Skip to content
September 9, 2016 / subramanyam

Let’s not fall into the same trap again

While I am a diehard  supporter of BJP, I have my own reservations with the package that was declared by the center yesterday. However, I also feel that there are quite some good points in the announcement made.  In this post I am speaking about the stuff I liked and the stuff I disliked in the package.  This might not go down very well with people who are seeing this issue from an emotive perspective.  I  request you to see facts as facts and not go with the emotive drama around the issue.

While bifurcating the combined Andhra Pradesh State in 2014. The Center made a few assurances.  The biggest ones in the minds of the people are

1. Special category status to Andhra Pradesh.
2. Polavaram as a National Project.
3. 10 national level Educational Institutions.
4. Financial assistance to the construction of Secretariat, Government Offices, Raj Bhavan, High Court and other Government Buildings.
5. Tax Exemptions for Industries.
6. Financial assistance to the backward districts of A.P.
7. Center would fund the revenue deficit for Andhra Pradesh.
8. Feasibility Study for the establishment of a steel plant in Cuddappah district.
9. Feasibility study for a Railway Zone in Visakhapatnam.
10.Feasibility Study for a port near Dugarajapatnam

In one of the recent Rajya Sabha debates Mr. Jairam Ramesh , the architect of the flawsome AP reorganization act was saying that, when the Center meant Feasibility study, it meant that the government would take a positive decision on establishing that particular institution in Andhra Pradesh.

Now, let us see as to what each of these promises means.

Issue 1 : Special Category Status

In A.P, currently 99% of the population seem to believe this as the silver bullet that clears all the ills of the state.  However, this is what it means.
1. For all Central Assisted State Plan  (CASP) schemes, Central Government’s contribution will be 90% for the Special Category States, for the non-special category states, the center will give 60% of the funds.
2. For the Externally Aided Projects (EAP : Projects funded by loans from  World Bank, BRICS bank, Asian Development Bank etc.)  the center will pay 90% of the cost for Special Category States and 60% of the cost for non-special category states.

In the case of AP, we got an assurance only on CASP from the previous governmen (UPA)t and not for EAPs.

Now, the NDA government in its statement yesterday has agreed to fund the CASP as well as EAP projects on par with Special Status States.

Now I really don’t understand why we should have a problem with this.  a. The calculation on this has come to around 3K crores per annum and the state government is poised to receive that.   So we would receive 15000 crores in this regard.

b. Then, since this would ease up borrowings from the noose of Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Managment (FRBM) Act we might get borrowing for extra 3K crores per annum.  I am not very sure about this. Please correct me if I am wrong.

From A & B we must get a benefit of  a minimum of 15000 crores and a maximum of 30,000 crores in the next 5 years.

Now where did we lose on the special status here? Please explain.

Issue 2 :  Polavaram Project
For National Projects the center funds either 70% or 90% of the project cost.  In the case of Polavaram the center in its announcement yesterday made it clear that they would fund the entire cost incurred by State government after 01-April-2014.   The latest estimates on the project say that it would cost 32000 Crores.  Now that center has made it clear that they would fund it either by NABARD or other banks. It is a welcome move. The state gets to construct the project and bills are cleared by the center. Isn’t this a good thing.

We are gaining another 32000 crores here.

Issue 3 : Educational Institutions.
Here is the staus of the various educational institutions promised to the state of Andhra Pradesh.
1. A Petroleum University has already been established.
2. The IIT has already been functioning from a transit campus and the main campus is being constructed.
3. The National Institute of Technology has already been functioning since September 2015 in a temporary campus and its
main campus is being constructed.
4. The Indian Institute of Information Technology, Kurnool has already started functioning from the temporary campus and  its main campus is being constructed.
5. The site for the Central University in Anantapur district has already been selected.
6. The Indian Institute of Science Education and Research has been established in Tirupati.
7. The Indian Institute of Management has been established at Visakhapatnam.
8. An All India Institute of Medical Sciences has been approved at Guntur and the land for the same is being taken over.
9. A Tribal University is to be established in the State of Andhra Pradesh for which a Site Selection Committee of the State has already approved the land.
10. A National Institute of Disaster Management is being established in the State of Andhra Pradesh for which identification and takeover of the land is being completed.
11. IIT in Tirupati has started functioning.
12. Central Institute for Excise and Customs is approved and is coming up in Hindupur.

A majority of the institutions have started functioning in A.P.  and even for the others land has been identified/taken over.

Issue 4 : Construction of the Capital City

Coming to the capital, The bill says the center would fund the construction of Government Offices, secretariat, Govt Bungalows, Raj Bhavan, Assembly and High Court only.  It doesnot speak any other thing about the capital.  If the center were to fund only this much then even a 1000 crore rupees would have been sufficient.
However, even without the beginning of any construction work the center has given 2500 crores till date and they are promising 1000 crores more.

This money is not sufficient to build a capital city. The center needs to give more.  As per bill this might be enough, however it is never enough if you want to honour the promise in spirit.  This is where we ought to receive more money from the center.

Issue 5 :  Tax exemptions
The finance minister in his speech yesterday has clearly said that Tax department would give a notification on the tax concessions being provided to AP. We can speak only after it is out.

Issue 6 : Financial assistance to the backward districts of AP.
Center has release 1050 crores till date and has promised to release 1050 crores more for the 3 districts of Uttarandhra and the 4 districts of Rayalaseema.

Again, 300 crores per district for a period of 5-6 years is o.k but not great.  I personally feel that the center must have doubled the grant.

Issue 7 : Revenue Deficit

I request you to read the central draft in this regard, it is available here.
http://www.eenadu.net/Central%20Assistance%20to%20ap.pdf

Here is what the center says in this regard.

The Fourteenth Finance Commission defined the financial relationship between Centre and the States for the five year period ending 2019-­20. The Commission did not make a distinction between Special and General Category States. Its approach was to fill the resource gap of each State to the extent possible through tax devolution. Accordingly, the Commission recommended an enhanced devolution of 42% of the Central Government’s tax revenues to States. If devolution alone could not cover the assessed gap, for certain States, a revenue deficit grant was provided. Andhra Pradesh was one of the States determined to be a revenue deficit State, and the Commission recommended that the Centre would provide revenue deficit grant for the period of the Fourteenth Finance Commission. The amount of deficit for each year was mentioned in the report itself and a total of Rs.22,113 crores is to be paid to Andhra Pradesh as revenue deficit grant for the 5 year period.

The same document towards the fag end says.

The Fourteenth Finance Commission’s award came into effect from 1.4.2015. The enhanced devolution amount due to Andhra Pradesh is being paid in entirety. This has resulted in an increase of Rs.7,787 crore in tax devolution in 2015-­16 compared to 2014-­15, a growth of 55%.  The revenue deficit grants for each of the years recommended by the Fourteenth  Finance Commission will also be paid by the Government of India to the State of Andhra Pradesh. The same has been done for the year 2015-­16 and 2016-­17. There are no issues pending on that score.

So isn’t the center promising another 22,113 crores here.  That’s what is my understanding. Please correct me incase I am wrong.

Issues 8,9&10 : The center is saying that feasibility study reports are negative in these cases.  I personally feel that it is not correct. The Center should ensure that these projects come to AP.  Particularly the railway zone must come to Visakhapatnam under any circumstances.

All in all, I feel that the center has done a decent job in providing assistance to AP.  They did not do a great job and there are many things that are pending.  Yes, a lot more should be done but then they are in power for only 2 years. Hence, I feel that  we need to give credit to the government for the good things it did and also have a plan to get the things that are either in pending or in cold storage mode.

When the state was getting bifurcated some leaders brought in a samaikhyandhra movement and fooled people.  They knew that they would not be able to stop the bifurcation but then they did rallies and fooled the public.  Today, the same leaders are turning the special category status into the silver bullet for all the ills of AP. I request the people of AP not to fall into this trap.  There are some good things that have come our way.  There are a lot of things that need to be done.  Let’s acknowledge the good ones and fight for the ones that we need to get.  Let’s not carve out villains and heroes here, lets get to the negotiation table and claim our share of rights.

August 29, 2016 / subramanyam

Interesting Take

What comes to your mind when we speak about Sanskrit.  A language that is very old, unknown to many people of today’s world. A language reserved for rituals, poojas and other Hindu customs. Isn’t it ?

Meet this young gentlemen who is trying bring the language closer to youth by converting Bollywood songs into Sanskrit.  Here is one such song. Please do listen to it.

Really appreciate the thought process and guts of the young man. May he give us many more songs of this kind.

August 25, 2016 / subramanyam

2 @ 1.2

We must celebrate the victories of Indian players wildly.

We had only 2 medals at the 2016 Olympics @ Rio, A silver and a Bronze.  Well, that is not a great performance by any measure.  Many people (particularly journalists from other nations) are happily taking a dig at the Indians for this.

piers-morgan-tonight-007

We have our own commentators too, who are priding themselves by taking a cynical stand against their fellow countrymen.

To me India’s performance at Rio was not a very bad performance at all.  Yes,  we are a nation with 1.2 billion people but our sports culture is just taking shape.

I am a 32 year old and for many people in my generation sports has never been a career option.  Sports periods in schools meant playing some games that would not get us hurt.  In my generation the race was always to have good numbers, do a medicine or an engineering, get a well paid job and then escape the troubles and tribulations of either middle class / poverty.

My parents made me focus on my numbers and grades, I think millions of Indian Parents would have done the same in that era.  Why did they do it ? Why did they not encourage their wards to become sports personalities ?

The answer lies in the way they experienced life.  Many of them had trouble getting a proper education, many of them had to shelve their dreams because of poverty, many of them had to face innumerable hardships just because they did not have the resources to make it big.  Will such a parent take risk and push his kid towards sports where the risk of losing is very high?  If such a parent pushes his ward towards studies and nothing else is it his/her fault ? — to me the answer is a big NO.  For a man who had to feed 4 mouths back home , Olympics is just a big rather too big luxury to afford. These people might have not just known that a career exists outside the arena of studies.

I think this also explains the 16 year medal drought(1980-1996) that this nation had at the Olympics. The economic prudence that started in the 90’s  did bring an attitudinal shift.

Sindhu-Sakshi-Olympic-medals-Reuters

We must celebrate the victories of Indian players wildly.

We see that many parents are actually investing in sports and that is steadily bringing in good results in the country.  We see world champions emerge in each sport and slowly but steadily we are having a good run at the international events. This is because the parents are seeing a future and are investing in this. In a democratic nation it takes time to get this attitudinal shift and we are witnessing it now.

For instance : We had a Deepa Karmakar who scripted magic in this Olympics, the Indian mens Hockey Team  advanced to the next round for the first time after 1980, Bindra missed  the medal by  whisker, Jeetu Rai had a bad run this time around but we need acknowledge the fact that he was the world champion till a few days ago, If only Saina did not bow out with an injury we would have had another medal for sure, any one who saw Vishal Krishnan’s quarter’s bout would know that we have a champion in the making… The list is endless, we have had 119 athletes who qualified for the games and that in itself is a huge achievement for a nation whose sports culture started less than 20 years ago.

As the time progresses we will have more medals, till then, yes we will have to celebrate the wins of our young men and women wildly.  That’s the best way to attract young talent into these games.  If the world has a problem with our celebration , well, it is their problem not ours.

 

May 31, 2016 / subramanyam

The forgotten limbs of India…

One of the best speeches I have heard from Tarek Fatah.  He speaks about India, the civilization of Sindh, how Sindh and Hind are inseparable and how Indians need to have a change in mindset when it comes to Sindh.  He speaks about the losses this nation has had to suffer because of the partition.  This is one of the very good speeches that were delivered on India. Do listen to it.

May 5, 2016 / subramanyam

Everything You Wanted to Know About Augusta WestLand

Nominating Dr.Subramanyam Swamy to Rajya Sabha might have been a very thought of move by the government.  This untiring crusader against corruption made a rocking entry in the Rajya Sabha and is laying facts threadbare.

The recent Judgment delivered by the Italian Court has spilled trouble for the politicians from The Indian National Congress.   Since Sonia Gandhi’s name came up in this people from this party are up in arms and seem to be rattled.  However, Dr. Swamy being Dr.Swamy has no place for all the niceties in the world and he is calling a spade a spade.

There was a debate regarding Augusta in the parliament and Dr. Swamy took part in this from BJP.  In his 30 minute speech, he spoke about the idea behind acquiring the helicopters, the way it started under Shri Vajapayee ji’s govt, the way things changes after 2004 when UPA took over. He spoke about the way NDA under Vajapayee ji did not buy helicopters when there was a single vendor.  He then spoke about the way UPS changed the rules to suit Augusta Westland in 2006.

He spoke about the various irregularities that took place in this deal.  The field trials were done on another chopper, the specification for the cabin height was increased to help Augusta, the specification regarding the height at which the chopper was supposed to fly was also changed to suit Augusta etc.. He then spoke about the money transfer that took place and gave the details of the bribes.  Then he even went on speak about the media management that was done in this case.  All in all an awesome speech by Dr.Swamy. Do watch it.

April 16, 2016 / subramanyam

Buddha in a Traffic Jam — My take

Imagine, just picture this,  you are a student in one of the ivy league colleges in India.  You were born and brought up in a metro city with a focus on a career. Your dream has always been to excel in studies and have a great corporate career.  Now, given this background what is the probability that you would know about Dandakaranya and lives of the people over there ? Minimal (close to zero) isn’t it ? Now, what is the probability that the tribal in Dandakaranya might even know that a metropolitan city exists and the people there have a plethora of opportunities to make it big in their lives. Again zero isn’t it ?  The Irony of the matter is that these people live with in 700 kilometers of each other and still do not know that each other exist.

Now, what if a master storyteller weaves a story that touches the lives of both these people? Interesting, wouldn’t it be?  I saw a movie that depicted the lives of both these people in it and this post is about my feelings on that movie. Here is the trailer of the movie.

Buddha in a traffic Jam brings these both extremes of the society.  In the heartland of the tribals, we have these self-declared revolutionaries who say that they are fighting for the rights of the tribals. They try to make the tribals believe that they are trying to bring in a revolution that would solve all the problems of India.  In the ivy league institutes, we have the professors who try teach the other set of Indians as to how to tackle the problems of the real world.  In a way, both these communities have people who are there to guide them and make them realize their dreams.  Now, are these revolutionaries and the professors doing what they are supposed to? What do these people have in their mind ?  What are their ideologies?  How does it impact the tribals and students?  What would be the final outcome of the battle ? Watch the picture on the big screen to get the answers.

What did I like in the movie ?

I loved the way the director tried to bring the movie pretty close to the reality. I loved the way he blended the parallel stories.  On one hand we have an India that is aspirational, resplendent, uses technology to the maximum possible level  and is making the world dance to its tunes. On the other hand there is another India that does not even have access to the bare minimum necessities of life.  It takes a lot of skill and effort to tie the knots together and blend these two parallel stories into one.  The director displayed his genius in

vivek-agnihoti-freedom

Vivek Agnihotri –The director of the Movie

putting all the pieces together.

They say that a genius has a free spirit.  It is in the nature of the free spirit to bring the facts out and  ask tough questions.  Vivek questions the existing narrative and outlines the facts threadbare in this movie and I liked that part.

What did I not like ?

There were too many expletives in the movie.  That made me little uncomfortable. I felt that the excessive smoking and drinking too could have been done away with.  These are the only things I can complain of.

Conclusion

We live in times where politics and art are inseparable.  A medium like Cinema is extremely important as it helps people control the narrative.  People of a particular ideology have been controlling the narrative all the while and today the movie industry gives us a certain viewpoint on poverty and people who are fighting on the behalf of the poor.  You would rarely see a movie that speaks about the stats of the Naxal violence and the dark underbelly of the Maoists.

To question the narrative and expose these China worshippers takes humongous courage, Vivek Agnihotri  has done this in his movie.  He also tried to show us as to how these radicals have infiltrated into the systems and the way the nation is paying a price for it.   He silently makes us aware of the ideological war that is going on and the need for the nation to re-examine its strategies as it charts out a path for itself.

Do watch the movie, every penny you spend on the movie and every moment you spend watching it are worth it.Do watch it.  This is a movie you must not  miss.

P.S. : I watched the premiere of the movie in a workshop.  The movie is going to hit the theaters in a few days.

April 7, 2016 / subramanyam

The Madurai Sultanate :: My Take

Madurai Sultanate ?? I have never heard of one, when did this exist?  This was the first thought that crossed my mind when I saw the following tweet from Sai Swaroopa.  I had the book in the next 10 minutes on my kindle and here is what I feel about the book.

The Madurai Sultanate

Unknown to many,  a sultanate existed in Madurai for a very brief period, probably 4 decades.  It failed to make its impact on the canvas of the world as it was a victim of one palace coup after the other and saw as many as 8 rulers in the short span of 40 years.  The rulers harbored such hatred towards the majority Hindus that they were impaled and killed en masse for no reason.   These factors too contributed to the decline of the Sultanate.

The author Sandeep Balakrishna starts by giving us a glimpse of the situation in south India in the 13th and 14th Centuries and speaks about the conditions that prevailed during that time.  He has done extensive research on this subject and speaks about Pandyans, Cholas, Cheras, the Kakatiyas and the Hoysalas of that day.   The succession battles , the lack of unity in the Hindu Kingdoms and the way they failed in stopping the armies of Uluq Khan and Malik Kafur were very well portrayed.

Then the author speaks about the way the Sultans in Delhi squandered the wealth they got from the south and the way their dominions started declaring Independence.  Madurai Sultanate was one such offshoot.  The author then goes on describe the way the rulers ruled the kingdom and the way they behaved with the other kingdoms in the south.   He speaks about the angst in the subjects, the frequent fights with the other kingdoms and the palace coups that plagued the sultanate.  He then proceeds to tell as to how that small sultanate became history with the advent of the Vijayanagar empire.

While the core subject of the book is history, the author does not speak about history alone, he portrays  the way the Hindu kings brought trouble upon themselves and failed to learn from the attacks that came from the Sultans of Delhi.  The accounts of Vira Bhallala, Pratapadura and Kampilanayaka portray the way in which strong Hindu Kings made strategic mistakes and lost it all.  I liked the message the author gave here.

When we look at it without any bias the Madurai Sultanate stands as an example as to how a state should not be governed.   These guys pressed  the  self-destruction button a little quickly and rather unknowingly.  You cannot torture your subjects and expect to rule for a long time.  This was brought in a very good manner by the author.

My  sincere thanks to Sandeep Balakrishna for bringing this book out.

Do pick the book, it is short and is  good for a quick read. It has got a lot of facts about South Indian history and is a real eye opener.   Do read it when you have time,  happy reading.