What chance for corporate governance in India?

Role of Independent Directors falls flat!
India is a poor country, we have to realise first.

ratan-tata-vs-cyrus-mistryWorld bank, Tendulkar Committee Report and the subsequent Rangaran committee have also fixed poverty line in India fromRs.27.2(in 2009) to Rs.32.3(urban India),Rangarajan :Rs.32 to Rs.47 and the total number of poor resulting in 270 million. So too the rising inequality, India is at the top in the world!

And we are a very talking nation. Here we have all the world’s contradictions!
We have the world’s second rich list.

In such a contrasting nation, we now see many of the traditionally respectable notions of our living styles and talking style, not the least our writing styles are so hypocritical indeed!

Take the latest Tatas’s corporate battles. Tatas? Once the name spelt awe and respect all round, among the rich and the poor alike. Now, we see all the skeletons in the cupboard tumbling out.

Now, we have seen one after another the various companies board meetings. Tata Sons, Tata Trusts and other operating individual companies. Tatas never talked small. They always talked big. No Small is beautiful. It is always the big is beautiful!

We have here a small personal recollection. In the 1980 when the great JRD was alive and other big names too (like N.A.Palkhivala) were very much there we wrote a small letter pointing out some injustice to another big name in the art and culture world. First the Tata person concerned didn’t see the merit of the letter. He wanted to find out how important, small, we were!

So, that is the test it seems even now that prevails there. May be not.
Anyway, now the many concerns that raise questions of ethics, morality, leadership and what have you in the venerated Harvard Business School have all been thrown overboard, it seems. Some of the Independent Directors at any rate didn’t perform as per the expected governance norms.

There are so many conflict of interest cases. Here we restrain from mentioning names. But one name that stands out is that of Nitin Nohria, Dean, and Harvard Business School.

He has been a great name and as the Dean of such a great institutions, troubling questions arise as he has written much on ethics. The dean’s stoic silence is understandable. On October 24 Tata Sons abruptly ousted Chairman Cyrus Mistry after a messy fight! And Nohria was sitting on the board of Tata Sons as a non-executive Director! First, Mistry claims there “was a total lack of corporate governance” at the Tata group. Second, Mystery names Nohria as one of the two directors who were reduced to “mere postmen”! Simply following the orders of his predecessor, namely, Ratan Tata!

Third, Tata Sons is now seeking removal of another independent director at some of its separately listed operating companies who has backed Mistry.
A top Proxy advisory firm IiAS notes, allowing large shareholders to remove outside non-executives undermines the point of having those independent directors and hurts minority interests.

Nohria is recognised as an authority when it comes to ethics! He has publicly mused that “it is easy for people to believe in their own sense of moral responsibility but what happens when they are put under pressure by bosses or tempted by large short-term gains?”He has insisted that “character is something one has to work at forming”.

Anyway, despite his teachings and his own reputation, Nohria seems to have had no impact when it comes to fostering good governance at the Tatas. Sorry to say such things. But then how to convey to the common man and that too in a poor country where the very inequality is so huge and so intractable.

Here we don’t want to go further into the details but for record we have to note that Ratan Tata in his former avatar had given Harvard Business School a huge donation, 50 million dollars and when Noria was named dean this took place and a few months later Tata inducted Nohria on the board of the Tata Sons. Incidentally, When Tata gave the 50 million dollars donation to the Harvard Business School; it was considered the biggest contribution in the School’s 102 history!

Not to speak of Tats big power and influence on the various institutions in the country. Tatas came for adverse comments when the 2-G scam broke out and his PR machine then could swing the very government of India when the Tata PR machine could manipulate the media and others to even name the Cabinet ministers and even the choice of portfolios!

We leave the readers to make their own perceptions and let the public opinion take some serious lessons in citizens’ duty. Let us create a committed public opinion when it comes to corporate governance. Not just that. Even our political leaders’s moral worth when they yield to corporate pressures to save their offices!

Rotten in the state of Denmark?  Horror stories

3-6That is how one is tempted to ask when we read the continuous stories of human depravity, total loss of a sense of belonging and whether people there care to worry about their what is seemingly their daily on-going increased neglect of the people by the government and the elite classes?

48 deaths of encephalitis in four weeks?

In Kalahandi, daughters dismantle roof for mother’s funeral. Then of course the repeated news about the lack of ambulance to carry the dead or the ambulance abandons a body on the way to hospital….

Can anyone hear such horror stories from a state ruling by a party and a leader who can’t speak his mother tongue and only English he speaks and yet he is loved by his people and repeatedly elected for the many terms!

This is from a state which is so rich in so many resources, minerals and other resources where the foreign investors love to invest and where there are so many opportunities to give a good governance and yet this sadly is missing and hence to series of such heart-rending, heart-breaking stories.

The Central government authorities be it the health department or the other departments that must have acted to set things right. So far as we are able to make out no further critici9sm from the larger public or the tech savvy Prime Minister who sends out dime a dozen tweets on all sorts of issues did it seem to have expressed his own horror.

Are we creating a health infrastructure, the latest developments in telemedicine and policies that must enable even the poorest must be able to access modern facilitieis, must be able to utilise the services like ambulances.

A minimum and decent healthcare must be at the disposal of the poor, right?
We have so much expertise, so man y experts and so much technological tools.
Why not the Odisha government call for experts like Dr.Devi Shetty or the IT wizards like Nandan Nilekani to give some blueprint like a total coverage and emergency services that would go to help everyone at the remotest of the parts of the country.

Surely, there must be a special package of help in health emergencies in states like Bengal too where too we hear often horror stories in infant mortality.
Eastern Indian states are poorly served.

That is clear. We are just outsiders and we don’t know much of the ground reality.But from the many statistics that are published from the mainstream media India’s health sector needs urgent priority. Niti Aayog is doing some very wonderful initiatives and it has to turn its attention to healthcare issues in the rural Indian space. Telemedicine is one tool that must be at the disposal of the primary health centres.

Panchayat Raj ministry also must be brought in when it comes to medical emergencies in the panchayats.As of now, more so in the South and may be this is also true of the North, Panchayat raj bodies are more revenue-departments controlled?

There is no other way except to involve and entrust the grassroots institutions to take care of the core health emergencies at the grassroots.
There is no virtue, we say, when one political party gets elected term after term.These parties often leave back a legacy of much wrong, not just corruption alone.

Bad governance has many facets. This one instance of health emergencies at the grass roots is one such bad legacy.

Please do something!

Rotten in the state of Denmark? Horror stories!

That is how one is tempted to ask when we read the continuous stories of human depravity, total loss of a sense of belonging and whether people there care to worry about their what is seemingly their daily on-going increased neglect of the people by the government and the elite classes?

48 deaths of encephalitis in four weeks?

maxresdefaultIn Kalahandi, daughters dismantle roof for mother’s funeral. Then of course the repeated news about the lack of ambulance to carry the dead or the ambulance abandons a body on the way to hospital..

Can anyone hear such horror stories from a state ruling by a party and a leader who can’t speak his mother tongue and only English he speaks and yet he is loved by his people and repeatedly elected for the many terms!

This is from a state which is so rich in so many resources, minerals and other resources where the foreign investors love to invest and where there are so many opportunities to give a good governance and yet this sadly is missing and hence to series of such heart-rending, heart-breaking stories.

The Central government authorities be it the health department or the other departments that must have acted to set things right. So far as we are able to make out no further criticism from the larger public or the tech savvy Prime Minister who sends out dime a dozen tweets on all sorts of issues did it seem to have expressed his own horror.

Are we creating a health infrastructure, the latest developments in telemedicine and policies that must enable even the poorest must be able to access modern facilities, must be able to utilise the services like ambulances.

A minimum and decent healthcare must be at the disposal of the poor, right?

We have so much expertise, so man y experts and so much technological tools. Why not the Odisha government call for experts like Dr.Devi Shetty or the IT wizards like Nandan Nilekani to give some blueprint like a total coverage and emergency services that would go to help everyone at the remotest of the parts of the country.

Surely, there must be a special package of help in health emergencies in states like Bengal too where too we hear often horror stories in infant mortality.  Eastern Indian states are poorly served.

That is clear. We are just outsiders and we don’t know much of the ground reality. But from the many statistics that are published from the mainstream media India’s health sector needs urgent priority.

Niti Aayog is doing some very wonderful initiatives and it has to turn its attention to healthcare issues in the rural Indian space. Tele-medicine is one tool that must be at the disposal of the primary health centres.

Panchayat Raj ministry also must be brought in when it comes to medical emergencies in the panchayats. As of now, more so in the South and may be this is also true of the North, Panchayat raj bodies are more revenue-departments controlled?

There is no other way except to involve and entrust the grassroots institutions to take care of the core health emergencies at the grassroots. There is no virtue, we say, when one political party gets elected term after term.

These parties often leave back a legacy of much wrong, not just corruption alone.Bad governance has many facets. This one instance of health emergencies at the grass roots is one such bad legacy.

Please do something!

A successful debut Indian poet would be deported. Is he one among the 40,000 skilled Indian workers?

New UK immigrations rules to deport 40,000 Indians

Edit-II-PhotoSkilled Indian workers to be sent home! See the irony of the Indo-British Empire and its twists and turns. Indian skilled workers range over a wider field of human skills. Teachers, business and IT professionals, health sector workers, charity workers, majority of them from India are to be deported.

There is a young Indian poet, named, Daljit Nagra whose second volume of poetry is just out and this second volume, ironically titled, ‘Tippoo Sultan’s Incredible White-Man-Eating Tiger Toy-Machine is awarded another prestigious poetry prize. England, a land that had fascinated the world, particularly, the Indians who were over-awed when the first white man set his feet in India and then, as we know the story, finally went on to conquer and subdue us to helplessness. Yet, there is this love-hate relationship between Indians and the British. Now, the Brits, as they are called with rather a contemptuous tone, don’t want to leave Indians to their own devices. With Mr. Narendra Modi being courted and the Indian Prime Minister is having another makeover, this time with his wax model being erected at Madame Tussauds in London, Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok next month. Modi is being portrayed as the global leader along with others in the famous museum in London.

Those who had visited London would know how expensive the museum is and how really purposeless is this venture. The Brits, now broken, they need money, lots of them to balance their budgets and one way they do it is to charge the tourists by almost fleecing them with exorbitant entry fees even to simple literary figures like Samuel Johnson in Central London.

The Brits also has raised their visa fees recently, the UK visa fee is one of the most expensive one in the world, you know? Now, a bombshell for the thousands of Indian workers there.
There is now a new rule that says that unless you earn more than 35,000 pounds, whatever be your skills, you are liable to be deported, yes, deported and this rule comes into effect on 6th, April. Under this new rule those who earn less than 35,000 pounds, excluding over-time and second jobs, come under this category. Skilled workers from non-EU countries, on Tier-2 visas will face deportation after five years unless they can show minimum annual earnings of 35,000 pounds.

For long it was believed that the UK rows youngsters for study and work. Now, they invite for study but not for employment anymore. UK economy is no more an empire-based economy. Now, it is a shrunken small island. Unlike the USA which draws workers from overseas, more so from India. After 2008 world economic crisis, there is crisis in the USA too. So, the UK home ministry says the new rule will break the link between study and staying in the UK permanently. But whatever be the new realities the Indian love for UK and specially the English language is likely to remain unaffected. One example is the successful lives of poets and writers of Indian origin in English language.

Daljit Nagra is a new thrilling voice in English poetry. Tippoo Sultan’s Incredible White-Man-Eating-Tiger Tipu-machine is the eighteenth century Mysore ruler’s pastime, to have mechanical toys symbolizing a tiger savaging a British soldier, at the throat of the old British Empire.
This small little book of hardly 50 pages, published by the famous Faber and Faber, has poems that are hard-hitting, passionate, and satirical. Daljit Nagra, obviously from Punjab, has brought a new twist to the many ironies that mark the rise and fall of the British Empire. India and Indians have a stake in such new poetical outpourings.

Land acquisition bill deferred!  Coal and mines bills passed!

Narendra_Modi_PTIThese are surprising wins for the government. Given the first flush of enthusiasm and Sonia Gandhi leading a  delegation of 14 Opposition parties, the Rajya Sabha  or rather the Rajya Sabha ‘managers’ succeeded in pushing through two crucial bills.

It looks that given the time and tactics a ruling party is capable of the land bill too could be pushed through various devices that are available to a government.
And let us not forget that the Opposition is never a united voice, already the Congress members at the upper house ‘conveniently’ absented themselves!
So, this is political reality.

Prime Minister Modi won an absolute majority in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. This is a historic event. As such the whole country must understand its full significance.

Indian Constitution has given the elected Prime Minister almost unlimited powers and had reposed great faith in his or her wisdom. Our 67 years of democracy have given the Indian people   certain mindset and maturity to judge the rulers. So, in our wisdom, this journal also moving with the times and with a sense of moral responsibility gives the PM the benefits of doubt and we are sure he would discharge his duties fully in a sense of detached commitment for truth and justice.

The latest session of the Parliament saw many new developments. Though the Congress seemed down and out in the wake of the absence of Mr.Rahul Gandhi, the Vice-President of the Congress, the only credible Opposition party, though with just 44 MPs, the absence of Mr.Gandhi really came as an embarrassment to the party.

Mr.Gandhi’s mysterious disappearance is perhaps the major upset for the old party and perhaps this might have given to Sonia Gandhi a new found deeper sense for self-survival.

So, she showed many new unpredicted courage and energy, the ultimate step was her march towards the Raisina Hills and she really scored a major victory by managing to lead the 14 party delegations.

Yes, please note this was just a delegation and it was by no means any Opposition unity, let alone a new trend towards any political alliance.

But then this new found assertion of unity seemed to have unnerved Mr.Modi. He deployed Mr.Nitin Gadkari, a veteran of sorts to come with a new strategy. Mr.Gadkari had asked for the Opposition parties to come on a common platform to debate the Land Acquisition Act.

In this he had asked Mr.Anna Hazare too.  As we write it is not clear how Mr.Gadkari’s opening gambit would pan out. Land Acquisition Act is only one legislation. There are other legislations too. We are sure that given the time and deliberations across the political spectrum Parliament would rise up to the occasion, now and later.

Agriculture is one vital subject where there must only be wider convergence of views from all parties. Agriculture has been the backbone of Indian economy. Modi had made so many promises during his election campaign. We should not be childish to expect all such promises are easy to deliver.

Minimum support prices, timely kisan credit, subsidies where they are fair and due are all old issues and there can be any variations depending upon the particular states also. Now, farmers in UP and Haryana in particular have expressed their apprehensions as well as disappointments over the unseasonal rains recently and the damage to their crops.

Mr.Ajay Jhakkar of the Kisan Krishik Samaj and others have conducted farmers meet and they have expressed certain positive views and called for new policies. Now, farmers are better informed and even the All Indian Kisan Panchayat that was met by Niti9n Gadkari over the Land Acquisition Act have expressed their views rather forcefully.

India needs developments at a fast pace, no doubt. You go to China and see giant steps in infrastructure, giant airports, giant, high speed trains, and bullet trains are only the latest additions. In India the government had taken up also giant projects like cleaning Ganga and also linking rivers.

So too make in Indian campaigns. The UPA introduced the rural jobs scheme, What we need as a new departure is not just targets for food production but also innovative projects like urbanisation, urban governance and also rural roads and delivery of rural services; he is kisan credit cards to other services through IT tools.

Farmers need healthcare insure cover and also modern governance tools like computerised land records and also pragmatic land reforms which must ensure their lives in villages decent families with a higher land ceiling.

Today farming calls for new investments. No one would invest money in farming unless there is an incentive to earn an assured income from farming enterprises. Poverty is still a great issue and we need a new expert committee to reduce the incidence of inequality and also persistent poverty in the rural areas. So to slum poverty levels.

Urban governance is in shambles, as for instance in Bangalore, the IT hub. Urban governments are now unable to support the heavy weight of challenging problems. So too, corruption.

Corruption is killing the poor more than the well-off, the rich and the middle classes. So, why not the Lok Pal and the Lok Ayuktha.

So, governance reforms, willy-nilly, might take its own shape and Modi might succeed after all.