(November 26/27, 2016, No.50/2016)
Weekend Lighter is posted every Saturday @mgwarrier.blogspot.in
Feel free to mail your views on this edition of WL to mgwarrier@gmail.com
Demonetization worries, Bloomberg style…
Opening remarks
Manmohan Singh’s RS speech
This refers to the report Govt. must take action: Manmohan”(The Hindu, November 25) filed by  Vijaita Singh and Suhasini Haidar. The managers of the Indian Economy and the Indian Financial Sector, who opted to procrastinate action against the looting of the common man in India post-liberalisation should pro rata share the entire blame contained in the Manmohan Singh’s 6 minutes speech. Generations to come will remember MMS for this speech, as it is not a political speech, but one backed by long years of experience as economist of international repute, central banker, finance minister and Prime Minister.
Dr Manmohan Singh’s advice to ‘reflect’ on the content of his speech needs to be taken seriously by all including the victims(common man) and factored in, in their future action plans. Instead of throwing the ball back, alleging that MMS did not act or speak at appropriate times or in appropriate forums, policy makers should opt to commission the former PM’s experience and wisdom  to make midway corrections in the crusade against corruption, fake currency and terrorism. Once he cools down, definitely he will help and never leave you in the lurch. After all, having managed an unwieldy coalition for a long time, more than anyone else, Dr Manmohan Singh is aware of the constraints with which governments work.
M G Warrier, Mumbai  
Demonetization worries, Bloomberg style

The Bloomberg story filed by Vrishti Beniwal & Anirban Nag captioned “Central banker missing in action as India escalates war on cash” (Business Standard, November 24) , following closely on the heels of a BBC lament about how India will handle 20 billion pieces of useless currency notes, is interesting reading. Let us not underplay the anxieties of external agencies, though they have only pedestrian interest in our real problems. Let us go by the same priorities listed in the report.
First, RBI Governor has spoken just only once, since November 8 announcement of demonetization. Earlier, someone had researched and found out that during the entire 2 years plus tenure as Deputy Governor, Urjit Patel had made only one public speech against the tally of fifty-plus, posted by one of his colleagues and two dozen posted by his immediate predecessor Dr Raghuram Rajan. The report says, a ‘powerful’ bank union has called for Patel’s resignation. Till this time, there are no reports about subsequent developments.
Two, the observation “a senior bureaucrat was tasked with firefighting”  is based on a senior Secretary in the Finance Ministry explaining the measures taken by GOI to ameliorate the inconvenience caused by withdrawal of the legal tender character of Rs500 and Rs1000 notes announced by PM on November 8. In the given context the official was doing his assigned duty, while RBI was busy with ‘follow up’ measures. Robert  Hocket, who talks in ‘general’ terms, appears to be totally out of touch with the Indian context.
Three, K C Chakrabarty, another person whom the writers have contacted, has already gone on record saying that when he was RBI Deputy Governor, the demonetization proposal received in RBI (he said it was immaterial whether the proposal was made over the phone or in writing) to which, in his words, “We said, no”. So the ‘benefit of doubt’ offered by him to Urjit Patel must be genuine.
Four, though repeated references are being made to 1978 demonetization in the media by analysts, the context, content and magnitude of the 2016 measure make any such comparison ridiculous.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
Taming the killer monster
K Balakesari’s article “Rerailing the Indian Railways” (The Hindu, November 23) should be an eye-opener for the policy makers responsible for reforming Railways and provides useful information to those who quickly blame the employees of the organization concerned, whenever something goes wrong in the system. If the Indian Railways with its massive responsibilities is still functional, the major part of the credit should go to the thousands of Railway employees (including retired railmen engaged on contract basis for various skills they could not pass on to the next generation of Tech-savvy ‘engineers’, but are relevant as the infrastructure has not been modernized) who  work 24X7. The letters I and R which stand for Indian Railways, do stand also for the Integrity and Reliability of the workforce which run the Railways.
If 70 percent of the accidents are attributed to ‘staff failures’, one can easily assume that the stress put on employees due to overwork due to extended or repeated duty shifts were not factored in, while making the judgments. While large number of deaths happen in accidents like the one between Pukhrayan and Malasa, the average 10 to 12 deaths(no reliable estimate about injuries) caused everyday by overcrowding and indiscipline in Mumbai suburban locals do not draw any attention from policy makers or even social activists. Here the entire blame should be owned by the system, comprising the management of Railways and GOI. After all, the service is not provided free and as a consumer, the passenger has a right for reasonably acceptable and safe services.
All these point to the need for fast and comprehensive reform of existing rail services. Introduction of metro or monorail systems or superfast trains in long routes cannot be a substitute for improving the efficiency and safety of the existing services.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
Vivek K. Agnihotri’s Open Page article “The demons of demonetization”(The Hindu, Open Page, November 22) is the best article yet, I read on the subject from November 9, till date. The piece stands out in coverage of several dimensions of the measure, its current and future impact on the concept of currency as an instrument of exchange and the agony and ecstasy felt and enjoyed by the common man during the last fortnight.
From Trump’s triumph to ‘drowning of sorrows’, the narrative is well decorated. The only conspicuous omission-being a Malayalee and an ex-auditor (two-in-one!), I am trained to pick up at least one hole in any perfect creation- one can point out is that the writer spares the media-social, anti-social, electronic and print- left their half-done stories on the midnight of November 8 and focused on demon(ET)isation all through. One is in total dark about all other developments in the universe since then.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
Consensus on corruption
This refers to the piece “Corporate funding of political parties should stop” by Sitaram Yechury (Business Standard, Opinion, November 20). Yechury’s speech in the Rajya Sabha on November 16, signals a possibility of consensus on possible sources and uses of funds raised by political parties and broad agreement on transparency in election expenditure. Time is opportune for Modi government to make the right moves to initiate processes to formally debate state funding of election expenditure. Several related issues will crop up, if a serious proposal of this nature is discussed in public.
Sitaram Yechury has suggested stopping corporate funding of political parties. This is easier said than done. It may not be practical to ban private contributions to political parties. Election funding, or pumping money to ensure that candidate ‘X’ wins from a particular constituency is a different matter. Here, the ceilings for expenditure per candidate should be fixed rationally and enforced. Where candidates from ‘recognized’ political parties have no known sources of income for funding election expenditure, or have inadequate resources, government through the Election Commission should part-fund such deficits. The corpus for such funding should be created by appropriate mobilization from political parties and corporates in a transparent manner.
M G Warrier, Mumbai 

Where are the legal philosophers?*

Propounding legal principles
Through the centuries, many legal philosophers left their indelible mark on shaping institutions of governance. Many of the systems of governance and rule of law as are familiar today have been developed by applying principles expounded by legal philosophers. To Aristotle, justice was all about “giving every person his due” and the purpose of law was to develop a just society that made this possible. Kautilya’s Arthashastra postulated that the king was the fountainhead of justice but with the limitation that even he was obliged to rule according to the Dharmashastras. William Blackstone, through his book, Commentaries on the Laws of England, guided the growth and development of English law in no small measure; John Austin popularised the theory that law was command of the sovereign made credible by threats of punishment for its disobedience. The horrors of the World Wars galvanised dialogue on a new wave of legal philosophy that recognised the existence of some inalienable rights in every individual that could not be eliminated even by state-made laws. One could also discern their application in the famous Nuremberg trials where the defence of the Nazi officers — that they could not be punished because everything they did was in execution of valid legal commands — found no acceptance. The path-breaking work of several legal philosophers of that time had their impact in the promulgation of certain important international documents and treaties like the Charter of the United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, European Convention on Human Rights and the 1959 Declaration of Delhi on the rule of law.
*Excerpts from  an article in The Hindu, November 24, 2016(link above)

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