#Yearender 2012: CT posts that created buzz

A very happy and a prosperous 2013 to all the readers of Canary Trap. As we enter the new year, we bring you the top 10 posts of 2012 from different categories (Corruption, Politics, Security and Intelligence, History, Media Analysis, World News).

Canary Trap has done a number of stories for external media houses in 2012. We have covered a range of issues like Corruption in the Indian Armed Forces, Coal Scam, Indian Politics, and Black Money among others.

So, here are Canary Trap’s top 10 posts of 2012: .

1. Why is Gen (Retd) VK Singh being targeted?

Series of posts on the real story behind the entire age-row episode of former Army Chief Gen VK Singh. This eBook is a compilation of posts on the issue. DOWNLOAD EBOOK

2. Indian vote at UN notwithstanding, Syria not falling soon

The removal of Assad, an Alawi (moderate variant of Shiaism) would result in power being distributed among the majority Sunni population of Syria. An enlargement of Sunni power has become an article of faith with the Saudi regime. READ MORE…

3. Why not sell the Taj, when we can do it with Mumbai airport?

Have you recently heard any jokes about selling Taj Mahal to foreign tourists? No? Not lately? That is because people don’t joke about that nowadays. Reason: you can almost do it now. Sell the Taj, that is. READ MORE…

4. Why did AAI officials not deposit Kingfisher’s cheques earlier?

Are you afraid of bouncing a cheque? Most of us are afraid of arrest and prosecution under the Negotiable Instruments Act. But Dr Vijay Mallya and his executives at Kingfisher Airlines are not, evidently. READ MORE…

5. Corruption in Armed Forces: Sort out the Generals first

The fish rots at the head first. So it is with the Armed Forces. (In this piece, Generals also include Admirals and Air Marshals. There are many more corrupt Generals than the latter two, hence the generalization). To win the war on corruption, the country needs to sort out the Generals first. READ MORE…

6. Wanted! Service Chiefs with Balls

What do you say about an Army Chief who calls a recent suicide of a jawan as a “minor incident”? What do you say about a Navy chief who drags the other two Chiefs to a Committee of Secretaries to discuss pay and pension anomalies? What do you say about an Air Force Chief who consistently has no opinion on any pressing issue and is more fit for Madame Tussauds Wax Museum? READ MORE…

7. Revealed: Why is Vadra exempt from airport security checks?

So why is Vadra exempted from frisking at airports despite being a civilian? Nobody had a clue till sometime ago when an RTI filed by a group called RTI Anonymous forced the Ministry of Home Affairs to explain why Vadra was being exempted from security checks at airports. READ MORE…

8. The Great Indian Loot

Iron Ore, Coal, Manganese, Thorium. A one stop digital resource (www.miningscam.com) to read/view/listen about all the relevant information related to mining mess. CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE WEBSITE

9. Pranab Mukherjee, Omita Paul and corruption in Finance Ministry

What is the reason for the appointment of Paul in the number two position in the three key Ministries that Mukherjee has been a Minister. READ MORE…

10. CIC directs SEBI to disclose insider trading probe details

The Central Information Commission, in its order dated November 6, 2012, has directed the Securities and Exchange Board of India to disclose the names of entities which were allegedly involved in the insider trading of shares of Reliance Petroleum in 2007. READ MORE…

Wal-Mart, lobbying, bribery allegations and more

The Wal-Mart lobbying bill revelations has rocked the Indian Parliament with the political parties demanding a time-bound probe into the whether any payments were made in India.

According to media reports, the company’s lobbying disclosure reports filed with the US Senate details around $25 million (Rs 125 crore) it spent on its “lobbying activities”. Some of the activity was about “issues related to enhanced market access for investment in India,” a report on Zee News stated.

Wal-Mart can legally lobby in the US but there is no clarity on whether they have spent any money on lobbying activities in India. The UPA government has, under pressure from the Opposition, expressed its willingness to have the matter inquired.

Amidst all the chaos over whether Wal-Mart has really paid anybody in India to lobby on their behalf or not, some very vital facts are being ignored.

Wal-Mart was under investigation in the US over issues related to bribery, tax evasion and money laundering in Mexico. Two US lawmakers Elijah E. Cummings (Member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee of the US House of Representatives) and Henry A. Waxman (Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member) sent a letter to Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke in August this year to provide a final opportunity for the company to respond to the Committees’ requests for information on violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act before the Committees release an investigative report on their findings. (Click here to read the letter sent to Wal-Mart CEO)

A New York Times report in April 2012 had this to report on the issue:

“In September 2005, a senior Wal-Mart lawyer received an alarming e-mail from a former executive at the company’s largest foreign subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico. In the e-mail and follow-up conversations, the former executive described how Wal-Mart de Mexico had orchestrated a campaign of bribery to win market dominance. In its rush to build stores, he said, the company had paid bribes to obtain permits in virtually every corner of the country.

The former executive gave names, dates and bribe amounts. He knew so much, he explained, because for years he had been the lawyer in charge of obtaining construction permits for Wal-Mart de Mexico……….

…….The lead investigator recommended that Wal-Mart expand the investigation. Instead, an examination by The New York Times found, Wal-Mart’s leaders shut it down.”

Interestingly, according to an Economic Times report, “the India unit of Wal-Mart recently suspended its CFO and the entire country legal team as part of a high-profile, global investigation into potential violations of America’s anti-bribery laws”.

India’s Enforcement Directorate is also investigating Bharti Wal-Mart Pvt Ltd (Bharti Enterprises and Wal-Mart Stores) for alleged violations of FDI rules.

More suggested reading in to Wal-Mart bribery scandal:

A hundred million Muslims in search of a party


The more the communal picture changes since the demolition of the Babri Masjid 20 years ago this week, the more it remains the same. Possibly with one variation: the political insecurity of the Muslim grows with each turn.

The mosque was demolished on December 6, 1992, but the planning for the event had preceded three years earlier. It was a brilliant marketing strategy by Hindutva craftsmen who had outlined the project of casting bricks, some in silver and gold, to be sanctified by the temples of India and eventually reach Ayodhya for the construction of the Ram temple with 108 pillars across two storeys, sprawled over 270 feet, which will be its length, quite in harmony with its 125 feet height.

The passage of the sanctified 2,75,000 shilas or bricks through towns and villages towards Ayodhya clearly created tension. The Bhagalpur riot of 1989 was a consequence. I happened to be in a village called Chanderi.

Riots in Bhagalpur had broken out on October 24. By October 27, the area was tense enough to warrant the appearance of Major G.P.S. Virk of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry Regiment in Sabaur thana overseeing the contiguous settlements of Chanderi and Rajpur.

The two villages have a population of about 2,000 each, of whom about 10% are Muslims (Remember I am describing the scene as I saw it in 1989, and the riots in Faizabad last week are a replica: in other words nothing has changed). Rajpur has a ramshackle mosque which even the Chanderi Muslims visit on Fridays. But because of the fear that an aggressive Shila Pujan processions would pass 27,000 Bihar villages, the Chanderi Muslims set up a small shack for a mosque of their own so they would not have to undertake the risky journey across paddy fields to Rajpur for prayers.

In the saffron atmosphere, the emergence of a notional thatch mosque was resented by those high on the heady idea of sanctified bricks devotedly carted for the Ram Temple. Tensions caused the 100 or so Muslims to seek security in numbers. Major Virk shepherded them to the largest Muslim house in the village and, to ensure security, left a posse of policemen to keep watch.

Next morning when Virk returned he was in a state of daze. The Police were missing. The safe house for the Muslims had been gutted. From Chanderi’s central pond, covered with Hyacinth, protruded human parts – hands, legs, heads. The people around the pond denied they had seen anything.

Obviously unnerved by the saffron surge, the Congress instructed its UP Chief Minister Narain Dutt Tewari to arrange for the Shila Nyas or stone laying ceremony of the Ram Mandir’s outer walls on the disputed spot demanded by the Hindu extremist, VHP. This, the Congress coyly agreed while publicly denying that it had supervised Shila Nyas on “disputed land”. The sleight of hand became common knowledge.

This, it turned out was part of the party plan. Kicking off the party’s election campaign from Ayodhaya, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had promised to establish “Ram Rajya” in the country. What surprise then that the Shila Nyas was supervised by the Congress, even though the cheery slogans were mounted by the VHP: “This is not the foundation of a temple but of the Hindu Rashtra”.

Would you be surprised that one of the wisest Congressmen I have known, a deep, cultured man, Saiyid Nasir Hussain, sat in his office in the Faizabad Mosque, held his head in the cusp of his hands, and wept: “they have cheated the Muslims”. He then blurted out: “the deal with the VHP had been stuck at the very top.” He knew what he was talking about. “In UP the Congress is finished.” So far he has proved right.

Ofcourse the Ram Janmbhoomi agitation, L.K. Advani’s Rath Yatra was a cunning, multipurpose political project – to neutralize the caste forces unleashed by V.P. Singh’s promotion of the Mandal Commission Report giving reservations to the lower castes thus destabilizing the centuries old caste pyramid.

By the same token, Muslims were identified as the OTHER, to help in Hindu consolidation – the ultimate, elusive dream being that of Hindu Rashtra.

With the aggravation of this plot by the Hindu right, a rudderless, post emergency Congress has been living in mortal fear of Hindus leaving the Congress fold. This fear is a function of the Congress being totally out of touch, not having its ears on the ground, and nervously reacting to the BJP propaganda of Muslims appeasement.

How “appeased” the Muslims are, is available in graphic detail in the Sachar Committee report on the socio-economic condition of the Muslims. Not having the guts to implement the Ranganath Mishra Commission report to follow up on the Sachar Committee recommendations, the Congress drifts, until some smart Alecs place in its hands tricks like NREGA or cash transfers.

In non-Congress, non BJP circles, it has been known for quite some time that the Congress had donned soft saffron even before PV Narasimha Rao slept through the Babri Masjid demolition.

Totally disenchanted with the Congress, which it considers a wilier variation on the BJP, the Muslim has all but abandoned it.

On an experimental basis, the Muslim tried his luck with the SP. But under Akhilesh Singh, a spate of anti Muslim riots in UP have been unnerving. Some in detail resembling the carnage in Chanderi (though on a smaller scale) has left the community something of a political destitute. Chief Minister Akhilesh Singh has not had the time to visit the riot affected people

In the Southern states, the community is relatively well adjusted. It is in the North and West that 100 million Muslims are running helter skelter in search of a party.

Ghalib’s line is apt:

“Chalta hoon thori door har ek

Tez rau ke saath,

Pahchanta naheen hoon abhi

Raahbar ko main.”

(I join everyone who is ahead in the caravan, I have not yet recognized the leader who will show me the way)

(Saeed Naqvi is a senior Indian journalist, television commentator, interviewer, and a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation. Mr. Naqvi is also a mentor and a guest blogger with Canary Trap)