Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Law will take its course.

The Story: An alleged early morning ransacking at a Hotel by CM's son.

The CM (26 Oct): "The law will take its course"

The Hotel's GM (28 Oct): "The ransacking has been videotaped on the CCTV" system in the hotel.

Police (17 Nov): Police to close case No evidence found.

  • Has the Law has taken its course?
  • What happened to the CCTV footage?

In a country where cases drag on for years, this one is about to be closed in a matter of weeks. We indeed have an example of a very efficient system here.

So, does law run its course on its own?
It always takes the course given to it be Law Enforcers - and never any other.


In a country where the law enforcement takes such predicatable (or unpredictable we must say?) route, we have ministers/legislatures busy enacting (Populist) laws which clearly state: No Evidence Necessary to Arrest. Remember 498A and Domestic Violence Act?

Barely a month after DV Act came into force, we have a woman in full public view accusing here husband of leaving her because of a alleged dating allowance at Wipro, and Azim Premji has been summoned !!!. And to top it - no such allowance exists.

Would a petrol/vehicle running allowance automatically mean that you are going to run amock and cause accidents?

Wonder how such a case was even admitted by the court? Actually its no wonder... at all.

So, if a government employee's wife files such a charge - would the Honourable Prime Minister be made to answer? When bureaucrats and govt. officials are caught taking bribes, sleeping at job - should the HRD Minister be summoned?

Common Sense Please.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Legal Terrorism

What is Legal Terrorism? When laws are used in a mischievous manner to settle scores, to harass others - it is Legal Terrorism.

Best described with examples:

The law said: A Cat must never kick a sick Dog. Cat slaps the Dog instead. The law is amended to state: A cat must never kick or slap a sick Dog. The Cat nurses the dog to good health, then slaps and kicks it. The law is amended again: A Cat must never kick or slap a sick Dog or one in good health. The Cat digs a hole and offers it to the Rabbit for stay, and then makes the Dog chase itself. The Dog falls in the Rabbits hole. The Dog is put behind bars because it broke the law which stated: Trespassing into burrows of Rabbits is punishable. The Cat is free. This simple story illustrates the difference between spirit and letter of the law.

When mischief may be the goal or common sense takes leave - laws can be used for Legal Terrorism. When righteousness is the goal or common sense prevails - laws can be great catalysts for the progress of all.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

India Inc. Debuts on International Arena

Several indian companies in recent times have been acquiring companies around the world. This is a trend with far-reaching implications for the future of the country and the industry.

Some examples (Company : Acquires : For):
  • Tata Steel : Corus : 8 billion.
  • Ranbaxy : Romania's Terapia : $372 million.
  • Tata Motors : Daewoo's Commercial Vehicle Co. : Rs 465 Crores
  • Hindalco : Australian Copper Co. : A$21 million
  • Telecom Software firm Subex’s : Azure Solutions
  • Tata Coffee’s : US based Eight O’Clock
  • Dr Reddy’s : Betapharm
  • Nicholas Piramal India Ltd (NPIL) : UK’s Rhodia Organique Fine (Rhodia) : $ 14 million

This is just a random list.. ofcourse there are many more...

These movers and shakers are from a country which ranks as one of the lowest in the world in terms of business friendliness i.e ease of starting, running and closing a business (closing: average time 10 years).

Imagine if red-tape is cut, and the ubiquitious babu - actually starts working towards helping indian industries - thereby creating a very large number of jobs; much more than any gimmicky slogan based yojana. Public Sector needs to take note; promotions and employability needs to be linked to performance and not to other things. This might be our chance to deal with poverty in a way that Nehru's public sector giants (the new temples of india as he had said) could not do. China is doing this and more with its manufacturing sector (though its largely govt. 'enabled').

For the first time perhaps in several centuries, indian travellers abroad are seen not-only-from-the land of snake charmers, but from the land of an emerging economy they are taking note of.

Still there are several things that need to be watched out for continued success (stability, competition, good law and order, policies etc.). Many East Asian economies were once poised for a similar growth about a decade ago, few succeeded most did not.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Lawyers, Media, and Lame Investigation

Have you seen this interview on CNN-IBN, Sagarika Ghose interviewing Ram Jethmalani?

The key arguments of the lawyer are:
  • Media should not judge cases, and pronounce judgements.
  • Media often prejudices public opinion against an accused. The accused has the right to a fair trial.
  • The accused has the right to a good lawyer

The key arguments of the media person are:

  • A lawyer as well-known as him shouldn't take up a case such as this one.
  • If media does not raise hue and cry - accused will go scot free.

The lawyer here is indeed right in saying, it is the job of the judiciary to pronounce judgements, and not of the media to do that, and prejudice opinion against the accused while the case is pending in a court of law. This argument has merit because - judgements cannot and should not be pronounced based on rhetoric. Hard Evidence - is the key to this - and this is a well established practice across the world.

What has caused this kind of a situation: Lame Investigation. This fact though is not brought up in the above interview by the media person. If the investigation was done promptly and properly, and witnesses were not afraid to come forward - we would have better chance of bringing out the truth. Do we need urgent reforms in our Investigative Process? Perhaps yes.

We need more excellent honest officers and talent going into investigation teams, police force, the executive. Until that happens, we need to be prepared to argue our cases with top lawyers, media persons and candle light vigils.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Top Bureaucrat: E Sreedharan - Magic is possible.

E Sreedharan - the man behind Delhi Metro - and more, could have been just another bureaucrat wiling away his time in corridors of power, wasting away public funds, and counting retirement funds.

But that was not to be. He demonstrated what a bureaucrat can achieve - if he wants to.

What exactly did he achieve - some examples:

  • Delhi Metro project was finished in-time, top quality, within budget. This is a simple unheard of statistic in govt. run large scale project says it all.
  • Took up building the Konkan Railway - that reduced Mumbai-Kochi distance by one-third. This was a challenging assignment - and one of its only kinds done since Britishers last laid down large scale railway tracks. And did this one successfully too - reducing travel time from Mumbai to Mangalore - from 41 hrs to just 15.

This technocrat was conferred with France's highest decoration Knight of the Legion of Honour

But, the usual story of Red Tapism, sleeping fellow bureaucrats, and unaccountable Politicians - haven't kept away from him. They hound him too - like here recently.

Nevertheless, this is a good example of what bureaucrats can achieve. Imagine - if all bureaucrats set out to work like him - we would have India Transformed very quickly. If India is largely poor - it is because the men who have been entrusted with funds, authority and manpower - to do their jobs - have failed to do it. There is no other reason.

Having esoteric NGOs, common man dharna's and writing letters of protest for every uncovered garbage dump - is not a practical way to achieve fast track progress. Put the right man at the right job - and get out of his way. And see the results. And if you don't see - you don't have the right man for the job - work towards achieving that.