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Friday, February 13, 2015

Random Musings : Why Statehood for Delhi ?

A very informative and wisely analysed write up by retired Wg Cdr (Dr) USM Bish of Indian Air Force, which should put people in authority, wise enough to decide about awarding complete statehood for Delhi, as demanded by the CM designate Shri Arvind Kejriwal.

by Wg Cdr (Dr) USM Bish_.__
_
Q1. How many democratic countries have the National Capital under a State ?

Very few. Is the capital of USA (Washington DC) under any state ? It was created in the mid 18th Century with land taken from Philadelphia and Maryland, but since then run directly by the US Congress. In UK, "London District" is NOT under any of the surrounding counties. UK/ England is too small a geography to have viable states.

Q2. Then why does Delhi need to be a State ?

Delhi and Puducherry are the only union territories of India, which have been given partial statehood according to the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution in which Delhi is defined as National Capital Territory of India. Though the first CM of Delhi came to the chair in 1952, the post was abolished in 1956 by Nehru. From Nov 1956 till Nov 1993 there were no CM at all since the Office was abolished. Things moved normally, and nobody knew the difference. There were no issues running it as a UT directly by Home Ministry.

The reason for dissolution of the CM of Delhi post in 1956 was as follows:

a) Complaints from various States, led by Bengal and Madras that Delhi was a parasitic state, living off direct taxes paid by the rest of the country. The immediate precursor was the EPDP Colony allocation. The central govt allotted pieces of land to East Pakistan Displaced Persons in the area now known as Kalkaji. The "local" people objected to this "immigration". It was pointed out since Delhi was an UT, and as of then run totally by Union funds paid by all states, no claims to "immigrant" status of any Indian citizen should be entertained.

b) Most capitals around the world are governed directly by the central Govt of the country, like Washington DC, Greater London and Paris Metropolis.

c) Being the seat of Govt, local population are getting more favours in lower Central Govt jobs, and is being unfair to the rest of the Country. There is capital infusion into the local economics, created by high numbers of Govt jobs, which other states are denied of.

d) In the eight year period 1947-1955 Delhi's population increased more than twice, and creating conflicts between "indigenous" and "immigrant" population, this included Punjabis (both Hindus and Sikhs) from West Pakistan. Mind you, prior to 1913, the territory of Delhi was under Punjab. Delhi has never been the Capital of India since the Delhi Sultanate. The Moghuls ruled from Agra, and the Brits from Calcutta till 1913. People are not even aware that it was only in 1994 that the NDMC got out of the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911 !

Its legislative assembly was re-established in 1993, after the Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991 came into force, followed by the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 the Sixty-ninth Amendment to the Constitution of India, declared the Union Territory of Delhi to be formally known as National Capital Territory of Delhi.

What is the situation today ?

Almost the same as what it was in 1956 when the post of CM of Delhi was abolished. This is a semi-state that lives up for most part, on the money of Indian union, contributed by all states, including some of the poorest states like Odisha, Bihar and the seven sisters of the NE. Being the capital region, the roads, trains, airports and pretty much every form of infrastructure is built mostly using the Union of India's money, unlike Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai etc. who have to build mostly using their local tax money.

The attitude towards people from outside Delhi has worsened. There are racial attacks (none politically motivated). A term like "foreigner" used in the BJP-manifesto for NE people, is NOT a slip-of-the tongue. It is a question of mindset. Other political parties, pointed it out promptly, and including of the press found a substitute word - "immigrant". Ask yourself,
are they in any way a migrant ? All these States have actually paid for the development of Delhi, paid in the form of Central Taxes, paid at individual levels. They had a right to be there - as legal citizens in their own tax paid territory.

Giving statehood to Delhi would result in proportional disfavour to other states, as far as share of central taxes is concerned. It would further worsen the "us-and-them" gap of Delhi and non-Delhites. Who was a Delhite by origin taking 1913 as the end of the cut off year ? The population of Delhi was only 2,32,837 people then !

The demand of Delhi to be made an independent state can only be considered if Central funds allocation to Delhi is stopped. Delhi is otherwise a financially starved half- state. Its fund outlay for this FY was only about Rs 36,000+ crores, based on its income from revenues. The rest has been paid by tax-payer's money belonging to the rest of the country. The 2010 CWG games itself costed INR 115 billion (US$1.8 billion), a figure which excluded non-sports-related infrastructure developmental expenses. Has the Delhi tax-payer paid for this?

Yes, the AAP wants control of agencies like Police, NDMC etc. That can be granted, but NOT linked with Statehood. Control of service agencies and complete state hood are not interlinked. It is unfair for the rest of the country to be taxed for providing subsidised water, electricity and other subsidies for people of the National Capital to meet the needs of electoral
manifesto. The situation of "immigrants" is not getting better.


Monday, February 2, 2015

The Unhappy Husband of Kiran Bedi

To Be or Not - Husband of A Celebrity   

The first woman to enter the IPS which was otherwise a male domain; winner of the prestigious Magasaysay Award for humanely administering Tihar, the largest jail of Asia, Kiran Bedi has slipped miserably on the domestic front. Having a devoted husband and a lovely daughter this terrific police officer hasn’t been able to maintain an equilibrium between marital and parental families. Well known for inviting controversies Kiran Bedi was in news when she left Mizoram overnight. She also declined posting in Jammu & Kashmir. What however haven't been printed' are the controversies in her personal life which too have surrounded her. 

DR. UMA ARARA speaks to Brij Bedi, her estranged husband, who lives in Amritsar, to unveil lesser known Kiran. 

This lonely man loves to photograph beautiful women. That's not all. His lens 

catches 
the mess in and around the city and with the product he continuously pesters the civic authorities who according to him are deaf, dumb and blind. His passion for Amritsar, the city in which he has been living since past several decades, comes out strongly the moment one mentions word 'filth'. This philanthropist handsome middle-aged man with a grey crown and Clark Gable moustache the unassuming and low profile husband of a celebrity. Yes we 
are talking - 
to Brij Bedi, 
one wheel of the straddled marriage;
the 
other being first 
Woman IPS officer 
Mrs.Kiran Bedi.

Q. How did you meet Kiranji?

A. It was in 1971. Basically we are from Dera 'Baba Nanak, Batala and descendants of Guru Nanak. When I was in Khalsa College, Amritsar, I met a friend who taught me 
photography and lawn tennis. The game interested me so much that even on the examination day I was playing tennis and naturally failed. In 1971 Kiran had returned from Chandigarh after completion of her M.

A. She was a very good tennis player, in fact her father was very keen to make her an outstanding tennis player and she went on to become the Asian Champion. We met in the club, played tennis together and became good friends. 

Q. So it was romance on the tennis court?

A. That happened later. At that time I was engaged with a girl from Delhi. Being an idealist l wanted just a simple marriage but the girl';s parents refused. So we broke the engagement. Meanwhile I had begun to like Kiran for her intelligence and quick wit. She had told me that if this engagement did not work she would marry me as she wanted to have a husband with similar ideals.

Q. Was it a contractual marriage then?

A. Yes and no. We had ten years difference in our age but our thinking level was the same. lf I had my ideals she had her own conditions. Although  she had taken up a job in Khalsa college it was decided that she would become- an l.A.S. officer failing which she would go to Canada for her Ph.D. She was so intelligent I did not think of stopping her or controlling her just because she was to be my wife. lf she had the ability  and the will power to pursue the goals why'; should I or anyone stop her. lnstead  I agreed with her and encouraged her. We were madly in love at that time and such things seemed very superficial.

Q. You became a visiting husband. How did it affect your lndian male ego?

A. Right from the beginning we knew that our marriage is going to be
a unique in its own way. We were not going to be ordinary husband and wife where the woman wastes her talent and intelligence knitting and washing at home. l would never have married such a home bound person. Since it was already decided in our case that she would be posted outside l was mentally prepared to be a visiting husband Besides where there is love there is no ego. I used to cook and eyen polish her shoes.Sometimes when she would be tired I pressed her legs also. I never felt anything wrong in that.

Q. That must have been during the 'first few years of the marriage. When did the problems really start?

A. The problems were there side by side but like all newly weds we ignored them. After two months of marriage she got the call for training. lt was really great in those days. We used to write five letters everyday with numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, marked on them. Even the postman was bewildered. Every day she used to call me over the phone too. It was really romantic. One day when she rang up she was very up set as her name had not appeared in the first list of lAS. I had induced her to take on a challenge and accept the strenuous IPS training. Her parents resisted as there were ';no women r officers in the lndian police force then. Despite this I managed to convince her and she took up the challenge. After the training she was posted at Delhi and I used to visit her on the weekends. Her parents had already shifted to Delhi with her and then her sisters also joined and completed the family coterie around her. ln a two room house it used to become really overcrowded and I felt highly suffocated, Gradually I began to feel very uncomfortable there as her parents would interfere in our personal relationship and we began to drift apart.

Q. How were the 'things when your daughter was born?

A. It was a planned child and we were both blissful. Till that time Kiran was totally involved with me and my family. Brij with his daughter Her parents could not cope with that and tried their best by fair or foul means to win her devotion in which they succeeded, I also felt that being a daughter she does have her obligation towards them and never tried to obstruct her relationship with them. But she could not balance her affection for both families and in her heart her parents became everything so much so that the requirements of her husband and daughter became secondary and gradually we became obsolete for her- She is not a successful wife although a very successful and devoted daughter.

Q. Sukriti, Your daughter stays with her mother then how often do you meet her?

A. I go to visit her now. That is the biggest tragedy of our marriage.  She neither got love of her mother nor affection of a father. Kiran was naturally very busy and could spare only a few hurried moments from her busy schedule. I used to go on weekends which was fine but since past eight years I have stopped going to Delhi and the girl is really deprived of parental care. She does come over to Amritsar as and when she can. Her maternal grandparents are there but she resists them like anything. She is the real sufferer; Now she herself is an adult and understands the situation but has not been able to fully cope up. She does not feel comfortable in that house but has to stay there since she is trying for her MBBS degree. There are things in life over which no one has any control. The destiny plays an important role. People are not surprised at Kiran Bedi becoming an IPS officer but her having been married is considered strange. 

Q. Maybe because of this sourness there have been rumours about a divorce?

A. They (Kiran's parents) wanted a divorce. Even Kiran mentioned it once but I refused saying our achievement is mine". She was my dream. There was a time when she had called me 'her god'; in one such interviews. But then things became really bad between us, For our daughter's sake I never thought of a divorce. My 'parents too used to insist sometimes but I did not want to get married again. 

Q. What about her achievements?  Did you ever envy that? 

A. Never. Her achievements were mine. She did her duty well and was appreciated 
that more than doing things about prisoners, the criminals the need is to do something about the society outside. About the poor, the rotting, the illiterates. It is time she should quit and involve in the larger canvas. Being a very simple person bereft of inhibitions she can, easily do it. That is what I personally feel

Q. What about your parents? Usually the problems start because of that.

A. (laughs). ln our case it was the other way round. Her own parents had such a hold over her that she could not break away from them. Kiran was very close to my mother and accepted many times that she got so many things because of her blessings. When she came for my mother's funeral on her returning to Delhi she got the news about the Magasaysay award. My mother was a very broadminded person, She accepted our relationship, but the deterioration in it became unbearable for her. She worried what would happen to me after her death.

Q. ln retrospect what would you like to change and at which moment in your life?

A. I have come to believe in destiny. It had to happen in my life. I was very bitter about the failure of our marriage till a year and half ago but today I have managed to control my emotions and have channelised them properly. I try my best to help people and have made it a mission to pester authorities about their negligence although I still miss having a proper family life especially at times when I am unwell. I no more cry about it. This is all destiny. No one can change anything. 

"May all be happy, May all be free from diseases, May all attain benediction and May no one suffer in the least."

Regular communication leads to good understanding ; 
Good understanding leads to a lasting relationship !

Ribeiro on Kiran Bedi


An old colleague, Julio Ribeiro, pens down his memories of BJP's Delhi CM nominee, Kiran Bedi.
         
An IPS officer, an old colleague is eying to become the next Chief Minister of Delhi. Kiran Bedi, a darling of the common man, particularly youth and women, has already started on her new role even before she is elected and sworn in. Knowing her I would think that she will have her eyes on the Prime Minister’s chair. Why not? If Theodore Roosevelt, the Police Commissioner of New York, could become President of the US, surely my ex-colleague can aspire for the most powerful job under our Constitution. 

I first met Kiran Bedi in Hyderabad when she joined the Indian Police Service as a probationer. The novelty of seeing a woman probationer had just struck me and other males in the service. Let me confess that I was impressed with her enthusiasm and ebullience. She had been a national level tennis player. The physical part of police training was not a problem with her and even at that stage one could sense a spark and a confidence that spoke of greater things to come.

I had an occasion many years later as Special Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs to ask Kiran to accept an assignment in the National Police Academy at Hyderabad. The Director of the Academy, A.A. Ali, wanted a woman officer on his staff since the intake of women IPS probationers was increasing year by year. She would have been a great asset in the shaping of our future police leadership. I was greatly disappointed when she said ‘No’ though eventually I did find a good substitute in the person of Manjari Jaruhar of the Bihar Cadre of the IPS. Manjari wore a sari and sported a ‘bindi’ on her forehead after duty hours, unlike Kiran who preferred masculine attire.
Kiran Bedi was not willing to leave Delhi; the city was her happy stomping ground. One reason could have been her daughter for whom she had managed to secure a medical seat, when she was briefly posted to Mizoram. I had heard some murmurs at that time that she had not played fair in appropriating a seat meant for Mizo tribals. I remember that Kiran put up a very spirited defense for her questionable decision. The ability to justify some wrongs will surely help her to further her career in politics.
My other recollection of her was when she was awarded the Magsaysay Award. I had been approached by a well-known businessman in Mumbai with Philippine contacts, based on his stint in the Asian Institute of Management in Manila, for a résumé of my work in the police for submission to the Magsaysay Award committee. The committee had decided that year to give one prize to a police officer from India and had narrowed the choice to two. I was warned that there was another candidate who had also been recommended.  It was only after her name was published that that I realized that the other candidate was my friend Kiran Bedi. I hastened to congratulate her. In her reply she told me she was going to form a Trust with the prize money and requested me to serve as a Trustee. I consented.
I did not hear further about the Trust till years later a television crew popped up at my door asking me to comment on Kiran’s travelling by air on economy class tickets but claiming business class fare from corporates inviting her for speaking engagements. The money gained thereby had been credited to the Trust. When the T.V. channel learnt that I was a Trustee (a fact that I had by then forgotten) they sought my views on her way of financing her charitable work. My reply was that I would not do what Kiran had done but since she had not diverted money for personal use it was only a technical default, but certainly not a crime.
What did strike me though about this entire episode was that Kiran ran the Trust on her own without involving other Trustees as would be expected. She had included my name as a Trustee as a mere formality. I had not been informed about meetings or decisions taken nor did I receive any reports on the work done by the Trust for years together till this allegation surfaced. This is Kiran all over. She likes being the sole boss.
Nobody can doubt Kiran Bedi’s integrity or capabilities. Her problem was that she attracted the jealousy and unspoken enmity of her seniors and her peers since she always hogged the limelight. Her style of functioning also disturbed the politicians then in power. They were perennially in the popularity business and did not like to be eclipsed by a mere police officer. They overlooked the fact that Kiran’s popularity was based on her proven track record of genuine service to the people.
Kiran is very passionate about whatever she does. But her propensity to become the centre of attraction might lead her into conflict with her new found colleagues in the BJP who will find the ground shifting under their feet. Knowing Kiran I can safely say that she is not going to change. She has already started her work as a Chief Minister though elections are a month away. This is typical Kiran; she has no time to waste. As she herself said she is in the ‘mission mode’ and she will remain in that mode for many more years to come.

Before I end, there is a word of thanks I must convey through this piece to the future Chief Minister of Delhi. When I was sent to the Punjab to fight the separatists, RK Laxman drew a front page cartoon in the Times of India a copy of which my friend Kiran procured from the cartoonist himself and presented to me as a token of her appreciation for “taking on the nation’s battle”.  I will not forget that gesture.

One Rank One Pension - Bureaucratic Lobby Playing With Armed Forces

Many distinguished veterans argue that they are only asking for what was promised to them, pointing to the aphorism of Chankaya, the architect of the Mauryan empire, who is said to have advised his prodigy Chandragupta Maurya thus: “The day a soldier has to demand his dues will be a sad day for Magadha.From then on you have lost all moral sanctions to be King.“

Military veterans claim babus are thwarting PM Modi';s poll pledge of one-rank-one-pension by inflating its cost estimates

Roman emperor Augustus started the tradition of military pensions in 13 BC, when every legionary who had fought 20 years for Rome was guaranteed a pensionfor-life. It set the bar for modern armies, and independent India continued the British tradition of financially privileging military service until the mid-1970s, when soldiers were paid more than civilian bureaucrats, in service and after retirement. All that changed with the Third Pay Commission, which brought military salaries in line with civil services, and while soldiers have long complained about political control over the military in independent India mutating into bureaucratic control, a row over the NDA';s promise for one-rank-one-pension (OROP) for military veterans is raising questions about the government';s ability to translate its intent into action.

Fifteen months after Narendra Modi first demanded it immediately after being anointed the BJP';s PM candidate, 10 months after the UPA government granted it, five months after NDA';s finance minister Arun Jaitley confirmed it and almost two months after the PM told soldiers in Siachen that it was his “destiny that one rank-one pension has been fulfilled“, military veterans are questioning why the promise has still not been implemented.

NUMBER GAMES

Put simply, OROP means that every pension-eligible soldier who retires in a particular rank deserves the same pension, irrespective of date of retirement. Currently, soldiers who left the armed forces more recently receive more than those who did earlier, because successive pay commissions hiked salaries. Two days after he was anointed BJP';s PM-candidate in September 2013, Modi vehemently supported the OROP demand at a veterans'; rally in Rewari. With roughly 12 lakh veterans also constituting a huge vote-bank, UPA government approved the demand in February 2014, and it was reaffirmed by NDA in July, when finance minister Arun Jaitley specifically provisioned Rs 1,000 crore in his 2014-15 budget (within an overall defence pensions budget of Rs 51,000 crore). Yet, it remains stuck in bureaucratic wrangling.

At the heart of the problem are bureaucratic disagreements over costs. The finance ministry told a parliamentary committee in 2011 that it would cost Rs 1,300 crore a year while defence ministry pegged annual cost estimates at Rs 3,000 crore. Yet, now that OROP has been approved, the Comptroller of Defence Accounts has reportedly put the bill as high as Rs 9,300 crore per annum (see charts).

Defence minister Manohar Parikkar has held stakeholder meetings to resolve the crisis, most recently on December 10, with no clear solution yet. Veterans'; groups are perplexed at the changing goalposts, blaming the bureaucracy for being obscurantist. Says Lt Gen SK Bahri (retd), chairman, Alliance of Ex-Service men Organisations: “The bureaucracy is fighting a rear-guard action. It is not difficult to find funds but our problem is the lower bureaucracy which can stop anything in the ministry.
“We are fighting an internal enemy.“

Veteran groups, fighting the OROP battle for at least two decades, claim they don’t have the ears of the leadership. “Whatever the bureaucracy tells them, they believe,“ says Lt Col Inderjit Singh, chairman, All-India Ex-Services Welfare Organisation. Reassuring doubters, Parrikar was recently quoted as saying that “the government is seriously considering implementing the one-rank-one-pension policy“ and the “announcement will be made in four to eight weeks“.

His words may reassure veteran groups who have been organizing protest rallies. Their social media networks are full of invective and a growing sense of “betrayal“ and “disillusionment“, which is fast gaining a political edge. The fight for OROP, in this narrative, is turning into a new cipher for the ever-present military trope of overbearing bureaucrats being allowed to ride rough-shod over them in a defence ministry that is still not integrated with service headquarters, as in other liberal democracies.

The problem is that different departments used different formulas to calculate costs but as Major Navdeep Singh, advocate in Punjab and Haryana High Court points out, “the directive to break this logjam has to come from the top“. “There seems to be an anti-services sentiment in the lower bureaucracy ,“ he adds, “but higher echelons must overrule such disputes.“

SOLDIERS vs CIVILIANS

The case for OROP is predicated on military terms of service being much harsher than those for civil services. Most soldiers retire between 35-37 years of age, while officers below brigadier-or-equivalent do so at 54, with limited re-employment options. Civil servants, in contrast, retire at 60.

Moreover, the Sixth Pay Commission granted the facility of what bureaucrats call “non-functional upgrade“ (NFU) to officers in all-India Group A services. This is a sort of `pay-promotion';, allowing them, under certain conditions, to draw higher pay than their rank, without actually being promoted. Almost all civil servants benefit from this while defence services officers do not, even as their career pyramid is much steeper. Only 0.8% of defence officers make it to the rank of major general after 28 years of service, compared with a much higher rate of civil servants who are eligible to become joint secretaries at 19 years of service. As Major Navdeep Singh says, veterans see NFU as a sort of “OROP by backdoor for civil servants“.

I personally feel that now we should believe the Raksha Mantri what he has proclaimed yesterday, 1st February 2015. He is trying his best to overcome the hurdles being brought about by the bureaucratic lobby every now and then. After all, all the paper work and calculations have to be done by the Babus.Yash

Yashvir Tuli 
yashtuli@hotmail.com