January 30, 2006

The USA - Exercising the Right of Interference

David Mulford

The United States seems to be increasingly confident that not only can it be ham-handed in putting pressure on the Indian Government to do its bidding, it can also take things for granted and interfere in the country's internal affairs at will.

The U.S. Ambassador to India, David Mulford has provided two public examples of the new-found U.S. confidence recently.

In the first, he openly warned India that the U.S.-India Nunclear deal under discussion would die unless India went along with U.S. in the vote against Iran. The Indian Government made weak protests.

In the second, he criticised the Left parties for their opposition to the Government's proposal to open FDI in Retail. Not only was this a clear breach of protocol and a brazen attempt to influence public opinion in the country, it also confirmed the strong vested interests of the U.S. Government in ensuring that this proposal went through. There is no reason to believe that the remark of the Ambassador was off-the-cuff or was his own personal opinion. It was apparently made with full prior knowledge of, if not on instructions from the U.S. Government. If indeed, it was his own opinion, it would not be wrong for people to think that he was holding a personal brief for Walmart, who has been trying its best and employing high pressure lobbying to gain entry into India.

Be that as it may, the Ambassador has gone way beyond the requirements of his office and unless the Government presses for his immediate recall from the country, it would be exposing itself as meek and weak in protecting the country's interests and pride.

January 25, 2006

IIM Games

Previous article here

A student from one of the Indian Institutes of Management has reportedly been offered a monthly remuneration of Rs. 16 lacs by a prospective employer.

Going behind this news item, it tends to simply highlight the game plan the IIMs have been apparently following in order to create an aura of awe about them and project them as Institutes of Excellence.

First, the IIMs restrict the number of admissions each year to a number that is far below the requirements of the country's growing economy. This is cleverly done under the garb of maintaining the level of standards but actually it is the number of admissions opened that determines the level at which the students are accepted.

Second, due to the gross imbalance between demand and the artificially managed supply, prospective employers are desperate to engage the MBAs by offering exorbitantly high salaries. Year after year, the IIMs use this fact to cleverly market their product viz. the MBAs in a way that creates a virtual scramble and a queue of the prospective employers at their doorsteps leading to further increase in the average remuneration offered to their MBAs.

As the demand-supply gap is magnified by the clever marketing, the employers tend to grab whatever talent is available even by paying unjustifiably high remunerations lest they be left without qualified managers.

What all this does is that it creates in the minds of the public in general and the employers in particular an impression that the IIMs turn out super managers. In course of time, even the IIMs themselves start believing that they are super institutions.

At the end of the day, however, the country is left with a large gap in the supply of managers to run the growing industry and service sectors.

There is all the more reason that as long as the Government continues to have a say in the affairs of these Institutes, it should exercise its influence to compel them to perform their tasks better, not just bask in the false glory of the high salaries that their students manage to secure.

Buta Singh...leaving after taking the salute

The Supreme Court's majority judgment holding the dissolution of the Bihar Assembly unconstitutional is an indictment not only of the Bihar Government but also of the UPA Government, of which the Congress Party is a major component.

So far, the Governor, Mr. Buta Singh is sounding defiant, having said that he would take the Republic Day salute on the 26th of January. This has been taken to mean that he would not resign of his own.

There are two ways to read his statement:

First, it is absolutely clear that he wants the powers-that-be to understand that much of the blame for what happened lies on them too. After having given a first report on the situation in Bihar, he gave a second report recommending immediate and urgent dissolution of the Bihar Assembly. By all indications, this second report was generated after his meeting with the Home Minister and the circumstances lead to the conclusion that the Home Minister actually prompted the Governor to give a report, which would facilitate the action of dissolution of the Assembly.

Therefore, in his own mind, Mr. Buta Singh is convinced that the Centre is equally culpable although the report itself was forwarded under his own signature. The apparent defiance shown by him is, perhaps, his own way of making the Centre squirm in discomfort. He, therefore, wants to say that he cannot be made the scapegoat.

This is true and at the very least, the Home Minister should quit his position on moral and justifiable grounds.

Second, he has only said that he will take the Republic Day salute. This should not be taken to mean that he will continue to remain in his position. In all likelihood, he will quit shortly after the Republic Day parade.

But the Government, more particularly the Congress party. is in a hurry that he should quit 'here and now' to prevent the target of focus from moving to the Centre. This is a repetition of what happened when Mr. Natwar Singh was compelled to quit to insulate the Congress party, the other 'beneficiary' named in the Volcker Report, from becoming the direct target of further attacks.

To further insulate the Centre from having to own responsibility for the Assembly dissolution debacle, the Government and, in particular, the Congress managers are trying to pick on and take refuge in the fact that two of the five honorable judges gave separate dissenting judgments. But this type of attitude is simply trying to avoid taking even moral responsibility for a perverse act that was virtually orchestrated by the Centre.

The imperviousness to political morality has come to be regarded as the Congress party's own contribution to the politics in this country. Unfortunately, this malaise is so infectious that none of the other political parties or politician individuals are now immune from the same.

January 20, 2006

Health Ministry's Smoking Blues


Hon. Minister for Health & FW

Unfortunately, the Hon. Minister is holding on to his idea of banning tobacco use scenes in movies and television, hoping that this will eradicate the evil of smoking and tobacco consumption in the country.

So far, the Ministry has not produced any credible evidence of cause and effect relation between tobacco use scenes in movies and starting of tobacco use by kids. i.e. any study that shows that 'x' number of kids did actually start smoking or tobacco use solely by watching such scenes in a movie. And if any such credible study was actually done in India, when and by whom was it done, what was the methodology and the size of the sample.

Secondly, the Ministry has already banned sale of tobacco products to persons under 18 years of age.

So, what is the real justification for continuing with his pet scheme?

And now, another 'brilliant' idea from the Ministry that will eliminate all the health problems of the country: ban on alcohol in chocolates.

January 19, 2006

IIMs - Mr. Arjun Singh is right

Mr. Arjun Singh, Minister for HRD

Indian Institutes of Management, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Bangalore

Indian Institutes of Management, Kozhikode, Lucknow, Indore

The Indian Institutes of Management were established in various parts of the country under Government auspices and all manner of support by the Government, including their funding, to train business managers of India.

These IIMs have done good service over the years by turning out managers who have made a name for themselves in various businesses. Indeed, some of these IIMs have gained some reputation in other parts of the world, although they are far away from being counted amongst the top Institutes in the world whether in teaching or research studies.

NOT ONE of the IIMs of India figures in the rankings of top 100 global management schools of 2005, whereas China boasts of three and even Brazil, Mexico and South Africa figure in the list!!

Some of these IIMs are now thinking of expanding their operations in other countries. In this instance, the HRD Minister, Mr. Arjun Singh is absolutely right in rejecting their proposals in this regard.

His stance is quite logical, nothwithstanding comments of some academicians and industry leaders seeking full autonomy for the Institutes in their decision making.

Mr. Arjun Singh is right on all counts.

First, the Institutes were established with a clear mandate from the Government that envisaged that they will train and nurture the talent within the country and help the country achieve distinction in the field of business management. Although the IIMs have been doing this, they have still to reach very many areas of the country where young boys and girls with talent are unable to get first class training in business management. In the absence of adequate facilities, hundreds of young people are deprived of the opportunity to become the future business managers.

Second, considering the existing and projected growth of the Indian economy, the country will need trained managers in large numbers which the existing IIMs are clearly not in a position to provide without expanding in other parts of the country.

Third, inspite of their tall claims of being centers of excellence, students from India continue to go abroad to get trained in prestigious business management institutues and universities in other parts of the world. Once there, they have plenty of opportunities in the host countries and the talent which rightfully should be helping their own country India, is lost for ever in foreign countries. If the IIMs are indeed providing the high quality training that they claim to provide, , there is no reason why an Indian student should still yearn for a foreign university.

On the other hand, if the IIMs are really providing such a high level of education which is projected in public perception, they should be able to attract students from abroad, even from developed countries, for training here.

In this situation, regardless of the emotional hue and cry for autonomy from all and sundry, it is quite out of place for them to think of spreading their operations in other countries.

The priorities for these IIMs are clear:
  • To improve their standards of training to a level where not only the Indian students stop thinking of going abroad but also where students from the developed world recognise the mettle of these Institutes and seek training by coming to India. They need to get international recognition in the true sense in their own right.
  • To expand their operations in other parts of the country where there are no facilities for training in their sphere of specialisation viz. business management.
It is hoped that despite showing signs of softening, Mr. Arjun Singh will not change his perfectly valid stance and not allow the IIMs to get the benefit from the Government support, supply of land and public funds received by them over the years, by going abroad.

It seems rather strange that the Institutes which are supposed to develop clear strategic thinking of the highest order in their students, themselves have skewed thinking about their own raison detre and responsibilities towards the country.

Let them make optimum use of the infrastructure they have already created within the country and also create new centers within the country rather than squandering resources on creating new infrastructure in foreign lands. They need to focus themselves on fulfilling their obligations towards the Indian society rather than yielding to flights of fancy. It is immaterial that some of them might be generating adequate revenues and creating a corpus with their own earnings, for that cannot be the criterion for allowing them to do what they please in the name of autonomy.

January 18, 2006

Illegal Constructions in Delhi-Two cheers for the Rule of Law

It is heartening to note that the Delhi High Court has remained steadfast in its directions to the MCD to demolish unauthorized constructions within Delhi. The Court has also given directions to carry out the task regardless of the status of the persons who might be affected. The Court has also directed for power and water to be disconnected for such constructions. It has also given eminently sensible directions to identify the builders and developers who were responsible for the unauthorized constructions and put their names in the Sub-Registrar’s office and on websites.(see)

It is clear that given bureaucratic and political will, it is not difficult to find solutions even to difficult-sounding problems.

For a change, even the Congress Party local leader Mr. Rambabu Sharma has given instructions to his party functionaries in the MCD to carry out the demolitions and take actions against erring officials. The people can only hope that instead of confining its actions to junior functionaries, it will send a strong signal by bringing to book, in the first instance, the senior-most officers in the chain of command, whose responsibility it was to supervise their juniors.

That there is a human aspect involved in these demolitions cannot be denied. But when a corrupt bureaucracy and an apathetic or conniving political class consistently ignores the law, there is little choice left to firmly establish the Rule of Law. The extent of corruption, apathy and connivance can be gauged from the disclosure by the Mr. Kapil Sibal that 80% of the constructions in Delhi were unauthorized!! This state of affairs in the Capital City of this ‘great’ democracy clearly shows the scant respect for law the builders, developers and municipal authorities have – a malaise seen in all parts of the country.

It is only to be hoped that the Delhi Government does not show the naked and brazen disregard for observing the law as the Maharashtra Government did recently by passing an Ordinance to nullify the effects of Court Orders. True, the Government was within its rights to do so. But in the eyes of the general public and the world at large, it will remain a colorable exercise of the right to wash out the sins of the criminal negligence of the administration in encouraging the disregard for law.

The development in the Court today deserves two cheers. The third is reserved for the time when the final judgment is pronounced and the consequential actions by the authorities reach their logical end (if that happens).

January 15, 2006

Use of animal and human products

Urokinase is an enzyme used as a life-saving drug in the management of thrombo-embolic disorders.

Wonder what it is made from?

see the following site:


Another product Suglicotide is made from porcine duodenum.


For some other randomly chosen information on use of animal products in food and drugs, visit here and here.

Vegetarians be cautioned:

The contents may not make for pleasant reading.

January 14, 2006

Defense Counsel for Quattrocchi

The Law Minster, Mr. Bharadwaj and the Minister of State in PMO, Mr. Pachouri, have admirably performed their roles as counsel for Quattrocchi of Bofors fame.

It is unclear whether they had the blessings of the Congress Party Leader or the Prime Minister or both in pursuing with the British Crown Prosecution Service to defreeze certain Bank accounts in the name of Ottavio Quattrocchi.

Unfortunately, their initiative is back-firing and one or both may end up losing their jobs as Ministers.

It is relevant to consider the following points on this subject:

1. The Law Minister was absolutely right that after such a long lapse of time, the CBI has not been able to make any headway as far as the case proceedings are concerned and it is unreasonable to continue to freeze the money in the accounts.

2. It is equally true and indeed, sad, that the prime investigating agency of the Government of India has not been able to do enough either due to incompetence or indifference.

3. While the views of the Law Minister on the subject may be valid, he had no business to take upon himself the role of the prosecuting agency and bypassing the legal channels, approach the Crown Prosecution Service with the request to de-freeze the accounts.

It is becoming evident that the various Ministers in the present Government are increasingly behaving as a law unto themselves.

This is what happens when there are extra-constitutional authorities that can influence the career paths of Ministers and lesser functionaries in the Government. The Ministers then work either on directions or on their own initiative to remain in the good books of their mentor.

January 08, 2006

Agenda for Brinda Karat and the Health Minister

Considering the serious concern that Com. Brinda Karat and the Union Health Minister apparently have for the sensitivities of vegetarians in the country, it would be desirable for them to focus now on the following:

1.Use of gelatin for pharmaceutical capsules should be banned.
Alternatively, all medicine manufacturers who encapsulate their medicines, should be required to take a licence to use products derived from animal matter and also declare on the package/strip containing the capsules if the capsules are made from gelatin derived from animal matter.

2.Use of Dicalcium Phosphate or Glycerine derived from animal matter for manufacturing toothpaste should be banned.
Alternatively, all toothpaste manufacturers who use Dicalcium Phosphate or Glycerine derived from animal matter in their toothpaste should be required take a licence to use animal based products and also to declare on the packages the ingredients which are derived from animal matter.

3. Use of Gelatin which is derived from animal matter should be banned in all food products such as confectionery, ice creams etc.

Com. Brinda Karat should immediately take up these issues through the national Television Media, to be followed up by the necessary statements and action by the Union Health Minister.

This would be a good beginning and more areas of focus could be added on later.

January 07, 2006

Continuing antics by Brinda Karat and Health Minister

see previous

Suddenly realising that she had put her foot in the mouth by trying to malign Ayurved, Brinda Karat changed tack and said that her main issue was the alleged flouting of labour laws by Baba Ramdev's Pharmacy and not the presence of animal parts in his medicines. At the same time, on Television, she kept repeating her allegations about the use of animal and even human parts in the medicines.

She tried to project that it was Baba Ramdev who was diverting focus from violations of labour laws. It was actually she who started the controversy in the first place and in the process led many people to believe that she and her party were somehow acting to bring Ayurved into disrepute at the behest of vested interets. Her subsequent protestations that it was because of her party that Ayurved was sustained in Kerala, that she was herself practising Yoga and that she wanted Yoga to be taught in schools were just glib and lame excuses which did not fool anyone. In the same breath she continued to level charges against Baba Ramdev's pharmacy which were not related to labour issues.

She should be aware that the Indian people, howsoever gullible they may be, will not be taken in by double-faced politicians for long and that her actions have generated tremendous resentment for her party.

But while Brinda Karat may have had her own reasons, it is really the role of the Health Minister that needs scrutiny.

It is bizzare that he jumped to the help of Brinda Karat in what was essentially a labour issue (by Karat's own admission).

In various statements from his side, he has consistently implied that all was not well with the products manufactured by Baba Ramdev's pharmacy. He also mentioned in this context that proper testing was not done by various manufacturers, leading people to infer that he was talking of Baba Ramdev's pharmacy. He is also reported to have said that the Government was thinking of changing the laws to prevent false claims of cure, once again, the inference being that it was somehow related to Baba Ramdev's activities. His very first action of getting involved in an issue within the domain of the States was enough to raise eyebrows.

There is something really amiss about his actions which are either out of ignorance or deliberate intent.

In either case, the Prime Minister should call him to explain his actions. The country cannot afford to have as Health Minister a person whose actions knowingly or unknowingly are harming the reputation of Indian Traditional systems to the obvious benefit of vested interests.

January 06, 2006

Maligning Ayurved

earlier post

Brinda Karat's uninformed or deliberate comments and the Health Minister's support of her without proper basis have created tremendous confusion and shock amongst the people.

Innocent people have become confused about Ayurved because for so long, we Indians have been accustomed to rely on Western medicine.

It is necessary to clarify some basic issues as regards Ayurved:

1. People do not take Ayurvedic Medicines BECAUSE they are 'vegetarian', but because of their belief in their curative value.

As far as medicines for treating diseases are concerned, the concept of 'vegetarian' or 'non-vegetarian' is irrelevant. The function of all medicines should be to treat the disease and this applies to every system of medicine whether Western or Eastern. There is no 'moral' or 'ethical' issue involved, as grandly proclaimed by Brinda Karat. The only moral issue for a medical practitioner is to treat the patient with all the means at his disposal to bring relief to the person from disease.

As Lalu Yadav, for once, said aptly, whether a medicine contains bones of Manav or Danav is irrelevant as long as it gives relief from disease.

If those who are out to malign traditional medicine, like Brinda Karat, are so concerned about people being given 'non-vegetarian' medicines, they ought to also know that the pharmaceutical capsules which millions of Indians have become accustomed to pop into their mouths while taking Western medicine, are made from Gelatin. For those who do not know, Gelatin is made by boiling skin, bones and connective tissues of animals. (For those interested in learning where else is gelatin used in the food that they consume without a second thought, this article may be of interest)

2. Ayurved also never claims that all its medicines are only herbal based, although a vast majority of them may be based on material of plant origin.

3. Ayurvedic medicines make use of materials of plant, mineral as well as animal origin. The aim of ayurved is to preserve life and protect from disease and not to treat patients with just 'vegetarian' medicines. Therefore, it is immaterial whether the medicines are derived from plant, mineral or animal origin.

4. There are a number of standard treatises on Ayurved which contain procedures and formulations for medicines to treat various diseases. The First Schedule of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 lists 86 treatises concerning Ayurved and Sidha systems and another 13 treatises concerning Unani system. A vast majority of the Ayurvedic medicines are based on such prescribed formulations although a number of proprietary medicines containing variations in ingredients are also being made available by various manufacturers. Apart from the products generally available, Ayurvedic practitioners also give patient-specific formulations to individual patients based on their diagnoses and applying their own practical knowledge and experience.

5. The manufacture of Ayurvedic medicines is already governed by The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, contrary to the impression that is sought to be created that Ayurvedic medicines are not regulated.

6. The Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 prescribe specific rules for manufacture, labelling, packaging, limit of alcohol, Government analysis and inspection,as well as standards. The same rules apply for Ayurvedic, Unani as well as Sidha medicines.

The above will serve to give some basic information to the people who are frequently misguided by vested interests and pseudo-intellectuals like Brinda Karat.

January 05, 2006

Harming Indian Traditions

The action by Comrade Brinda Karat in talking nonsense about the medicines made by Baba Ramdev's pharmacy could be excused. This is because her remarks were made out of ignorance about Ayurved and to further her own agenda of securing 'justice' for some persons who were at one time engaged by the Divya Yoga Pharmacy.

Indeed, one will find any number of such so-called Indian intellectuals whose knowledge about India and Indian traditions is next to zero and they could not care less in any case about them.

However, it is quite another matter when the Health Minister of the country is gullible enough to be taken in by her representations and act at her bidding.

It was really shocking to find the Health Minister himself choosing to make a statement that samples of medicines 'said to be' from Baba Ramdev's pharmacy contained animal matter. This was a most damaging and irresponsible statement by the Health Minister who, in the same statement also said that it was yet to be confirmed if the medicines were indeed produced by Baba Ramdev's pharmacy. Although the second part of the statement was correct, by making the ambivalent first statement, he at once destroyed the faith of a lot of people. There was no need for the Central Government to say anything when they had already referred the matter to the State Government.

More of his immature approach was also to reveal itself when he said that since the samples were received from an MP, his Ministry was 'duty bound' to test the same. WHAT DUTY, Mr. Minister? The administration of drug laws and licencing issues including testing is the responsibility of the States and one wonders why the Union MInistry had to take it upon itself to test the samples instead of requesting Com. Karat to follow the procedure and approach the State Goverment.

By this one act, the Minister, who is supposed to have more knowledge than Com. Karat, has possibly brought the entire UPA government another embarrassment by stepping out of line.

In fact, people are wondering whether the Ministry has allowed itself to be used, knowingly or otherwise, in this whole affair to bring Indian Traditional Medicines into disrepute.

It was heartening to hear other sensible people in the UPA like Ambika Soni and Lalu Yadav taking a mature approach.

It is a living shame that in India, we are still left with vestiges of the slave mentality in every sphere. And, these are the people who would not let India come into its own.