Archive for the 'CENTER & ODISHA' Category

Jairam Ramesh began the process of taking down the Indian economy and turned Ministry of Environment into a secret instrument for a new licence raj: Tavleen Singh

CENTER & ODISHA, ENVIRONMENT, EXPOSING ANTI-ODISHA-GROWTH SCHEMES, Puri, Universities: existing and upcoming 4 Comments »

Following is an excerpt from an article by Tavleen Singh in Indian Express.

So a junior minister, Jairam Ramesh, was allowed to begin the process of taking the Indian economy down by stopping huge infrastructure projects after investments worth thousands of crore rupees had already been made. Why did the Prime Minister not stop the Ministry of Environment from being turned into a secret instrument for a new licence raj?

Unfortunately, Odisha bore the biggest burnt of Jairam Ramesh’s folly when he stopped Vedanta University.

Eighteen Odisha districts will get two Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellows (PMRDFs) each to help the district administration

Balangir, Central govt. schemes, Deogarh, Extremist infested districts program, Gajapati, Ganjam, Jajpur, Kalahandi, Kandhamala, Keonjhar, Koraput, Malkangiri, Mayurbhanj, Nabarangpur, Nayagarha, Nuapada, Rayagada, RURAL & SPECIAL PROGRAMS, Sambalpur, Sonepur, Sundergarh 2 Comments »

A brief description of the program is given here and here. Following are some excerpts.

About PMRDF The Ministry of Home Affairs has identified 60 districts of the country as Left Wing Extremism (LWE) districts. The Government of India has launched a special programme in these districts called Integrated Action Plan (IAP). On 13th of September, Union Minister of Rural Development Mr. Jairam Ramesh announced a scheme of PM’s Rural Development Fellows for deploying young professionals in each of the IAP districts to assist the District Collector. Mission PMRDFs will basically function as development facilitators, they will assist the Collector and his/her colleagues in each of the IAP districts and provide them with the necessary analysis of situations and how they should be handled. The fellows would actively pursue a district programming approach following three key strategies given below:

• Strengthen the district resource base for programming by finding ways of resourcing all the planned activities and rational budgeting.

• Establish or strengthen systems by exploring alternative ways of delivering services to reach the most deprived communities.

• Trigger processes which would support the changes that have been envisioned in this approach (e.g. village planning).

This would be complemented by a set of supportive actions such as building the capacity of district and block officials; triggering district-wide social mobilization processes particularly among the youth; achieve a ground swell of support and build strong relationships with the Panchayats.

The number of districts is now 78 instead of 60. Each of these districts will have two fellows. 18 of those districts are in Odisha. They are listed below. We welcome the 36 fellows that will be working in those districts in Odisha and will be happy to help them in any way possible.

Odisha reduces the perecentage of people below poverty lines from 57.2% (in 2004-05) to 37% (in 2009-10)

Odisha govt. action, Planning Commission and Odisha 2 Comments »

This is a big reduction. The data is from (Thanks to Umashankar Das for the pointer.)

Some of the interesting aspects of the above data are as follows:

  • In 2009-10 the total number of persons below poverty line in Odisha is 153.2 lakhs. The number for Andhra Pradesh is 176.6 lakhs, Bihar is 543.5 lakhs, Chhatisgarh is 121.9 lakhs, Gujarat is 136.2 lakhs, Jharkhand is 126.2 lakhs, Karnataka is 142.3 lakhs, MP is 261.8 lakhs, Maharashtra is 270.8 lakhs, Rajasthan is 167 lakhs, Tamil Nadu is 121.8 lakhs, UP is 737.9 lakhs and West Bengal is 240.3 lakhs. So the number of persons below poverty limit in Odisha is close to that of Gujarat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, states considered to be more industrialized and richer.
  • In 2009-10 the number of persons below poverty line in the urban areas are: 17.7 lakhs in Odisha, 11.2 lakhs in Assam, 48.7 lakhs in Andhra Pradesh, 44.8 lakhs in Bihar, 13.6 lakhs in Chhatisgarh, 22.9 lakhs in Delhi, 44.6 lakhs in Gujarat, 19.6 lakhs in Haryana, 24 lakhs in Jharkhand, 44.9 lakhs in Karnataka, 18 lakhs in Kerala, 44.9 lakhs in MP, 90.9 lakhs in Maharashtra, 18.4 lakhs in Punjab, 33.2 lakhs in Rajasthan, 43.5 lakhs in Tamil Nadu, 137.3 lakhs in UP, 7.5 lakhs in Uttarakhand and 62.5 lakhs in West Bengal. So the urban poverty numbers in Odisha is less than that of Haryana, Punjab and Delhi and much less than the most of the other states mentioned above. But this is partly because Odisha has a much smaller overall urban population
  • The above numbers are based on cut-offs calculated by the "Tendulkar Methodology" and these cut-offs vary from state to state and are different for rural and urban areas. As shown in the first table, Odisha has the lowest cut-off numbers for both rural and urban areas. For rural areas of Odiha the cutoff is Rs 567.1 per month and for urban areas it is Rs 736. (See the recent Hindu and Business Standard articles for criticisms about the methodology that has been used above.)

Feasibility study begins for coastal highway connecting upcoming ports: Business Standard

Coastal highway, Coastal highway - beach preservation, Ports and waterways, Railways Comments Off on Feasibility study begins for coastal highway connecting upcoming ports: Business Standard

Following is from a Business Standard article by Jayajit Das.

“We had submitted a Rs 1,200-crore connectivity plan for minor ports to the Government of India. In response, they have roped in a Gurgaon-based consultant- Louis Burger Consulting Pvt Ltd and they have already started the feasibility study. In 3-4 months, the consultant will be submitting its report to the Central government after which we can expect flow of funds”, a top official source told Business Standard.

It may be noted that there would be a major focus on road connectivity to major ports and airports in the country in the 12th Plan.

A Planning Commission Working Group on Central Roads Sector has demanded special package for this so that it is implemented on priority basis, separating it from overall National Highway planning.

While two-lane connectivity for 50 minor ports have been envisaged at a cost of Rs 5,000 crore, the cost of constructing roads to connect 24 airports has been estimated at Rs 1,800 crore. The proposal has been approved by the Steering Committee on Transport Sector for the 12th Plan held under the Chairmanship of Plan Panel Member BK Chaturvedi.

Earlier, the Orissa government which has identified 14 potential sites for the development of minor ports had requested the Government of India to formulate a policy to provide rail and road connectivity to these ports from the national network on the lines of major ports.

The Union ministry of shipping and highways is understood to offer 50 per cent funding for road and rail connectivity for these upcoming ports.

The state has witnessed grounding of investment of Rs 4,262.44 crore from non-major ports in the past 10 years.

The investments have come from four minor port developers- Dhamara Port Company Ltd (DPCL), Gopalpur Port Ltd (GPL), Creative Port Development Ltd and Navayug Engineering Ltd from 2002-03 up to the end of September last year.

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik vents against UPA and NDA; Beginning of a sustainable third front?

CENTER & ODISHA, Chief Minister's actions, Defence establishments, Demanding equitable treatment, Mine royalty and cess, Railway network in Odisha 6 Comments »

This is interesting. Naveen Patnaik has a strong election winning record in Odisha and based on the current ZP and Panchayat elections, it seems he will also win big in the next elections in Odisha. He is suave, gentle, has a good natinoal image, not prone to histironics (like Mamata Banerjee), not an ayaaram-gayaram (i.e., does not change alliances often like AIADMK and hence reliable), speaks good English, and Odisha being a smaller state other state leaders will not think he is too powerful. So he may be an acceptable PM candidate for a third front consisting mainly of various regional parties. He is right about the problems with the two national alliances in India. The big problem with UPA is its multiple power centers, especially with the all power no responsibility position of the Yuvraj. He and his cronies have single handedly stopped major development in Odisha; especially the Vedanta University. The other problem with national parties is that their leadership in Delhi control the states where they rule. As a result, while those states do get some extra benefits, they are manipulated by the center to agree to their wishes, even if it may be detrimental to the state’s interest. In the context of Odisha a UPA govt in Delhi can push a Congress govt. in Odisha to give mining leases to companies of its choice.

At present the Odisha government is able to defy them to some extent. Even in case of coal blocks where the center unilaterally allocates the blocks, the state is able to put its terms, sometimes vocally, as the companies need the help of the state in getting the land and various clearances. That is the reason MCL and NTPC have agreed to establish medical colleges in Odisha. If there was a Congress government they would not be as vocal and may have just signed on the dotted lines as dictated by the central leadership. Of course one has to also think of the country as a whole. But in the past what has happened is that in the name of "national interest" Odisha has suffered greatly, some of it partly overcome by the non-Congress leadership in Odisha.

Examples of this are:

  • The freight equalization policy that harmed the industrialization of Odisha.
  • The low royalty rates of minerals.
  • Lack of port development. (There is folklore about how Biju Patnaik unilaterally went ahead to establish Paradeep port)
    • Also related is the disregard of the military about accommodating port development near their sites.
  • The opposition of Rahul Gandhi and his cohorts to industrial development in Kalahandi and Vedanta University.
  • Lack of development of Railways in Odisha.

Some of the above were overcome when there was a third front type government at the center. The ECOR zone was one of them. Since the ECOR zone was established things have looked up in the Railways sector in Odisha, but there is lot more to be done.

In the mining and metal based industry sector, since the BJD government in Odisha has become very discriminative in giving leases and installed the value added policy there has been a beeline of investment (some of it yet to come to fruition). The government has seen through the past games of Tatas and now have forced them establish a plant in Odisha (hence their upcoming Kalinganagar plant) and yet have not given them any new leases. SAIL and NALCO are not having an easier time either. 

So the point is that in our current set up where leadership in Delhi (true for both UPA and NDA) often dictates the state leaders of the same party to do what it wants, the state may lose out in the name of national interest. On the other hand *honest* regional parties can guard the state’s interests as has happened in Odisha. More and more states are going that way.

However, its not clear what kind of central government a coalition of regional parties will be able to form and how well will that work at the national level.

More ramblings later. … (See for related thoughts.)


Food for thought: India may have 50 states in 2040

CENTER & ODISHA 23 Comments »

(Thanks to Sanjib Karmee for the pointer.) The following graphics is from an article in Outlook.

This may happen much sooner than 2040. I think if this is done through a nationwide initiative all over India then it could turn out to be good. Of course, for this to work some additional steps need to be taken. For example, the supreme court strength has to increase so as to deal with inter-state disputes that will be caused by this; A big chunk of money has to be allocated to the new states (the states that will lose their capital area or main city) to build infrastructure; etc.

In the context of Odisha I have had brief discussions with some people on splitting of Odisha suggesting that this will lead to more areas of Odisha having better infrastructure. For example, if there are two states, then there will be two capital areas with associated infrastructure that come with most capitals of the country (an airport, good train connectivity, etc.). One of the reason that is often given to counter this is that if Odisha is divided, each part will have even lesser clout at the center and as it is Odisha has fewer number of MPs than many other states and thus has less clout than those states.

If the divisions happen all across the country, then the above reason may be less applicable.

Also, since the states will no longer be on linguisitic basis the issue of Kosali vs Odia language will not be a factor.

Increase in plan allocation over the years from 2007-08 to 2011-12: Odisha second after Haryana

Planning Commission and Odisha Comments Off on Increase in plan allocation over the years from 2007-08 to 2011-12: Odisha second after Haryana

The following is obtained from the planning commission’s web page on approved plan outlays.

In terms of total plan allocation Odisha’ position has inched from being the 17th state to being the 14th state. In the process it has overtaken Delhi, Punjab and Kerala.

In terms of per capita plan allocation (using the 2001 population numbers) Odisha has inched from 28th to 23rd. But in the process it has overtaken UP, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and MP. It was ahead of Bihar and West Bengal and continues to be ahead of them.

Odisha has a good chance of overtaking Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan in the next 1-2 years. Note that based on the 2011 census it is already closer to them.

Bhubaneswar sends much more direct tax than much more populous cities such as Jaipur, Patna, Nagpur, Lucknow and Kanpur and has had the highest growth in direct taxes from 2010 to 2011

Bhubaneswar- Cuttack- Puri, CENTER & ODISHA, Khordha, Taxes 1 Comment »

(Thanks to Devasis Sarangi for the pointer to this in facebook.)

Following is from a report in Business Standard.

Number one in growth over last year’s net direct tax collection during April 1-December 1 is Bhubaneswar, with a 52.6 per cent increase at Rs 4,187 crore (Rs 2,744 crore in last year’s corresponding period). Of the collection this year, Rs 2,959 crore has come from corporate tax and Rs 1,226 crore from personal income tax.

A senior department official said the better growth in direct tax realisation in smaller regions clearly indicated an increase in business activities in these. And, that this had come despite overall sluggish performance.

I am tempted to draw more conclusions but am not sure of jurisdictions of each of the locations in the left. For example, for the number corresponding to Bhubaneswar, is the data just about collection from Bhubaneswar city (as defined by what?) or about the collection from Bhubaneswar tax circle (what are the areas it covers?). Although not knowing this makes it difficult to draw more conclusions, one thing is for sure; Bhubaneswar tops in the growth of direct tax collections.

The Lalitgiri-Ratnagiri-Udaygiri ancient Buddhist knowledge center in Odisha; has been compared with Nalanda in the art history and archaeology literature

APPEAL to readers, CENTER & ODISHA, Historical places, Jajpur, Kalinganagar- Chandikhol- Paradip, Lalitgiri-Ratnagiri-Udaygiri, Odisha history, Universities: existing and upcoming Comments Off on The Lalitgiri-Ratnagiri-Udaygiri ancient Buddhist knowledge center in Odisha; has been compared with Nalanda in the art history and archaeology literature

(Appeal to readers: I would appreciate any additional pointers to literature where the knowledge center aspects of the Odisha buddhist monuments have been discussed and/or they have been compared with the well-known buddhist sites in India such as Nalanda, Bodhgaya, Sanchi, etc.)

We all have read about Nalanda and Taxila as ancient learning centers and they are often referred to the as precursor of the present day universities. In Odisha the yet to be identified Puspagiri mahavihara as well as the Lalitgiri-Ratnagiri-Udaygiri  have been compared with Nalanda in the art history and Buddhist literature. Following are some slides (in facebook) which compiles that information. In these slides we quote extensively from Mrs. Debala Mitra’s two books. Mrs. Mitra was the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India (1975-1983) [Page 448 of this book] and has written extensively on various Monuments of India.


The above slides do not have any pictures. As is mentioned in some of the slides, the Lalitgiri-Ratnagiri-Udaygiri Mahaviharas are also comparable to Bodhgaya in certain respects and one slide mentioned how none of the monasteries in Nalanda can compare with the embellishment in one of the monastery found in Ratnagiri. The following pictures, again from facebook, gives one the idea of what has been found in Lalitgiri-Ratnagiri-Udaygiri and the beauty and significance of them.

In 2010 the Indian Parliament passed the Nalanda International University Bill. This university is in the making now and this wikipedia page has information on it. We hope that some day more people in Odisha and India will know about Lalitgiri-Ratnagiri-Udaygiri and a similar university (perhaps called Puspagiri University, the yet to be identified Mahavihara about which Hiuen Tsang wrote glowingly) will be established in Odisha. Towards that effort some background information has been compiled in a facebook page and a facebook account. Following is a glimpse of the information that has been collected.

Four/two laning of Birmitrapur-Barkote section on NH 23 in Odisha under National Highways Development Project (NHDP) phase IV-A approved

CENTER & ODISHA, NH 23 (209 Kms: Jharkhand Border - Rourkela - Rajamundra - Pala Laharha - Talcher - NH-42) 3 Comments »

Following is from a PTI report in zeenews.

The Cabinet Committee of Infrastructure (CCI) on tuesday approved projects … four/two laning of Birmitrapur-Barkote section on NH 23 in Orissa under National Highways Development Project (NHDP) phase IV-A, an official release said.

"… The total estimated cost of the project (Orissa) is Rs 1,098.90 crore," the release said.

On land acquisition, resettlement, rehabilitation and pre-construction, … Rs 320.75 crore will be spent on  Orissa projects.

Both the projects will be built on design, build, finance, operate and transfer (DBFOT) basis in BOT (Toll) mode of delivery.

… On the Orissa project, which is based in Sundargah and Deogarh districts, it said the concession period is 23 years including construction period of 30 months for 125.61 km scheme.

"The project will reduce the time and cost of travel for traffic, particularly heavy traffic, plying between Birmitrapur-Barkote. It will also increase the employment potential for the local labourers for the project activities," it said.

Odisha districts under the IAP, SRE and KBK BRGF plans (Update: SADP plans)

Balangir, Bargarh, BRGF: Backward districts program, Central govt. schemes, Deogarh, Dhenkanal, Extremist infested districts program, Gajapati, Ganjam, Jajpur, Kalahandi, Kandhamala, KBK Plus district cluster, Keonjhar, Koraput, Malkangiri, Mayurbhanj, Nabarangpur, Nayagarha, Nuapada, Programs for special districts, Rayagada, Sambalpur, Sonepur, Sundergarh Comments Off on Odisha districts under the IAP, SRE and KBK BRGF plans (Update: SADP plans)

Update on May6th 2012: 300 crores for Malkangiri and Sukma (Chhatisgarh) under the Special Area Development plan (SADP).

The initial list of 83 Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected districts under Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme is at A jpg copy is given below.

In the 83 SRE districts all the expenses incurred on security in these districts are reimbursed by the MHA. These districts were identified after a survey where Maoist violence incidents are more than 20 percent of all the incidents in that district.

As per a recent news item in Pioneer, four more districts from Odisha have been included in this list. They are: Nuapada, Bargarh, Bolangir and Kalahandi.

Besides the LWE SRE scheme, there is an Integrated Action Plan for Backward and Tribal districts. Originally there were sixty such districts out of which:

(a) Five are in Odisha. They are: Deogarh, Gajapati, Malkangiri, Rayagada and Sambalpur. Each of these districts get a block grant of 30 crores.

(b) The eight KBK districts are also included in the IAP and they get the 30 crores each plus 130 crores for all 8 as part of the BRGF (Backward Regions Grant Fund). The eight KBK districts are:  Kalahandi, Nabarangpur, Nuapada, Koraput, Rayagada, Malkangiri, Balangir and Sonepur.

(c) As per a recent news item in Pioneer, three more districts from Odisha have been included in this list. They are: Ganjam, Nayagarh and Jajpur.

In total there are 14 districts from Odisha that are covered under the IAP. They are: Balangir, Deogarh, Gajapati, Ganjam, Jajpur, Kalahandi, Koraput, Malkangiri,  Nabarangpur, Nayagarh, Nuapada, Rayagada, Sambalpur and Sonepur.


In total, 20 of Odisha’s 30 districts are now covered under these schemes. Following is the list.


  • Balangir (IAP, KBK, LWE SRE)
  • Baragarh (LWE SRE)
  • Deogarh (IAP, LWE SRE)
  • Dhenkanal (LWE SRE)
  • Gajapati (IAP, LWE SRE)
  • Ganjam (IAP, LWE SRE)
  • Jajpur (IAP, LWE SRE)
  • Kalahandi (IAP, KBK, LWE SRE)
  • Kandhamal (LWE SRE)
  • Keonjhar (LWE SRE, LWE SRE)
  • Koraput (IAP, KBK, LWE SRE)
  • Malkangiri (IAP, KBK, LWE SRE) (Update: SADP)
  • Mayurbhanj (LWE SRE)
  • Nabarangpur (IAP, KBK, LWE SRE)
  • Nayagarh (IAP, LWE SRE)
  • Nuapada (IAP, KBK, LWE SRE)
  • Rayagada (IAP, KBK, LWE SRE)
  • Sambalpur (IAP, LWE SRE)
  • Sonepur (IAP, KBK)
  • Sundergarh (LWE SRE)

The ten districts that are not covered above are: Angul, Balasore, Bhadrak, Bauda, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Jharsuguda, Kendrapada, Khurda and Puri.

Special programs for naxal hit districts

Central govt. schemes, Extremist infested districts program, IAY, NRLM, PMGSY Comments Off on Special programs for naxal hit districts

Following is an excerpt from a PTI report in zeenews.

In a bid to tackle the Naxal menace in 60 most affected districts, the Centre has decided to start major initiatives there which includes IAY housing for people whose homes have been destroyed and construction of concrete roads.

The Rural Development Ministry has also planned to start a PPP initiative with private companies for value addition in non-timber forest produce in six districts of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh as a pilot project.

… "We are actually going to them for four major decisions. First is Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. We are going to allow concrete roads to be built in the highly affected blocks in the 60 districts. Normally, we build black top roads. But on security point of view, cement concrete roads will be done," Ramesh said.

He said 90 per cent of amount for the construction of the roads will be borne by the Centre and 10 per cent will be borne by the state. At present, the ratio stands at 50-50.

The government also decided to make all sections of people whose houses were destroyed in Naxal violence eligible for housing under the Indira Awas Yojana in these districts.

… "For disabled, widows and old age beneficiaries, the district administration will construct the IAY houses. Right now, what happens is, we give the money, yet these people are unable to construct houses," the Minister added.

All the 60 IAP districts would be covered under the National Rural Livelihood Mission by March 31, 2013, he said.

"We will start a programme for placement linked jobs for 3,00,000 unemployed youths in these 60 districts over the next five years. These youths will be trained and provided jobs," Ramesh said.

Multiple funding sources to help further develop various tourist attractions and infrastructure in the coastal areas

Berhampur- Gopalpur- Chhatrapur, Bhadrakh, Bhubaneswar- Cuttack- Puri, Bhubaneswar-Pipli- Konark, Bhubaneswar-Puri, Business Standard, Central govt. schemes, Chandaka, Circuit: Bhubaneswar-Chilika-Puri, Dhamara- Chandbali- Bhitarakanika, Ganjam, Gopalpur-on-Sea, Heritage sites, Historical places, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapada, Khordha, Konark, Lord Jagannath, Nandan Kanan, Odisha govt. action, Paradip - Jatadhari - Kujanga, Puri, Puri, Puri - Konark, Raghurajpur, Shamuka Beach project, Sites in and around Bhubaneswar, Telegraph, Temples, Tourist promotion Comments Off on Multiple funding sources to help further develop various tourist attractions and infrastructure in the coastal areas

Following is from a report in Telegraph.

The capital will soon have a mega-tourist circuit for which the Centre has sanctioned Rs 8.14 crore.

The proposed tourist circuit envisages, among others things, renovation of two major roads in Old Town area, construction of a ‘parikrama’ around Lingaraj temple, soft-lighting for eight protected monuments and two tourism interpretation centres.

While the tourism department is trying to revive Ekamreswar, the miniature temple of Lord Lingaraj near Lingaraj police station, a dedicated road corridor will be constructed to link Puri, the Old Town area and Khandagiri via Dhauli.

Moreover, a 3,000-seater amphitheatre will be constructed opposite Madhusudan Park at Pokhariput.

… Samal spoke to reporters after the heritage walk, which was held today as part of World Tourism Day function.

The circuit will aim at facilitating various cultures as the city is perhaps the only one place in the region where three major religions — Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism — have their presence and the Daya riverbed is linked to the transformation of Emperor Ashok from Chandashok to Dharmashok.

… While the mega circuit will be part of the development of the ambitious Bhubaneswar-Puri-Chilika tourism sector, the Old Town area of the city will have a 40-feet road near the temple connecting Kotitirtheswar Lane and a proposed three-acre parking site.

Later, the same road will be extended up to Kedar Gouri temple. These two roads, in turn, will provide a better corridor so that tourist vehicles can pass through the areas smoothly. Similarly, a ‘parikrama’ or circular road will be planned around the Lingaraj temple.

“Apart from providing better connectivity to the Old Town area, the side walls of various buildings and structures will be decorated with tiles of red laterite stones. The concept has already been adopted in various western cities and states such as Rajasthan. …

The mega circuit will also emphasise on infrastructure development to connect various sites of Buddhist and Jain religious interests. Other than central assistance, there is also a plan to develop a road connecting Gangua nullah (through its right embankment) to the historical Kapileswar village. Another road will link Ganesh Ghat near Dhauli Peace Pagoda with the Jatni Kapilaprasad Road.

According to the pre-feasibility report, the state government will spend more than Rs 30 crore on the two proposed roads.

“These two roads will connect Dhauli with Khandagiri and the travellers and tour operators need not take the longer Cuttack-Puri Road via Rasulgarh to reach the historical Jain sites. Even nature lovers visiting places such as Deras in Chandaka or Nandankanan Zoological Park can take this road in future,’’ said the MLA.

“The state government has also asked the Bhubaneswar Development Authority to construct an amphitheatre opposite Madhusudan Park in Pokhariput. This will resemble the amphitheatre at the Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya near Rabindra Mandap,’’ he said.

Sources at the public works department said: “There is a plan to construct a flyover over the railway level crossing at Pokhariput for Rs 42 crore. While the state government will share Rs 22 crore, the rest will come from the railways. Once the flyover is commissioned, the road from Dhauli to Khandagiri will become a vital link to various religious centre.’’

Under the mega tourism circuit, temples such as Lingaraj, Rajarani, Mukteswar, Rameswar, Parsurameswar, Lakshmaneswar, Bharateswar and Satrughneswar will be illuminated with light emitting diode based ‘dynamic lighting system’ for which Rs 3.98 crore will be utilised. The project will be executed by the Orissa Tourism Development Corporation.

Hinting at the development of two interpretation centres near the Lingaraj temple, Samal said: “While one will be constructed on the premises of Sibatirtha Mutt, the other one will come up near the employees’ colony.’’

On the proposed tourist interpretation centre near Khandagiri-Udaygiri caves, he said the project would be completed within two or three months time.

Following is from a report in Business Standard.

The Orissa government has decided to promote heritage tourism at eight locations along the coast line with an investment of Rs 7.41 crore in the next five years.

Based on archeological, architectural, sculptural and historical importance, the selected structures, identified by the state archeology department, would be taken up under the World Bank funded Rs 227.64-crore Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project.

… The structures identified to get a face lift under the scheme included Potagarh (Buried Fort), located on the bank of river Rushikulya in Ganjam town which stands as a mute witness to the vicissitudes of history in Orissa.

Apart from historic Potagarh, the British Cemetery near Ganjam town, Bhaba Kundaleswar temple of Manikapatna, Baliharichandi temple near Puri, Hariharadeva temple, Nairi, Bateswara temple, Kantiagada (Ganjam), Jagannath temple, Pentha and Jamboo Colonial Building, Kendrapara will be refurbished under the scheme.

Preservation of ancient monuments under the project will include their protection, structural conservation, chemical conservation, landscaping and maintainance from time to time.

… The officials of the Gujarat and West Bengal projects along with a World Bank team visited various places including Ganjam and Kendrapada districts in the state recently to review the implementation of the project. Project Director of ICZM (Orissa) AK Pattnaik briefed the team about various steps taken under the project and their progress. The scheme, whose tenure spans from 2010 to 2015, is being implemented in two coastal stretches: Paradeep to Dhamara and Gopalpur to Chilika.

Infrastructure hurdles getting noticed; Some Odisha projects in focus

Aluminium, Anil Agarwal, Bauxite, Business Standard, CENTER & ODISHA, Haridaspur - Paradeep (under constr.), Kalahandi, Talcher - Bimlagarh (under constr.), Vedanta 6 Comments »

In the following excerpts from a report in Business Standard Haridaspur-Paradip and Talcher-Bimlagarh are listed as strategic projects. I hope they are fast tracked.

… Delays in land acquisition and forest clearances continue to stand in the way of completing strategic projects like the 82-km Haridaspur-Paradip line and the 154-km link between Talcher and Bimlagarh, both in Orissa. While the first project is to give good port access to units in the steel hub of Kalinganagar, the second is designed to step up evacuation of coal from mines at Angul and Talcher.

…This is why India, endowed with the world’s fifth largest bauxite deposits and the fourth largest coal reserves, has emerged as a preferred place for making aluminium. Within the country, Orissa is where every aluminium maker wants a presence. That is why the Vedanta group, in spite of being solidly anchored in Chhattisgarh, thanks to its 50 per cent ownership of Balco, with capacity of 345,000 tonnes and then giving shape to a 650,000-tonne smelter there, wants to create alumina capacity of five mt and smelting capacity of 1.6 mt in Orissa, with adequate upstream integration in bauxite mining and coal-based power.

Unfortunately, Vedanta is not able to realise what it has set out to do in Orissa, as it fell foul of pressure groups such as Amnesty International and Survival International and also of the ministry of environment and forests. The Niyamgiri Hills, from where Vedanta’s refinery is to draw bauxite, is considered sacred by Dongria Kondh tribesmen. But why should the company be stopped to take out bauxite from there if it is ready to resettle the displaced people and practise environment-friendly mining?

As a result of the impasse, Vedanta is required to source bauxite from outside, totally upsetting the considerations for hosting a refinery at nearby Lanjigarh. The denial of mining at Niyamgiri is setting a bad precedent for the mining sector. Redemption for Vedanta would hopefully come, with the Orissa government committed to offering alternative bauxite deposits.

There are some recent news on Vedanta’s expansion in Lanjigarh. But the news are confusing. Following is an excerpt from a September 17th report in Times of India.

Vedanta has suffered another setback in its fight-back to expand the aluminium refinery in Orissa after the Union environment ministry had struck down its environment clearance for violations.

The Cuttack bench of the Orissa High Court backed the environment ministry and ordered that Vedanta would have to apply afresh for a clearance for expansion if it wants to.

Following is an excerpt from a September 19th report in

The ministry of environment and forests has cleared Vedanta Aluminium’s project in Lanjigarh, Orissa. 

The expansion of Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Aluminium’s four million tonne Lanjigarh refinery plant in Kalahandi had been put on hold by the Union Environment Ministry  on October 21, 2010.

… Environment ministry’s expert appraisal committee (EAC) has cleared the project with 70 conditions, sources told NDTV. Major conditions among them are:  Five per cent of the total project cost would be spent on social welfare projects.The company will maintain air, water quality & develop 164 hectare of plant area as green belt.

Others conditions say that the company will also submit rehabilitation and resettlement policy covering tribals, which should be in line with government policies. The company will also be required to submit corporate environment policy approved by its board.

India plans new major ports in each of its 9 coastal states. Why? Why not let the private sector, which is very much interested in setting up ports, take care of it?

Central govt. schemes, Ports and waterways 3 Comments »

Following is an excerpt from a report in Business Standard. (Thanks to Abhishek for the pointer.)

The government has envisaged an investment of more than Rs 22,000 crore for setting up nine new major ports in the country over the next five years.

The Ministry of Shipping has asked nine coastal states — West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat — to select sites for setting up a major port each. It is awaiting a response from all nine states.

"We have written to all the nine (maritime) states and have asked them to select site for the major port," a Shipping Ministry official said, adding that construction of each port would cost about Rs 2,500 crore.

The 12 existing major ports are Mumbai, the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, Kolkata (with Haldia), Chennai, Visakhapatanam, Kochi, Paradip, New Mangalore, Marmagao, Ennore, Tuticorin and Kandla.

… Any port with two or more berths with facilities and equipment capable of handling 100,000 tonne per month of cargo from ocean-going ships is categorised as a major port.

The Shipping Ministry plans to create port capacity of around 3,200 million tonne to handle the expected traffic of about 2,500 million tonne by 2020.

… About 90 per cent by volume and 70% by value of the country’s international trade is carried through maritime transport.

For some reason I feel there is a catch somewhere.

To start with with private parties willing to spend their own money in setting up ports, why does the central government needs to spend its tax earnings on this. It should focus on elements for which private funding is lacking.

Other arms of the central government are trying to sell-off equity in public sector units to get money for other developmental things. With that background it does not make sense for India to spend money on things (new ports) that the private sector can do.

Perhaps some of the readers can suggest some perspectives where the above makes sense.

What is corruption? Is not fulfilling (in spirit) the bond you sign corruption or not?

CENTER & ODISHA 3 Comments »

Following are some excerpts from a report in Business Standard. (Among all the news report that I have seen this seems to have the most numbers. Hope they are accurate.)

… on November 1, 2000, when he opted for a study leave for of years till October 31, 2002. A senior Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) official told Business Standard that according to the study leave conditions, Kejriwal had signed a bond which required him to mandatorily serve the government for three years after coming back.

Kejriwal joined back on November 1, 2002. The CBDT official said that in 2003, Kejriwal was promoted as joint commissioner and was transferred from Delhi to Chandigarh but he never joined there. The official said he went on Extra Ordinary Leave (EOL) for two years thereafter from November 1, 2003 to October 31, 2005 and resigned in February 2006.

This meant that, effectively, he worked with the income tax department for one year after coming back from the study leave, against the bond condition of three years.

The CBDT official said the bond condition outlined that if he quits within three years after joining back, he would have to pay back the leave salary with interest, as determined by the government. “Kejriwal is deficient by two year,” added the official.

Kejriwal’s argues that he resigned after working for three-and-a-half years and has not violated the bond condition. In fact, Kejriwal requested CBDT for a waiver of the bond condition after resigning from service on the submission that he had been working for a public cause — the Right to Information (RTI) — which helped the government.

The CBDT official said since then the department had sent a number of letters to Kejriwal for the payment of dues, which is a must for accepting his resignation, but he had ignored.

The latest notice was sent by CBDT on August 5. This was the time when the battle between the Anna Hazare team and the government was brewing on the Lokpal Bill, raising apprehensions of a political motive behind the move.

Kejriwal has pointed out that it was not specified that he cannot go on leave during the three year period he had to serve after coming back from his study leave. The government’s contention, on the other hand, is that he is two-years’ deficient in service as per the bond conditions and will have to pay the dues.

Following are some of my observations:

  1. The letters sent on August 5, 2011 ( 11 days before the fast) does seem vindictive.
  2. But the report above says a number of letters were sent. This contradicts the claim in many other reports that the government did  not send anything for a number of years and suddenly send this just before the fast.
  3. The Time line mentioned above:
    • Paid study leave period: November 1, 2000 till October 31, 2002.
    • Bond requirement (as mentioned above): Serve three years after coming back.
    • Served after coming back: November 1, 2002 – November 1, 2003
    • Did not join after was transferred to Chandigarh.
    • Extra-ordinary leave: November 1, 2003 to October 31, 2005
    • Resigned: February 2006.
  4. Government’s contention: Worked with the income tax department for one year after coming back from the study leave, against the bond condition of three years.
  5. Kejriwal’s contention: Resigned after working for three-and-a-half years and has not violated the bond condition

To sort this out I looked up the All India Services (Study Leave Regulations) in the web. Assuming that that is the right document, it contains the following bond one has to sign before going on a study leave.

So Kejriwal is right in that he resigned more than three years after his joining back date. 

But if one tries to understand the intent of the bond, which is that after going on a paid study leave, one needs to work for three years (this is not spelled out accurately in the bond), Kejriwal did not satisfy the intent.

I am no lawyer and there may be previous cases in the courts that can be used to decide what is written in the bond and what its intent is.

But even if Kejriwal is legally right, what he is doing is finding a loophole in the clumsily written bond statement. Many people who are considered corrupt by the aam janata do exactly that; hide behind loop holes.

Considering that Kejriwal is leading the anti-corruption movement and many consider him as an icon of the country (so much so that if India had a Presidential form of government, and there was a presidential election in the next few months, he would have had a very good chance of winning it) he should not hide behind a loophole; he should pay his dues immediately and move on.

Some excerpts from the draft approach paper to the Twelfth plan

12th plan (2012-2017), KBK Plus district cluster, Medical, nursing and pharmacy colleges, Research institutions Comments Off on Some excerpts from the draft approach paper to the Twelfth plan

The draft approach paper to the Twelfth plan is at

Following are some excerpts.

Page 6: 1.12 One critical parameter to examine the degree of inclusiveness is to see what has happened to the real farm wages in the rural areas. This is because the largest number of poor, primarily landless workers, is in rural areas and the majority of them still rely on farm work for their livelihood. It is comforting to see that during the period 2007 to 2010 (calendar years), the average real wage rates have increased by 16 percent at an all India level. The growth was the fastest in Andhra Pradesh (42%) and Orissa (33%). Even in states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, real farm wages went up by 19 and 20 percent respectively, over the three year period.

Page 50: 3.33 Access to power has been particularly poor in rural habitations and the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana RGGVY was devised to remedy this problem by providing connections to all villages and free connections to BPL families. There are, however, still a large number of habitations left uncovered and a very large population that has no connectivity. It is desirable to try and universalize access of power during the Twelfth Plan and this requires dealing with the large backlog in the States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and Assam and some of the other North East States. However for effective universal access the RGGVY programme has to be restructured. Connectivity by itself is only part of the problem, since in many States there is also a real shortage of power. Besides RGGVY focuses only on household supply and does not address the need for providing electricity for agriculture, which needs three phase supply. This in turn requires strengthening of the rural network, and not just last mile connectivity to households, which is what RGGVY covers.

Page 56: 4.7 A master plan for 18,637 kilometres of expressways, with new alignments for both passenger and freight movements in high traffic density corridors based on “access control toll” needs to be taken up. These roads will be either 4 or 6 lane. The proposed National Expressway Authority of India is expected to take the initiatives for both land acquisition and to get the work executed under BOT mode.

Page 120: 9.19 District Hospitals need to be greatly strengthened in terms of both equipment and staffing for a wide range of secondary care services and also some tertiary level services. They should actually be viewed as District Knowledge Centres for training a broad array of health workers including nurses, mid‐level health workers (e.g. Bachelor of Rural Health Care or Bachelor of Primary Health Practice) Paramedics and other public health and health management professionals. New medical and nursing colleges should preferably be linked to district hospitals in underserved states and districts, ensuring that districts with a population of 25 lakhs and above are prioritized for establishment of such colleges if they presently lack them. New programmes for developing mid‐level health workers (such as Bachelor of Rural Health Care/Bachelor of Primary Health Practice) and nurse‐practitioners which have been ntroduced in some States must be similarly linked to District Hospitals and their attached District Knowledge Centres.

Page 120: 9.25 Lack of human resources is as responsible for inadequate provision of health services as lack of physical infrastructure, especially in rural areas. According to Rural Health Statistics (RHS), 2,010, there is shortage of 2,433 doctors at PHCs (10.27 per cent of the required number); 11,361 specialists at CHCs (62.6 per cent of the required number); and 13,683 nurses at PHCs and CHCs combined (i.e., 24.69 per cent of the required number). In addition 7,655 Pharmacists and 14,225 Laboratory Technicians are needed at PHCs &CHCs (27.13 per cent and 50.42 per cent of the required number) in the country. These numbers are based on the 2001 Census.

9.26 The status of Human Resources for Health (HRH) has improved during the 11th Five year plan period, however much more needs to be done. The density of doctors in India is 0.6 per 1,000 and that of nurses and midwives is 1.30 per 1,000, representing jointly 1.9 health workers per 1,000. While no norms for Health Human Resource have been set for the country, if one takes a threshold of 2.5 health workers (including midwives, nurses, and doctors) per 1,000 population, there is shortage of health workers. Furthermore, because of a skewed distribution of all cadres of health workers, the vulnerable populations in rural, tribal and hilly areas continue to be extremely underserved.

9.27 The Twelfth Plan must therefore ensure a sizeable expansion in teaching institutions for doctors, nurses and paramedics. Only 193 districts of a total of 640 have a medical college – the remaining 447 districts do not have any medical colleges. Further, the existing teaching capacity for creating paramedical professionals is grossly inadequate. Against 335 medical colleges, there are 319 ANM training schools, 49 Health and Family Welfare Training Schools and only 34 LHV training schools. To fill the gap in training needs of paramedical professionals, the Twelfth Plan proposes to develop each of the District Hospitals (635) into knowledge centres, and CHCs (4535) into training institutions.

Page 131: 10.20 There must be a strategic shift from mere expansion to improvement in quality higher education. For this, the focus should be not only on larger enrolment, but also on the quality of the expansion. During the Twelfth‐Plan period, an additional enrolment of 10 million could be targeted in higher education equivalent to 3 million additional seats for each age cohort entering the higher education system. This would significantly increase the GER bringing it broadly in line with the global average.

10.21 A holistic and balanced expansion approach is needed to target under‐represented sections of society. Thrust should be on consolidating and improving the capacity and quality of the existing institutions. New institutions may be set up to bridge regional imbalances and disparities across disciplines and to address special economic, social and technological needs of the country. Further, traditional education should be supplemented with skill‐based studies and institutional differentiation should be encouraged so that institutions grow along their own growth trajectories without being clones of each other. Open and distance education methods could be deployed to augment capacity optimally. In addition, the concept of Meta University aimed at collaborative and multi‐disciplinary learning that redefines knowledge‐creation and knowledge‐sharing in the twenty‐first century, could also be explored.

10.22 There is an urgent need to step up both public and private investment in higher education (including technical), and increase in the efficiency of its utilization. About 18 per cent of all government education spending or about 1.12 percentage of GDP is spent on higher education today. This should be raised to 25 percent and 1.5 per cent respectively. An increase of 0.38 per cent of GDP means an additional allocation of about Rs.25, 000 crore to higher education for the Centre and the States taken together.

10.23 State universities and their affiliated colleges that account for more than 90 percent of the enrolment suffer from severe fund constraints and poor governance leading to poor quality. Strategic Central‐funding based on State higher education plans should be leveraged to stimulate more state funding linked to academic and governance reforms which may include norm‐based funding for State universities and colleges. Allocation of operating budget should be based on objective norms and new investments based on competitive grants and performance contracts. Institutions should be encouraged to raise their own funds through various legitimate means. Reasonable tuition fees in higher education need to be supplemented with appropriate publicly‐funded financial aid. The scale and reach of scholarship schemes and student loans need to be enhanced. Government guarantees for student loans could be considered. The central principle should be that no student who is eligible to be admitted should be deprived of higher education for financial reasons.

Encouraging Private Participation

10.26 Private sector growth in higher education (including technical) should be facilitated and innovative Public‐Private Partnerships (PPP) should be explored and developed in the Twelfth‐ Plan. Private higher education accounts for about four‐fifths of enrolment in professional higher education and one‐third overall. This growth trend is likely to continue in the Twelfth Plan. Currently, this growth is restricted to specific areas and there are concerns about quality and use of unfair practices. A clear policy is therefore required to manage private education and a statutory and transparent framework needs to be established for its operation for driving private growth further in a legitimate and balanced manner. The “not‐for‐profit” tag in higher education sector should, perhaps, be re‐examined in a more pragmatic manner so as to ensure quality without losing focus on expansion and equity. Deserving private institutions could benefit with access to public funds in the form of loans, financial aid for students and competitive funding for research.

Research Culture and Faculty Issues

10.27 We must bring back the ‘lost’ research culture of Indian Universities so as to create new knowledge and improve teaching standards. This would require more funding for university‐ based research and funding policies that create right incentives for quality research and promote collaboration among institutions. Related to this is the issue of faculty shortages which can be tackled through innovative ways such as technology‐enabled learning and collaborative information and communication technologies (ICT). A complete overhaul of the Academic Staff Colleges that are used to provide refresher courses for teachers is also necessary. Initiatives to improve the quality and availability of teachers in higher education need to be launched in a mission mode. With improvements in life expectancy, a growing pool of retired and elderly people is now available in the country. They have potential to enrich teaching‐learning experience and act as social capital for the society. It is possible to tap and convert their valuable acquired expertise into useful codified knowledge through a special Ph.D. programme for senior citizens facilitated by liberal entry requirements.

Page 134: 10.30 While most of our universities and colleges are required to build human resources to reach desired levels of competence, we also need to go beyond this to ensure that the country has several institutions of higher education that strive to achieve excellence in both teaching and research. The latter needs significantly large resources and, also much greater institutional autonomy and approval incentive structures. Realistically, India should aim to have at least a few universities in the global top‐league. To achieve this as quickly as possible, the country should act on two fronts. It should create new top‐end universities and also upgrade very good ones. A few new Innovation Universities could be established urgently, and several universities and institutions could be converted or upgraded by creating centres of excellence within the University, building on their existing strength. At the core of achieving excellence, is ability of institutions to attract and retain high quality faculty from across the world. This not only requires providing them with competitive salaries but also ensuring a challenging work environment and a lot of flexibility. The Twelfth Plan should attempt to operationalize these objectives.

10.31 In addition, the idea of creating large education hubs on fallow lands at four or five locations in the country, anchored by large public sector enterprises (possibly with participation by the private sector) and funded through their allocations for corporate social responsibility needs to be explored. These could be models for industry‐institute interface and would ensure local and regional development of areas where these are located.

10.32 Higher education is an increasingly global enterprise; hence Indian institutions should embrace internationalization that could provide them with new opportunities. Country’s rationale for internationalization would be to enhance its soft power, improve standards of domestic provision and produce graduates with international competencies and skills. This can best be achieved by having more and innovative partnerships. Given the historical advantage in higher education (particularly among emerging market economies) the wide spread use of English language and low cost living, India can potently become a global hub for higher education. We need to provide greater autonomy to our Centres of excellence to enter into collaborative partnership with the best universities abroad.

Page 138: Backward, Border and Remote Areas

11.11 Special emphasis must be given in the XIIth Plan for connecting to areas where connectivity is poor, which is one of several reasons why they are unable to become active participants in the growth process. These areas include the mountainous Himalayan region, the under‐developed pockets in Central and Eastern India, the islands territories and some regions in the North East. A large number of districts (often characterised by forested areas with tribal population) in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have experienced much less development than the overall development of the States within which they are located. They are also affected by Left Wing Extremism. Some of these less developed regions are spread across state boundaries, such as Bundelkand, which extends across Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. In other instances these are pockets within a state that are historically fraught with difficult conditions. Notable amongst them are the Vidharbha region of Maharashtra; the Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput (KBK) region in Orissa and most of the tribal belt in Central and Eastern India.

11.12 To deal with the legitimate aspirations of the people of these neglected regions the overall growth strategy must have a component of regional development. This will require inter‐state cooperation and strengthening the pace of development of inter‐state and intra‐ state connectivity of tribal and other isolated communities through forests and difficult terrain. It will need better governance and deeper involvement of local people in the development process. Skill development and employment opportunities must be an important component of this strategy. The XIIth Plan will identify such areas for continued and enhanced development.

11.13 The development of physical infrastructure coupled with opportunities for education and skill development can generate significant improvements in livelihood and incomes and result in better sharing of the fruits of economic growth with these remote areas.

Plan within a Plan

11.14 A special effort is needed in the Twelfth Plan to create a Plan within a Plan. There are already programmes such as the Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF), Border Area Development Programme (BADP), Hill Area Development Programme (HADP), the Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput (KBK) Plan, the Bihar Special Plan, the Bundelkhand Special Package, and most recently, the Integrated Action Plan (IAP) for Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected districts. The XIIth Plan should create a greater coherence among all these Special Plans.

Page 154: 13.16 Finally, the institutional concepts which were initiated in earlier Five Year Plans, like the Inter University Centres and Inter‐Institutional Centres for enhancing research and educational linkages for Universities, are to be expanded further to cover many other inter‐disciplinary research areas such as Earth System Science, life sciences, Computational Science, Cognitive Science etc., during the Twelfth Plan to bring about functional connectivity across universities and domain institutions. This would also overcome regional disparities in the quality of education/research.

Proposed Electoral reforms for India and its states

CENTER & ODISHA 12 Comments »

As per this report in Times of India Anna and his team have further plans. One of those plans is "Electoral Reforms." Following is an excerpt from that report: 

"We have to change the election system of the country… we have the right to reject," he said, adding that people should be allowed to use the option not to vote if they don’t like any candidate.

I completely agree that "Electoral Reforms" is an important issue. I have thought about it for some time. Following are some of my thoughts.

1. Holding Primaries: In the current system the party bosses have the ultimate say in terms of their candidates. So Sonia Gandhi, Nitin Gadkari, Sharad Pawar, Naveen Patnaik etc. have the ultimate say of their candidates in some faraway place in Odisha. How much sense does that make? Since it is extremely difficult to win as an independent, create a new party and run, or have a chance to convince existing parties and their boses to field you as a candidate,  it creates a huge barrier for someone to enter politics and get elected and as a result a very huge percentage of elected representatives are family members of past or current representatives. Also, often the situations arise when none of the candidates chosen by the party bosses are "good". To address these the best way is to introduce "primaries" or "preliminary elections" for all recognized parties. These preliminary election would then determine who the candidate of a particular party will be. Laws can be made to decide who can vote in these primaries. In US, in some states only party members can vote for the primary elections of that party and in other states there are open primaries. Open primaries is much easier to implement. So basically what will happen is before the election there will be another election where there can be multiple candidates of each party. As before everyone can only vote for one candidate total. After the primary elections the top voted candidate from each party goes on to the main election.

2. Removal of the anti-defection law: The anti-defection law passed in 1985 as the 52nd amendment to the Indian constitution is a bad piece of legislation. Because of it MPs do not have the freedom to vote their conscience or vote as per the will of their constituents. They have to vote as dictated by their party leader.  This is extremely dangerous. The following illustrates it. Currently, if their is a single party with majority in Delhi it can pass whatever bill its boss wants. Now imagine someone is able to blackmail this boss. (Say the blackmailer possesses some document that can greatly harm the party boss.) This blackmailer can now pass whatever bill it wants. But abolishing the anti-defection law and allowing MPs to vote their conscience would mean government motions may fail resulting in the government being forced to resign under the collective responsibility principle. This is not desirable. So additional changes would be necessary to avoid this. See (5) below.

3. Provide mechanisms to recall an elected representative: If an elected representative is out-of-synch with the voters of his/her constituency there should be a mechanism to recall that representative and have a new election. That way elected representatives can not forget their voters between elections and only show up around the election time. (Team Anna has mentioned this as one of their goals.)

4. Government funding of election: Currently a big reason the elected representatives are corrupt is that they have to find funds for their election expenses. Many of them, though not personally corrupt, participate and if not participate then allow (and turn a blind eye) someone to raise funds (mostly in an illegal manner) for their elections. This can be avoided if government funds elections. Such a system is in place in the US; it allows a candidate to refuse this funding and use his/her own funding.

5. Direct election of CM and PM but with term limits of maximum of two terms: Came across the following suggestion of a  clever way to directly elect CMs and PM. To that I will add that our CMs and PMs should have a term limit of maximum of two terms. This will allow for young leadership to emerge more easily.

… consider the idea of adding a single non-voting seat to every State Assembly and to the Lok Sabha. This single non-voting seat could have for its constituency all eligible voters within that State in the case of a State Assembly and similarly it could have all of the eligible voters in India in the case of the Lok Sabha. During elections this all-State or all-India constituency could go to polls along with the other legislative and parliamentary constituencies. The person who gets elected to this non-voting Lok Sabha or Assembly seat could be automatically considered to be the Leader of the House as he or she would be reflecting the collective will of all the voters of that Legislative Assembly or Parliament. Since the seat is a non-voting addition to the strength of the House this seat will not change the balance of power in the legislature which continues to be same as before.

By virtue of being the leader of the House the person elected to the all-State or all-India constituency will have to be invited by the Governor or the President to form the next Government as the Chief Minister or Prime Minister. Irrespective of whether a party or a combination of parties has a legislative majority the Chief Minister or Prime Minister will have a fixed term which will be the same as the term of the legislature. Removal of the Chief Minister of Prime Minister would now require a higher legislative bar similar to a Presidential impeachment. The anti-defection law becomes redundant and irrelevant since the Government no longer depends on a simple majority in the legislature.

In the absence of anti-defection laws, a cultural shift could be effected wherein legislators across party lines can think independently and come together to propose bi-partisan Bills in a manner similar to what we see in the United States. The Chief Minister or Prime Minister could then also have the additional freedom to appoint members to his Cabinet from outside the legislature thus eliminating another source of instability and dissidence.

6. Instead of "Right to Reject" allow "Write-in" candidates: The idea behind "right to reject" is that during voting there should be a option of "No One." This was suggested in a movie. In light of implementing 1-5 I don’t see any usefulness of this idea by itself. However, a better idea is to have a write-in option where people can write the name of the person (who is not in the ballot) who they want to vote for. So people can write "No one" if they desire so. Or they can write someone’s name. This is a good back-up if at last moment one of the candidate passes-away or if there is some major change (say a major movement like the current movement) and people want to vote for someone who is not in the ballot.

Comparing the three Lokpal bills (work in progress); Update: Hindustan Times’ take


The following comparison is based on the article I will add more to this as I read the bills in more detail and/or come across other comparisons of all three bills.

Government’s bill Jan Lokpal Bill (By Anna’s team) Lokpal – NCPRI proposal My Comments
Limits the bill to Lokpal at the Centre. The same law should also establish Lok Ayuktas in the states. The same law should also establish Lok Ayuktas in the states. Many states already have Lok ayuktas or equivalent. Odisha and Karnataka come to mind. Also, if it is extended to the states, the viewpoints of the  states need to be taken. That will take time.
  All the levels of bureaucracy should come under Lokpal CVC should be strengthened to deal with lower bureaucracy.  I prefer the NCPRI proposal as it will keep the Lokpal part focused and less bureaucratic.
Prime Minister is exempted from Lokpal’s ambit. Prime Minister should not be exempted from Lokpal’s ambit. Prime Minister should not be exempted from Lokpal’s ambit. But, there should be no investigation without the Supreme Court’s clearance and that the Cabinet’s collective responsibility should not expose him to vicarious liability.  I like the NCPRI proposal.
Chairperson has to be a judge. Need not be a judge. Need not be a judge. Judges have a record which one can scrutinize to find out if he/she has been fair, if he she has been following the constitution, if he/she has been ignoring the law to appease popular sentiments, etc.
Nine-member selection committee   Three member selection committee: Prime Minister, leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha and a SC judge. A 10-member search committee, which will short-list candidates, should consist equally of retired state functionaries and civil society representatives.  I think the US methods of confirming a Supreme Court Justice should be added. I.e., After the selection the Chairperson should be confirmed by a majority of the MPs (perhaps in a secret ballot) without any whips. The confirmation process should include questioning by the MPs, as is done in case of US supreme court judge confirmations. 
Allegations against the Lokpal should not be probed by the SC without a reference by the President. No such condition. No such condition.   
Lokpal to deal with complaints against its officials. Inquiry should instead be held by an ombudsman appointed by an independent committee. Inquiry should instead be held by an ombudsman appointed by an independent committee.   
Exempting MPs from Lokpal’s remit for their conduct in Parliament No such exemption. NCPRI’s view is that a constitutional amendment is required to remove the immunity enjoyed by MPs. It calls for an undertaking from the government that it would make such an amendment within a year.  
Extraordinary safeguard in the official bill requiring Lokpal to give a hearing to the accused public servant before registering an FIR against him. Does not agree. Does not agree. Here, I prefer the government’s version. There are a lot of honest government officers and lawmakers. If they are accused, they should be provided a hearing, Otherwise people will just stop making decisions or taking initiatives as that would be the best way to avoid hassles.
A complainant found to have filed a frivolous case be liable to imprisonment for at least two years.   A monetary penalty not exceeding Rs 1 lakh. Here I am more in the side of the government. Frivolous cases can put everything to a halt and needs to be strongly dissuaded. These days Rs. 1 lakh penalty is nothing. Unless people are sure they should not be making complaints to the Lokpal. There are other means (go to press, file PIL, etc.) where the penalty is much less.

In,%20PublicGrievances,%20Law%20and%20Justice/PR%20-%20LB,%202011.pdf the parliament standing committee on this bill asks for a feedback memorandum. Following is a quote from that:

Those desirous of submitting memoranda to the Committee may send two copies thereof, neatly typed in double space (either in English or Hindi) to Shri K.P. Singh, Director, Rajya Sabha Secretariat, 201, Second Floor, Parliament House Annexe, New Delhi-110001 (Tel: 23034201, Fax: 23016784, E-mail: and within fifteen days of publication of this advertisement. Those who are willing to appear before the Committee for oral evidence besides submitting the memorandum may so indicate.

The Date of Publication of the above notice is 20th August, 2011 and the Last date for Submitting a Memorandum is 3rd September, 2011.

Following is a comparison of the Lokpal Bill and JanLokpal Bill by Hindustan Times. The part I agree with is annotated in red.

Videos on Aruna Roy’s and NCPRI’s viewpoints on the Lokpal Bill

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Lokpal Bill: Can’t ignore Standing Committee, says Aruna Roy

Anna Hazare ill advised, says Aruna Roy Didn’t say Anna was ill advised: Aruna Roy

(Note: She did say it, as one can hear in the previous video; but may be it was selective editing. However, I am also of the view that Anna was ill advised and so far the ill advises continue.) NAC has its own version of Lokpal Bill

Following are Aruna Roy’s views as quoted in Economic Times. Her views resonate with me more than the views coming out of Anna’s camp.

Terming Anna Hazare’s Jan Lokpal Bill "impractical and complicated", noted social activist … Aruna Roy said that giving widespread powers to an unelected body is a "threat to democracy".

"Jan Lokpal is a bill impossible to implement. Also, it derails the checks and balances between the judiciary, executive and other organs of the democratic structure," Roy, 65, who pioneered the right to information (RTI) movement in the country, told IANS in an interview here.

"Not that we agree with the government Lokpal Bill. The Lokpal legislation should be thoroughly deliberated again by activists, lawmakers and all other stakeholders.

"We of course support the democratic right of Hazare to hold demonstrations and fast against the government. That is why we condemned the arrest of Hazare," she said. …

Asked about the huge public support Hazare has drawn, Roy said: "There have been huge gatherings in support of NGO-sponsored agitations, like the Narmada Bachao movement. It might not have got similar publicity, as live TV was not there then."…

Roy, a Magsaysay award winner, said the Jan Lokpal bill is a "giant, complicated exercise" as it tried to extend from the prime minister to a peon.

"It wants to bring the higher judiciary into its ambit, which otherwise should have been under the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010," she said.

She felt that the suggestion of dual duties — curbing corruption and redressing grievances — under the Jan Lokpal was not feasible.

"The Jan Lokpal is a threat to democracy as a powerful, non-elected agency can lead to abuse of power and abuse of authority. Power corrupts and absolutely power corrupts absolutely," she quipped.

"Grievance redressal should not be the role of the Lokpal; it should be the work of the executive.

"See, wages of lakhs of workers in the NREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) in Rajasthan have not been paid. But that is because the shortage of bank staff and other bureaucratic delays," she said.

The massive organisational setup suggested in the Jan Lokpal will lead to corruption and inefficiency, she cautioned.

"You may be able to find 11 Lokpal members of integrity, but it is difficult to create a clean set-up of thousands of staffers and hold them accountable," Roy said.

The government-drafted Lokpal is also deficient on several fronts, she added. Since it excludes cases under the state governments, there can be no probe against cases like the Adarsh housing society scandal, the Commonwealth Games scam and illegal mining in Karnataka.

She said excluding the prime minister and the higher judiciary was wrong. "This is a wrong practice. Nobody should be above the law," she said, adding that there should be certain safeguards. "Like both the Lokpal and the Supreme Court should agree on a probe against the prime minister."

Roy also suggested that the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill should be revised to facilitate effective action against the higher judiciary while the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) should be strengthened to probe junior officials.

The whistleblowers’ protection bill too should be revised to deal with the increasing attacks and threats against RTI activists, she suggested.

"The Lokpal bill should not become an issue of adamant stances, political rivalries and personality-driven agitations. What we need is a sincere, detailed debate for legislation of immense social significance and public concern," she said.

Roy, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer from 1968 to 1974, resigned from the government as the clouds of Emergency were gathering. …

Roy’s campaign for right to information led to the enactment of the RTI Act – in Rajasthan in 2000 and five years later at the national level.

I completely agree with Aruna Roy that the parliamentary standing committee must be respected. The fact that at some other time bills were passed without much of a debate does not mean that the same should be done here. The Lokpal set up, at least as described in the Jan Lokpal bill is like another branch of democracy and proper discussions must happen at all levels before a bill on this is passed.

Now some quotes from a Business Standard article.

Harsh Mander, another NCPRI member said: “I am worried about people on the streets, who are dreaming of a better country. How can we reduce it to just one view and one issue? Let us deepen the debate and struggle for a better India.”

He said more views should be taken into account and the best possible solution should be provided to these people.

However, Justice A P Shah was harsh in his criticism of the insistence of the Anna team on having only their version of the Bill passed. “Anna is not civil society and civil society is not Anna,” he said. He said that ombudsmen in no country is given power over judiciary and this was very dangerous.

The differences between the NCPRI and its supporters and Anna supporters on the Lok Pal Bill are just a few. But, it is what is seen as the intolerant attitude of the Anna team which has annoyed NCPRI members and supporters like Anhad to organise the press conference.

Roy added that actions of the team were tantamount to hijacking the democratic system. Democracy is for the poor and it is our responsibility to make it work. We can remove rotten parts in a system, but, we cannot throw away the system itself.

“I can sit on the streets and demand that the collector delivers, but I cant go and sit in the collector’s chair. What the Anna team wants is almost that,” she said.

The two main differences in Anna’s Bill and Aruna Roy’s Bill are the non-inclusion of the judiciary in the latter’s version and the replacement of a single Lok Pal with a three-level structure to investigate corruption at different levels of the society.

But, it is not the differences in the Bill that is causing concern to those who differ from Anna Hazare.

Roy said, “If Anna has a right to dissent, he should also acknowledge and admit the right of other people in the country to have differences with him on the Lok Pal”.

She said it was solely because of Anna Hazare and his team that Lok Pal has today become such a big issue.

Arvind Kejriwal, member of the Anna Hazare team said it was a misunderstanding that they were holding the Parliament to ransom on the Bill. He also dismissed the differences with Aruna Roy on the Bill as very minor.

“Multiple agencies to deal with corruption would lead to confusion. When a complaint is filed, we don’t know if a higher official or a lower official is involved. So it cannot work,” said Prashant Bhushan, another memeber of Hazare’s team.

I partly agree and partly disagree with the last statement of Prashant Bhusan. In case of RTI also one may not know which office to file the RTI. But ultimately it can trickle down from a top office to a lower office. The same can happen with respect to corruption complaints. However, a proper procedure should be laid out when it is clear that "corruption" has happened but is not clear at what level.

Finally, check out the articles and comments in the following:

Getting educated on the Lokpal issue: Pointers to the Government’s Lokpal bill, the Jan Lokpal bill and the Lokpal – NCPRI approach

ADMINISTRATION & REPs, APPEAL to readers, CENTER & ODISHA Comments Off on Getting educated on the Lokpal issue: Pointers to the Government’s Lokpal bill, the Jan Lokpal bill and the Lokpal – NCPRI approach

The site has a lot of pointers on all these. Following are links from that site.

Again, the site has a lot of pointers.

My appeal to people is to read all three and think for themselves rather than blindly following someone.

Understanding the Jan Lokpal movement and its implications: two videos

CENTER & ODISHA 7 Comments »


The above two videos give me some understanding of the goal of this movement. While I have still not educated myself on the issue of the need of a Lokpal, let alone on which of the two bills (the govt Lokpal bill and the Jan Lokpal bill) is better in which points, I think there is a need to reform the political system in India.

I almost agree with Prashant Bhushan when he says that in the current system people mostly vote for parties. I will modify it slightly and say:  in the current system people mostly vote for the parties and party icons. What this means is Sonia Gandhi or L. K. Advani or Naveen Patnaik decides who will be their party candidate some random place in Odisha.

I think if this movement grows further and is able to achieve some kind of a primary election system to decide on candidates from various parties in various seats then that would significantly improve the political system in India. If that happens, no longer Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi or L. K. Advani or Naveen Patnaik would be able to dictate their party candidates. That will allow more grassroots participation of democracy and tainted and/or corrupt people running for office will have a higher chance of getting eliminated before the final election. It will also reduce the stupid system that is being followed where by sons and daughters of politicians are automatically given huge advantages, and not only in terms of party tickets but even in terms of ministrial positions. (For example, the current ministers Jyotiraj Sindhia, Agatha Sangma, Kumari Selja, etc. come to mind.)

In addition the anti-defection amendment needs to be modified so that MPs can vote on bills based on their conscience and not just follow the diktat of the party bosses.

Perhaps the above two can be done through a "True Democracy Bill" or "People’s democracy Bill" that the Anna team will go after after the Lokpal bill is settled.

Coming back to the Lokpal bill, I think the timeline of 18 days is unreasonable. For such an important bill there should be more discussions and states need to be asked for their opinion. However, it should not be indefinitely delayed.

Odisha retaliates to DRDO insensitivity to Odisha’s development

Defence establishments, Odisha govt. action 10 Comments »

Following is an excerpt from a report in Pioneer.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has made it clear to Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Director General VK Saraswat that his Government would not allow use of the State’s coastline for carrying out seaward artillery practice and manoeuvres.

This is the State Government’s reaction to the objection raised by the DRDO to the setting up of three minor ports in Balasore. If the DRDO is not bothered about the State’s development, what is the point in giving permission to use its coastline, Patnaik reportedly told Saraswat when both met here on Thursday.

… The DRDO had been conducting field firing and artillery practice along the seacoast in the districts of Balasore and Bhadrak since long. The State Government was giving permission to the DRDO without any objections. This time, however, the State Government refused permission for the purpose, as a result of which no field firing and artillery practice has taken place since April, 2011.

… “Our appeal to the Centre seeking the DRDO’s no-objection for setting up ports not harming the DRDO activities remained unheard. Even they did not listen to our grievances. It was the only way out for the State not to renew the mandatory permission to the DRDO,” said a senior State official.

With the State Government hardening its stand, Dr Saraswat rushed to the State capital and met the Chief Minister. However, Patnaik, sources said, sounded a “big no” to the DRDO chief.

Besides working together on the port locations that suits both parties, Odisha should push the defense department/DRDO for other contributions such as a medical college and an institute like IIST (Indian Institute of Space Technology) Trivendrum.