December 11, 2017

Modi and corrupt business lobby

The experienced and seasoned leader Narendra Modi is, it would be foolish on anyone's part to think that he was not well aware of the outlash he will face from the business community for a disruptive step such as GST which will force the trading community to pay taxes on goods, something they have been evading since forever. GST and taking disruptive steps have been the need of the hour to increase the transparency and bring more indirect taxes into the net.
Last year, he took on a community which no one in the history of India had ever dared to ruffle - the Jewellers. He imposed a cess on jewellery traders bringing their sales in the tax net. Didn't Modi know that it will lead to outlash from the jewellers ?
Wasn't Modi aware of the implicit but strong outlash he will face from Central government employees for introducing Biometric attendance ?? Those who were used to come at 11 am, play Golf in the lunch hours and leave by 3 pm have to stay for the entire duration of office.
Those who used to earn hundreds of crores by bribes in appointment of government class-3 and class-4 officers during interviews have nowhere to go as interviews have been abolished and appointment is based on online results. Didn't Modi know that he is taking on the strongest lobby of middlemen - those who act as brokers in central govt recruiting ??
Another biggest disruption has been DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer). The corruption in distribution of LPG, Kerosene, Scholarship, MNREGA wages, PDS etc by fake accounts due to subsidy leakage have been stopped to an extent that government is saving 60,000 crore annually. Wasn't Modi aware that this disruption will anger all the middlemen, traders and dealers engaged in this activity since decades ??
*Modi is very well aware of what he is doing! He doesn't need to be on backfoot. Winning elections must never be the sole aim of any leader who is determined to clean the country of its corruption.* Had he just wanted to win elections, there was no need for so many disruptive policies one by one. He could have literally let these black practices going on and not touched this powerful lobby of middlemen and traders.

*These decisions have NOT been taken for winning elections; they have been taken for the COUNTRY'S HEALTH in the LONG RUN !!*

(PS - Yes, GST being very new and the country being huge, there are some technical issues and timely reviews are needed, which the government has assured right since the beginning. But the overall outrage against GST in entirety is just a display of frustration from traders who now have to pay taxes.)

*If Modi fails in his fight againt corruption and black money, no PM of India will have the courage to take this issue again on his agenda for next 100 years and corrupt politicians, beaurocrates, police, criminals and businessman will keep looting this country as their birth right.* So it is the duty of every resposible citizen to stand in support of PM Modi and fail the evil design of corrupt people to incite violence and create anarchy.
*If we fail to do our duty today, our children and grandchildren will never forgive us, will hold us responsible for not giving them a clean India.*
*If you agree with this message, please send it to all your contacts and groups.*

A tale of Congress betrayal: Bizenjo speech for freedom of Balochistan — December 12, 1947

 mustikhan  Uncategorized December 11, 2017 4 Minutes

Not many Indians know but it was the Congress party that led to the bloody enslavement of Balochistan.

On this date December 12, 1947 a chapter in what later became the blood-checkered history of Balochistan’s struggle was written in the town of Dhadhar in France-sized Balochistan. It was a Friday.

Here Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo, leader of the Kalat State National Party, who later became governor of Balochistan, made a case for the independence of Balochistan in the lower house of Balochistan parliament, called Darul Awam. After his speech, the Darul Awam unanimously rejected the idea of any merger with what what was then less than four-month-old Pakistan.

Here is Bizenjo’s speech:

We have a distinct civilization, we have a separate culture like that of Iran and Afghanistan.

We are Muslims but it is not necessary that by virtue of our being Muslims we should loose our freedom and merge with others. If the mere fact that we are Muslims requires us to join Pakistan then Afghanistan and Iran both Muslim countries should also amalgamate with Pakistan . . . 

The British conquered Asia through the force of the sword. They also subjugated the Baloch homeland. We never accepted their authority. We resisted their rule but being oppressive and cruel they deprived us of our freedom.

We were a separate entity. We were never part of India before the British over-lordship.

Pakistan’s unpleasant and loathsome desire that our national homeland, Balochistan, should merge with it is impossible to concede. 

It is unimaginable to agree to such a demand . . . It is no secret that before the creation of Pakistan, our Khan had patronized the Muslim League. Our homes, bungalows and transport were at their disposal. 

Under the Khan’s guidance many Baloch helped the League through every possible means.

What was our attitude towards Pakistan and what is its behaviour towards us ?

Lasbela and Kharan, two constituent units of Balochistan are being snatched away.

Kalat’s sovereignty over those areas has been accepted by the British. 

We never want to subjugate them. That is not our intention. They are our brethern in blood and have been part of Kalat in that capacity.

Pakistan has even refused talks and is making any discussion on the subject conditional on the repentance of the Baloch government and its prostration.

Before them……we are ready to have friendship with that country on the basis of sovereign equality but by no means ready to merge with Pakistan.

We cannot humiliate the Baloch nation and amalgamate it with others. 

How can we sign the national death warrant of fifteen million Asian Baloch?

That is inconceivable. That is impossible.

We cannot be party to such a grave mistake . . . We cannot commit such a great crime . . . 

We are told that we Baloch cannot defend ourselves in that atomic age. 

Well, are Afghanistan, Iran and even Pakistan capable of defending themselves?

Today if Russia and America so desire, they can wipe out many such states from the world map. If we cannot defend ourselves, a lot of others cannot do so either . . . 

As regards the question of statehood, let me emphasize that no Asian country including Pakistan fulfils the criteria of a modern state in true sense . . .

They say we must join Pakistan for economic reasons.

That is also absurd. We may not have hard currency but we have numerous means of income. We have minerals, we have petroleum, we have ports.

We should not be made slaves on the pretext of economic viability.  We can survive without Pakistan.

We can prosper outside Pakistan. But the question is what Pakistan would be without us?

I do not propose to create hurdles for the newly created Pakistan in matters of defense and external communication.

But we want an honorable relationship, not a humiliating one.

If Pakistan wants to treat us as a sovereign people, we are ready to extend the hand of friendship and cooperation.

If Pakistan does not agree to do so, flying in the face of democratic principles, such an attitude will be totally unacceptable to us, and if we are forced to accept this fate then every Baloch son will sacrifice his life in defense of his national freedom.

Despite the rejection of the idea of merger with Pakistan– the rejection subsequently also endorsed by the Darul Khas (House of Lords)–, India’s betrayal led to the enslavement of Balochistan. Pakistan was able to merge Balochistan at the point of gun as Maulana Abul Kalam, president of Indian National Congress, refused to side with Balochistan’s freedom. Bizenjo, who was fondly called Baba-i-Balochistan, told this writer more than 40 years later that a delegation of Kalat State National Party met Maulana Azad prior to partition to seek India’s support. Azad, however, told the delegation that raising the issue will give the British an excuse to delay their departure from India. Azad said the freedom of India could not be held hostage just because of the question of Balochistan. (Late Bizenjo was a family friend of this writer and as per his will his last rites began at Mustikhan Lodge, Karachi).

In fact, according to the Daily MailPakistan action followed an AIR broadcast on March 27, 1948, which reported a press conference by VP Menon, a civil servant who played a key role during India’s Partition, saying the Khan “was pressing India to accept Kalat’s accession”, but “India would have nothing to do with it”.

According to Pakistan’s investigative The Friday Times The issue was also raised in the Lok Sabha by Balkrishna Sharma to which Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru responded in detail that, “In view of the geographical position of Kalat state, the question did not arise at all.”

Pakistan ports and shipping minister Mir Hasil Bizenjo (second from right) with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani (center) at Chabahar port last week.

Unlike Bizenjo, his whiskey-loving son Pakistan ports and shipping minister Mir Hasil Bizenjo, president of the National Party– a close friend of Mani Shankar Aiyer– has reportedly sold out to the Deep State. He is playing a key role in handing over the Gwadar Port to the Chinese under the military’s bayonets. The younger Bizenjo has earned for himself the nickname of Khawaja Khairuddin, after the deceased East Pakistan politician who sided with Pakistan army in 1971

US-Pakistan relations: A broken record

By Michael Kugelman

Updated 1423 GMT (2223 HKT) December 5, 2017

Defense Secretary James Mattis is welcomed at the tarmac as he arrives in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017.

Story highlights

In Islamabad, Mattis pushes for more hardline efforts to control domestic terrorism in PakistanKugelman says something will have to give in fragile US-Pakistan relationship

Michael Kugelman is deputy director and senior associate for South Asia with the Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center. The views expressed here are his own.

(CNN)Congratulations, Secretary Mattis. You've become the latest US official to serve as lead vocalist on a hopelessly broken record.

On a visit to Pakistan on Monday, US Defense Secretary James Mattis sang from what's now a very familiar songsheet. "Pakistan must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country," he said, according to a Pentagon statement.

For nearly two decades, Washington has implored Islamabad to shut down sanctuaries for militants -- mainly the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network -- that target Americans in Afghanistan. And each time, Washington has been rebuffed.

There's a fundamental reason why consistently strident American demands are met with consistently stubborn Pakistani inaction: A misalignment of interests.

Washington views the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network as direct threats to Americans -- and to the Afghanistan that it's desperately trying to help stabilize.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis (third left) meets with Pakistani officials in Islamabad on December 04, including Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (fourth right).

Pakistan, conversely, views these groups as useful assets to push back against Indian influence in Afghanistan, and as a helpful hedge against the possibility of an eventual American exit from that country.

From Pakistan's perspective, it would be sheer folly to sever ties with the most powerful non-state actors operating in Afghanistan -- actors whose influence would increase even more if Afghanistan descends into unrest and civil war.

Predictably, each side perceives the counter-terrorism issue through the lens of its own interests. Pakistan says it's done a great job cracking down on terrorists. Indeed, the Pakistani military has staged counter-terrorism operations in the North Waziristan tribal area that have badly degraded the Pakistani Taliban -- the group responsible for most of the terror attacks in Pakistan over the last decade.

Pakistan Fast Facts

For Washington, while these operations are commendable, they're not good enough because they don't address the heart of the matter -- the terrorists that target Americans in Afghanistan.

Domestic politics in Pakistan also ensure Islamabad won't change course and comply with US demands anytime soon. Elections are next year. As the country enters campaign season, no politician worth his or her salt -- including those leading the current government -- would remotely consider calling for accommodating American demands.

This is particularly the case given the recent establishment of several hardline religious parties -- one of them linked to the Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group -- planning to contest elections. Pakistani politics are rife with retrograde ideologies.In such an environment, overtly caving to American demands could destroy your electoral prospects -- not to mention your political career.

Interestingly, when I was in Islamabad last month, the Pakistani political class, both in public messaging and in private conversations, was strikingly more sanguine about US-Pakistan relations than were the Americans with whom I spoke there. It's almost as if the Pakistanis were putting a happy face on a worrisome situation, well aware of the plunge that the relationship could take in the coming months.

Trump's Afghanistan policy: The view from Islamabad

We've seen this plotline before: Incessant American demands coupled with a lack of Pakistani compliance trigger a crisis, before the two sides -- like an unhappily married couple -- come back from the brink and grudgingly agree to muddle through.

Except this time the movie may have a new twist: The Trump administration has threatened to use unprecedented punitive measures if the Pakistanis don't act sufficiently against terror.

With Washington unlikely to be satisfied with Pakistani efforts, something will have to give in this fragile relationship during the initial months of 2018.

America's most likely move will be to expand its drone war and target leaders of the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. Several days before Mattis touched down in Islamabad, CIA director Mike Pompeo effectively warned at a security forum that if Pakistan doesn't smash the sanctuaries on its soil, then the United States will do so itself.

Pakistani children are being taught Chinese01:12

To be sure, such a move would risk Pakistani retaliations -- such as closing down NATO supply routes and suspending intelligence sharing with Washington -- that could imperil US interests.

*For this reason, it's unlikely any expansion of the drone war would be accompanied by other muscular measures proposed by analysts, and in some cases hinted at by the administration itself -- at least initially. Those measures range from sanctioning Pakistani officials with ties to terror to revoking Pakistan's non-NATO ally statusand designating it as a state sponsor of terror.*

Glorifying the Polavaram Dam, or How Indian Politicians Prioritise Myths Over Local Realities


The signature project of Andhra Pradesh is messier than it looks.

Chandrababu Naidu visiting the site of the Polavaram dam. Credit: Andhra Pradesh government website

Farmers are extremely unhappy about giving up their lands. The water from the dam would submerge their property, the farmers argue. An upper caste zamindaris angered that government officials will not go ahead with the project. The officials protest that they don’t have adequate land to compensate the famers. The zamindar gets angrier and agrees to donate his land. But alas, with a twist of fate and screenplay, he is killed by wicked villains. Years later his son avenges his father’s death and donates all of his personal inherited land so that the project can be constructed without hindrance from farmers.


A young man listens to farmers and tribesmen complain about the lack of democratic procedure in the construction of the large dam. He listens to the story of impending doom; the hills, forests and villages are going to be submerged, the villagers tell him. He listens some more. The tragedies seem to have no end. Helpless, he goes back to college to read more about the Proletariat revolution.


Internships and Telugu movies can be gruelling experiences.

My first interaction with the Polavaram project was through a populist Telugu film where the protagonist reallocates his own land so that farmers who lose their land due to the project are compensated. But policy problems are hardly resolved by generous donors.

The next time I came across the problem was during an internship working with a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) based near the Polavaram dam. With the rebelliousness of youth, my actions and words resembled the protagonist in the Telugu film mentioned earlier (in spirit only, without the acres of land, of course).

As of 2011, Polavaram, a sleepy little town, has just over 13,000 people and with a literacy rate of over 76% (above the state’s average). Located amidst the scenic Papi Hills of Andhra Pradesh, Polavaram lies on the Western bank of Godavari River which snakes through the two Telugu speaking states.

Years later, sitting in a comfortable Mumbai office, I read an article that said Chandrababu Naidu, the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, has reportedly threatened that only those who vote for him can use the services provided by his government. One of the promises of Naidu made during his election campaign in 2014 was to make the Polavaram dam a national project. The completion would etch him into Andhra Pradesh’s political history as Abhinava Bhageeratha – the modern reincarnation of the the mythical king who bought the Ganges down to the land of the mortals. Except this Bhageeratha would rather filter out who gets access to the water. To give a little more insight into Naidu’s penchant for the myth, it is important to note that he asked the director of the epic film Baahubali, S.S. Rajamouli, to aid and “interpret” in the design of key government buildings in the new capital of Amaravati.

Politicians’ fondness for the legendary aside, the Polavaram dam in particular is messier than meets the eye.

The Russian problem

Transstroy was established in 1954 as the Ministry of Transport Construction of the USSR, now it is a private enterprise. In 2007, it joined the Basic Elements Group, which is one of the country’s largest private industrial groups, with its hands in mining, construction, finance and consultancy. Its billionaire owner, Oleg Deripaska, has close ties with the former Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

Transstroy was awarded the bid to construct the Zenit Arena – a premier football stadium in the city of St Petersburg. The stadium was supposed to have been constructed by 2017 for the FIFA Confederations Cup so that the tournament would serve as a trial run for the biggest tournament of them all – the FIFA 2018 Football World Cup.

Except, so poor was the company’s construction activity that Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedyev publicly called it “disgraceful”. Over 39 million dollars has reportedly been unaccounted for.

And then it arrived in Polavaram!

Transstroy (India), an “associate” of the Russian conglomerate, won the contract to start the headwork (apparatus that controls the flow of a river) for the Polavaram dam in 2013. In an estimated total cost of Rs 16,000 crore, the winning bid for the initial phase went to Transstroy (India) for Rs 4,054 crore.

Also read: How Dams and Deforestation Are Affecting Mangroves and Fish Stocks

The dealings of Transstroy (India) raise as many questions asthe Russian company. The chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director (MD) of Trannstroy (India) is Sreedhar Cherukuri, an IIM-Bangalore graduate. The company owes over Rs 4,300 crore to over 14 banks.

The company played an important role in the construction of the highway that connects the city of Hyderabad to its airport.

Cherukuri is not alone in this operation; he is related to R. Sambasiva Rao, currently a Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MP.

Rao, a maverick figure in Telugu politics and multiple-time MP, jumped from the derailing Indian National Congress (INC) to the TDP before the 2014 elections. He has served as vice president, India-Chile Parliamentary Friendship Group for three years, and numerous stories of his ‘interesting’ activities can be found in the local press, such as herehere and here.

But far more interestingly, he has served as the vice president of the Parliamentary Forum on Water Conservation & Management, as a member of the Standing Committee on External Affairs, and as a member of the Consultative Committee, Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways – all of which place him and the project in the right position to give him access to an international construction giant to build an irrigation project. That the new Andhra capital falls in his district of Guntur gives him a stronger position of leverage within his own party.

As per the latest reports, Transstroy has barely constructed 27% of estimated target and is being “put aside” by the state government. Fresh tenders are being called in while the possibility remains that Transstroy could be given some percentage despite the possibility of a show cause notice looming on them.

A Russian conglomerate that failed to build a stadium in its home country and faced allegations of corruption, its Indian associate that owes thousands of crores to banks and an MP with a finger in many pies are the ones deciding the fate of what could be the country’s largest infrastructure project.


Many outside of the Telugu-speaking states are unaware of the Papi Hills in Andhra Pradesh. The Papi Hills are the closest thing to the scenic mountain retreats that pepper the rest of South India. It hosts the pilgrim site of Bhadrachalam, where key episodes of the Ramayana are supposed to have taken place; the Papikonda Wild Life Sanctuary, home to a few rare species of birds; and houseboats which provide a tour along the Godavari.

But the Polavaram project will end up submerging all of this. Tourism has spiked in the last couple of years, because tourists are worried that once the hills are submerged they’ll never get to see them again.

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) accorded in 2005 by the government suggests that over 276 villages in Andhra are bound to be submerged, as well as eight and four in Odisha and Chhattisgarh respectively. This would involve over one lakh people being displaced directly owing to the project. In addition, 75,000 acres of cultivated land will be submerged, along with over 20,000 acres of fallow land and a few thousand acres of precious forest land.

An acre is roughly 16 tennis fields placed next to each other.

When asked to write the foreword for the second edition of Philosophy for NEFA, Jawaharlal Nehru listed what is commonly known as ‘tribal panchsheel’– a list of five principles that are essential to policy makers to keep in mind when formulating policy regarding the tribes of India.

The Polavaram dam site. Credit: Facebook/SupportTDP

The last principle is of key interest to the Polavaram project.

“We should judge results not by statistics or the amount of money spent, but by the quality of human character that is evolved.”

Likely to be the most affected by the displacement, the rehabilitation and resettlement offered to the tribal population seems to be poorly planned. As of 2016, 200 Konda Reddy tribal families from the hilly regions of Khammam district in Telangana state were offered settlement packages in Andhra Pradesh. Recently, Naveen Patnaik, the chief minister of Odisha, requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop the construction of the dam until ‘pending’ issues are resolved – which include environmental clearance and the resettlement and rehabilitation package. Naidu himself has publicly stated that the acquisition and resettlement and rehabilitation package costs nearly Rs 33, 858 crore. Meanwhile, at the local revenue office in Polavaram, officials were caughtmisappropriating Rs 80 lakh under the guise of evacuating ‘the ousted’ from seven villages.

As we have heard with many such projects, the involvement of the public has been superficial, mostly for show. Activists alleged that the public hearings, meant to consult the locals on the project, were dubious and falsified; the gram sabha decisions were overturned; and that the monetary compensation is provided at rates set by the government, with no consultation. The legitimacy of pattas (certificates proving ownership of land) is to many tribes an unfamiliar practice and the lack of pattas does not necessarily mean lack of history and practice with the land. A study done by Chiara Mariotti found that other than unfair land-for-land and land-for-cash pricing, the loss of the forest as an insurance against economic shock was the biggest loss to families most likely to be displaced by the project.

Historically, this area has been prone to violence in the form of armed militants, atrocities against tribal populations by police officers and other government officials. To cause a tear in the social fabric now would be laying the seeds for more such violence in the future.

Myths, disasters and debates

As with other large dams, the construction of Polavaram is bound to take many years, maybe even decades, before it reaches completion. And Naidu might have to wait to be crowned Abhinava Bhageeratha.

According to some version of the myth, King Bhagiratha had ulterior motives in bringing Ganges to earth – to release 60,000 of his ancestors from the netherworld. And thus he took Ganga from the Himalayas across the plains and into the ocean. Although it is impossible to question King Bhagiratha, who sacrificed lands to make way for the river, it is possible to question the Polavaram project before it gets underway.

Justifications for the project are largely about how woefully drought prone the southern region of Andhra Pradesh is, and how water would boost the economy and make it less violence prone than it is now. The steel mills near Visakhapatnam will get ample power supply, thus increasing their production capacity and income generated. The new areas that come under irrigation are beneficial and countless surveys will prove the ‘cost-effectiveness’ of the grand project. Unfortunately, previous such projects in the state are hardly a cause for optimism.

Also read: Centre Bypasses Law to Restart Work on Polavaram Project

The Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, for instance, has resulted in large-scale soil erosion of the fluorine rich rocks into the natural water supply of the surrounding district of Nalgonda. That the bone structure of many young children, who have been raised drinking this contaminated water, has become chalk-like in its strength is a heavily underreported crime. Although a few articles crop up now and then, gross negligence on behalf of the news media, public policy experts and political representatives means these stories remain lost. The Srisailam dam, completed in 1981 and the second largest hydroelectric power project in the country in terms of capacity, resulted in the submergence of over one lakh acres spread across 116 villages.

Within the country, the apprehensions over the Sardar Sarovar Dam still hang and activists continue to fight their battles.

Naidu has historically invoked images of Singapore to look for inspiration and development in his vision for Andhra Pradesh. He had such visions for Hyderabad in his first term as chief minister for undivided Andhra Pradesh. His emphasis on IT and Hyderabad cost him an election in 2004. Ironically, he paints a similar future for Amaravati.

Polavaram dam falls under the same grammar of becoming and recreating a Singapore-like experience. It is the language that speaks of bullet trains, giant statues that create a spectacle, of hiring a filmmaker as part of urban planning and design; the language where a real few must suffer for some fictional ‘greater’ good. It is the spectacle that alludes to mythical histories and legendary pasts over smaller archives with less fantastical stories but far more practical solutions. And such pining for grandeur results in equally real and tangibly grand cost on the place, people and time.

The resulting internal refugees will become part of a problem that accumulates in the state. The nature of floods that occur will be epic in scale. The tragedies will accrue and be the problem of the same government, then the next…

None of the battles that Polavaram faces are new, none of the arguments are unexpected, even the human tragedies are all too “clichéd”. And yet somewhere between corruption, desire for epic legacy and poor historical precedents, the dam has not received the heated debate that it deserves beyond its vernacular space.

Mukesh Manjunath graduated with a masters in development studies from IIT-Madras, Chennai. He is a budding stand-up comedian and humour writer, who writes for Weirdass Comedy.

Note: This article was edited at 11 45 PM on December 8 to state that Transstroy (India) is an associate of Russian conglomerate Transstroy and not a subsidiary