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Sunday, April 6, 2014

NO FAME IN BLAME GAME

                                                             -MILAN K SINHA

blameDay in and day out we find ourselves, whether we agree or disagree, engaged in one of the finest and funniest games of the world- The Blame Game. Golda Meir says, ‘There can be no doubt that the average man blames much more than he praises. His instinct is to blame. If he is satisfied he says nothing; if he is not, he most illogically kicks up a row.'

In today’s politics, it is the major game being played by all political parties in varying degrees more by design than by default. Ironically, such political gossip stories are found to capture a sizeable portion of media space at the cost of serious discussion on matters concerning common man’s welfare and well-being.  

While on the subject, I am tempted to share with you one short story from 'Akbar- Birbal' stock. The story goes like this: Akbar, the Great Moghul Emperor once asked Birbal, his most favorite and wisest courtier who was immensely loved by the commoners too because of his ready wit and wisdom, to paint his portrait. Accordingly, Birbal commenced the job and completed it within a week and then presented the portrait to the Emperor. Akbar was extremely delighted to see the portrait. In order to have comments from his other courtiers (Navratnas), Akbar asked them to offer their views on Birbal's art work. So, everyone came up to the portrait one by one, had a deep glance, detected few mistakes and put dots on such points where improvement was required as per their perception. Interestingly, some of the courtiers made corrections on the portrait itself. Consequently, the portrait was smeared with dots and dashes. Akbar was very upset and asked Birbal to offer his comment and reaction. Birbal gave it a thought for a moment and called for blank canvases, paints and brushes for each of his fellow courtiers. He then requested them to paint the portrait of the emperor with all the improvements and corrections suggested by them. Interestingly, none came forward to perform the job. Akbar was obviously annoyed and angry to assert, “What a difference between 'Doers and Doters'?”

The moral of the story is: whenever you point an accusing finger at someone, you have the other three fingers pointing at you.


In fact, the real boldness lies in admitting our own mistakes and laughing at ourselves. Acceptance of our own weakness is a greatness which paves the path for our improvement and progress. Ralph Marston puts it in another way, 'Concern yourself more with accepting responsibility than with assigning blame. Let the possibilities inspire you more than the obstacles discourage you.’

As always, I am keen to know what you think on this subject. Hence, request you to post Comments to share your views and experiences.

                  Will meet again with Open MindAll the Best.
Published in Patna Daily.com
# Do visit my site : milanksinha.com  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

THE MENACE OF BAD LOANS

                                                         - MILAN K SINHA
Just after reviewing the quarterly performance of state-run banks, the union finance minister informed the media, 'Bad loans of PSU banks are expected to be slightly higher by March-end from a year earlier and banks have been asked to focus on recovery of bad loans, particularly large NPA accounts.'

There is no denying the fact that the biggest challenge facing the public sector banks is their ever growing NPA portfolio. In fact, bad loans of PSU banks rose by 28.5 per cent from Rs.1.83 lakh cr in March, 2013 to Rs. 2.36 lakh cr in September’13- within just two quarters. By all indications, it is going to be far worse by the end of this fiscal.

The matter assumes greater concern as it is reported that one of the Kolkata based PSU banks- United Bank of India has recorded huge surge in its NPA portfolio. In the September quarter, it had to make provision for NPA to the extent of Rs.987.35 cr which rose to Rs.1857.83 cr in the December’13 quarter. The bank’s gross NPA rose from 5.39%  to 10.82% during the same period. As a natural outcome, United Bank recorded a net loss of 1238 cr. in December'13 quarter. Its net worth has also registered substantial erosion and its capital adequacy ratio dropped to the floor level of 9%. 

But, how did it happen in the first place despite so much internal checks and balances; strict control and regular supervision by the RBI and also by other statutory authorities as per the law of the land? What is the efficacy of quarterly review mechanism being undertaken religiously by the ministry? 

Interestingly, yet very unfortunately, this is not the first case of its kind for any state-run bank. It does happen in almost all banks - both public and private in differing magnitude depending upon various factors contrary to the laid down norms of classifying an asset. To put it straight, all banks allow its top brass to influence, if not manipulate the asset recognition exercise to boost profit and show better bottom line performance. If we take a ten year span to see and analyze the balance sheet of any bank after taking over of the new CMD or CEO and the previous one of his or her predecessor, we can very well see large variation in both the figures of NPA as well as profit for obvious reasons.  

Industry watchers say that there is nothing unusual about this and it is also not without the know of regulator and the ministry  as almost every new incumbent to the top post faces this music of hidden NPAs and under reporting of bad loans  by the previous top management. 

Yes, a far more severe than what happened in United Bank's instant case did happen with Chennai based Indian Bank in early nineties. The entire banking industry was under attack from all corners during that period- ironically a period when the economic liberalization had started taking shape in this country. But, that was the period of manual banking, unlike today’s technology based CBS banking where everything is computerized and IT enabled. Moreover, United Bank of India too uses the same computer software named Finacle for accounting purposes as many other banks in India.

To put it in plain words, the prudential norms of asset classification and income recognition is not strictly complied by the banks in the country as per the laid down principles by maintaining a fair and transparent system. And most importantly, the follow up, monitoring and control mechanism of RBI and ministry have not been full proof and up to the mark to ensure early detection of irregularities for initiating timely and effective action to keep the banking sector always in good health.   

As always, I am keen to know what you think on this subject. Hence, request you to post Comments to share your views and experiences.

                  Will meet again with Open MindAll the Best.
Published in Indian Currents.org
# Do visit my site : milanksinha.com

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

TIME TO EXCEL IN ELECTION EXERCISE

                                                                     - Milan K Sinha
Finally the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced the nine – phase poll schedule for election to the 16th Lok Sabha and also for three state assemblies namely Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha to be held during a long span of thirty six days between 7th April to 12th May,2014. The counting for the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies along with the three state assemblies will, however be taking place on a single day – 16th May, 2014.

As rightly asserted by the chief election commissioner V. S. Sampat while sharing the details of poll schedule, ‘Elections to the world’s largest democracy pose immense challenges with respect to logistics and man and material management…’, the ensuing election will see the participation of   814 million strong electorate- more than the population of Europe, by casting their vote in 9.3 lakh polling booths across the country to make it the biggest democratic exercise in the world. It is interesting to note here that in in the last Lok Sabha election of 2009 the number of electorate was 98 million less at  716 million  and the polling stations was one lakh less at  8.3 lakh.  One more defining change, to facilitate the contesting candidates and also to political parties, is the enhancement in prescribed expenditure limits. Only a few days back, as we know, the union cabinet approved an amendment to the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, and upwardly revised the limit for election expenditure by a candidate for parliamentary constituencies from Rs. 40 lakhs to Rs.70 lakh in all states except Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep and Puducherry, where it was kept at Rs.54 lakh.

We are 66 year old independent country where the Election Commission was established in accordance with the Constitution on 25th January 1950 and where the first general election was held 61 years ago in 1952 with 61.20% voter turnout. But, it is extremely shocking to observe that the voter turnout in last Lok Sabha election of 2009 was only 58% – even 3% less than what it achieved in 1952.  Ironically, the turnout percentage hovered between the highest of 61.97% and lowest of 56.97% in the seven general elections held during the period between 1989 to2009. That does mean besides many things that around 40% adult citizens have no say in electing a government supposed to rule them too for next couple of years in the name of inclusive politics based on equity and justice. Why it is so? Is it the real democracy our constitution talks about?

Reports say that the election commission took many initiatives which include its mega awareness programme of Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) — particularly in areas known for low turnouts to encourage voters to exercise their basic democratic right. All this would definitely help boost voting percentage in coming election besides factors like inclusion and participation of youths and women in sizable numbers across the country due to multiple socio-political factors. But to what extent?

On number scale even 5% to 10% increase in voter turnout might look like a very big achievement for ECI but it shouldn’t be allowed to be complacent on this score on such low percentage improvement. This issue, therefore calls for serious introspection and matching remedial action on the part of ECI during the intervening period as it has the bounden duty not only to ensure  enrolment of all eligible citizens very genuinely- pruning the fake voters simultaneously from its rolls, on highest priority, but also to create such a congenial situation which prompts, if not compel, every voter to cast his or her vote (now NOTA option is also available on EVM) in a free and fair manner to register minimum  voting turnout of 90% in next Lok Sabha elections and in each election thereafter to let our democracy function in true sense of the term.

Hope, the ECI, the central and all state governments together with all political parties make this happen by enlisting support and cooperation of civil society in an unprecedented manner  to register its best ever  performance in the next election exercise.

As always, I am keen to know what you think on this subject. Hence, request you to post Comments to share your views and experiences.

                Will meet again with Open MindAll the Best.
Published in Hastekshep.com

# Do visit my site : milanksinha.com

Sunday, March 9, 2014

TOUGH GOING FOR COMMON MAN

                                                        - MILAN K SINHA

Rock Mountain Or Hill Climibing clip artWith fresh snow fall and rain in northern part of the country including national capital, the cold weather prolonged its stay for some more days amid plethora of dampening news of Indian Economy too suffering from cold with no signs of fast recovery at least during the current fiscal despite certain monetary and fiscal measures taken by RBI and the central government.  Revision and re- revision of estimated Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Fiscal Deficit (FD), Current Account Deficit (CAD) and other economic and financial indices have been  worked out as a desperate attempt to make the figures look not that bad to affect the electoral prospects of UPA partners in the ensuing 16th general election. The presentation of vote of account (interim budget) for FY14-15 in Lok Sabha on 17th Feb'14 is seen as part of that political exercise of ruling coalition at the Centre.

However, while presenting the interim budget of 2014-15 the Union Finance Minister said, 'Let me begin with the good news. The fiscal deficit for 2013-14 will be contained at 4.6 per cent of GDP, well below the red line that I had drawn last year. More importantly, the Current Account Deficit, that threatened to exceed last year’s CAD of USD 88 billion, will be contained at USD 45 billion, and I am happy to inform the House that we expect to add about USD 15 billion to the foreign exchange reserves by the end of the financial year.'

The fiscal deficit, which is the gap between expenditure and revenue, was 4.9 per cent of GDP in 2012-13. Experts are of the opinion that the fiscal deficit could be restricted to 4.6% mainly by shrinking expenditure and higher-than-expected realization from the auctioning 2G radio spectrum. It is notable that plan expenditure was also reduced by 14.37%. Moreover, to achieve its fiscal deficit target the government resorted to accounting tactics  for covering up ballooning subsidy bill by rolling over fuel subsidy worth Rs.35,000 crore to the next fiscal, while remaining silent on the roll-over figures for food and fertilizer subsidies. The question is – why to adopt short cuts to paint and project a bright picture?

So far containing India’s Current Account deficit (CAD) at the level of $45 billion this fiscal - a reduction of $33 billion from the record high level of 2012-13, is concerned,   both the finance ministry as well as the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) did all to curtail gold imports - one of the major reasons for the record CAD in financial year 2012-13. In fact, the customs duty on gold was increased by 10% in not less than three doses by the central government in current financial year and RBI on its part imposed a series of curbs on inward shipments of gold. The question is – who had allowed gold imports so thoughtlessly which impacted CAD so badly? 

Interestingly, a deeper look at government’s balance sheet reveals that as high as 37% of government revenue goes to service interest on borrowings. It is also estimated that a major chunk of our borrowings in 2014-15 will be cornered for payment of interest on total borrowings. The simple question is – are we heading towards a situation of ‘Debt Trap’? 

From the common man's perspective, even though both the government and the RBI claim to have acted in tandem to bring down price rise, yet the food inflation is at 8.8% - a major cause of concern. FM admitted this by saying, “While our efforts have not been in vain, there is still some distance to go. Food inflation still remains a worry."

So, going by the major economic data mentioned herein above coupled with political indecisiveness at the apex level even on economic issues concerning the general well-being of millions of common people, it is but natural for the citizens of the country to be highly apprehensive of further escalation in prices of essential commodities at least during next few months till new government assumes power at the Centre and then takes some concrete measures on this count.

It being so, the Indian economy is destined to be in bad weather for some time more, the  implication of which, we know well, is and would be fatal as far as job creation, implementation of welfare schemes, external debt & interest servicing, investment prospects, price rise etc. are concerned.

The bigger question now is - can a country having huge human as well as natural resources (with world's largest youth force) allow it to happen like this anymore or should it stand up not only to compel the policy makers and political class to act decisively at all levels to ensure robust and inclusive economic growth in coming years but also to identify and punish suitably all those political and administrative bigwigs who have been responsible and accountable for this sordid state of economy. 

As always, I am keen to know what you think on this subject. Hence, request you to post Comments to share your views and experiences.

                Will meet again with Open MindAll the Best.

# Do visit my site : milanksinha.com

Thursday, February 27, 2014

UNEMPLOYMENT PROBLEM GETTING WORSE

                                                        - MILAN K SINHA

Business People Team with 3D Puzzle PiecesPolitical observers are of the opinion that this being the election year for electing Lok Sabha members to form the next government at the Centre, it is but natural for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to woo millions of young voters by pushing through the approval of National Youth Policy, 2014 by the Union Cabinet. As a natural outcome, this NYP will replace the existing policy of 2003. As per the 2011 census, the population of youth between the age group 15-29 stands at 330 million and this sizable chunk constitute more than 27.5 % of country’s population.

The vision of NYP-2014 is to empower the youth to achieve their full potential and identifies five objectives and 11 priority areas. It suggests policy interventions in each priority area – the priority areas being education, skill development and employment, entrepreneurship, health and healthy lifestyle, sports, promotion of social values, community engagement, participation in politics and governance, youth engagement, inclusion and social justice.

It needs no emphasis that the future of the country can only be brighter if we can provide better education including skill development to our ever growing young population with a view to make these huge lot of future citizens strong enough in all positive aspects and for this to materialize there must have adequate opportunities of securing gainful employment throughout the year. But the big question remains. Is it actually happening? And what has been the past performance in this regard?

It is discouraging to note that in a recent report ILO (International Labour Organization) has indicated sluggishness in the country's job market. It says that the unemployment scenario in India over the last two years has been showing a rising trend. The ILO report is not surprising as the trend has been crystal clear if we look back and analyze this crucial issue discreetly. 

It is an irony that Indian economy grew at about 9% per year during the period 2004-09, the first term of UPA Govt. at the Centre, but it could generate only one million jobs, whereas during the preceding five years, the rate of GDP growth was although relatively lower, yet it generated 58 million jobs. The report card of UPA–II Govt. so far in regard to job creation is not perceptibly better either. That’s one of the major reasons why social scientists call these nine and half years of UPA rule at the Centre a period of jobless growth.

It is interesting to note that in the intervening period, the Engineering and Management colleges have mushroomed unimaginably- MBA seats in India alone grew almost four-fold from 95,000 in 2006-07 to 3.6 lakh in 2011-12. As a result, the number of MBA and B.Tech degree holders has gone up many folds in the meantime. Unfortunately, however, job opportunities for these job seekers have grown grossly inadequately in the same period. Similar or may be worse is the case with non –technical degree holders. The story doesn't end here. A large pool of youth in the age group of 18-25 years are facing unemployment problem despite being skilled and having necessary certificates on hand, as because  there are not enough opportunities for them in the job market.

To put it precisely, all the surveys and studies conducted during last few months about the status of Degree Delivery vis-a-vis Job Delivery to huge number of  unemployed youth population of this largest democracy of the world point out clearly that there is a definite and serious flaw in the whole system which needs to be addressed on highest priority as it's a common knowledge that unemployment, both full time and part time creates multidimensional social problems that has the potential to erupt into a serious national problem.

As always, I am keen to know what you think on this subject. Hence, request you to post Comments to share your views and experiences.

                  Will meet again with Open MindAll the Best.
Published in Bihar Times.com
# Do visit my site : milanksinha.com  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

TRY JUST ONE MORE TIME FOR A BETTER LIFE

                                                                 -By Milan K Sinha
try
 There is a famous proverb which we have been listening since our early childhood days either from our parents, elder relatives, teachers and even from friends. The proverb is: TRY, TRY AGAIN IF YOU NOT SUCCEED....  Mother Teresa does say," God doesn't require us to succeed. He only requires that you try." Many other Statesmen, Philosophers, Scientists and Thinkers too emphasized this point in different ways, but the sum and substance remains almost the same.

Nevertheless, it goes without saying that when we are in a trying mode, we need to have utmost faith on our capacity and potential to march towards the right goal. Swami Vivekananda underlines the importance of faith in our life in these words, “The ideal of faith in ourselves is of the greatest help to us….Throughout the history of mankind, if any motive power has been more potent than another in the lives of all great men and women, it is that of faith in themselves….We can see that all the difference between man and man is owing to the existence or non-existence of faith in himself. Faith in ourselves will do everything. I have experienced it in my own life….”

So, while trying many things in life day in and day out, why not  try the following to have, in my opinion, a better life ahead:

  • Watch Sunrise every day.
  • Complement minimum five persons daily.
  • Be the first to say, Hello.
  • Make commonsense your best friend.
  • Treat everyone like you want to be treated.
  • Pray not for things, but for wisdom & courage.
  • Be tough-minded, but tender-hearted.
  • Do think out of box.
  • Keep your eyes, ears and mind open.
  • Be humble in victory & gracious in defeat.
  • Test yourself regularly.
The list doesn't have, you would agree, any item which is difficult to try. In fact, many of us are already trying almost all or many or some of these and are reaping the benefits. One of the most famous Scientists and Inventors, Thomas Alva Edison says," Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The Most Certain Way to Succeed is Always to Try Just One More Time.”

Then, what to think of? Try, Try Again.......

As always, I am keen to know what you think on this subject. Hence, request you to post Comments to share your views and experiences.

                  Will meet again with Open MindAll the Best.
Published in Patna Daily.com
# Do visit my site : milanksinha.com  

Thursday, January 30, 2014

NEED TO FOLLOW GANDHIAN PRINCIPLES IN RIGHT PERSPECTIVE

                                                                                        -MILAN K SINHA
mahatma gandhi
The day has again arrived for large section of political class to wear white khadi dress with a cap and   to rush to a Mahatma Gandhi statue, of course in a big vehicle to utter few parroted words with some crocodile tears in their eyes to show the onlookers, particularly media persons that they are the true believers, followers and torch bearer of Gandhian philosophy.

Unfortunately, day in and day out, the name of Gandhiji is being misused by those who proclaim from rooftop to be the sole political heir of this great soul about whom the Great Physicist and Nobel Prize Winner, Albert Einstein had said, ‘Generations to come, it may be, will scarcely believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.’ 

It has been fashionable in our country in majority of cases to resort to dharna and agitation in the name of Satyagraha- the most pious tool of protest, thereby putting the public at large to great inconvenience even in the national capital. It would be therefore, befitting if these set of protesters and the misusers of Gandhiji’s name, take some pain to read what Bapu wrote about ‘Satyagraha’ in Young India (20.10.1927) and Harijan (15.04.1933) 

‘Since Satyagraha is one of the most powerful methods of direct action, a Satyagrahi exhausts all other means before he resorts to Satyagraha. He will, therefore constantly and continually approach the constituted authority, he will appeal to public opinion, educate public opinion, state his case calmly and coolly before everybody who wants to listen to him, and only after he has exhausted all these avenues will he resort to Satyagraha. But when he has found the impelling call of the inner voice within him and launches out upon Satyagraha he has burnt his boats and there is no receding.’ ……’The word Satyagraha is often most loosely used and is made to cover veiled violence. But as the author of the word I may be allowed to say that it excludes every form of violence, veiled or unveiled, and whether in thought, word or deed. It is a breach of Satyagraha to wish ill to an opponent or to say a harsh word to him or of him with the intention of harming him…’ 

It is equally not out of context to take up briefly the concept of SWARAJ in the light of FDI controversy and other issues of governance in the country to know the gap between Gandhiji's thinking and  actual current happenings. In Gandhiji's concept of Swaraj, self-reliance, self-regulation and self -restraints are very important. He says," Real Swaraj will come not by the acquisition of authority by a few but the acquisition of the capacity by all to resist authority when it is abused. In other words, Swaraj is to be obtained by educating the masses to a sense of their capacity to regulate and control authority." He further says,"Swaraj means government by many. Where the many are immoral or selfish, their government can spell anarchy and nothing else."

Undoubtedly, the life and work of the father of our nation would continue to be an eternal source of inspiration not only for all true Indians but also for million others world over in days to come. That’s why even the U.S President Barack Obama joins to say, ‘In my life, I have always looked to Mahatma Gandhi as an inspiration, because he embodies the kind of transformational change that can be made when ordinary people come together to do extra ordinary.’

As always, I am keen to know what you think on this subject. Hence, request you to post Comments to share your views and experiences.

                  Will meet again with Open MindAll the Best.
# Published in Patna Daily.com
# Do visit my site : milanksinha.com