Sunday, August 26, 2012

COALGATE - All Smoke & Heat - No Light ! - What & Where - is the SCAM ? - Who should resign? - But, what India needs - Urgently?




CAG  - is duty bound to submit his reports on every major Aspect of Government’s Functioning. These reports (of CAG) must be debated in Parliament and in Public Accounts Committee – and decisions taken – on all the points raised by CAG.

This, unfortunately, is not happening. CAG has submitted his report on COAL MINE allocation by the UPA Government. As usual, it has found its way to the Media – even before it is discussed in the Parliament. And, Media started discussing the Report – which is perfectly normal in India.

Many Parliamentarians from different Parties, other luminaries, some experts, some not-so-experts – all join the Media to discuss the REPORT, most of which they may, or may not have READ.

The only person not joining the MEDIA DEBATE on COALGATE – is the CAG. He is not allowed. He cannot defend himself from the attacks on him by Ruling Party members; nor can he correct wrong opinions of the Opposition or the Media etc.

He waits patiently for the discussion in Parliament and PAC, and for his turn to be called by PAC – to explain, support and elucidate – everything connected with his REPORT.

There is nothing HELATHY about this sort of FIGHTING IN THE DARK – by all others on the CAG Reports. Media and others can discuss  – but not Parliamentarians – who are duty bound to discuss the Report in Parliament. This is my considered personal Opinion.

Had UPA members not joined public debates, there would have been no fire in such debates and NDA would have been forced to join Parliamentary Discussions. The Demand for PM’s resignation would have become UNSUSTAINABLE.

Likewise, if NDA had not joined Public debate, but had concentrated on Parliamentary Discussion – it would have won the Debate handsomely – in all probability – without scoring self Goals in the process.

Now, by their Method of Handling, NDA has provided the UPA, a very effective method of stalling any Governance by NDA, if it is likely to come to POWER in 2014. Is this going to be the way Parliament will run after 2014 also- this is the disturbing question in Public mind now?

Let there be LIGHT.

Even now – the right course is - Parliament must discuss such CAG reports. BJP is unnecessarily squandering a GOOD Opportunity to place its points of view inside the Parliament. If Prime Minister has to RESIGN, he can be so asked – only after a COMPREHENSIVE DISCUSSION covering all aspects of the report.

Definitely – Prime Minister cannot be the only one who examines the COAL MINE ALLOCATION FILES. Before him, there are always a battery of officials and Ministers who examine all these files and contribute their thoughts and recommendations.

In this case - State Governments have also made specific recommendations – and wanted specific solutions. If the decision is wrong – those who suggested the decision from state Government are also the ones to be hauled up – not merely the PM or not necessarily the PM.


CAG sees - things that are done, what irregularities have taken place in them and how they could have been done better. He does it in RETROSPECT. Unfortunately – there is no mechanism in India to involve NEUTRAL EXPERTS at the time of taking such HUGE, VITAL DECISIONS by the Government.

The way Indian Democracy is functioning – the RULING PARTIES, either at Centre or in States, almost never associate the OPPOSITION in such major processes/ decisions  – unless a Law or change of Law is thought to be involved.

This was not the way, Indian constitutional Methods were devised initially.

The Budgets get scrutinized so thoroughly by the entire Parliament and in specific committees (which include Opposition Parties also); so that, before Budgets are passed, entire Opposition also have taken full part in discussing it. They may criticize some parts later too. But, the Budgets ultimately carry the majority will and approval of the Parliament with it. The founding fathers of the constitution and the initial Governments of India have set many such healthy precedents.

The one Major lacunae in India is – there is no clear demarcation between the EXECUTIVE, represented by the Cabinet and the LEGISLATIVE WING represented by the Parliament, in which also, the CABINET plays the primary role in making Laws.

What are the exact POWERS OF CABINET in their role as Executive and in their Role as part of the Legislative process? Can they act as they have done in the COAL MINES ALLOCATION – without Parliamentary approval?

From 2 G case onward, it has also became UNCERTAIN, whether the Prime Minister’s Opinion or advice is binding on a Minister in his cabinet or not. The coalition Politics have set a dangerous precedent – that an Individual Minister can refuse to abide by PM’s advice or opinion.

At least this aspect needs to be set right by Parliament, stipulating that Prime Minister’s opinions, advices and decisions are BINDING ON ALL INDIVIDUAL MINISTERS IN HIS CABINET – from whichever party they come. Otherwise – the coalition Politics will wreck havoc on India’s Governance.

These are all ISSUES which need fresh debate.

It is very CLEAR – that had Parliament been associated in cases such as 2G, Coal Mines Allocation etc – and if specific Processes were evolved, discussed and Parliamentary approval was obtained – there would have been no case for CAG or SC  – to question the things which Parliaments have approved, to the extent they have approved.

It is astonishing that – after 66 years of functioning as Democracy – we still are unsure, where huge public resources can be distributed on methods like (i) First come, First served; (ii) Nomination of a company by State Government (without any Procedure) or Central Government or (iii) Royalty Payment /Equity sharing / Profit sharing etc.

For much smaller expenditures or public facilities, Government has to clearly call for tenders. But, for distribution of much larger Government largesse, there are NO Parliament approved PROCESSES! Is this an acceptable Position?

Individual cases may fall within EXECUTIVE JURISDICTION – but, the processes to be followed in GENERAL – definitely seem to need PARLIAMENTARY APPROVAL – especially after the 2G and coal Mine allocation experience.

The Executive must be accountable to Parliament – and must follow Parliament approved Laws and Procedures. There cannot be FREE HAND to the executive (even at cabinet level) to FOLLOW ANY PROCEDURE.

Second – Coal Mines were any way awarded to some companies- private and Public for Mining. But, they were not mined by these companies – all except one, as we understand now.  The coal still sleeps under Mother Earth.

There is no loss of COAL as such. But, are we not suffering as a nation without electricity, without steel and without many, many manufactured Products – all of which need coal as the primary source of Power. How much Productivity is being lost due to lack of Electricity, which is due to lack of Coal; this is the real loss for India.

And for all that, India is actually surplus in Coal! Surplus in Coal, but the Coal is under Mother Earth, and needy, User Industries only are allocated to mine them, and THEY FAIL TO MINE THEM  till today. Then, why did the State Governments recommend them at all; and after allocation, what did they do – Both State Governments and the Companies – so far? What was the purpose of the whole allocation process? That, to my mind, seems to be a major aspect of the COALGATE. I won’t say, it is a scam. It is the absolutely distressing way – India is planning and using its vital resources.

For several decades, periodically, we also hear that some of the contractors illegally cart away Huge quantities of coal from the Mines. No one talks a word about that. Can’t we manage anything efficiently and legally?

CAG is certainly entitled to make his calculations, the way he finds fit. He does not engage any outside experts; and mostly, he is not allowed to see the FACTS AT SITE – through his agencies or through Experts. I feel, he must be allowed both these facilities. When he feels there are Huge losses in any scheme, and the scheme is turning into a scam, he can and must be allowed to use experts and visits to site, as he feels fit, so that, his calculations will be supported by Expert opinions.

There are usually more scams AT SITE,  than on DOCUMENTS. Do we, in India, want to know the whole truth or not? What we are seeing in CAG’s reports are irregularities on PAPERS – but, BIGGER IRREGULARITES at site – by the executives, contractors and others at site – are never known to CAG or any one. We must enable someone like CAG to look into them also – in Big cases like this.

Third – Agreed that CAG and his officers are not experts in everything. But, they are experts in Auditing documents. What about the Ministers who argue on these reports of the CAG? Can we classify them as EXPERTS?

In the Ministry of Finance, we engage a Battery of Experts from outside – to proffer their Opinions. So is the case, in the PMO’s office for financial Matters. So, is the case even in Ministry of Law, where experts like Attorney General and Solicitor general are available. It is essential that every Ministry has such EXPERT BODIES, on a Permanent Basis, whose opinion, they must take, before every major decision. 

The Bureaucrats, who usually examine cases are like the Seven Blind men who touch the Elephant from one side each and tell their opinion about the Elephant. They don’t wish to see anything beyond existing rules.

If Rule is Satisfied, LOSS does not matter. This is Bureaucratic way of doing things. There is no Great Discretion to them, to suggest beyond anything existing rule. Therefore, EXPERT OPINION is needed on every Major expenditure or Government largesse to others.
Whether PM should go or State CMs should go or Companies should be hauled up too – is a matter between UPA and NDA. That should necessarily be decided only after PROPER PARLIAMENTARY DISCUSSION.

But, what the country must speak up for – is, please, do get the coal Mined and supplied to user Industries; This is the first Priority for India;

Let there be coal for all user Industries. Let there be Steel. Let there be all those products which are manufactured using Coal. Let there be Electricity, without which the whole Growth process of the country is suffering.

Let there be LIGHT on this, Sir!

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