Category Archives: Infrastructure Politics

Dude, where goes my tax money?

How would you feel if your hard earned money is taken away and “redistributed” to the  mostly political activists or favored constituencies of the respective parties in the name of the poor? or blown on some minister’s foreign jaunt or better still into the black hole of hair brained schemes like the NREGS and for the purpose of sending more and more rich or middle class OBC kids to the IITs, IIMs and other institutes of higher learning while myself who has by now paid a good amount in tax money since the last 4 years cannot rely on the government to provide proper services in return- i have to drive on pathetic roads, put up with unreliable and erratic power supply, pathetic public transport, drains that overflow at the first burst of monsoon and added to that the country sorely lacks an efficient public health care system, primary education system and so on and so forth.

India will reform much faster and things will change for the better much more sooner if only more and more Indians demand accountability from the government for how it is spending their hard earned money it collects as taxes.

Narendra Modi should be commended for being the first person to demand such accountability. I completely agree with him that the government should be held accountable for how it spends the taxes it collects from the people.

Should the brightest student in a class be forced to dumb down to accommodate the dullard?

The essence of democracy prevents Indian politicians from giving honest answers to such questions. Ever since “equitable growth” and “inclusive development” became consensual buzzwords, India’s policy framework has been geared to target the last person in the last row. On paper this sounds noble but the reality is less appetising. In the guise of giving a leg up to the needy, we have punished enterprise, rewarded criminality, indulged mediocrity and brutalised the vulnerable. The Incredible India of smiling peasants and the Fab India-kitted woman prancing about on a Rural Employment Guarantee picnic — a la the ads during the IPL telecasts — exist entirely in the imagination of demented propagandists.

The mindless attachment to failed mantras has blunted the politicians’ capacity for innovative thinking. This may be a reason why Modi’s plea to the Centre to let Gujarat enjoy complete fiscal independence for one year has been met with incomprehension or drawn a hysterical response — including the silly assertion that he be charged with sedition.

The chief minister’s demand that revenues from Gujarat be largely spent on Gujarat is a radical departure from existing federal norms. At present, the Centre collects the lion’s share of all major taxes, including income tax and customs and excise duties, leaving the states with the crumbs from stamp duties, irrigation cess, tax on liquor and VAT on consumer sales. A percentage of the central revenues are ploughed back to the states under the Finance Commission’s guidelines. But the returns are never proportionate. Additionally, the Planning Commission doles out the capital expenditure on approved schemes.

The present system was centred on two principles: the government in New Delhi should be a redistributive Centre and development should be centrally planned and not left to the market. The system worked without major hiccups as long as the Centre played the role of a neutral arbiter and until the public sector occupied the “commanding heights” of the economy.

Both assumptions are no longer valid. While the market economy has ushered rivalry between states for private investments, fiercely competitive politics has forced ruling dispensations to be more responsive to voters. At the same time, the growing mismatch between those who pay taxes and those who benefit from government expenditure has produced strains in places as far removed as Darjeeling and Mumbai. There is a feeling that revenues generated in the region are inadequately ploughed back and that the present system favours the inefficient. Likewise, there is dismay over the culture of non-accountability that governs grandiose schemes such as the loan-waiver and the NREGS. Some people, it would seem, pay their hard-earned money in taxes while a small, privileged minority squanders and loots it recklessly. Most important, the system is not geared to apportioning accountability for expenditure. A politician in, say, Jharkhand doesn’t give a damn for fiscal rectitude because he knows that the funds at his disposal have actually emanated from somewhere else.

In saying that Gujarat should have a greater say in the money it gives to the Centre, Modi is not seeking sops and handouts. Shorn off its polemical flourish, it is a call for a new mindset that treats those who pay for nation building with respect.[link]

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Filed under Governance, India, Indian Politics, Indian States, Infrastructure Politics, Social Issues

Pakistan Implements Mobile Number Portability

Pakistan has implemented Mobile number portability across all carriers. While at the same time DoT in India under pressure from the Cellphone companies has virtually shelved the plan which would have benefited hundreds of millions of subscribers across the country.

Number portability allows a customer to move from one mobile service to another within GSM, and also between GSM and CDMA, while retaining the same number. It gives flexibility to customers and keeps operators on their toes lest their service quality falls.

According to an IDC survey, over 30 per cent of mobile subscribers would change their operators if they had number portability.

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Filed under General, Infrastructure Politics

Nandigram Massacre

Communist thugs massacre poor, innocent, defenseless villagers in Nandigram, West Bengal because they dared to stand up to their tyranny and prevent the commies from stealing their land and livelihoods.

Warning – graphic video

With the fall of the Soviet Union died the Communist ideology. Now the surviving communist regimes in China, Cuba and West Bengal state in India have lost their ideological veneer and have become plain thugocracies who maintain their power only through sheer terror, intimidation and cheating. They always arrogate themselves the right to speak for the common people but have no qualms to kill them if they dare challenge them in anyway and ofcourse with the usual accompanying gaudy red rhetoric that it is all for their own good !!

This is similar to what is happening in China, very much admired by Indian communists and their sympathizers in the media and intellectual circles, where the Communist government there is stealing land from its poor farmers for the sake of “development”, which could mean anything from a factory to a shiny hotel and golf course, through intimidation and violence. The Chinese government is also involved in a massive organ trafficking scam stealing organs from poor people to sell it to rich foreigners.

Update- Nandigram Media Archive at  sacredmediacow.com

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Filed under Freedom of Speech & Information, Governance, India, Indian Politics, Indian States, Infrastructure Politics, International Communism, Law & Order, National Security, Social Issues, Terrorism

Gas Pipeline Blown Up by Baloch Rebels

That too in the very area where that accursed pipeline from Iran to India will have to pass through if built.

Quetta, Balochistan: Suspected Baloch militants blew up a gas pipeline near Quetta on Tuesday, cutting supplies to a power plant and several areas, a gas company official said. Gas supplies were cut to four districts near Quetta and a 95 MW city power plant. Supplies might be restored to some areas within 24 hours, Nawaz said. No one was hurt in the early morning blast in the outskirts of Quetta. “They planted explosives under an 18-inch pipeline that blew out a 4-foot piece of the pipe,” said Sheikh Nawaz, general manager of Sui Southern Gas Company.

If that pipeline is built not only will India have sleepless nights worrying about when the Paki goverment will pull the plug on this vital line. One has to also worry about when the Baloch militants will want to use it for some target practice.

Added to that India will have to pay several hundreds of millions of dollars as transit fees to Pakistan. That’s a lot of easy money for Pak to finance its terrorist campaigns against India.

The whole hair brained pipeline deal therefore is a lose-lose bargain all the way and should be scrapped right away, if it has not been already. A very viable alternative to this is to use the sea route since

1) India can then import all the gas it needs from every friggin part of the world including Iran and even Venezuela.

2) The Indian Navy can very much handle anyone who wants to play some mischief along the way.

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Filed under Geopolitics, India, India and the World, Indian Foreign Policy, Indian Politics, Infrastructure Politics, International Politics, Liberal Extremists, National Security, Pakistan, The Indian Subcontinent

DoT Says No to Mobile Number Portability

December 05, 2006 The decision of the department of telecommunications to reject the Telecom regulatory authority of India’s proposal for the implementation of portability in mobile services by April 2007 will deprive millions of Indian customers the freedom to choose service providers without changing their phone numbers.

Number portability allows a customer to move from one mobile service to another within GSM, and also between GSM and CDMA, while retaining the same number. It gives flexibility to customers and keeps operators on their toes lest their service quality falls.

According to an IDC survey, over 30 per cent of mobile subscribers would change their operators if they had number portability.

This is a very stupid decision by the DoT and is also ultimately harmful to the growth prospects of the telecom business in India. Right now the telecom companies are taking their customers for granted and are dishing out very crappy and unprofessional “service”.The only reason many customers grudingly stay is because of yes ‘Number Non-portability’.

Number portability would make the telecom companies stand up on their toes and deliver. It would also help lower the entry barriers for new operators to enter the market thus benefitting the customers with lower prices and also would spur innovation in the marketplace for new products, phones, plans and services. The present system looks like an oligarchy of 3-4 companies in each circle with all of them indulging in price fixing and keeping telephony costs artificially high and also showing utmost reluctance to introduce 3G services.

Is this why these big telcos oppose this proposal? that they might actually have to “serve” the customer rather than take him for a ride all the time with their fake smiles and award winning ads and jingles.

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Filed under General, Infrastructure Politics, Just Plain Weird

Indian Comrades Get The ‘Shock’ Of Their Lives

The Indian Comrades rolled the red carpet with lots of joy for their master from Beijing hoping that he would pat their backs for being such nice puppies.But they were in for a rude shock. The master told them point blank to dump their outdated policies and adopt a ‘more pragmatic approach’ in this era of globalisation.

NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 22: Chinese President Hu Jintao on Wednesday had a word of advice for India’s Communist leaders — adopt a ‘more pragmatic’ approach, as this is the era of globalisation that provides immense scope for economic prosperity.

Globalisation provides scope for economic prosperity, and a “more pragmatic and positive approach” must be adopted by the Left to develop infrastructure and the economy, he told the leaders.

And he made sure to really rub it in if the message he had for them hadn’t yet entered their thick skulls.

Hu asked the Left leaders to play a more active role in states where they are in power and invited them to China to gain a first-hand experience of progress made by the Communist nation.

RS of Naveenbharat has a great analyses on this rude shock from unexpected quarters for the Comrades.

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Filed under Comrade Circus, Humour, India, India and the World, Indian Politics, Infrastructure Politics, International Communism, PRC

India Bars Chinese Company from Port Bids

The Indian Government on grounds of National Security has barred Hong-Kong based Hutchison Port Holdings, the largest independent port operator in the world from bidding for Indian ports.

MUMBAI: After close to a year of intense debate, the Indian government has decided it does not want the Chinese investing in, or managing any Indian port.The first company to bear the brunt of this decision will be Hong Kong-based Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH), the largest independent port operator in the world. The company has been waiting for security clearances before it could go ahead with its bids to build container terminals for Mumbai and Chennai at Rs 1,200 crore and Rs 494 crore respectively. The decision also eliminates future Chinese participation in 13 ports planned across the country at a cost of Rs 61,000 crore.

Hutchison Port Holdings for its own part has denied that it has been banned by India.

A spokesman for Hutchison Port Holdings, Anthony Tam, denied that his company had been barred.”In regards to India, HPH has not been rejected from participating in any port projects in India and we have in fact taken part in previous bids,” Tam said.”HPH is interested in investing in the country. However, we have yet to identify a suitable investment that would meet our investment criteria.”

The Chinese seem to be taking this blow on their chin quite stoically. The People’s daily has been quite restrained in its reporting of the said incident.

This is not the First time that HPH, a part of Hutchison Whampoa owned by Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, 78 has ran into rough seas. Investments by Mr. Li, the world’s 10th richest man with a fortune of $18.8-billion (U.S.) according to Forbes magazine, have also generated national security concerns in the United States, in part because of Mr. Li’s ties to China. The rejection by India comes three years after Hutchison was forced to scrap plans to buy Global Crossing Ltd. because of a U.S. national security review according to Bloomberg .

Hutchison Whampoa, the parent company of HPH has already invested heavily in the Indian Mobile network business.Its’ Hutch brand operates mobile phone services in many telecom circles across India.

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Filed under India, India and the World, Infrastructure Politics, International Politics, National Security, PRC