Nepal Prime Minister comes under fire

Fresh trouble mounted for Nepal Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai a day after he was reduced to a caretaker. A case is filed against him in the Supreme Court terming his move of assembly dissolution and announcement of assembly elections in Nov as unconstitutional. 

 He appears to have lost ground after Constituent Assembly dissolution. Thousands of students and youth have come out on streets in Kathmandu burning effigies of Bhattarai, demanding his removal towards formation of national consensus government.

 Nepal President Rama Baran Yadav Tuesday directed Bhattarai to serve as caretaker Prime Minister till the new government is formed

The President Statement, recommending all the political parties to move ahead through consensus in view of political crisis in the country, was issued after series of consultations he held with senior lawyer and members of Nepal Bar Association.

 Nepal's four major political parties met Sunday in an effort to build consensus on the constitution drafting before midnight deadline and ward off dissolution of the Constituent Assembly. Failing to promulgate the Constitution, the Constituent Assembly was dissolved, pushing the country into a fresh political crisis.

The Constituent Assembly was elected to a two-year term in 2008 to draft a new constitution but has not been able to finish the task within stipulated time. Its tenure has been extended four times. The Supreme Court two weeks back rejected a three-month extension proposed by the cabinet and asked political parties to complete it by May 27 deadline.

The four main parties’ attempt to resolve differences over whether the states proposed in the constitution should be determined on the basis of ethnicity proved to be a failure.

 Baburam Bhattarai Sunday morning called on President Ram Baran Yadav and briefed him about the latest political development. The President asked Bhattarai to finalize the constitution in order to avert the dissolution.

 Observing the political crisis in Nepal, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson, Syed Akbaruddin said, "We are closely monitoring developments in Nepal. We note the new Constitution could not be promulgated within the extended term of the Constitution Assembly.”

 While responding to a media query on recent developments in Nepal, he said,"We have confidence in the democratic commitment and wisdom of the people of Nepal, which has led to considerable progress of the constitution making process."

 "We hope that the political parties of Nepal would continue to be guided by the spirit of consensus and peaceful dialogue in their efforts to transform Nepal into a stable, democratic and prosperous nation," he said, adding that India stands ready to assist, according to the wishes of the people of Nepal.

Manmohan invites Suu Kyi to India

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today invited Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to India.

Discussion between the two lasted for 45 minutes on the last day of his visit to Myanmar.

 ”I sincerely hope that she will find it possible to visit India soon. In this context I have handed over to her the invitation letter to deliver the next Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture which is a very prestigious lecture. Mrs. Sonia Gandhi has written an invitation letter to Madam (Suu Kyi) to do us the honour to deliver this lecture in India. ” said Singh.

 Admiring her struggle and determination in inspiring millions of people, Singh held that he believed Suu Kyi would play a defining role in National Reconciliation launched by Myanmar President Thein Sein.

 "We in India are very proud of the very long-standing association with her (Suu Kyi) and the members of her family," Singh said.

 Myanmar democracy icon Suu Kyi in principle accepted the invitation and said,” I am very gratified by the invitation to deliver the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture, and I hope that I will be able to take up this invitation before too long. ”

 Nobel laureate Suu Kyi recalled close association she and her family had with Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and other Indian leaders. “My parents were great admirers of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and other Indian leaders, but we were particularly close to Panditji as I was taught to call him from a very young age. “ said Suu Kyi.

 "India and Burma have been friends not only because of geographical proximity but also because of shared values, heritage and fight for independence," she said. Suu Kyi emphasized on the need of exchanges between the two peoples as this would form the basis of true friendship between countries.

Tomfoolery is indeed fun

Why do we watch sitcoms? For information? No. For education? Nope. For awareness? Certainly not. We become couch potatoes only for three reasons, testified by Vidya Balan, ENTERTAINMENT, ENTERTAINMENT AND ENTERTAINMENT. But of late certain TV shows are produced not for the purpose of entertaining the viewer but to defraud him. One such show is "Bollywood Dhamaal" aired everyday on E24 at 10 pm. Viewers are shown a picture of an actor from the Indian film industry and are asked to guess the name of the personality. This picture has some part of the face hidden or is a combination of two half faces. Zoom also has a similar show for the 11 pm daily slot. The picture is clear to the extent that even a seven-year-old kid can guess the name of the celebrity. Yesterday, while surfing through the entertainment channels, I decided to sit through this show for once. This time, they showed picture of Akshay Kumar with only his eyes hidden.

         The show went on and on but no one in India could guess it to be Akshay. As many as 20 people from all over the country called and came up names such as Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Irfan Khan, Raghuvir Yadav etc. After the presenter gave a clue that the name of the actor begins with 'A', the answers that came were hilarious, starting with Aditya Pancholi, Aamir Khan, Ajay Devgan, Arjun Rampal, Aditya Chopra, Asif Sheikh etc.
Apparently, the calls were made from the studios of the show by the people of their own production team. If you call the number flashing on the screen, you are charged Rs. 12 per minute. You will not be connected immediately to the anchor but will be put on a long hold. While on hold, you would be asked questions such as whether you like a particular song or a movie or would like to listen to Bollywood gossip. While you are negotiating there, the producers are making the moolah at the rate of Rs 12 per minute.
But indeed the role of the anchor is commendable. She has no script in hand and no teleprompter. Dressed in flashy outfits, she goes on weaving meaningless sentences around the one-liner "Come on, pick up the phone and guess the celebrity." But she manages to say the same sentence in a thousand different ways.
At times, she goes silent and starts moving fingers through her hair or her itsy bitsy dress. It is also a delight to see her scratching her arms or rubbing her hands together or tapping her forehead in between bouts of silence. But mind you, not everyone can do this.
The prize money is Rs. 50,000 at the time the show starts but suddenly in the middle of the show, the amount is raised to Rs. one lac and towards the end of the show, it is further increased as per the whims and fancies of the producers. Most interestingly, just two to five minutes before this circum wraps up, the prize money is reduced to a ridiculous Rs. 4000. Just when half a minute is left, a caller (perhaps the producer himself) invariably manages to "supply" the right name and gets the prize of Rs 4000.
If you see someone making a guess of Sridevi over the picture of Anil Kapoor, wouldnt that be entertainment. For sure, it would be. Tomfoolery is indeed fun!

Dog: Man's best friend

Parties oppose petrol price hike

Indian state-run oil firms Wednesday announced the sharpest ever hike in petrol prices to offset growing losses caused by subsidized rates, rises in the international oil price and a sinking rupee. Petrol prices are hiked by Rs. 7.54. The increase is put at 6.28 rupees excluding local sales tax or VAT which will mean a 7.54-rupee hike for consumers in cities such as New Delhi from Thursday including taxes.

Yesterday's price (Rs)
Today's price (Rs)

Country's largest refiner, Indian Oil Corp, in a statement, said it was compelled to hike the price after sustaining losses of 10.5 billion rupees since the start of the current financial year.
"Given the losses being incurred, the company is compelled to increase the price of petrol by Rs.6.28 per litre (excluding VAT/Sales Tax) with effect from midnight," it said.
"This excludes losses already suffered till date during current financial year 2012-13, which would require an additional increase of around Rs.1.50 per litre in selling price of motor spirit (MS) for balance part of the year," Indian Oil Corp said. 
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee upheld that the decision was taken by oil companies as petrol is a deregulated commodity
The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government deregulated petrol prices in 2010 in a reform aimed at reducing the massive subsidies it pays to state-run fuel refiners which rely on imported energy.

NDA to protest

Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) opposed the steep hike and called for a nation wide bandh on May 31.
NDA convenor and Janata Dal (United) President Sharad Yadav said that all the partners of the opposition alliance have been consulted in this regard and the alliance will urge other parties also to join in and support the bandh.
He enquired why the hike in petrol prices was not announced when Parliament was in session and why oil companies did so the very next day after the session got over.
"Government has washed his hands off the decision on price hike but in reality it happens only when the Government wants. The Government will also be increasing prices of diesel and LPG after the Presidential elections get over," Yadav said.
He accused the Government of its failure in checking prices of essential commodities.
"Common people are suffering due to wrong policies of the UPA Government. Prices of commodities are rising uncontrollably making it difficult for an average Indian to make both ends meet," he said.
This Government is pro-rich and not bothered about the poor, he charged.
 BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar described the hike in petrol price as “atrocious and unbelievable” and demanded immediate roll back.
He termed hike in fuel prices as the gift of UPA II government to common man on its 3rd anniversary.
"If the Rupee is depreciated, it is not the fault of the people. It is due to wrong economic policies followed by UPA government. It is the punishment to the people for wrongdoings of UPA," he said. 

Mamata against, but not to withdraw support 

West Bengal Chief Minister   Mamata  Banerjee  criticized the hike, calling it unjust and unilateral but simultaneously making it clear that her party would not withdraw support from UPA Government.
 "It is unjust and unilateral. We think it is an easy option to burden the people. We cannot accept the price hike burden on the people," Mamata told reporters. 
She outrageously questioned why the price was hiked just a day after Parliament session ended.
She clarified her party was not consulted. "We have not been consulted on the price hike nor on the prevailing economic situation in the country. Why was there no consultation?" she said.

 Jayalalitha slams Government 

AIADMK Supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha slammed the Congress-led UPA government for hiking petrol price.
In her statement, she said, “It imposes an unbearable burden on the people, particularly the common people and the middle class is already reeling under the impact of high inflation. Is this the gift which UPA government wanted to give the people after completing three years in power?”

Karunanidhi demands roll back

 DMK president M Karunanidhi said his party was not consulted before decision was taken as it is not possible to discuss all the decision with alliance political leader and said he would urge the Centre for immediate roll back of this hike in petrol price. 

Have you ever seen this!

Turkmenistan signs deal with India, Pakistan

Source: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Turkmenistan today signed deal with India and Pakistan for proposed construction of 1680 km pipeline from Turkmenistan to India passing through Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pipeline can supply upto 90 million cubic meters a day. Prices and amount of gas for each country are not made public.
India was represented by state owned Gail Ltd while Pakistan was represented by privately run Pakistan's Inter State Gas System. Deal was signed in Ashgabat in Turkmenistan. Pipeline is projected to be operational in 2018.

Turkmenistan and Afghanistan could not reach sales agreement but signed memorandum of understanding on long term gas cooperation
It was widely believed that gas for this pipeline would be sourced from Daulatabad field on the southern border of Turkmenistan. An official from the state gas company said that a portion of the fuel will eventually be drawn from the vast and yet-to-be developed South Yolotan field near the Afghan border.

Cabinet approves TAPI gas pipeline

The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the proposal of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas to permit GA1L( India) Limited to sign the Gas Sale & Purchase Agreement (GSPA) with TurrnenGas, Turkmenistan's national oil company, for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Gas Pipeline Project.

The estimated cost of the pipeline is US $ 7.6 billion and it would carry 90 MMSCMD gas.

The TAPI Gas Pipeline is envisaged to be 1680 Km in length (144 Km in Turkmenistan, 735 Kin in Afghanistan & 800 Km in Pakistan) with a capacity of 90 MMSCMD of gas, with 38 MMSCMD each for India and Pakistan and the remaining 14 MMSCMD for Afghanistan.

The pipeline from Turkeministan's South Yolotan field, now renamed as Galkynysh, will run to Herat and Kandahar province of Afghanistan, before entering Pakistan. In Pakistan, it will reach Multan via Quetta before ending at Fazilka (Punjab) in India.

The Pipeline is expected to be operational in 2018 and supply gas over a 30 years period.

ADB is playing the role of lead facilitator for the Project.

 The United States supports TAPI pipeline project as an alternative to Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline as the project would isolate Iran.

The Project will help to promote energy security of the participating countries and strength regional cooperation.

The provisions of the GSPA have been prepared to protect India's commercial interests as India is at the tail end of the pipeline. Afghanistan and Pakistan have committed to the safety and security of the pipeline through the Inter-Governmental Agreement and the Gas Purchase Framework Agreement signed among the four countries in December, 2010.

India was formally admitted as a member of the TAPI Project in April 2008 at a meeting held on 23 - 24 April, 2008 at Islamabad. Shri Murli Deora, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas represented India in the meeting. It’s worth noting that the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) project was initially conceived in the year 2002.

Amendment to Constitution underway to enable land exchange with Bangladesh

External Affairs Minister, Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna, on Thursday (May 17) said that the government is drafting amendment to the Constitution to facilitate the exchange of enclaves between India and Bangladesh. There are 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in India.

In a letter to CPI leader Prabodh Panda, Krishna said, "The government is committed to the earliest implementation of the Protocol and Land Boundary Agreement that would result in exchange of enclaves."

The Protocol and the Agreement, signed between our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on September 6 last year require ratification by both governments.

Krishna held that the ratification necessitates an amendment of the constitution and preparatory steps to place a draft amendment bill before Parliament are underway.

His letter was in response to Senior CPI leader Prabodh Panda’s demand in Loksabha on May 3 for an answer from the government about the steps being taken to resolve Indo Bangla Enclaves issue.

Panda said that the number of Indians living in enclaves in Bangladesh was 37,100 and Bangladeshis living here was 14,200, as per the latest census carried out jointly by both countries.

Indian enclaves in Bangladesh occupy 17,149 acres of land while Bangla enclaves in India take up 7,110 acres of land, he said in the Lok Sabha during Zero Hour.

Panda expressed his concern by saying, "These large numbers of people of both countries are deprived of political rights and they do not enjoy social facilities that are necessary for development of individuals in a free society."

"BJP not to back amendment unless satisfied with merits of Land Swap Deal"

New Delhi: Veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader S S Ahluwalia said that his party would not support the Constitutional Amendment Bill in connection with the Land Swap Deal between India and Bangladesh unless satisfied with the merits of the same.

“After the Winter Session of the Parliament, National Security Advisor (NSA) Shiv Shankar Menon met Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively. Sushma Swaraj asked Menon to provide a detailed presentation on the Land Swap Deal in order to convince the party that the deal was in the national interest. Our contention was to ensure that India did not become a loser as a result of the deal. However, Menon never came back to us after that," Ahluwalia told the The Yomiuri Shimbun.

“We are still waiting for the government to respond to our request to discuss the merits and demerits of the deal. We are not against the Deal per se but at the same time, we would not support it unless convinced and satisfied with its substance," he stated.

On September 9 last year, the BJP formed a group headed by S S Ahluwalia to study the contents and repercussions of the Land Swap Agreement signed between India and Bangladesh three days before on September 6.

Ahluwalia revealed to the The Yomiuri Shimbun that he found people living in these enclaves in a state of extreme misery.

"These people are not clear about their future. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government at the Centre is not making any infrastructural development in these areas because it would in any case be exchanged with Bangladeshi enclaves. There is scarcity of everything in these enclaves, needless to say that water and power supply are a major issue," the BJP leader said.

Ahluwalia, who failed to save his seat in Rajya Sabha polls in Jharkhand last week, said that the agreement pertaining to exchange of enclaves between the two countries requires alteration of territory.

"According to the Indian Constitution, any alteration of territory or boundary requires statutory amendment. The BJP is opposed to this deal as till date we are not sure of what we stand to gain out of the same. We want to ascertain the exact mass of barren and fertile land held by Indian and Bangladeshi enclaves on both sides of the border which would form the subject matter of exchange," Ahluwalia averred.

“The UPA government signed the deal with Bangladesh without taking into confidence the elected representatives of the people. Before signing the deal, they should have at least spoken to the members of the legislative assemblies of the states concerned viz., West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram as also the members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. But our government at the Centre led by Congress did not deem it proper to seek their opinion on such a crucial matter," he added.

The veteran BJP leader also deplored the failure on the part of the UPA government to prepare the draft of the Constitutional Amendment required to effect the Deal.

"We are certainly not expecting it to be prepared and tabled even in the Monsoon Session due to upcoming Presidential elections," he lamented.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India (CPI) has asked the government to urgently take up the issue of exchange of enclaves with Bangladesh. The party feels that such a move would provide relief to people living in these areas.

Observing that the problem of exchange of these enclaves was persisting since Independence due to lack of political will, CPI Member Prabodh Panda told the The Yomiuri Shimbun that "these large number of people of both countries are deprived of political rights and they do not enjoy social facilities that are necessary for development of individuals in a free society."

"I strongly urge the central government to take up the issue urgently with the government of Bangladesh and provide relief to the citizens of both the countries living in these enclaves", he said.

India reacts to China, Philippines stand off, withdraws from South China Sea

New Delhi, May 10: India Thursday expressed concern over territorial stand-off between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea and asked both countries to exercise restraint and resolve the issue diplomatically as per international law.

"We have been following with concern recent developments involving China and the Philippines in the South China Sea. Maintenance of peace and security in the region is of vital interest to the international community. India urges both countries to exercise restraint and resolve the issue diplomatically according to principles of international law," Syed Akbaruddin, official spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs said.

The face-off between two countries started on April 8 when Philippine naval ship spotted eight Chinese fishing vessels at the Shoal.

A number of Chinese and Philippine fishery and coastguard ships remain stationed at the shoal, with both sides refusing to withdraw.

Both sides accuse each other of intruding into territorial waters.

The Philippines insist its claim to the Shoal is backed by international law, as the area is well within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia also claim parts of the sea.

But China claims almost the entire region, which is believed to contain large oil and natural gas deposits.

In past China raised objections to Indian exploration projects in Vietnamese oil blocks in South China Sea. India always upheld that its projects were commercial in nature and the territorial disputes should be resolved as per the international laws.

India has finally decided to withdraw its exploration projects in Vietnamese oil blocks claiming that that block 128 had low prospects of producing hydrocarbons; Vietnam doubted if this was due to pressure from China. Three years ago ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) returned block 127, adjacent to 128, to Vietnam with the same claim of low hydrocarbons production potential.

Vietnamese diplomats expressed disappointment taking into account that Hanoi always stood up to Beijing whenever it objected to the contract given to India for oil exploration in the Phu Khanh Basin.

Iran oil import: India not to come under pressure

New Delhi, May 9: External Affairs Minister SM Krishna Tuesday met US secretary of State Hillary Clinton in order to boost bilateral relationship and expressed satisfaction over the progress in economic relationship and hoped for it to grow faster.

The discussion covered range of issues such as security and economic development of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Asia Pacific, Indian Ocean region (IOR), China, Bangladesh, and commercial cooperation in civil nuclear energy,.

Krishna raised the issue of difficulties faced by professional, especially IT companies on mobility and protectionist sentiments in the U.S. with regard to global supply chain in services industry.

Both Krishna and Clinton urged Pakistan to make greater efforts to combat violent extremism.

Clinton underlined that Pakistan needs to ensure that its territory is not used as launching pads for terrorist attacks anywhere.

“Recent attacks in Kabul highlight once again the need for elimination of terrorist sanctuaries in the neighborhood and the need for stronger action from Pakistan on terrorism, including on bringing to justice the perpetrators of Mumbai terrorist attack,” Krishna averred.

Clinton expressed contentment in the progress in trade and investment between India and the U.S. “We have come a long way. When I first visited India in 1995, trade stood at nine billion dollars, and this year we expect to surpass 100 billion dollars,” she said.

Clinton lauded the India’s progress in reducing its purchases of oil from Iran, and expected further cut in oil imports to build pressure on Iran in order to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons but Krishna made it clear that Iran is a key country for India’s energy needs and it is an important source of oil for India and the decline in oil import is nothing but the result of decision by refineries on the basis of commercial, financial and technical considerations.

Krishna held that Iran had rights as a member of NPT, but it must also abide by its obligations as a non-nuclear weapons state under the NPT.

He reiterated that India’s position on the nuclear issue has been clear and consistent and that it pledges to implement the UN Security Council Resolutions.

Yesterday’s meeting was a preparatory step for strategic dialogue in June in Washington DC.

Future of India Bangladesh enclaves

Image from Deccanherald
     Enclaves, also known as Chhit Mahals, are outlying and detached tracks of land situated inside Cooch Behar district. There are 51 such Bangladesh enclaves located in Indian Territory covering 7110.02 acres of land with population 14215.  Similarly there are 111 Indian enclaves in Rangpur district of Bangladesh covering 17158.13 acres of land having population 37,334. People inside these enclaves are treated as foreigners. They are deprived of human rights being enjoyed by people in their respective countries They do not have access to facilities such as health, basic education, electricity, clean drinking water and decent livelihood. They live in abject poverty. The estimation of their average income is less than Rs 17 per day. They are not included in census and have no proof of their Indian citizenship.

 There is a state of lawlessness. They have no access to administration of the respective countries. If there is any crime, residents of these enclaves cannot complain in local police station nor can they move to respective country police station.

None of the enclaves in India has access to Bangladesh except for Dahagram-Angaporta Enclaves which have access to its motherland through Tinbigha corridor. Tinbigha corridor is a strip of land situated 10 km south east of Mekhliganj sub divisional town measuring about 178 metres x 85 metres in dimension. It is located between the Bangladesh enclaves of Dahagram and Angorpota on the west and Panbari Mouza of Bangladesh on the east.

Location of Tinbigha in Cooch Behar
Image from
  Tinbigha corridor was inaugurated on June 26, 1992 as a result of agreement between Governments of two countries. 
So far three agreements have been signed between India and Bangladesh Government for exchange of enclaves, First being Indira-Mujib Agreement in 1974 and second Indira-Ershad Agreement in 1982 and the latest on September 06, 2011. None of these agreements has been implemented.
“The agreement remains on paper. Practical implementation doesn’t happen. Only reason is lack of political will”, says Diptiman Sengupta, coordinator of Bharat Bangladesh enclave exchange coordination committee (BBEECC).

“In 1947, India got independence, afterwards it acquired Cooch Behar, Portugal, Sikkim but for all these, agreements were not signed; they were just acquired and taken control of, then why in India-Bangladesh enclave case agreements are being signed. It only reflects lack of political will. Thirty eight years have passed since first agreement was signed. No implementation took place. There is no scope of implementation even now”, said Diptiman.

    The India Bangladesh land swap agreement which entails exchange of enclaves requires constitutional amendment for it requires demarcation of boundary. Two-third of support is required in both houses to pass the bill. Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and UPA ally Trinamool Congress seem to be upset with the move and do not want to support.

 To get the backing of opposition National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon approached Sushma Swaraj, opposition leader in Loksabha and Arun Jaitley, opposition leader in Rajya Sabha but his effort failed to fructify.
BJP party led committee headed by S.S. Ahluwalia visited these enclaves to check the ground reality. There is anger among residents, they are not happy with this agreement. Any agreement signed should consider national interest and people concerned, said S.S. Ahluwalia.
Well, as long as Government doesn’t get backing of opposition and its own ally to make it reach two-third of majority in parliament, it can’t pass constitutional amendment bill and consequently the agreement will remain on papers.

Hillary to hardsell FDI to Mamata

Hillary Clinton is on her tour to China, Bangladesh and China from May 3 to May 8. She is already in China for the fourth joint meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED). She will spend two days here then move to Bangladesh and finally to India on the evening of 6th May.
     Top priority of Hillary Clinton’s visit here is meeting with Mamata Banerjee. Before she meets SM Krishna in New Delhi, she wants to meet Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata on 7th May. Of course, aim of this visit is to review progress in the strategic partnership as a preparatory step for the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue to be held in Washington, D.C. on June 13, to be co-chaired by Secretary Clinton and Indian Minister of External Affairs S.M. Krishna but why is it that she is doing this important work on the second day of her visit.
     Very clearly, her visit aims at changing the attitude of Ms Mamata Banerjee towards Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) who has been reason for withdrawal of Government decision to bring FDI in multibrand retail which would have paved the way for opening of global retail stores like walmart, Carrefour and Tesco in major Indian cities. This decision would have opened the sector to foreign investment resulting in great economic reform but Mamata Banerjee being pro-poor believed it to be against farmers and did not allow it to happen and said more discussion was required on this issue.

    Mamata’s Trinamool Congress is the second largest party in coalition Government having 19 members in Loksabha and 9 members in Rajya Sabha which can anytime do arm twisting to get its decisions accepted by Government, latest one being resignation by Dinesh Trivedi, Railway Minister for passenger fare unacceptable to Didi ji. United Progressive Alliance (UPA) cannot afford to anger Mamata Banerjee or it would fall flat on ground. Let’s see if Hillary can please our “difficult to please” Didi.

India: Country of no systematization

India grows at a rate which developed countries can only dream about. Country which plays pivotal role in world economy has no system. People in ministries and its departments know nothing about other departments of the same ministry. They try to pass the burden on other person. To get information is like andhere mein teer chalana. You have to contact at least ten people to reach the right person and there is no surety that information would be provided even at the end. Most of the time, right person is not available. Every time you call you will be asked to call at a new time. All they want all the time is time. They don’t have time. Your deadline for story would come to an end but their time demand would not end. If you are lucky enough to speak to the right person, don’t ask too many question or he would kill you on phone. This is the level of their frustration. They project to be so busy as if they are signing some big deals all the time.

If you want to interview some senior official be it from some ministry or public sector undertaking (PSU), you will die calling but you would not get positive response. The time would come when they would even stop taking your calls. There is no courtesy or consideration. If you want information, file an RTI application and wait for 30 days. Government knows slow pace of its people, that’s why prescribed 30 days for a query to be responded. Till that time news would be stale and you would be working on some other news story. There is no resolution to this problem because our country is moving at snail pace in terms of improving system and bringing relevant bills. Years pass on but bills which concern common people remain with parliament for consideration, courtesy bad dramatic politics. If you have patience, wait, else change your line. There is  no better option.