Friday, December 19, 2008

Lesson for Democracy….

Who said the scourge of corruption is rampant only in public sector and mostly amongst politicians? Here’s is a case in the corporate world that shocked thousands of investors in the capital market. Satyam Computer Services Ltd , fourth largest software services company promoted by B.Ramalinga Raju, is said to have breached the trust of its investors by making a decision to invest whooping amount of Rs.6000 crores in a company in which the promoter and his family members jointly own a major stake. This is much like taking a huge sum kept under public trust and enriching the pockets of the promoters and his kith and kin. The Board of Directors of the company approved the investment decision without considering other available options. One wonders if this had been done with best of intentions. No matter how sound the decision is this was a big blow to the investor’s confidence.

Here I would like to draw to attention to the reaction that it kicked amidst investors and the analysts. Just after the controversial decision was approved by the Board and made public the investors of American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) floated by the company in USA smelt the smoke in the air,. The prices of ADRs dropped owing to this very reason. Back home in India investor did not react very sharply though. But analysts and experts were outraged and up in arms against the logic of the decision. A report by Mumbai’s Dolat Capital Market Pvt Ltd called this “Satyam’s Daylight robbery”. Following this the same mood was caught on like fire by investors. As a result the Management of the company had to revert its decision. This proves that shareholder activism is alive and kicking and nothing can go wrong in a vigilant society.

This further reinforced the need for transparency in the corporate affairs and strict measures of corporate governance. Here there is a lesson that needs to be learnt and it has to be deeply pondered over.

Have we ever seen such a quick reaction to any allegations of any scams and kickback cases involving government and politicians that has very much been in our daily newspapers? Or is the functioning of the government not transparent enough? Transparency, accountability and good governance is the philosophies of every country that believes in democracy and its deep rooted values. But these are hard to come by. Not unless people of our country raise their voice in unison against wrongdoings by the government of the day. And not unless government makes its day to day affairs transparent. And not unless people realize that the money spent by government is their money too and theirs only. What we need is Citizens Activism. Their rights as citizens do not terminate in the polling booths. In fact it is only a beginning. Only this beginning would be the true beginning of the rule of the people.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Stop Bleeding Us...

Everyone called the macabre of 26th November as India’s 9/11. May be. But subsequent to 9/11 USA proved to its people that it can protect its citizens at any cost. Indeed people of Afghanistan and Iraq had to pay the heavy price. But likewise can India play USA to Pakistan? There are indications that finally the UPA government is shaken our of its slumbers. Home Minister Shivraj patil whom media and people blamed for his inefficient functioning following bomb blast at various place finally put in his papers holding himself morally responsible for the attack on Mumbai. External Affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, following the terror attack, announced that all options including military option against Pakistan are open proves that government is committed to put an end to this scourge of terrorism. Everyone is acting and talking, at last.

Mumbaikars who always showed their resilience after any disaster-both natural and manmade have come out of their homes and protested against the politicians for their divisive tactics and to unshackle them out of their complacency. Columnist Ramesh Ramanathan in Mint calls it a political awakening. Never have the citizens of our country whipped the politicians like this in public. And this is good for democracy as it reinforces the principle of accountability. But contrary to this one of the BJP leaders criticized the coming together of people as attack on democracy inflicted by ladies who wear lipstick and powder. What a death blow to gender equality and women empowerment. But I must say Politicians have show their true colors at a time like this.

Here is another instance coming from none other than Chief Minister of a State who is expected to inspire and act as role model to his council of Ministers. He remarked that if it was not Sandeep’s ( an officer in NSG who sacrificed his life while fighting terrorist) house not a dog would have visited. He was obviously infuriated by slain officer’s Father’s unwillingness to let him express his condolence by visiting the house. But such a remark is not expected of a public figure. He should not have taken it personally. Nonetheless no lid can be put upon the boiling emotions of general public. This was evident too amidst people who had gathered in Gateway of India to show their solidarity against terrorism. One of the protestors, a lady, showed a placard that read “ I would prefer a dog visiting my house than a politician”. This is indeed a political awakening.

But I wonder if all the politicians read the newspapers. If only they had been receptive to public criticism and corrected their ways India would not be made to bleed by outside forces like what we just witnessed now.