Published on December 1, 2014
Navatarang Lifestyle www.navtarang.com.au 2 Navatarang Lifestyle www.navtarang.com.au 3 Navatarang Lifestyle www.navtarang.com.au 4 Tamil Nadu Chief Minister “Amma” Jailed By Rajendra Prasad Advent of Modi rule in India has brought ‘modication’ in the Indian judiciary that had gained notoriety for being slow, incompetent and even corrupt. Recent imprisonment of Jay - alalithaa, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu sent shockwaves across the nation and many politicians who fed ravenously from the crib of corruption in the past now fear that the long arms of the law may soon catch up with them. Political privilege in India meant more than po - litical power. It also enabled politicians to manipu - late the justice system to their advan - tage. The Jayalalithaa case had dragged on for eighteen years and she was her- self deantly condent that it would continue for the duration of her earthly residence. It was not to be. When she appeared before Judge John Michael D’Cunha on September 26 at Parappana Agrahara special court in Bangalore, she had no inkling that it was a one way ticket to prison. Earlier she had told party functionar - ies before leaving for the court that she would be back within hours. The news of it spread like wildre, which brought Tamil Nadu to a standstill. People sobbed, wept and cried for their ‘Amma’. She had a deity status among many of her followers. Ban - ners “How can a man (judge) punish a goddess” in towns, challenged the ver - dict! For some, like Venkatesan, it was too much. He set re on himself and gallantly fought off those who tried to put the re out. He said that he did not want to live when Amma was languish- ing in jail. He died. He was not the only one. The ruling AIADMK Party claimed that eight other people had committed sui - cide in the state and ten more deaths were attributed to cardiac arrest, fol - lowing the announcement that Amma was found guilty on charges of corrup - tion and jailed. One 80-year old, Nali - yaram of Thenkasi, reportedly jumped in front of a moving bus soon after hearing the verdict. However, police claimed that Naliyaram was drunk and was mowed down by a bus when cross - ing the road. Such claims are not un - common in India. In 2009, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh died and it was claimed that 122 people died of shock or committed suicide, prompt - ing his son Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy to appeal to people through all TV chan - nels in the state to be stoic and brave in facing the tragedy. However, the po - lice could not conrm the authenticity of the claims. Jayalalithaa was jailed for four years and ned Rs 100 crore for possessing assets disproportionate to her known sources of income. In the nal analysis, Jayalalithaa could not ac - count to the court for assets worth Rs 53.6 crore. Her assets included 28 kg gold, 800 kg silver, 750 pairs of shoes, 10,500 saris and 91 watches. Many had claimed that after 18 years the case had lost its mo - mentum but Judge D’Cunha, fth judge to handle the case, showed great deter - mination in nalizing the case. In the process, he admonished the defence for prolonging the trial and even ned prosecutor Bhavani Singh Rs 60,000 twice for failing to turn up in court on two occasions. Last year, another Chief Minister, Om Prakash Chautala of Haryana and his son Ajay Chautala were jailed for ten years on January 22, 2013 by special CBI Judge Vinod Kumar for corruption. Om Prakash Chautala had been Hary - ana chief minister for ve-terms and was considered to be well-placed to ride out such storms. His 4,000 bois - terous supporters who gathered out - side the court attempted to storm the court building but had to retreat when the Police used tear gas to disperse them. In February 2012, Lalu Prasad, Chief Minister of Bihar appeared before Judge Pravas Kumar Singh on charges of corruption, famously dubbed the fodder scam case, which involved decades of sys - temic embezzlement of over Rs 950 crores from government treasury of the eastern Indian state of Bihar. On October 3, 2013 Judge Singh sentenced Lalu Prasad to ve years in jail and another former chief minister Jagannath Mishra on similar charges to four years. The corrup - tion scheme involved the fabrication of vast herds of ctitious livestock for which fodder, medicines and animal husbandry equipment were allegedly procured. It revealed a nexus be- tween bureaucrats, elected politicians and businesspeople that pen - etrated several state-run economic sectors in the country. Jayalalithaa’s conviction has sent a message across the nation that no one is above the law. Indeed, her cultic stature has spread a shroud of mourning across Tamil Nadu but it is not likely to inuence the judiciary to grant her any sought of reprieve. In - dian politicians, temple priests, pujaris and sadhus have lost the sympathy of the Indian judiciary. It is claimed that temples across India are the repositories of tons of gold and the World Gold Council estimates there are about 2,000 tonnes of gold locked away in temples - worth about $84 bil - lion at current prices - which Indian devotees have offered in the form of jewellery, bars, coins and even replicas of body parts, in the hope of winning favours from pantheon of Hindu gods or in thanks for blessings received or health restored. There is no estimate of gold hoarded by Indian politicians but if Jayalalithaa’s 28 kg gold is taken as a guide, India can rightly claim that it is one of the rich - est nations in the world but rendered poor by its political leaders, priests, sadhus and temples. Her rich collec - tion of 10,500 saris, 750 pairs of shoes, 91 watches and 800 kg of silver depicts the depth of her greed and craving for material wealth. In her circles, she was being touted as the next Prime Minister of India and no one, including the rich fraternity of Indian astrologers, could predict she was not going to Delhi but to a rickety jail in Bangalore. (Rajendra Prasad is the author of Tears in Paradise – Suffering and Struggles of Indians in Fiji 1879- 2004) The latest Consumer Price Index shows that all Australians are now benefiting from a 5.1 per cent reduction in electricity pric- es following the scrapping of the carbon tax. This is single largest quarterly fall in electricity prices since ABS electronic records began in Sep- tember 1980. In July, the Govern- ment followed through with its commitment to scrap the carbon tax which was a $9 billion hit on the economy each year. Labor’s carbon tax was also a $550 hit on household costs and it did nothing for the environ- ment. Scrapping the carbon tax was always about reducing cost of living pressures and passing the savings onto families and businesses. Today’s Consumer Price Index shows these benefits are making their way through the economy. Treasury estimates that the abo- lition of the carbon tax will re- duce the Consumer Price Index by around 0.7 percentage points through the year to the June quar- ter of 2015. The Consumer Price Index for the September quarter also showed a reduction in the price of automo- tive fuel by 2.5 per cent. Overall, the Consumer Price In- dex rose 0.5 per cent in the Sep- tember quarter 2014, which com- pares to a similar rise in the June quarter. Headline inflation was 2.3 per cent through the year, following 3.0 per cent growth through the year to the June quarter, which was due to the stronger inflation in the second half of 2013. The Commonwealth Govern- ment is getting on with the job of cutting red tape and regulation and has introduced legislation to repeal nearly 1,000 unnecessary pieces of legislation and regula- tions and 7,210 pages of legisla- tion and regulation. Before the election, we promised to cut red tape costs by $1 billion each year and with this Spring Repeal Day, the Government has more than doubled that target. The repeal measures announced will save individuals, businesses and the not-for-profit sector over $2.1 billion in compliance costs. Cutting red tape matters: Too much regulation hurts productiv- ity, deters investment and innova- tion, and cost jobs. In 2014, Australia ranked 124 out of 148 countries for ‘burden of government regulation’ in the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index. Plainly, this is not good enough. The Productivity Commission has estimated that regulation compliance costs could amount to as much as four per cent of Australia’s GDP. Stakeholders from across the economy have been conveying a consistent mes- sage to the Government that there needs to be an urgent and significant reduction in regula- tion to improve Australia’s pro- ductivity and competitiveness. Some examples of red tape re- forms include: • Savings of $88 million per year in compliance costs by having access to a centralised, online point of access for Government services including the Australian Tax Office, Medicare and Centre- link. So far, five million Austral- ians have created their MyGov account. • The Australian Tax Office’s new online tax return service, MyTax, will save over 1.4 million taxpay- ers $160 million a year in compli- ance costs by pre-populating tax returns. • A one-stop-shop for environ - mental approvals will save the community $426 million each year and provide an estimated economic gain of $120 billion over the next 12 years. • An estimated 447,000 small businesses will benefit from a reduced tax compliance burden with administrative changes to GST and PAYG reporting. Fur- ther, businesses with no GST payable will no longer be re- quired to lodge a business activity statement saving small businesses more than $67 million each year in compliance costs. • The Gov - ernment’s repeal of the Carbon Tax and the Mining Tax has not only reduced cost of living pres- sures and helped create jobs, but it has also saved families and businesses in reduced compliance costs. Across every portfolio and every sector of the economy, cutting red tape creates jobs, boosts pro- ductivity and promotes invest- ment. The Government will continue to designate two parliamentary sit- ting days each year as repeal days to repeal costly and unnecessary legislation and regulation. Cut- ting red tape is at the heart of this Government’s mission: to build a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia.