयर बाजार गिर रहा है, डालर के मुकाबले रुपया टूट रहा है। उस पर सरकार कहती है कि पैसा नहीं है, तेल के दाम बढ़ाओ, जनता पर कर लगाओ। यदि ईमानदारी से प्रयास किया जाए तो सरकार को देश चलाने के लिए जनता से कर भी लेने की जरूरत नहीं पड़ेगी। यदि बाजार भाव से स्पेक्ट्रम, कोयला खदानों और कृष्णा गोदावरी (जहां कच्चा तेल प्राप्त होता है) की ही नीलामी की जाए तो देश को लगभग 5.5 लाख करोड़ रु.का राजस्व प्राप्त होगा, जबकि कर के रूप में देश को लगभग 4.90 लाख करोड़ रु. प्राप्त होते हैं।

मनमोहन सरकार ने अपने कार्यकाल में अनेक ऐसे कार्य किए हैं, जिन्हें हिन्दू विरोधी कहा जाता है। उन कार्यों का हिन्दू समाज पर क्या प्रभाव पड़ेगा? - इस सरकार ने चार-पांच लोगों को पकड़कर काल्पनिक रूप से 'हिन्दू आतंकवाद' का भ्रमजाल खड़ा करने की पूरी कोशिश की। किंतु किसी काल्पनिक चीज का कोई सबूत नहीं होता है। उसी प्रकार उन लोगों के खिलाफ भी सरकार को कोई सबूत नहीं मिल रहा है। अब सरकार उन्हें न तो बाहर करने की स्थिति में है और न ही अंदर रखने की स्थिति में। हां, सरकार की इस हरकत से पाकिस्तान को जरूर फायदा हुआ है। वह समझौता एक्सप्रेस विस्फोट मामले में निहायत ही घटिया मांग कर रहा है। इसके अलावा इस सरकार ने कई ऐसे कार्य किए हैं, जिनसे हिन्दुओं में आक्रोश है।


Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Cementing of dynastic democracy

Rajiv Gandhi’s sole public reference to the anti-Sikh riots can only be interpreted as remorseless, if not inhuman.
Rajiv Gandhi addressing an election campaign meeting in Bihar in 1991. REUTERS
ndira Gandhi was assassinated on 31 October 1984, at 9.20 a.m. and breathed her last at 10.50 a.m. Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as Prime Minister later that same night. The omens were foul. Delhi had broken out into mob violence and a frenzy of communal riots, murdering, burning, and butchering innocent members of the Sikh community indiscriminately, all orchestrated and with the active participation of Congress Party stalwarts.
That evening I met Home Minister Narasimha Rao, urging him to take immediate steps to protect Sikhs from further attacks. I received no satisfactory reply from the Home Minister, who almost confessed that the situation was not being controlled by him. I thought I must speak to the President or the new Prime Minister, but both were unavailable. I then collected about 50 practicing lawyers from the Supreme Court who included the late Mr Tarkunde, and Mr Kapil Sibal, and we went into the areas where Sikhs were hiding in sheer terror, with not a single policeman on duty. My daughter Rani rescued a few injured Sikhs who were hiding in dark corners of some miserable houses and took them to AIIMS. The doctors refused any medical help, and admission was out of the question. Fortunately, my good friend Dr Jain took charge of them in his private, but not very well equipped, clinic, while we went around the disturbed localities. We divided ourselves into groups of three and four to help the victims as much as we could. Mr Tarkunde and I were attacked by a mob. We merely sat down on a large stone and told the attackers that we were ready to be killed. But someone in the crowd recognised us and put some sense into our determined assassins and our lives were spared. It is a shame for India that an entire community was made the victim of genocide, while the guardians of law and public order remained wholly paralysed, by, undoubtedly, secret instructions of the new dispensation.
On 2 November, curfew was announced throughout Delhi, but not enforced. The Army was deployed, but was ineffective because the police did not co-operate, and it could not resort to force without the consent of senior police officers and executive magistrates. The mobs continued to rampage.
It is a deplorable failing of Rajiv Gandhi, that having taken over the mantle of Prime Minister through dynastic compulsions of the Congress party, even if on the night of his mother's death, he forgot that he had also taken over attendant public responsibilities. His sole public reference to the anti-Sikh riots can only be interpreted as remorseless, if not inhuman: "When a giant tree falls, the mother earth below shakes." During his tenure as Prime Minister, he exercised neither his moral authority nor his political power to redress the deep injuries of 1984. As on date, no Congress leaders who perpetrated and led the anti Sikh riots have been punished, and some continue to enjoy important positions in government today. As I have repeatedly stated, it is only the greatness of the Sikh community that they have forgiven the Congress.
The formal institution of the dynastic democracy model had begun, the first in India, with Rajiv Gandhi bearing its imprimatur. This Nehru-Gandhi dynastic entitlement gradually started getting replicated across the country and spread to other political families of India. Today, it has become a political tradition in our democracy, deriving legitimacy from its originators. Indira Gandhi had made it publicly known that her closest political confidant was her son Sanjay. After Sanjay's death in 1980, she persuaded her unwilling son Rajiv to join politics and fill the void created by Sanjay. He was elected MP from Amethi, Sanjay Gandhi's constituency, in February 1981, and became his mother's close political advisor. He then became president of the Youth Congress, and it was widely perceived that Indira Gandhi was grooming Rajiv for the Prime Minister's job.
What is it in the Nehru-Gandhi family that compels them to anoint only immediate family members as alter egos or heirs apparent? Obviously, their secrets regarding their political and financial misdeeds are such that there is no substitute for immediate family when it comes to trust and protection. The keys to the treasury must always be held by them, the keys to secret cupboards containing their corruption files must never be lost, be it the Bofors case, foreign bank accounts, smuggling of antiquities, to name a few. Hence, the need for an inner circle of family confidants, a second circle of trusted coteries, and an outer circle of sycophants and hangers on, who are given blandishments and retainers to keep the inner circle protected and take the blame, or do a cover up job whenever the need arises. When not in power, these coteries and sycophants must engineer and activate cover up networks, to hush up or obfuscate any exposures. Dynasty converts all the resources and tools of democracy towards achieving these ends, and perpetuate its continuance, while fooling the nation through homilies on transparency and zero tolerance to corruption.
Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister was singularly lacklustre and mediocre. In one of his debut speeches made during the Congress Plenary Session in Mumbai, he publicly acknowledged the systems of corruption in governance institutionalised by his mother and brother. "If Central government releases one rupee for the poor," he said, "only 10 paisa reaches them."
His 64th Amendment Bill for giving Constitutional status to Panchayati Raj was defeated in the Rajya Sabha in 1989, and was carried through only when Narasimha Rao became Prime Minister in 1993. Though Rajiv's heirs claim much political credit for it and the purported decentralisation, evidence from the field suggests that it has certainly decentralised corruption that now runs through new pipelines from New Delhi to state capitals to the villages of India, and created a new breed of village despots and exploiters of the aam admi. And it is highly likely that the amount of 10 paisa reaching the aam aadmi has reduced further.
Rajiv Gandhi's pretensions to his dream for India and modernity were completely exposed in his stand on the Shah Bano case, in which the Supreme Court ruled that Shah Bano be given alimony by her divorced husband. Muslim fundamentalists agitated that it was an encroachment in their Personal Law. Under their pressure, in 1986, the Congress, which had an absolute majority in Parliament at the time, passed an Act that nullified the Supreme Court's judgement in the Shah Bano case. This can only be seen as retrogressive obscurantism for short-term minority populism, that betrayed the welfare and protection of Muslim women in India. His colleague Arif Mohammad Khan had made a wonderful speech befitting a rational intellectual, that he was in favour of the Supreme Court position. Rajiv Gandhi pretended to applaud, but soon succumbed to fundamentalist elements and pushed through the infamous legislation nullifying the Supreme Court judgement.
To be continued

Lanka, Rajiv’s fatal misadventure

Ram Jethmalani is a senior politician and eminent lawyer.

Handling the Lanka-Tamil problem needed diplomatic skill, vision and sound advice, all of which seemed lacking.
Rajiv Gandhi
ndia's Sri Lanka diplomacy under Rajiv Gandhi turned out to be his fatal misadventure, a thoughtless military intervention under the guise of peace keeping that brought great humiliation and loss to our Army, before taking his own life. Some subcontinent analysts termed it as India's Vietnam.
It was difficult diplomacy for any country to handle under any circumstances. There were complexities of ethnic ties, strategic interests and geopolitical considerations. India had for decades supported the Tamil movement, trained guerrillas and armed them, particularly in the time of Indira Gandhi. To shift from this position to one of allying with the Sri Lankan government, finding a solution to a chronic ethnic conflict, as well as maintaining covert aid to the Tamil rebels would require immense diplomatic skill and manoeuvres, an exceedingly long-term and lateral vision, and sound, capable advisors, all of which seemed lacking.
The ethnic problem in Sri Lanka started after its independence from Britain in 1948. The independent Sri Lankan government indulged in discriminatory policies against the Tamil minorities. In the 1970s, two major Tamil parties united to form the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) that started agitating for a separate state of Tamil Eelam in northern and eastern Sri Lanka, within the federal structure. Violence and a civil war erupted, and the government's response was tough. The Sri Lankan army in 1987 laid siege to Jaffna, an LTTE stronghold, resulting in large-scale civilian casualties and a humanitarian crisis. After failing to convince the Sri Lankan government to halt the offensive diplomatically, and after failure of a naval attempt to provide humanitarian assistance, India took a hard decision to carry out Operation Poomalai, an airdrop of humanitarian supplies commencing 4 June 1987. Sri Lanka was informed through its ambassador in New Delhi that any opposition "would be met by force". The airdrop mission was one mission that was successful.
Meanwhile, pressure grew within India to intervene on behalf of the Tamils and halt the offensive in an attempt to negotiate a political settlement. Prior to signing the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord, Prabhakaran was airlifted to New Delhi for one to one discussions with Rajiv Gandhi in July 1987. It is reported to have been a very cordial meeting, which ended with Rajiv Gandhi ironically placing his bullet-proof jacket on the back of his future assassin, Velupillai Prabhakaran's, saying, "take care of yourself." Later, he fobbed off his advisors' warnings that Prabhakaran was not be trusted and would not keep his word, particularly on disarming by the LTTE, and helping India find a solution through the accord that was to be signed in Colombo.
The late Balasingham, Prabhakaran's aide, who accompanied him, wrote later that Rajiv and Prabhakaran had a "gentleman's agreement" under which the LTTE supremo, even though he had deep reservations about the provisions of the agreement, would not oppose it in public, and that he would make only a token surrender of arms. Rajiv had agreed to compensate LTTE's financial loss if it were to dismantle its tax collection regime in Jaffna.
But the shrewd President Jayewardene was able to change Rajiv's mind and extract from him the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord signed in Colombo on 29 July 1987. The gentleman's agreement with Prabhakaran was placed on the back burner. Colombo agreed to a devolution of power to the provinces, Sri Lankan troops were to be withdrawn to their barracks in the north and Tamil rebels were to surrender their arms. India agreed to end support for the Tamil separatist movement and recognise the unity of Sri Lanka. The Indo-Sri Lanka Accord also underlined the commitment of Indian military assistance on which the Indian Peace Keeping Force came to be inducted into Sri Lanka. However, the LTTE and other Tamil groups were not made party to the talks. Though they initially agreed to surrender their arms to the IPKF, they later refused to disarm.
The Tamils in Sri Lanka felt completely betrayed by the Accord. The day after the signing of the Accord, Rajiv Gandhi was assaulted with a rifle by a Sinhalese cadet while receiving the guard of honour. The LTTE started to target the IPKF that now found itself engaged in a bloody police action against them, instead of brokering peace. In 1990, India in humiliation, withdrew the last of its forces from Sri Lanka, and fighting between the LTTE and the government resumed. Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by an LTTE suicide bomber at Sriperumbudur on 21 May 1991, during an election rally. This was the LTTE's revenge for the gross betrayal. Rajiv's Intelligence Bureau failed him in having no inkling about the assassination plot, though it had taken several months to plan, and he failed himself by showing no acumen and foresight to sense the danger lurking on his life. IPKF became for Rajiv what Blue Star was for Indira.
There is a macabre twist to the tragedy. My good friend Subramanian Swamy has placed in the public domain that since 1984 Sonia's Gandhi's mother Paola Predebon Maino, and friend Ottavio Quattrocchi, maintained regular contact with the Tamil Tigers. The mother used the LTTE for money laundering and Quattrocchi for selling weapons to earn commissions. To the best of my knowledge, this information appears to remain un-refuted by anyone even today.
To be continued

The demise of Mr Clean

Ram Jethmalani is a senior politician and eminent lawyer.

The Bofors scandal destroyed the clean image Rajiv Gandhi assiduously tried to create for around two years.

Soldiers carry shells near a Bofors FH-77B 155mm artillery gun stationed in Kashmir’s Drass sector in July 1999. REUTERS
ajiv Gandhi's ascent to the Prime Ministerial chair was on the night of his mother's assassination. Not at all auspicious, said many astrologers and laymen who predicted that the stars were inimical and that catastrophes would follow. One did not need a soothsayer to tell us that the stars were foul. We could see it before our very eyes. Delhi was submerged in violence and the worst anti-Sikh riots continued for several days. However, I still tried to give as much benefit of doubt as possible to Rajiv. I hoped and believed that Rajiv's gentle character and his opening salvo against prevalent corruption would master the stars very soon.
I remember I was in Mauritius on a short visit soon after he became Prime Minister. The local press managed to corner me and naturally asked me about our new ruler. I paid the young man a handsome tribute: "He is not spoilt by politics and the company of venal types. He has been quietly leading a happy family life and is enjoying his modest job. No one has heard even an unsavoury rumour about him. He has taken Mr V.P. Singh in his Cabinet who has an excellent reputation for integrity. He has already condemned the prevalent corruption and declared his resolve to terminate it. I think our nation is safe in his hands."
Well, as it turned out, I was proved so wrong so soon. The Lankan misadventure proclaimed the poverty of his politics, and Bofors proclaimed the death of Mr "Clean", the image he had assiduously tried to create for almost two years, which proved to be such a complete hoax. It was on 16 April 1987 that the Swedish radio put on air the Bofors story to the shock of Rajiv and his government and the shame of the Indian nation. My friend Prashant Bhushan in his book Bofors: The selling of a Nation, thus describes the fateful night: "It was past midnight on 16 April 1987 that the phone rang at the house of the Director of Intelligence Bureau, M.K Narayanan. It was the Prime Minister's aide, M.L. Fotedar, on the line. The Prime Minister wanted to see Narayanan right away. Narayanan took the precaution of checking with his control room before he left. Within minutes he reached the Prime Minister's house, and found that the acting Director of Research and Analysis Wing (India's foreign intelligence outfit), R. Govindarajan, had also reached there almost simultaneously. They were immediately ushered into the Prime Minister's office. The Prime Minister was wide awake and quickly asked them what was happening. Govindarajan, who had just returned from out of town the previous night, was taken by surprise. He had no idea what the Prime Minister wanted to know. Poor Govindarajan was soon superseded and his junior A.K. Verma was appointed the Chief of RAW. Narayanan, however, informed the PM that the Swedish radio had that day broadcast a story about Bofors having paid bribes to secure the Howitzer contract from India.
"One doesn't know how long the Prime Minister was closeted with his aides that night, nor what strategy was plotted out. But it was decided that night that an informal denial should be put out since the radio's story was bound to be picked up by some of the newspapers the next morning. The Press Trust of India, one of the two main news agencies, was used for this purpose."
The Swedish radio must have clearly foreseen the storm that their revelations would create in the Indian media and politics. They had arranged to get Rolf Porseryd, their Hong Kong correspondent, to locate himself in India and report the developments to a news hungry and deeply curious world audience.

Rajiv Gandhi
The newspapers of 17 April 1987 carried banner headlines. The respectable Reuters quoted Swedish Radio as saying that Bofors won the $1.3 billion Howitzer contract by paying bribes to senior Indian politicians and key defence officials through a secret Swiss bank account; four installments totaling 32 million Swedish Kroner were paid into secret Swiss accounts in November and December 1986, that could be traced to senior figures responsible for placing India's military orders.
The Rajiv government almost simultaneously stated the official case, namely, that the "radio story is entirely baseless and mischievous". This denial did not receive the desired display and impact, but it is of the greatest importance and of probative value to one who understands circumstantial evidence of the conduct of an accused after the accusation is publicly made against him. After a secret discussion in the Political Affairs Committee and the Cabinet, the following addition was made to the earlier cryptic denial: "During negotiations with Bofors, the Government had made it clear that the company should not pay any money to any person in connection with the contract... Government policy was not to promote any clandestine or irregular payments in any contract; any breach of this policy would be most severely dealt with... The report of pay-offs is one more link in the chain of denigration and destabilization of our political system... The government is determined to defeat the sinister design with all its might."
I read with dismay this shocking and clumsy fabrication of the defence. The denial was a sure pointer towards the guilt of those making it, and I will in explain why in the next part of this article.

Some questions for Mr Mukherjee

Ram Jethmalani is a senior politician and eminent lawyer.

Pranab Mukherjee during a special sitting to mark 60 years of Parliament, in the Lok Sabha, New Delhi last month. PTI
inance Minister Pranab Mukerjee's White Paper on black money surprisingly conceals from the public any information regarding the legal Damocles sword hanging over his government, in the form of the Supreme Court judgement announced in July 2011, in the Public Interest Litigation filed by me in 2009 in the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court judgement in its operative portion has ordered that a) the existing High Level Committee constituted by the government to oversee and coordinate investigations into cases of money laundering and stashing black money in tax havens be forthwith appointed as a Special Investigation Team; b) the SIT would be headed by two former eminent judges of the Supreme Court; c) the SIT would be responsible for ongoing and future investigations regarding unaccounted monies in the cases of Hasan Ali, Kashinath Tapuriah, and other known instances, and all other matters with respect to unaccounted monies being stashed in foreign banks that may arise in the course of the investigation; e) that the SIT would be responsible to the Court. The Supreme Court has also ordered that the government shall forthwith disclose to the petitioners all the documents and information secured from Germany regarding the Liechtenstein names, with some reasonable conditions, and that the SIT shall expeditiously investigate the same.
I would like to pose some questions to the Finance Minister regarding this. Did not the Supreme Court in its ruling in the Public Interest Litigation filed by me state that despite the fraudulent and frivolous arguments put forth by its lawyers, his UPA government in power had taken no serious steps to recover the money and punish the criminals? Did not the Supreme Court put the government investigation team under the supervision and control of two respectable and reputed ex Justices of the Supreme Court to investigate the gigantic dacoity on the legitimate assets of the impoverished Indian aam admi, to recover the money and retrieve the stolen wealth? Did not the Supreme Court order that the government should disclose to me as the petitioner, and to my co-petitioners the identity of the criminals involved, whose names are on the lists?
The UPA government, instead of implementing the Supreme Court Order, that would have been the defining indicator of its bona fides in retrieving the black money looted from the people of India, has instead demanded a recall of the order. This establishes its complete mala fide, connivance and conspiracy, and confirms that it has no intention of taking any substantive steps to recover the black money stashed away abroad, or take any serious action to combat this grievous economic crime impoverishing our nation — the 21st century version of UPA imperialism. The nation should also be informed that no investigation has taken place regarding the issues before it since the Supreme Court judgement. Why does the Finance Minister conceal these extremely pertinent facts in his Paper?
The White Paper coyly discusses the dimensions of black money stashed away abroad by quoting statistics that are more than a decade old, saying that these are being researched upon by three agencies whose report is expected in September 2012. So why present this White Paper now, if the government claims it has no knowledge of the quantum of black money lying abroad? Interestingly, the Paper officially discloses a figure regarding Indian accounts held with Swiss banks, at around only US $213 billion (as against $88 billion projected by the IMF, and $213.2 billion by GFI), down 60% between 2006 and 2010. A reasonable conclusion that can be drawn is that black money holders, in anticipation of international and national public pressure (not governmental) are transferring their money around to other safe havens, the safest, it is said, being India. The last two years have seen several enabling statutes and mechanisms to stealthily repatriate the ill-gotten wealth back to India.
I am also given to understand that there is evidence of a huge disparity between export figures, particularly of metals quoted by government, and actual exports through data available from independent sources. The same applies to figures regarding FIIs. The game is clear. Use every tool and instrument of government to repatriate the money back to India, without disclosure, culpability or punishment. There must be ways and ways that we can never fathom or document, but the black money holders control legislation, either through being important politicians, or big businesses, who can buy safe passage, necessary loopholes and escape routes through statute or legislation.
I ask the Finance Minister — has he not by his criminal negligence and active cooperation with the criminals allowed the stolen money to be removed from the accounts in which it was held and only a small fraction remains, which too he is determined to place beyond the reach of the people of India who are its legitimate owners?
As I always suspected, the White Paper on black money provides no fresh insights, information, analyses on this mammoth national plunder. In fact, it meanders and misdirects, pointing fingers at real estate owners and jewellers as major culprits, without explaining that they are merely the jugglers and not the generators of black money. Even social sector schemes, such as the NREGA are not spared as possible suspects. But most tragically, it provides not even a faint shadow of political will to recover the black money and use it for national development. Truly, it is not even a bikini, as my friend Jaswant Singh has called it. It is more like a shroud burying the entire issue. A Black Paper on Black Money.
Mr Finance Minister, you may have no fear of the law or the courts, but remember that there is a greater law, of nature or of the Gods. Several seemingly invincible powerful families, one of which you serve, have met their retribution tragically. Remember, there is no escape from the divine wrath of God or nature that awaits the wicked and corrupt.

Finance Minister’s White Paper on black money provides no fresh insights on illegal wealth stashed abroad.