Arun Jaitley’s speech in Rajya Sabha on JNU

February 25, 2016

Published on Feb 25, 2016

Arun Jaitley’s speech in Rajya Sabha on breaking India activity in JNU. Shri Jaitley termed those who organized and participated the “breaking India” event in JNU Delhi under the title of ‘ A country without post office” as ultra leftist. Jaitley said Congress lost two PMs to terrorism. They should condemn this more strictly than we are. Jaitley said associating Dr Ambedkar with separatists like Afzal is sacrilege. Jailty quoted.

Full text of Railway Budget speech 2016 and other budget documents

February 25, 2016

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    Launch of unreserved, superfast trains, Antyodaya Express & Deen Dayalu coaches illustrate our unwavering commitment to serving the poor.


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    A passenger centric without any fare hike. यात्री की गरिमा, रेल की गति

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    Our efforts to comprehensively transform railways will gain even more momentum with this development oriented .

Full text of Railway Budget speech 2016 and other budget documents

Indian economy for dummies — S Gurumurthy

February 25, 2016

NaMo, MUDRA Bank has to succeed as SabkaVikas fulcrum. Remove the RBI bottlenecks.


Indian Economy for Dummies

Published: 18th February 2016 04:46 AM

Last Updated: 20th February 2016 09:50 AM


It’s that time of the year when ‘experts’ throw around intimidating economic jargon to ‘advise’ the government and ostensibly enlighten us all on what’s wrong with our economy. Starting today, we bring to you well-known commentator on political and economic affairs S Gurumurthy’s three-part series, Indian Economy for Dummies, to make the subject intelligible and less intimidating. In the first part, he lays bare hidden truths behind some obvious facts that are the most difficult to detect and missed in the Indian economic discourse, policy and budget-making.

Truths hidden in facts about India that are obvious to the naked eye are missed in Indian economic discourse and budget-making. Do you know that the share of corporate sector in national GDP is just about 15% after drawing Rs 18 lakh crore credit? And that it created just 2.8 million jobs? The informal sector on the other hand generates 90 per cent of jobs in India

>>Related: Indian Economy for Dummies – II

Obvious fact, hidden truth

Look at some of the obvious facts about the Indian economy. Household savings have been rising post-liberalisation despite average interest rates falling since the 1990s. Most of household savings get into low-yielding bank deposits even though the Indian stock market has been growing at a compounded rate of 14 per cent a year since 1991. The growth in Indian per capita spending is slower as compared to the rising per capita income despite the intense consumerist agenda powered by liberalisation. Indian households trust banks, gold and properties and not stocks as much. Indian public and private — domestic and foreign, listed and unlisted — corporates put together improved their share of national GDP from a mere 12% in 1991 to a mere 15% — by just 3% in over two decades of a policy regime that red-carpeted the corporates, particularly foreign. The share of listed corporates in the national GDP is just about 5% even now. And the share of the companies figuring in the Sensex is minuscule. These obvious facts hide some basic truths about the Indian economy. But economists tend not to see the hidden truth behind obvious facts. They even blame the obvious facts for the economic ills of India. They fault Indians for not investing in stocks and for not producing risk capital. Indians invest in gold, thus making their savings unproductive, they charge. And yet, they turn blind to the under-performance of corporates altogether. Hidden truths behind obvious facts are the most difficult to detect. Because unless one asks why it is so, the truth behind the obvious will remain hidden. Only critical minds can ask why and get at the truth — like only Isaac Newton did not blame the apple for falling but asked why apples were falling and brought out the truth of gravitational pull hidden in the obvious fact of the falling apple. The truths hidden in facts about India that are obvious to the naked eye are missed in Indian economic discourse. And therefore in policy and budget making in India. The elitist nature of the guild of economists in India, who look to the West for handling the problems of India, is the reason for their ignorance about the hidden truth behind obvious facts.

>>Related: Is Selling PSBs to Foreigners Rajan’s Agenda?

Insulated, arrogant

The profession of economists had become so respectable in the 20th century West that economists became more respected than elected leaders, who even fear them. After the 2008 crisis, The Economist magazine [July 19-24, 2009] wrote, “On the public stage, economists were seen as far more trustworthy than politicians” but added, “in the wake of the biggest economic calamity in 80 years that reputation had taken a beating. In the public mind, the arrogant profession has been humbled.” But despite that, economists still have an intimidating influence over politicians. But who are economists and what is economics? Decades ago [1973] J K Galbraith, a celebrated economist himself and a diplomat, wrote that economic services are ‘ideological’ and ‘consist in instructing several hundred thousand students every year’; the instruction is ‘inefficient’ but nevertheless ‘implants imprecise, but serviceable, set of ideas’ in the minds ‘of even those who are opposed to it’; they are ‘led to accept what they might otherwise criticise’. Galbraith concluded: “As such, it serves as a surrogate for the reality for legislators, civil servants, journalists, television commentators, professional prophets, — all, indeed, who speak, write or act on economic questions”.  The subject of economics and the guild of economists could not have been demystified more eloquently. What Galbraith meant is that the profession of economists is an oligarchy which perpetuates its own agenda by enforcing conformity within, not just to dominate over the elected political system, but to direct the whole public discourse. Is it not time then that the subject, economics, which has been monopolised by a self-perpetuating set of experts, is demystified, made less intimidating and less elitist? Is it not time that all intelligent people are made to understand the hidden truth behind obvious facts? The popular book series ‘For Dummies’, which claims to present non-intimidating guides for readers new to different subjects, deals with all subjects under the sun. With more than 200 million books sold, the series now covers over 2,700 titles, but surprisingly the subject of economics is not one of them! Therefore, economics for dummies is long overdue. Here is a first edition of it — an essay on Indian economy for dummies to start with. Just take one obvious and undisputed fact and see how the economic establishment looks the other way.

Jobless corporate growth

A study [July 2013] by Credit Suisse Asia Pacific India Equity Research Investment Strategy revealed that after more than two decades of economic liberalisation, the share of the formal sector, (namely the public and private corporate sectors together) in national GDP stood at just 15 per cent and that of listed corporates was just 5 per cent. Despite all the pampering by the government and economists, the formal sector’s share of the nation’s GDP improved by just 3 per cent in more than two decades. In this period, the sector had received foreign investment by debt and equity of over $550 billion and also drew over Rs 18 lakh crore from banks as credit. But how many jobs did it add in this period? Believe it, just 2.8 million! Economists would never mention the huge investment into the formal sector nor the insignificant number of jobs added by it, so that they need not answer either why it produced such jobless growth or ask who else provided the jobs. When I brought this to his notice, a shocked N R Narayanamurthy told me that as the software sector itself had added 3.5 million jobs, it meant that the rest of the corporate sector had actually cut jobs by over 700,000, rather than adding any. Did any economist or prime minister ever speak this hard truth that the big corporates do not provide jobs to the people? Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke this truth when he unveiled the Mudra finance scheme to the non-corporate sector on April 9, 2015. He said: “People think it’s big industries and corporate houses that provide higher employment. The truth is, only 12.5 million people are employed by big corporates, against 120 million by MSME sector.” He reiterated it when he wrote to small businessmen on April 15, 2015.

Unfunded job rich sector

And where from then did the jobs and people’s livelihood come? The Credit Suisse study says that 90 per cent of the total of 474 million jobs in India is generated by the non-corporate sector which contributes half the national GDP. The study labels this sector in the global language as the informal sector. But it adds that unlike in the West, where the informal sector is largely an illegal sector, in India it is legal business which remains informal only because the government has been unable to reach out to it. The Economic Census (2013-14) says that some 57.7 million non-farming and non-construction businesses yield 128 million jobs. The census classifies them as Own Account Enterprises (OAEs), implying it is self-employment. The census finds that over 60 per cent of OAEs are run by entrepreneurs belonging to Other Backward Castes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes; more than half the OAEs and as many jobs provided by them are in rural areas; and nine out of 10 OAEs are unregistered. But this sector, which ensures both social justice and is rich in generating jobs, gets just 4 per cent of its credit needs from the formal banking system and the rest at usurious rates of interest. Here is a paradox. The banks fund corporates which add very little jobs. They are unable to fund the OAEs which generate ten times the jobs the corporates provide.

Citing the Credit Suisse study, The Economist magazine (August 2013) wrote that the best way the Indian informal economy may be formalised is to provide formal finance to them. The capital employed in the 57.7 million units is about Rs 11.4 lakh crore, according to the Economic Census. This informal (cash) financing takes place outside the formal monetary system supervised by the Reserve Bank. The Mudra finance scheme is based on the experience that banks cannot fund this sector. It has devised an innovative method of associating existing large Non Banking Finance Companies providing finance to this sector as National and State Level Coordinators and the small ones as Last Mile Lenders. Without co-opting the existing non-formal finance players, the OAEs cannot be funded.

This innovative effort is being effectively thwarted by a warped bureaucracy — Reserve Bank and the Department of Financial Services acting together. They are effectively scuttling the new Mudra Law promised in the 2015-16 Budget to institute the new financing model. Their objection is that if informal financing is formalised, that would add to the systemic risk. Is allowing close to Rs 12 lakh crore sub-monetary cash economy sourced in black and illegal monies to operate and gain interest rates ranging from 24 to 360 per cent, distorting formal savings, investment, and interest rates not systemic risk? Will the Raghuram Rajans and Department of Financial Services answer? Result, the Prime Minister’s Mudra finance scheme is being delayed, if not stymied by professionals who just want to keep their CV good for their career progress within the guild of economists.

In the second of a three-part series on the Indian economy ahead of the presentation of the Union Budget, well-known commentator on political and economic affairs, S Gurumurthy argues that the Indian family’s instinct to save in banks rather than spend at stores, which is similar to that of Japanese families, has insulated the economy from global crises. However, this cultural aspect has not been given due consideration when it comes to policy and budget-making efforts in the country. This, he explains, is due to the Western bias of Indian economists.

Domestic Impulses

Recall the economic discourse in the 1990s when, threatened by a forex crisis and nearly defaulting on its external debts, India liberalised its economy to allow free foreign investment and foreign trade. The nation was told then that as Indians did not save enough, the economy did not generate adequate capital, and therefore foreign investment was needed for growth. Emphasis was also laid on exports and foreign trade as the main drivers of growth. Looking back from the vantage point of 25 years of liberalisation, it is self-evident now that foreign investment has played but only a secondary role in the Indian growth story. The Indian economy grew primarily through domestic savings, which rose from 21 per cent of GDP in 1991-92 to as high as 37 per cent of GDP in 2009 and now hovers around 31 per cent. Domestic capital formation rose from 22 per cent in 1991-92 to a high of over 38 per cent in 2011-12.

Besides, it is not export but household consumption, close to 60 per cent, which was the mainstay of the nation’s growth. (In contrast, household consumption in China is around 36 per cent, which implies the disproportionately high external dependence of China.) Net foreign investment in India during two decades of liberalisation averaged around 3 per cent of national investment. Foreign investment mainly funded external deficit more than development within. Domestic impulses — in terms of both investment and demand — were therefore the core factors in the Indian growth story, the external forces being additives, though not unimportant. The world began taking notice of India as a domestically driven economy. Additionally, the Global Entrepreneur Monitor Study (2002) found that India (18 per cent) was ahead of China (12 per cent) and US (11 per cent) in entrepreneurship. This helped brand India as entrepreneur-led. But the Indian-establishment economists would still underplay the domestic impulses and speak and celebrate only the role of the external drivers in the Indian growth story.

Stable Families

What is often, if not totally, missed in the Indian discourse, and in the budget making, is the undeniable fact that the household sector is the strongest and stablest component of the Indian economy. Family savings rose from 16 per cent of GDP in 1991-92 to a high of  25 per cent in 2009-10. This is because of the relation-based cultural life that marks India out from the contract-based individualist West. Except for a fraction of ultra-westernised Indians, family is not a contract to live together, terminable at will. It is an integrated cultural institution of mutually dependent persons bound by relationships of caring and sharing. It takes care of the elderly and the infirm, the ill and the jobless, which constitutes its propensity to save. In most of the West, family functions have been taken over by the State through social and health security, which, in substance, means nationalising families.

The families being rid of their relational responsibilities, their propensity to save weakened and consequently the household savings in US which was 80 per cent of US national savings in 1960 nosedived to minus 20 per cent in the third quarter of 2006. Savings turned just a subject of personal choice of the atomised individual and ceased to be a cultural, filial responsibility. The sense of duty to the near and dear, more than one’s own rights, which is inherent in Indian family culture acts as the bulwark against the unbridled individualism of the modern West. It needs no seer to say that culturally India belongs to Asia, not Europe or America. As Barry Bosworth of the Brookings Institution wrote, in Asia savings are dynastic, not personal. The idea of a rational economic man, who acts only in his self-interest, does not apply to Asia or India where filial relations undermine self-interest.

As families in the West were nationalised, traditional government functions like water supply, road building and public utilities, began to be privatised. Significantly, in the US, nationalisation of families and privatisation of government went hand in hand from around the late 1970s. Liberal economic policies, largely imported from the US, have not been able to change the cultural behaviour of Indian families. This was brought out in the Economic Survey 2007-8 (see page 3 Table 1.2/para 1.4). The income-consumption-saving for the period 1981-2 to 2007-8, which covered 10 years of command economy and 16 years of liberal economy demonstrated that the ratio of spending to savings declined from 64 per cent in 1991-2 to 58 per cent in 2007-8 — implying that Indian families have defied consumerist trends encouraged by new economic policies. Noting this fact, the Survey says, “The average growth of consumption is slower than that average growth of income primarily because of rising savings rates.” It concludes: “Year to year changes in consumption also suggest that the rise in consumption is more gradual and steady process, as any sharp changes in income tend to get adjusted in savings rate.”

The behavioural model of Indian households has a lesson for policy makers — that is, shopping is not, and cannot become, central to Indian families. But, in the US, as the famous American anthropologist Marshall Sahlins says  shopping is the culmination of modernity. When an Indian household gets extra income it does not go straightaway to the shops. It saves rather than spends it. If the Pay Commission report is implemented, it will not cause instant inflation as the RBI governor seems to fear. This cultural differential is missed in the economic discourse and therefore in policy-making in India.

Similar to Japan, not US

Indian families, generally like Asian ones and particularly like the Japanese, are hooked to banks as the preferred savings vehicle. The bank deposits to GDP ratio in India was 34 per cent in 1992, and is over 70 per cent now — doubling as a proportion of GDP. The Indian stock market yielded a compounded annual return of 14 per cent between 1991 and 2015. Despite that the people have queued up before banks to deposit their savings. The share of equities in the total savings stood at less than 2 per cent in seven out of the 11 years (2004 to 2014). It exceeded 3 per cent only in three years (2007 to 2008) when there was an unprecedented boom in the stock markets. In the four years ending fiscal 2014, the share of stocks in national savings has been less than 2 per cent.

Elite economic thinkers often fault Indian families, which seek safe investment models, as backward and unenlightened. Some even fault them for saving too much. In early 1990s, Dr Jagdish Bhagwati, the India-born US economist, advised the Indian government to make policies to cut family savings by half so their consumption spend would rise. Fortunately, Indian families defied his advice. Actually, as their incomes expanded, Indian families ramped up their savings but maintained their moderate consumption. They lived within their incomes and hardly borrowed to spend. This alone insulated India from the contagion effect of the global crisis in 2008. Had Indian families followed the prescription of experts, they would not have saved as much as they did, which dramatically increased the national investment and GDP. Nor would they have avoided debts that would have risked and even bankrupted them. Indian families compare favourably with Japanese households which too are habituated to save and, like Indians, are also addicted to keeping their savings in banks, not in risky stocks. The economists of the West used to deride the Japanese financial system as inefficient for this reason. But when the monetary crisis hit the West, the Bank of Japan had the last laugh and proudly claimed that the Japanese financial system was safe and sound unlike the Western.

In a paper published in the Bank of International Settlements Site (BIS paper no 46, May 2009) two officials of the Bank of Japan (Shinobu Nakagawa and Yosuke Yasui) wrote: “The average Japanese household has a financial balance sheet that is far more conservative” than that of households in West, with “cash and deposits” representing “half of total financial assets”. In contrast, the ratio for US households is only 16 per cent and in Europe, about one-fourth to one-third. The authors asked, “Why do Japanese households prefer deposits so much over more risky financial assets” when other financial instruments are well-developed and heavily traded in Japan, unlike in some other Asian markets? They answered, “the elderly Japanese were educated to believe that saving through bank deposits was a virtue”. They went on to assert “that the Japanese household sector, far from being a shock originator, is rather a shock absorber” even as they admitted that the risk is therefore “concentrated in the Japanese banking system”, which “continues to be a matter to resolve.”

This is precisely the Indian situation. The risk of financing business is on the Indian banks like it is on the banks in Japan. The Japanese banks, like the Indian ones, also have the same issue of Non-Performing Assets. How they handle the NPA problem will be relevant to India. But the RBI, prone to looking at the West, ignores the Japanese parallel, which is nearer to the Indian filial and financial system. With the result that the RBI is strangulating the Indian economy by applying Western standards when the nation is struggling to come out of almost a decade of economic destruction by the UPA, particularly UPA II. This is a topic by itself.

The author is a well-known commentator on economic and political affairs.


If news reports are to be believed, the Finance Ministry seems to be caving in to the RBI strategy to sell Public Sector Banks and is raising the limits of FDI in banks to 49% — thus virtually paving the way for handing the PSBs, which are at the heart of the national economy, to global financial interests. If the RBI Governor succeeds, it will be a disaster for India.

PSBs, the core

An obvious truth, but, that hardly figures in public discourse, is that Indian financial economy is bank-driven — more precisely, it is Public Sector Bank (PSB) centric. Economic thinkers and policy makers seem to regard the PSBs as a problem, rather than as the most valuable financial asset of Indian economy. It is undeniable that banking in India almost means PSBs, which hold 80% of the deposits of commercial banks. As the Indian economic establishment looks at only the Anglo-Saxon economies, which are market-driven — read equity market — they do not seem to be conscious that the world’s most efficient economy, Germany, too is largely bank-led. Yet another equally efficient economy, Japan, is also equally dominantly bank-led. In both Germany and Japan, unlike in the US or England, stock markets do not have primacy — either to mobilise capital or to distribute it.

>>Related: Indian Economy for Dummies – I

Look at India’s financial structure. Nine-tenths of Indian savings is in safe investment models. More than half of it in banks. The deposits in PSBs amount to over 50% of the GDP. Besides mobilising four-fifths of deposits, PSBs are involved in building financial architecture for formalising the economy on a phenomenal scale, which the private banks cannot even think of. For example, PSBs have opened some 78% of the 20.7 crore accounts under the Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY).

With Regional Rural Banks accounting for 19% of the PMJDY accounts, private banks contributed just 3% of the accounts. The PSBs’ share of Mudra loans for micro businesses is 60%. Even though bank deposits yield just half as the stocks do, 40% of the Indian household savings move into banks. The celebrated stock market, which offers double the return as the banks, hardly attracts 2% of the nation’s savings. While the public prefer to put their savings in banks, they seem to have enduring trust in PSBs. The Indian economy is not just bank-led, it is PSBs-led. Yet, there is not a word about what good work the PSBs do or about their successes in the economic discourse.

   >>Related: Indian Economy for Dummies – II

Worse, the PSBs which are at the heart of the national economy are ceaselessly trivialised, derided and demeaned in the nation’s economic discourse. Their failings are highlighted and their merits suppressed. The dislike for PSBs appears more ideological — and less logical. The main objection to the PSBs is that they are state-owned.

The ideology is that if the PSB ownership is turned private, they will become efficient — because efficient market theory abhors public ownership. It needs no seer to say that the private global banks regarded as the biggest and the best in US had all but declared bankruptcy in 2008. They had to be rescued by government. Private ownership, while it may promote efficiency, does not assure solvency. In fact, their super efficiency itself led to bankruptcy.

Global banking complexity

Recently (Feb 16, 2016), Bloomberg wrote a chilling analytical story titled, “The European Banks face a frightening future”. They are all celebrated global banks — Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, UBS, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, UniCredit and Standard Chartered.

But they had laid off close to 75,000 employees since 2008. In 2008, the experts said that the crisis happened because of lack of regulation. According to Bloomberg, now the banks say that, “regulation has made the world more dangerous”. The chairman of the Eurogroup, made up of Euro area’s finance ministers, countered, “Don’t say we have over regulated the banks” adding that it is the opposite, as what is impeding economic recovery are “the effects of a financial crisis” which was “not caused by over regulation”.

The truth is that the banking industry in the West has become complex. The truth again is that they are struggling over how to become simple again! Say Bloomberg analysts: “In the end, the banking industry troubles can be traced to one thing — the cost of complexity. From the moment the banks went global in the late 1990s, skeptics decried these behemoths are too big to manage, let alone too big to fail. But the institutions thrived on the very creation of complexity in their products and in the markets.”

Former Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Achermann said, “There’s once again a flight to simplicity. That is what the regulators are demanding… The unbundling of banking services is undoubtedly complicated and perhaps even fraught with unseen dangers. And it is really all about getting back to basics.” There is a message for India in the Bloomberg report. What is the problem of these banks? They are not banks as the Indian economy or people or law understand. Indian law defines banking as “accepting for the purpose of lending or investment of deposits of money from the public”. This is simple banking. If these global giants, who had complicated the idea of banking and messed up themselves, their and world economy, bought out the PSBs, would they manage them better? Or mess them up as they have messed up themselves?

Sledge hammer approach

The RBI is applying the Basel banking norms developed for the complex banking business of the West on the Indian banking system which is simple but highly regulated. Applying Western banking norms for provisioning for Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) in Indian banks is to apply the rules of the rogue Western game of Rugby for the simple local game of Kabaddi. One simple differential is sufficient to show how inappropriate are the provisioning rules of Western banking to Indian banks. The provisioning rules are intended to ensure that depositors and investors are protected.

The Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) and Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) together absorb and protect 27.5% of bank deposits. Actually, Indian banks’ investment is almost close to 30% in government securities. Therefore, over 35% of the bank deposits are protected by government securities. Nowhere in the world such actual security cover is available to depositors. Again, the Indian banks protect and de-risk themselves by personal guarantees and collaterals. None of these realities are reckoned by the RBI in devising its “sledge hammer approach”, as a leading banker described Raghuram Rajan’s fiat to banks — particularly PSBs — to provide for stressed assets or get lost.

RBI looks to West

What is the extent of NPAs which is making the RBI governor restless? A report in the Forbes magazine (Feb 16, 2016) says, quoting Credit Suisse, that the NPA levels of Indian banks would move to 6.6% by March. The Indian banks have reported much higher NPA levels in the past. NPAs remained around 8-9% from 2003 to 2011. Thereafter, it began declining — to 6.5% in 2012, 4.5% in 2013 and 4.9% in 2014. When the economy was doing very well between 2003 and 2011, the NPA levels have been far higher.

The sledge hammer approach should have been adopted then, when the banks and the economy could well have absorbed it. Nations pass through such phases. The NPAs in Japanese banks ranged from 8% to 9% in the 1990s till 2001 and it was 7.5%  in 2002 (BIS paper No 46 May 2009) and only thereafter, it began to fall. Despite the NPAs exceeding a $ trillion, the Bank of Japan did not take the sledge hammer in hand, like Rajan is doing.

The Japanese banks, which were all private, were not writing off bad loans because of inadequate capital — like the PSBs. Yet, the banks were not compelled to provide for bad loans, because that would have caused imminent crisis of confidence in the banking system. The government stepped in to support the banks with public funds to the extent of 30 trillion yen. Whenever private banks face crisis, the government becomes the ultimate saviour. This was true of the Japanese banking crisis of 1990s and of the US financial crisis of 2008. When the State steps in, confidence gets restored in private banking. That is not the case here. There are three critical differentials which are the protective walls of the Indian financial system and Indian economy.

First, there is no capital account convertibility which will expose Indian banking to global finance. Next, India has rightly not opened the banking system to foreign investment. Third, PSBs are state-owned. These three basic facts ensure that PSBs face no imminent threat. Threat to banks from NPAs is imminent when they are privately owned; they are open to foreign ownership and the currency is full convertible. Disregarding the basic strengths of the PSBs, Rajan appears to turn a prudential issue into a banking crisis. Would Rajan have taken the sledge hammer if the PSBs were privately owned? He would never have because that would have set off a banking crisis. Is he then doing it only because the PSBs are state-owned banks?

Design to sell PSBs to foreigners?

The RBI’s NPA policy appears to be more the outcome of an ideological accountant’s mindset than the product of a practical banker’s wisdom. When the world over, central banks are buying stressed assets and junk bonds held by banks to de-stress the banks and make them carry on their business, Rajan is doing precisely the opposite. He is coercing the banks to provide for NPAs, when he knows that they do not have the surplus to absorb the loss.

It means the banks will need to be recapitalised to the extent of losses. Here Rajan goes one step further and virtually makes it impossible for the government to recapitalise. He is morally coercing the government to meet the fiscal targets. That is not his domain. That is the sovereign business and Parliament’s function. He knows that if the government were to cut fiscal deficit, it cannot recapitalise the PSBs. Is he then compelling the government to privatise the PSBs? That is, forcing the government to sell them to foreign banks as the scale of capital needed to buy the PSBs is not available with private corporates in India.

If news reports are to be believed, the finance ministry seems to be caving in to the RBI strategy to sell PSBs and is raising the limits of FDI into banks to 49% — thus virtually paving the way for handing the PSBs to global financial interests. If Rajan succeeds, it will be a disaster for India. But it is bound to do good for Rajan, as the world of free market will idolise him for privatising and globalising the hardcore of Indian financial system — the PSBs. His CV will become the most sought after when he retires in the coming winter. Why then should he bother about what happens to India? But surely, the Modi government should be bothered about India. Isn’t it?

NaMo, ignore GST, nationalise kaalaadhan

February 24, 2016

Budget 2016: Common man and the Government

With the Union Budget just around the corner, what are the challenges faced by the government ?

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Budget – What is the common man looking for?

It is the season of union budget. This is the time of the year when dreams, hopes and expectations run high in the country. Starting with the average person on the street to the corporate scions, all sections of the society are looking forward to a slew of concessions from the union finance minister. The last working day of the month of February is one of the most crucial days of the year which could make or mar the dreams of millions of people for the next 365 days.

If the promises given by the former finance ministers while presenting the union budgets are to be taken seriously, the living standard of the common man should have gone up by leaps and bounds over the last few decades. There was this finance minister from Tamil Nadu who had no qualms in peppering his budget speeches with names of Bollywood blockbusters like Main Hoon Na? Chak De! India and what not. It is another matter that all his budget proposals ended up like rotten masalas and he himself is facing a series of criminal cases ranging from money laundering to official impropriety. He also ensured that the economy of the country has gone to the dogs.

The sad truth is that even after 69 years of independence, the life of the common man continues to rot. One has to struggle to meet three square meals a day and clean drinking water. This is despite the fact that the country is bestowed with some of the best rivers in the world through which billions of cubic feet of water is wasted into the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. States like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala are on  an eternal war over sharing of river water and lowering the height of dams which are more than 150 years old.

Travel by trains or buses in India is the most uncertain thing in the  world. There is no guarantee that you will reach the destination as per the schedule announced earlier. Rail tracks need to be replaced, while the condition of Indian highways is better leave unsaid. The only guarantee is the number of toll booths along the highways which are strict and sincere in collecting the boots.

The fair price shops in the country(also known as ration shops) which distribute essential commodities like rice, wheat, sugar and kerosene could be identified from a distance of one kilometre thanks to the foul smell emanating from the rice and wheat stock! The poor need to eat only this kind of stuff, say the bureaucrats. Isn’t it possible for us to have public distribution shops of the same standard as that of super markets which we see in modern shopping malls?

Shouldn’t we have buses and trains of global standards which travel much faster so that we could save our time and money? Shouldn’t we have super speciality hospitals which could be accessed by all irrespective of their financial standings? Shouldn’t we have educational institutions where our children could complete their formal and informal education at affordable costs?

These are the issues which have to be answered by the finance minister while he present the union budget for the year 2016 – 2017. The finance minister says Indian economy is strong and growing but also blames the Opposition for not helping the government to enact legislations in parliament. For the last one year, I have been reading the news that the country’s fortunes would undergo a change only if the government could get the Goods and Services Act  (GSA) passed in  Parliament. Since both the Congress and Communists have personal hatred for the Prime Minister, it is certain that they would not allow the government to pass either this legislation or any other law which may benefit the common man.

What is a matter of concern is the government’s excessive obsession with the GST Bill? This Bill has become a hostage in Sonia Gandhi’s hands. It is understandable also as she always considers the Prime Minister as Mauth Ka Saudagar (Merchant of Death). It is another thing that the poor lady does not know the meaning of the term because all has done is to read from the script in Italian language handed over to her by the likes of Aiyer and Anand Sharma. If only the Prime Minister agrees to bail her out of the corruption charges, the signora* will agree to help the government in the GST Bill imbroglio.

Is the GST Bill that important? (We will come to it in the next post…)



*signora – courtesy title for a married woman in an Italian-speaking area, equivalent to Mrs.

Is GST Bill that important for India or can Budget 2016 deliver more?

GST Bill’s importance is over-stated, according to economists.

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GST Bill's importance is over-stated, according to economists.
GST Bill’s importance is over-stated, according to economists.

Is the GST Bill  that important for India?

Is it possible for India to survive without the GST Bill? “The belief that the GST Bill is the ultimate solution about financial reforms is a bogus statement,” says Dr Srinivasan Kalyanaraman, a former banker with the Asian Development Bank who has witnessed the growth and downfall of many an economy. He pointed out that instead of wasting precious  time of the government, the finance minister should go for implementing the Govinda Rao committee report which suggested the merger of Central Excise and Services Taxes. “This could be distributed among the States as per the recommendations of the Financial Commission to the Government of India. The GST Bill is just a cover and all one has to do is to ignore it,” said Dr Kalyanaraman.

Dr Kalyanaraman, a PhD in public accounts, also wants the finance minister to simplify the tax regime. “Let’s have a single point tax system for the whole country”, he said.

The finance minister is also reported to have expressed his apprehensions about mobilisation of resources as he needs a lot of money for implementing the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission. India could be the biggest country in the world which has employed an army of civil servants. The politicians decide the quality of the government based on the number of people each government recruits to run government offices. The only beneficiaries in this process are the employees themselves because they get the best pay and perks for not doing any work. There is job guarantee, monthly pay packets and assured pension after the age of 60.

The union government can go on recruiting all the people in the country as government employees and pay them a consolidated monthly salary as it has the resources to do so without compromising on the security of the nation. The Kala Dhan or the black money kept in tax havens abroad is the solution for this problem. Why Indian money should be kept in foreign banks? It should be kept in Indian banks. This is one of the promises, made by the BJP and its star campaigner during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Though Modi did not boast that he would fill the bank accounts of the poor people with Rs 15 lakh each, he did assure that the black money stashed away in far off countries would be brought to India and used in the development process.

Ace lawyer Fali Nariman during his tenure as Rajya Sabha member had introduced a Private Member’s Bill for the restitution of the black money to India. It is self explanatory. Nariman’s proposal reads like this: “Steps should start with an enactment (maybe, an ordinance on the day the new Govt. assumes office) that all wealth held in foreign bank accounts, in excess of $100000 should be treated as nationalised and all the account holders’ money should be remitted to Reserve Bank of India with immediate effect thus bringing all these foreign currency monies into India’s financial system. The monies will be held in the accounts holders’ names and they will be given an opportunity to prove bona fide nature of the holdings”. .

Two steps to be initiated by the Government could resolve this issue permanently.

  1. Issue an ordinance the way Indira Gandhi nationalised private banks in 1969.
  2. All monies reverted to India’s financial system should belong to Indian citizens and the owners of the accounts would be given an opportunity to prove the bona fides of the holdings before further transactions are allowed in these accounts.

Aback of the paper calculation shows that a mind boggling $1.4 trillion is stashed away in foreign banks. “Bring it back to India and deploy the same in Mudra Scheme launched by the Prime Minister, the Make in India campaign and Insure the Farmers against crop failure . We can abolish the income tax altogether and earn the blessings of millions of poor people who have to pay the government a per cent from their hard earned savings.

The restitution of the Kala Dhan would also support the Swachh Bharat scheme of the Prime Minister, the National Water Grid and the project to Inter Link major Indian  Rivers. This is the time to unleash the economic potential of the country. There is the law passed by the Swiss Federation namely Restitution /Repayment of illicit wealth. Politically exposed persons are defined under the United Nations Law. The government of India could enact a law and bring back the Kala Dhan stashed away in tax havens abroad”, opines Dr Kalyanaraman who has literally made this campaign his life’s mission.

Jaitley is presenting his third union budget and this could be the last but one chance he is getting to earn the goodwill of the public of the country. If he is going to declare a series of infrastructure projects and welfare schemes, he needs money. Instead of selling off the family silver (which is also known as shares of public sector enterprises) he can mobilise more resources by taking steps to bring black money stored in foreign countries. Jaitley’s time has come and it is time he performed.
1. The conversion rate used in this article is 1 USD = 68.63 Rupees.
2. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.

Smriti Irani’s speech in Lok Sabha. Jeevema s’aradah s’atam, Smriti ji.

February 24, 2016

Smriti irani, smriti irani speech, smriti irani budget session, budget session live, smriti irani jnu, smriti irani rohith vemula, india newsHRD Minister Smriti Irani at Parliament House on Wednesday. (Source: PTI)

Blending emotion with aggression in a speech that had her invoking a Roman philosopher, accusing rivals of political opportunism over a “child’s death” and reading from anti-India posters in JNU, Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani pulled out all the stops Wednesday in Lok Sabha. She tried to defend the government against an opposition onslaught and her own handling of the situation in campuses across the country.

Referring to the attack on her following the death of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad University after her ministry wrote letters to the university authorities, Irani said “mujhe suli pe chadhaya jaa raha hai kyunki mere vibhaag ne patra likha (I am being hanged because my ministry wrote the letter)”.

She trained her guns on the Congress: “Rahul Gandhi made the most of the opportunity and visited the hostel twice, something which he had never done before. Have you ever seen him visiting the same place twice? Did he do the same when 600 students died in the Telangana movement? Rohith blamed no one, yet Rahul tried to use this child as a political tool. The child in his suicide note said that no one is responsible for my death, yet you seek to use this child for your own political ends.”

“People who espouse the cause of free speech and attack this government, who say we are anti-minority, anti-Dalit, anti-tribal and time and again, they’ve been requested to not make it ‘us against them’. I am not certifying your patriotism, but do not demean mine. I am not certifying your idea of India, but do not demean mine.”

Irani rejected the allegation that Vemula was forced to commit suicide because he was persecuted by the university authorities and the central government since he was a Dalit. “My name is Smriti Irani. I challenge you to ask my caste.” She said she would speak her mind and not take the refuge in the fact that she is “married to a micro minority” community member.

She even quoted Cicero to say that “a traitor within the gates is worse than a murderer”.

Her speech drew praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi who tweeted “satyamev jayate” along with the video of her speech. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who spoke after Irani, said any amount of praise for her would not be enough.

Under opposition fire for slapping sedition charges on JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar, Singh said the issue should be left to the courts to decide. “If police are right, the courts will justify that. If police are wrong, then the court can discharge them.” Describing JNU as a centre of excellence, he said the government never called it an “anti-national centre”.

Earlier, while taking on the opposition, Irani invoked her motherhood and called herself a victim of opposition politics. She alleged she was being targeted by the Congress for her electoral fight against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi in the last Lok Sabha election. The opposition was outraged when Irani picked on Ranjeet Ranjan for laughing while she was speaking. Her remarks that MPs including Ranjan had approached her for admissions in Kendriya Vidyalayas had opposition MP rushing to the well of the House, seeking an apology.

As the Congress, TMC, Left and NCP walked out, Irani said: “I will not seek forgiveness for doing my duty… you never wanted to listen to my reply.”

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan reminded her it was part of the minister’s duty and asked her not to be emotional. Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu came to her rescue, saying Irani had become emotional because questions were raised on her authority to write letters to the university.

Earlier, BJP MP Anurag Thakur also targeted Rahul Gandhi over the JNU issue. Questioning him for not visiting the families of those killed on the border, Thakur said: “Your leader goes and stands by those who support Afzal Guru… You did not go to the house of the martyred Inspector (who died in the Batla House encounter). Rahul Gandhi also could not go. But he went to JNU… Tell us, who are you standing for? Afzal Guru or those who protected Parliament House (in the 2001 attack)?”

Alleging that outfits named by the previous UPA government as “frontal organisations” of Maoists had support in JNU, Thakur said: “I want to ask Soniaji, why your young leader was standing with those who stand with Afzal Guru… for the Congress party, it is family first, party next and nation last. For us, it is nation first, party next and family last.”

– See more at:


Emotional Smriti Irani delivers fiery speech in Lok Sabha, gives apt reply on Rohith Vemula’s suicide, JNU (Watch video)
Human Resource Development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani went all gun blazing agianst Congress led Opposing, who have been accusing the union minister of saffronising education system in India.
By News Desk on February 24, 2016 at 9:09 PMEmail

New Delhi, Feb 24: Human Resource Development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani went all gun blazing agianst Congress led Opposing, who have been accusing the union minister of saffronising education system in India. Smriti Irani lost her cool while replying to Opposition’s allegations and expressed extreme anguish. First, Smriti Irani got in heated discussion with BSP supremo Mayawti in Rajya Sabha over Hyderabad University student Rohith Vemula’s suicide.
When Mayawati raised the issue of Vemula’s suicide, and blamed the central government for it and asked if the committee probing the incident had a Dalit member, visibly agitated Irani first challenged BSP leader Satish Chandra Misra. ”Talk face to face Satish ji, I am ready to reply,” Irani said. ”Mayawati ji, I request, you are a senior member and a woman, you want an answer, I am ready to reply. If you are not satisfied with my answer, I will cut my head and put it in your feet,” the minister said. (ALSO READ: Smriti Irani hits back at Opposition during JNU debate in Lok Sabha; Congress stages walkout)

The aggressive behaviour of Smriti Irani continued in Lok Sabha where she bashed Congress leader and opposition parties for for allegedly introducing an anti-Hindu propaganda in the nation’s education curriculum. She articulated reasons why the Government cracked down on JNU students Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and their associates.
“Rahul Gandhi makes baseless allegations that BJP government has appointed RSS-linked Vice Chancellors as part of our agenda to saffronize the education curriculum. I would challenge him today. At least 16 VCs in Central Universities are those who were appointed during the erstwhile Congress rule. If anyone of them could prove that I have launched a saffronisation campaign in the education sector, I would quit public life forever.” she said.

Gen. Malik, Please tell the nation what Barkha did at Kargil — Jay Bhattacharjee

February 24, 2016

Jay Bhattacharjee writes an open letter to  former Army chief General Malik who led the army in 1999 during the Kargil war. Read on…


General V.P. Malik (Retd.)
Former Chief of Army Staff
Panchkula (Haryana)

Dear General Malik : 23 February 2016

Sir, please allow me to state up front, that I have been (and will continue to be) one of your admirers for a number of reasons. The first one, of course, is that, from Sept.1997 to Sept.2000, you commanded a 1.4 million strong Army that has protected and guarded our young Republic (which is, at the same time, an ancient and venerable civilisation) with the utmost commitment, valour and loyalty. For almost the entire Indian population (barring a minuscule minority), the nation’s armed forces are the most admired and venerated institution by a thousand miles (please pardon the hyperbole). No other institution comes anywhere remotely close, in this contest.

The other reasons are personal. You have a natural dignity, composure, sang froid, and articulateness that are exemplary. Truly befitting a military leader. Then, of course, it is a matter of record that you led the Army to resounding victory (at an incredible cost) in a war that had everything stacked against it. This does not take away the magnificent contribution of our air warriors, the men in blue, who carried out very difficult operations to support their OG comrades. Your famous statement that the armed forces would do their best with whatever equipment and resources they had at their disposal, is still etched in my mind and brings back painful memories when I think of the Kargil war.

However, the reason why I am penning this letter to you is because of certain developments that are not of your doing. The provocation is the “open” letter sent a few days ago by a prominent Indian journalist, Barkha Dutt, to the Prime Minister. The communication has been uploaded on the internet portal of the media house where Ms. Dutt works (

As you can see, the title of this article is deliberately provocative and eye-catching. Nothing wrong in this, per se, since the media in our shores and in other countries derives its bread and butter from self-generated publicity, whether in the form of TRPs for TV programmes or the number of “likes” / “shares” for a written piece. However, the latest salvo of Ms. Dutt (BD) needs to be closely scrutinised and assessed. Please permit me, dear General, to spell out the broader concerns I have with this piece, before I come to the thrust of my letter to you.

.It is a matter of enormous mystery to me (and countless others) how BD and her employer company have survived, let alone prospered. If you remember, and I am sure you do, the episode of the Nira Radia tapes and how BD and her shenanigans were mercilessly exposed, you will surely ask yourself how this person continues in public life. In any other civilized, democratic country, she would have been hung out to dry and banished to the 4th Estate’s version of Siberia, to live in oblivion. In fact, BD’s shameless shenanigans were briefly featured in a crudely-crafted “apology” on her own channel and she was seamlessly “rehabilitated” in her job, where she continues till today. If anything, she has prospered and flourished, and her amour-propre has gone up in geometric progression. It is only in good old Bharat (and in some tin-pot banana Republics like North Korea, Haiti and some Islamic dictatorships) that miracles like this happen.

The present essay by BD fits squarely in her trademark mould. Using all the tricks that her profession has taught her, she projects herself as a fearless defender of civil rights, free speech, right to dissent etc. The backdrop for her article is the JNU saga and all its nuances. I am not going into the intricacies of her piece in this letter to you, since I believe the Prime Minister and his colleagues are quite capable of rebutting BD’s disingenuousness and intellectual sleights of hand. Because, I now propose to come to the reason why I am writing to you and why I need you to respond. Mea culpa for the rather longish preface, but I am sure you will pardon me.

What bothers me deeply is that, in this latest brouhaha, BD, once again, has projected her “veer senani” image of a fearless warrior and admirer of the country’s armed forces. Her purple prose would have you believe that her Kargil experience in 1999 “and the intimacy and immediacy of that overwhelming exposure would make me a life-long admirer of our military. “ In fact, BD gives the distinct impression in her epistle to the PM that she played a vital role in the entire Kargil war. She compounds her crime when she extols herself in her latest book, This Unquiet Land – Stories From India’s Fault Lines (2016) and involves you directly. She, as is herwont, goes on the attack fearlessly and takes the figurative bull by the horns. This is where you come in directly, dear General.

BD, on page iv of this book, refers to the “venomous whispers” about her conduct when she was covering the Kargil war and claims that when you gave her an appointment after the war, you complimented her about her performance and even said that she (BD) was a “force-multiplier”. As far as her use of a satellite phone (an Iridium instrument) was concerned, she quotes you as telling her that others (including some persons in the Army) had the same satellite phones and more importantly, the Pakistani military did not have the capability of monitoring these satellite phones. She puts you in the centre podium by claiming that you have confirmed this conversation with her in your own memoirs of the Kargil war.

This puts the whole thing in a new perspective. The fact is that all sources verify that BD was the only journalist in the war zone who had a satellite phone. Also, the number of satellite phones with the Indian army was limited to a few senior-most officers who were not in the conflict zone. Therefore, the chances of BD’s satphone being the one tracked by the Pakistanis are very high. The errors of commission and omission, of which BD is accused of, are extremely serious. After the Dy. Brigade Commander at Drass, Colonel David, briefed BD on the progress of the actual assault on Tiger Hill, BD is reported to have gone live immediately. Indian intercepts of Pakistani military messages indicate that the Pakistani rear commanders immediately alerted their troops on top of Tiger Hill to redirect .their fire in the direction of the Indian soldiers who were climbing Tiger Hill. About 14-20 of our soldiers were massacred by this deadly fire and died on the ropes they were using to climb their target.

There is another incident pertaining to BD that has been talked about for years. When doing a recording outside the Brigade HQ gate, her cameraman switched on a light fitted on the camera to illuminate her – helmet, mike and all. This was the trademark image of BD that she and her employers mercilessly capitalised on,  for many years after the war. A few seconds later, having said that she was reporting from 56 Brigade HQ, BD and her team moved out. After about five minutes or so, Pakistani artillery saturated the area with a barrage, after having got a fix on the light. A small STD booth at the gate took a direct hit, killing an officer and three jawans from 17 Garhwal Rifles, who were present there at the time.

I am reproducing all the old reports, because they have not been satisfactorily explained. Neither have they been investigated with the seriousness and rigour that were called for. As a result, BD has got away scot free and, worse, projected herself in a light that may not be accurate at all. Do not forget, General, that the Kargil war was her launch pad. And I am afraid, you have not been altogether kosher with the Indian public, your comrades in the army and your conscience. You have not seriously investigated the reported offences and misdemeanours of BD. To start with, when on the 6th July 1999, our Army intercepted the conversations between Pakistani troops dug in at Tiger Hill and their rear HQ, you were furious with NDTV and BD. You immediately directed XV Corps HQ to issue a signal asking the entire press corps to leave the region.

As it transpired, this blanket order was quietly withdrawn a few hours later because of Lt General Arjun Ray (in charge of the Army’s media cell) who persuaded you not to penalise the entire press corps because of BD’s crime. You and the Army took no action against BD. A year after the war, when NDTV went into overdrive about their Kargil coverage, you and the Army again kept quiet. This omerta continues till today, even when BD refers to your accolades about her in her latest (2016) book. You, clearly are not the only one responsible for the relentless rise of BD. Your Army comrade Mohinder Puri, too, did not hesitate to seek encomiums from BD at his book release function. Neither can Shiv Kunal Verma, from an old military family, resist the temptation to have BD as one of the chief invitees at his book launch.

Dear General, as an officer of the Sikh Light Infantry, you are surely aware of Guru Gobind Singh’s prayer to Lord Shiv when he seeks the courage to do the right thing :

Dehi Shiva Bar Mohe Ihe, Shubh Karman Se Kabhun Na Taron.
Na Daron Ari Son Jab Jai Laron,
Nischey Kar Apni Jeet Karon.
(O God Shiva, give me this boon,
That I never desist from doing good deeds
I be fearless when I fight the enemy
And that I certainly attain victory)

As a son-in-law of the Punjab, it is my honour to invoke Guru Gobind Singh. But, finally, I have to conclude with Gurudev’s words, since BD has had the chutzpah to quote Tagore in her letter to the PM. The last Renaissance figure the world has seen, says it all about doing the right thing in life :

অন্যায় যে করে আর অন্যায় যে সহে

 তব ঘৃণা যেন তারে তৃণসম দহে।

(The one who commits a wrong and the one who tolerates wrong- doing, may they both be engulfed by the fire of your contempt)

Jay Bhattacharjee MA(Cantab), FCS
Advisor (Corporate Laws & Finance)

Playing cards: muslim, intolerance — Anupam Kher

February 24, 2016

Why shouldn’t we challenge calls for India’s ruin?…Umar Khalid’s playing Muslim card…intolerance is an anti-Modi ploy: Anupam Kher

February 24, 2016, 1:13 AM IST

Acclaimed actor Anupam Kher is amongst signatories to an open letter condemning slogans against India and support for terrorists. Speaking with Rohit E David, Kher discussed why he thinks expression in universities needs a crucial curb, free speech as represented by Arvind Kejriwal, an ‘intolerance’ conspiracy against PM Modi – and how JNU student Umar Khalid might be playing a certain card:

Aren’t universities meant to be places for free and open debate?

Absolutely, they are places for open debates and freedom of speech – but not for people shouting slogans against India.

Universities are the place where we formulate the future of India. This is the youth which will form a free India – but if those places become hubs for certain students where they form views like those heard recently at JNU, then i think it needs to be looked into.

Students are usually irreverent – are we being over-sensitive now?

There is nothing called being oversensitive when it comes to an issue about India’s ruin.

Why is patriotism being questioned in a manner like this?

JNU student Umar Khalid says he’s never thought like a Muslim but he’s been pushed into this identity now – what’s your view?

He is playing the Muslim card by saying, ‘I’m Umar Khalid and i’m not a terrorist.’ This is a headlinegrabbing line.

For that matter, the person who is in jail right now, his name is not Umar Khalid – his name is Kanhaiya who represents one of our Gods, Lord Krishna. But he’s there.

Why have things become so polarised today?

Well, we were ruled by a certain party for a long time. Today, the people ruling this country for 60 years have been thrashed badly by a different party.

Now, we have Prime Minister Narendra Modi who does not take leave. I have never read that the PM has gone for a holiday to Kullu Manali or Kashmir. He spends his Diwali with jawans. He’s made two very important points with the Clean India campaign and toilets for women. We haven’t heard of corruption issues either during the last two years.

He is trying his level best to change India’s image outside India – and he’s succeeded to a large extent. I’m a person who travels a lot, i have seen that.

So, how do we counter him? By creating a situation saying that he is intolerant or that under his rule, the country has become intolerant – let’s discredit him by saying that his policies have failed.

But amidst the noise, activist Soni Sori has actually been attacked – instead of being silent, should the PM set an example by reaching out now?

I think what happened to Soni Sori is very shameful and sad. However, do we question the Prime Minister’s integrity if he has not commented on it? And how do we know that he has not reached out?

We had a Prime Minister for the last 10 years who didn’t answer anything – he was called the silent PM. Now, anything happens in the country, Modi should be held responsible. We have a chief minister in Delhi who openly calls the PM of the country a psychopath and coward – what is the biggest freedom of speech you need in this country?

Despite freedom of speech, do you feel Congress stayed silent on the Kashmiri Pandits’ plight?

Everybody stayed silent. I don’t want to blame any political party – all parties kept mum.

Kashmiri Pandits have quietly moved on. They have not picked up guns, not planted bombs, not resorted to violence. They’re still going through misery – but Pandits are resilient and aren’t a vote bank.

Some people have written that Anupam Kher has woken up to this now – but i was at the first Kashmiri Pandit refugee conference which happened in 1993.

We are living examples of being refugees in our own country.

Does the concept of secularism need a new look?

Well, these words ‘secularism’ or ‘intolerance’ are basically coined by certain sections of intellectuals. I’m in an industry where secularism is the most amazing thing. I’ve never felt that my light boy is from one religion or camera man is from another religion. Three Khans ruled this industry for the last 20 years, based on their hard work.

I think this turmoil is social churning – and solutions will come out of it.