Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

Satyam, the tip of the iceberg ? What is being hidden by the banks

The long tentacles of the huge Satyam fraud will ultimately engulf not only the the auditors (Price Waterhouse) but also the banks where the cash deposits were claimed to have been kept. The answers are just not good enough, and the lies will soon engulf the banks. I trained as a chartered accountant, and in those days was part of many audit teams. One of the first things that is mandatory is for the auditor is to independently confirm the cash balances as shown in the balance sheet directly with the banks, and not through the company being audited. If such a certificate was obtained by the auditors, as is mandatory, then it is possible that some one in the bank had been bribed to send the falsified statement to the auditors. But it is virtually impossible that just one person could do so at a bank. The computerized internal audit systems at the bank would show up the discrepancy almost immedietly. Even assuming that there was a group of people at the banks perpetuating this fraud, the cash reserves of a public limited company are public knowledge and are detailed in schedules to the published balance sheet.
Satyam was such a highly regarded and traded stock, that it is virtually impossible that the banks like HSBC and HDFC, all of who run their own wealth management funds for their clients would not be completely aware of the details of Satayam’s balance sheet. Someone would gave got up and said ” Hey ! these cash balances stated in our bank just do not exist !”
Yet no one blew the whistle ? For seven years ? Either the banks and their fund managers are completely stupid, or were just willing to go along with the fraud. The accountants and the banks, both of which have a fiduciary and legal responsibility, have much to answer for. And perhaps the reason the the investigators are not going after the banks is that it would create a loss of faith in our banking systems. That would panic the entire financial system and might even led to a run on the banks.
Corporate India has a lot to answer for. It was these people that would go on and on about the corruption in the government, which incidentally they themselves would encourage on a much higher level. But now it is evident that even at its core, Corporate India sees itself as a private club that is free to dupe the middle class investor and depositor for its own gains.
Satyam is India’s sub prime crisis, and the effects will be long and painful as the corruption in the system is unraveled. It will reach the highest echelons of our corporate world, for Raju could not have perpetrated this fraud at this level and for so long, alone. It needed the collusion of the banks, the accountants, and the government. And I would bet that he knows that he will be let off lightly as the investigations will be somehow stopped before it engulfs the whole system.

Travelling

I am travelling in Gujarat with my daughter visiting the villages that keep the traditional handicrafts alive from generation to generation, the Rann of Kutch and now in the Gir forests in search of the last of the Asian lions. Many of these things will probably not survive the onslaught of our times by the time she grows up. So I would like her to see where India really grew up.
No fast internet access here – so will post some pictures and more details soon.

Are Indians too desentisized to change anything ?

Austere wrote (to the story of a person being tortured and killed because he refused to give a ‘gift’ for Mayawati’s birthday party) :
“The lack of my own reaction frightens me Too often repeated a story. Happens. Is desensitization a survival skill? I don’t know. But I don’t like it ”
Is Austere right ? I think she has a point. And if he is right, how do we overcome this inertia ? Or is India consigned to the same cess pool of politics for ever ?

Merry Christmas and a cheerful New Year !!

Am in Mumbai at this time and seeing a much more somber Christmas celebrations. The Churches and other places of worship are full, but the hotels and the partying is tentative. But perhaps thats the way it was intended to be ?
This last year has been dramatic. And there are somber lessons to learn. The year started with India being branded as the next great economic power and the stock market flying incredibly high. The year ended with a crash in the economy, a sinking stock market and terror attacks in Mumbai. And we go into a New Year celebration with the pall of nuclear conflict hanging over us. All within a year ?
Yet we go into next year with hope that the lessons of last year will put us on far steadier course, both in our personal and public lives. We understand better now the nature of the world, and look to concentrate on that which is sustainable like, love, relationships, friendship, environment and spirituality.
The changing of the world order with Obama being elected also gives rise to a hopeful new force in world politics and I am sure we look forward to his taking charge. We also hope the India will find a new leader that has the same trust of the people,
Have a great Christmas and New Year everyone

Happy Birthday, Mayawati ji

With the potential nuclear conflict looming at our borders, and our economy spinning out of control, thank God at least one politician had the sense to celebrate their own existence and her own birthday. Who cares that the system of government is collapsing and who cares that the country’s resources – even our fresh water – is being sold to the highest bidder, and who cares that gradually we are slipping back into the poverty ridden state we were 20 years ago in only a few months.
And who cares that politics now is the biggest franchise in India, where seats are ‘leased’ to the highest bidder. Not caring where or how they got the money. Who cares the democracy has become just another form of corporate business in your state, and it’s people trapped in the poverty of democracy. What we really care about is that you had a jolly good birthday party, with a beautiful resplendant white cake and we loved your ever charming beaming smile.
We hear that your goons that beat the engineer to death, for he dared to say no to give you a birthday gift, were singing ‘Hap Hap Happy Birthday” as they kicked him senseless.
Happy Birthday Mayawati ji

Slow poisoning of India

When death comes slowly, it does not create sensational news. We need to be vigilant on many fronts, especially on the environment, where corporations knowingly destroy communities and our land for short term profit. This is a difficult video to watch, but it is worth the effort
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6926416900837431282&hl=en

Is War with Pakistan an option ?

It is time for the Indian government to take action. India cannot be seen as being led by indecisive leaders who’s thoughts are more on the coming elections rather than grappling with national security. We are sitting on the borders of a country who’s government is loosing control. Over its own armed forces, over the fundamentalist forces. Pakistan is in danger of being completely Talibanized. It was a process that started when the US government armed and trained the Taliban through the Pakistan Army and ISI to fight the Russians. Afghanistan was turned into a battle zone of the major powers and Pakistan too allowed itself to get caught into the game, hoping to gain a few brownie points and much aid for its armed forces. Well, the game has backfired and Pakistan itself is in danger of being turned into battle zone.
So what should the Indian government do ? Whatever it has to do, it must do swiftly, for time is not on our side. We cannot continue to be seen as a soft target, and our people cannot continue to sit back and await the next terror attack while the government looks at the options in light of the coming elections. If India needed to do surgical strikes, they should have happened already, sending a clear message to the fundamentalist forces that targeting India is not an option. It is now too late to do that.
More than that, no terrorist attack is possible without ground support within our own country. I am afraid this is where it gets really murky as money, vote getting etc gets in the way of a clear cut policy. I am amazed that Dawood Ibrahim walks freely after being implicated in the Bombay Blasts years ago, and even travels to Dubai for his birthday. I am convinced now that Dawood knows too much for some politicians in India to allow him to be repatriated and put in trial in India. Our politics is so corrupt.
But is War with Pakistan an option ? Consider this :
a. Who are we declaring war against ? The people of Pakistan, or the government of Pakistan, or the fundamentalist forces ? A general war is exactly what the Taliban wants. It desires a Pakistan weakened further by war, so it can take control. It can then rip up more rhetoric and recruit many many more terrorists to its cause
b. What are the ‘goal posts’ of the War ? How do you declare a war as won. What do we want by going to war ? I think the government of India must make a list of the leaders of the Lakshar -e Tayiba – and others like Dawood, to be handed over for trial in India for crimes against the indian people. But the Indian government has not made any such clear demand. It has not taken any affirmative action yet
c. A war like this must be won within a period of 3/4 days. Beyond that collatoral damage in the cost of civilian deaths on both sides is too high. Bombing of each other cities and even a nuclear conflict is a real threat in any war that becomes long and protracted.
So what are the options now ?
a. First the Indian government must make a list of people and operatives it believes to have organized the terror attacks on India, and ask Pakistan to hand them over.
b. We must put international pressure on Pakistan through countries like the US and China to hand these people over.
c. Ask the UN to step in and ensure that the terror camps are dismantled with in Pakistan. After all the UN has been sitting for 50 years on the borders of the two Kashmirs. Time for them to get more active.
If nothing works then Military action may be the only alternative. First we should try and put together an international force, and if that does not work, then India should go it alone. But Military action must be the last resort. I believe though that the Pakistan Government too would be thankful to be rid of the fundamentalist forces that are destroying the fabric of their own nation. It is just that they are unable to publicly state that view for the fear of the reprisals from fundamentalist forces within their armed forces.
It is difficult to judge who is in control right now in Pakistan,

China, Hinduism, Pakistan etc

Rudra wrote : I am surprised at your ostritch like worldview vis-a-vis China. If your three days in upper crust Beijing can whitewash China’s un-pardonable misdeamanors in your Head…
Dear Rudra, i beg to differ. This is my second trip to China and I find Chinese people on the streets far more aware and warm towards India than people in India towards them. We, I am afraid are victims of media and our own insecurities. The Chinese respect us more because Buddhism came from India. I am talking about students, artists, taxi drivers, intellectuals, film directors, actors, people who work in hotels, and even people in government. There is a new found respect for their own ancient culture in China too.
I am not of the same opinion as Brahmshastra either. I believe there is a misled arrogance in his views on Hinduism and what he calls a misplaced secularity . Our ancient culture was based on consciousness and humility. On nurturing. In searching and on yearning. Hinduism is a philosophy that does not deny other thoughts. Hinduism is based on the ultimate search for reality, beyond the five senses, the search for universal consciousness. And anyone that says that he or she ‘knows’ Hinduism without that search in humility is converting Hinduism into a dogma, a religion, a system, which it is never supposed to be. It accepts the power of ritual, but never accepts that ritual as anything but the search for the truth.
And he is wrong about everyone else being misguided and assuming that the rest of us have closed our minds to the past glory of the Indian culture. An addiction to past glory is also a form of defensive arrogance. ….

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Not for the faint- hearted

if you are strong, and able to look, check out these pictures of the terrorists attacks from Suchitra’s blog:
http://www.suchitra.com/colabacarnage.pps

We the people also need to do some soul searching

Now that all of India is soul searching, and blaming politicians for where we are at. Not just on terrorism, but almost everything else, is it not time to look into our own hearts and see whether we ourselves have become self serving selfish people ? So it is good to listen to P Sidhu’s point of view – who had a great romantic view of his ‘mother country’ which was shattered on his first visit. I do not share his views completely, but there is truth in what he says. I think we are changing :
“First of all I am a Canadian born Indian who has spent alot of time in India. Before I ever went to India my opininion of Indian people was based on my interactions with Indians living in Canada, both Canadian born and Indian born. What I had come to realize about our people is that they will do just about anthing to make a buck regardless of the morality behind their actions as long as they can get away with it. Before I had ever gone to India my beliefs about the country were based soley on the 1960`s to 1980`s bollywood movies that I grew up with, not to mention my parents stories about the India that they grew up in. So I always assumed that Indians from India were honourable and moral people. My first trip to India shattered this illusion quickly. A country were it almost impossible to get Government service without paying some sort of bribe. The people have a massive inferiority complex to the white race and have forgotten who they are. The vast majority want to be western and are throwing away their culture. Getting to the point, the country has always been divided and the caste system doesn`t help. Indians believe that some are better than others and so naturally assume that it is right for some to have so much while others have nothing. The country was sold long ago. It is overpopulated and may of its poor will simply die out as food is running out due to depletion of the ocean life and water shortages in the near future. Some of the money will trickle down, but not much. The poor will simply die out. Sad, but true. The rich and middle class will survive along with a smaller poor population that will function to serve the middle class and elite.”