Archive for August, 2011

All-party meeting on Lokpal Bill underway

The crucial all-party meeting convened by the government is underway at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s residence in Delhi.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the government’s chief negotiator, is representing the Congress in the meeting being held to discuss the deadlock over the Lokpal Bill.

The meeting has been called by the government in a bid to build consensus before a decision is taken on the Bill.

In his opening remarks, the prime minister urged political parties to show the government the way forward. This is because the issues raised by Team Anna relate to the functioning of parliamentary democracy, he said.

The prime minister also said the government was prepared to request the Speaker of the Lok Sabha to formally refer the Jan Lokpal Bill also to the Standing Committee “for their holistic consideration along with everything else”.

“The government can formally request the Standing Committee to fast-track their deliberations to the extent reasonably feasible, subject to its discretion and the necessity to reflect deeply and spend adequate time on such an important Bill,” he said.

Mukherjee was likely to meet Team Anna again on Wednesday after the all-party meeting. But there is a possibility of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs meeting before the government negotiates with Team Anna again.

PM expresses concern over Anna’s health
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed concern over anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare’s failing health.

“Yesterday, I felt that I should take a personal initiative to appeal to Shri Anna Hazareji to end his fast so that we may work together in a spirit of cooperative engagement to bring into existence a strong Lokpal,” he said.

“Our common objective is to build a strong and independent institution that will deal effectively with corruption, which is a major challenge that confronts our democracy and our nation,” he said.

India’s Lokpal Bill, 2011

The official version of the Lokpal bill defining the role and powers of a Lokpal – an independent institution to check corruption by higher placed officials within government – has been tabled in the Parliament.

A need voiced out by the people to constitute a mechanism to dealing with complaints of corruption against public functionaries in high positions led the central government to constitute a Joint Draft Committee (JDC) on 8th april 2011, to draft the an anti-graft Act.

This Act is called the Lokpal Act,2011 and extends to the whole of India. It also applies to servants outside the country. The Act provides for the establishment of the institution of ‘Lokpal’ to inquire into the allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for all other relevant matters..


The Lokpal is to consist of a Chairperson, who is or has been a Chief Justice of India or a judge of the Supreme Court, and eight members out of whom 50% should be judicial members.

The chairperson and the members will be appointed by the President after obtaining the recommendations of a selection committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House of the People, the Leader of Opposition in the House of the People,the Leader of Opposition in the Council of States, a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister,one sitting Judge of the Supreme Court nominated by the Chief Justice of India,one eminent Jurist nominated by the central government and one person of eminence in public life who has wide knowledge and experience in anti-corruption policy.

The salary of the chairperson will be the same as that of the chief justice of India and that of the members will be the same as that of judges of the Supreme Court.

The chairperson or any of the members can be removed from his or her office by the order of the President on the grounds of misbehaviour after the Supreme Court, on a reference being made to it by the President, on a petition being made by at least 100 members of the parliament or by the president on the receipt of a petition made by a citizen of India where the president is satisfied that the petition should be referred.

Powers & Functions

As per the bill, the Lokpal shall constitute an Investigation Wing for the purpose of conducting investigation of any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act,1988. The institution may, by notification, constitute a prosecution wing and appoint a Director of Prosecution and such other officers to assist the Director of Prosecution in the prosecution of public servants in relation to any complaint by the Lokpal under this act.

The expenses of the Lokpal, including all salaries, allowances and pensions payable to or in respect of the Chairperson, Members or secretary or other officers or staff of the lokpal, has to be charged on the Consolidated Fund of India and any fees taken by the Lokpal is to form a part of that fund.

Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Lokpal will inquire into any matter involved in, or arising from, or connected with, any allegation of corruption made in a complaint in respect of the Prime Minister after he has resigned from office, any other person who is or has been a member of the Union, any person who is or as been a member of either house of Parliament and any group ‘A’ officer in the public services.

A complaint under this Act should only relate to a period during which the public servant is holding or serving in that capacity.

The bill clearly states the procedure of inquiry and investigation. The Lokpal on receipt of a complaint, will either make a preliminary inquiry or direct its Investigation Wing to ascertain whether the matter can be proceeded with or not. Every preliminary investigation is supposed to ordinarily be completed within a period of 30 days and if needed in particular cases, within a further extended deadline of 3 months from the date of receipt of the complaint.

After this the investigating authority shall submit its report to the Lokpal and the Lokpal has to give the public servant a chance of being heard.

The hearing of the case will be made public.

For the purpose of any inquiry, the Lokpal will enjoy all powers of the Civil Court, under the Code of Civil Procedure of 1908 while trying a suit in respect of any of the matters related to summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath, requiring the discovery and the production of any document, receiving evidence of affidavit, requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office and issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses or documents.

Special Lokpal courts

The central government shall constitute a number of special courts as recommended by the Lokpal, to hear and decide the cases arising out of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 or under this Act. These special courts are supposed to ensure completion of each trial within an year of the filing of the case.

The Lokpal is not meant to inquire into any complaint made against the Chairperson or any member and any complaint against the Chairperson or a member shall be made by an application by the party aggrieved, to the president. If on trial a public servant is seen to have been involved in some corrupt practice, then he or she will be liable of making up for the loss to the exchequer if any.

Whoever makes a false or frivolous complaint under this Act shall, on conviction, be punished with imprisonment for at least two. The term of imprisonment can extend to 5 years and with a fine not less than 25 thousand which can be raised to 2 lakhs.


The Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen’s ombudsman Bill) is a draft anti-corruption bill drawn up by prominent civil society activists seeking the appointment of a Jan Lokpal, an independent body that would investigate corruption cases, complete the investigation within a year and envisages trial in the case getting over in the next one year.

Drafted by Justice Santosh Hegde (former Supreme Court Judge and former Lokayukta of Karnataka), Prashant Bhushan (Supreme Court Lawyer) and Arvind Kejriwal (RTI activist), the draft Bill envisages a system where a corrupt person found guilty would go to jail within two years of the complaint being made and his ill-gotten wealth being confiscated. It also seeks power to the Jan Lokpal to prosecute politicians and bureaucrats without government permission.

Retired IPS officer Kiran Bedi and other known people like Swami Agnivesh, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Anna Hazare and Mallika Sarabhai are also part of the movement, called India Against Corruption. Its website describes the movement as “an expression of collective anger of people of India against corruption. We have all come together to force/request/persuade/pressurize the Government to enact the Jan Lokpal Bill. We feel that if this Bill were enacted it would create an effective deterrence against corruption.”

Anna Hazare, anti-corruption crusader, went on a fast-unto-death in April, demanding that this Bill, drafted by the civil society, be adopted. Four days into his fast, the government agreed to set up a joint committee with an equal number of members from the government and civil society side to draft the Lokpal Bill together. The two sides met several times but could not agree on fundamental elements like including the PM under the purview of the Lokpal. Eventually, both sides drafted their own version of the Bill.

The government has introduced its version in Parliament in this session. Team Anna is up in arms and calls the government version the “Joke Pal Bill.” Anna Hazare declared that he would begin another fast in Delhi on August 16. Hours before he was to begin his hunger strike, the Delhi Police detained and later arrested him. There are widespread protests all over the country against his arrest.

The website of the India Against Corruption movement calls the Lokpal Bill of the government an “eyewash” and has on it a critique of that government Bill.

A look at the salient features of Jan Lokpal Bill:

1. An institution called LOKPAL at the centre and LOKAYUKTA in each state will be set up

2. Like Supreme Court and Election Commission, they will be completely independent of the governments. No minister or bureaucrat will be able to influence their investigations.

3. Cases against corrupt people will not linger on for years anymore: Investigations in any case will have to be completed in one year. Trial should be completed in next one year so that the corrupt politician, officer or judge is sent to jail within two years.

4. The loss that a corrupt person caused to the government will be recovered at the time of conviction.

5. How will it help a common citizen: If any work of any citizen is not done in prescribed time in any government office, Lokpal will impose financial penalty on guilty officers, which will be given as compensation to the complainant.

6. So, you could approach Lokpal if your ration card or passport or voter card is not being made or if police is not registering your case or any other work is not being done in prescribed time. Lokpal will have to get it done in a month’s time. You could also report any case of corruption to Lokpal like ration being siphoned off, poor quality roads been constructed or panchayat funds being siphoned off. Lokpal will have to complete its investigations in a year, trial will be over in next one year and the guilty will go to jail within two years.

7. But won’t the government appoint corrupt and weak people as Lokpal members? That won’t be possible because its members will be selected by judges, citizens and constitutional authorities and not by politicians, through a completely transparent and participatory process.

8. What if some officer in Lokpal becomes corrupt? The entire functioning of Lokpal/ Lokayukta will be completely transparent. Any complaint against any officer of Lokpal shall be investigated and the officer dismissed within two months.

9. What will happen to existing anti-corruption agencies? CVC, departmental vigilance and anti-corruption branch of CBI will be merged into Lokpal. Lokpal will have complete powers and machinery to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician.

10. It will be the duty of the Lokpal to provide protection to those who are being victimized for raising their voice against corruption.

What is Lokpal Bill

The Lokpal will be a three-member body with a chairperson who is or was a chief justice or Supreme Court judge, and two members who are or have been high courts judges or chief justices.

Implementation of the Lokpal bill will hopefully reduce corruption in India.

The basic idea of the Lokpal is borrowed from the office of the ombudsman in other countries.

It provides for filing complaints of corruption against the prime minister , other ministers and members of parliament with the ombudsman.

Anyone, except for a public servant , can file a complaint and the Lokpal has to complete the inquiry within six months.

For 42 years, governments have tried to put in place the law.

The bill was for the first time presented during the fourth Lok Sabha in 1968, and was passed there in 1969. However, the Lok Sabha was dissolved , resulting in the first death of the bill.

It was revived in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2008.

In September 2004, prime minister Manmohan Singh said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government would lose no time in enacting the bill. But strong lobbies blocked it.

The Lokpal Bill, 2010, awaits an okay from a select committee.

Former chief justice of the Delhi high court and rights activist Rajinder Sachar feels the bill is “shamefully toothless and meant to give a false reassurance to the people that the government is serious in its fight against corruption” .

But former chief justice of India M N Venkatachelliah feels the PM must be out of its purview.

India holds all-party meeting on anti-graft law

India’s government is holding a meeting of all political parties to find a consensus to deal with the demands of anti-corruption activists led by campaigner Anna Hazare.

The authorities have held a second round of talks with Mr Hazare’s aides about a proposed tough anti-graft bill.

PM Manmohan Singh has appealed to Mr Hazare to end his hunger strike, which has entered its ninth day in Delhi.

The activist has lost more than 5kg (11lbs) and and is weak, his aides say.

Mr Hazare, 74, has also refused doctors’ advice to be put on an intravenous drip to help him rehydrate.

“Until now, the government’s intentions are not good. So I have decided until my last breath, until the government gives in to this issue, I will not turn back. I don’t care even if I die,” he told his followers who have gathered at Ramlila grounds in Delhi to support his fast.

In a letter addressed to Mr Hazare on Tuesday, the prime minister said he was committed to drawing up the best possible law, and to do it as quickly as possible.

Mr Singh also asked his Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to negotiate with the activists.

After the first round of talks with Mr Mukherjee, aides of Mr Hazare told reporters that it would be difficult to persuade the activist to give up his fast unless the government “tabled, discussed and passed in this session of parliament” a strong anti-corruption bill.

“If required the parliament session should be extended [to facilitate the passage of the bill],” Mr Hazare’s aides said.

In April, Mr Hazare called off a hunger strike after four days when the government said he could help draft legislation to create a special ombudsman, or lokpal – an independent body with the power to investigate politicians and civil servants suspected of corruption.

Continue reading the main story
Dispute over Citizens’ Ombudsman bill

Following a hunger strike by Anna Hazare in April, the government agreed to draft the Jan Lokpal (Citizens’ Ombudsman) bill. The final bill incorporates 34 of the 40 principles set out by Mr Hazare, but he and other activists have rejected it
Mr Hazare says the ombudsman should have the power to investigate the prime minister and senior judges. The government refuses to include them, saying their authority will be eroded
Mr Hazare wants the ombudsman to be able to investigate MPs accused of taking bribes to vote or ask questions in parliament. The government says such probes should be carried out by MPs
Prison vigil for corruption crusader
Biswas: Arrest complicates debate
The final version of the bill was presented in early August, but Mr Hazare and other activists rejected it because it said the prime minister and senior judges would be exempt from scrutiny.

Mr Hazare’s arrest last Tuesday, hours before he was to start his public fast, sparked mass protests across India.

He initially refused the government’s offer to release him unless he was permitted to protest without restrictions.

Mr Hazare was finally released from Tihar jail on Friday after he agreed to a police offer permitting him to go on hunger strike for 15 days.

India has recently been hit by a string of high-profile corruption scandals which critics say is evidence of a pervasive culture of corruption in Mr Singh’s administration.

A recent survey said corruption in Asia’s third largest economy had cost billions of dollars and threatened to derail growth.

5 Traits That Make a Successful Entrepreneur

There are five characteristics that I see in the successful entrepreneurs.

Successful entrepreneurs are:
1) passionate
2) risk-takers
3) good communicators
4) self- aware
5) know the value of a dollar

We have all heard that entrepreneurs need to be passionate about their company and passion needs to be 24/7. It is not, however, working 24/7. It is their excitement for the technology. If entrepreneurs are in it for the money without the passion they will fail. For some entrepreneurs, however, their passion turns into a love for the technology without regard for the business. This kind of passion can kill a company.

It is risky to start a business. There are no guarantees of success, there has to be that leap of faith. This is especially true of first-time entrepreneurs because they face the greatest odds of success. Entrepreneurs put second mortgages on their homes, go without salaries for long periods of time, even years. They may even go to the Big Box stores and split-up the paper towels amongst the employees to keep expenses down all in an effort to keep their business going. They sacrifice a lot personally to get the business going.

The best entrepreneurs are good communicators. That means they listen as well as speak. They listen to a wide range of people, advisors, employees, mentors and most importantly customers. They listen to what people are telling them, process it and then and act upon it. They keep key people informed of their progress. They build relationships with people who can help them along the way. They articulate their technology and business to others in plain, non-technical, language. They always remember that an important aspect of being a good communicator is knowing who they are talking to so that they can effectively communicate their message, and get that person interested in the company.

Entrepreneurs need to have self awareness. They need to know their strengths and limitations. They seek advice and look for people who can add value to their limitations. An entrepreneur who thinks he/she can do everything is fooling him/herself and is jeopardizing the company. I see it so often when the company is ready to go to market and they want to be the sales person, the chief technology officer as well as the CEO. After all, who understands and can explain the product best? That’s what they think.

Money— every entrepreneur needs, but to some it is a mystery as to how to fund their company. Successful entrepreneurs are money smart and I’m not talking about knowing how to work the stock market. They invest their own money in their company and it is documented on the books. They know their expenses. They know their needs. They seek out all avenues for funding and develop a plan. Some decide to bootstrap the company while others realize at some point they will need an infusion of capital, either angel or venture. Smart entrepreneurs know which kind of funding they need and they know how to go after it.

As important as all of those points are, the truly money-savvy entrepreneur never loses sight of two things: raising money takes a long time, sometimes six months or more, and all money is not the same. The need to do due diligence on the source of funding is just as important as the due diligence the funder does on the company.

Times are tough and money is tight, but waiting until you need the money and being desperate can have dire consequences. Sometimes the strings are so tight it can choke the company. Read the fine print. One company received an equity investment by a corporate investment fund. While it was a minor percentage in equity, the company failed to read the agreement thoroughly. They didn’t realize that the company could not be sold without consent of the equity investor. That small print cost them the ability to raise any capital from venture investors. I have plenty of stories to tell about this. My caution is before signing on the dotted line, think seriously about the long-term effects of the agreement and always read every word of the agreement.

Good entrepreneurs are passionate, they work hard, they seek advice, and they know their limits. They have a business and financial plan to grow their company; they evaluate it and make adjustments as needed.

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