Sunday, July 12, 2015

Taxi For Sure

Courtesy: Live Mint

Behind TaxiForSure’s sellout

Mumbai: Over the previous 18 hours, Raghu, as he is popularly known, had practiced the speech, playing the sentences over and over again in his head. He would start by saying that in the three-and-a-half year journey of TaxiForSure (TFS), he had never thought that a day like this would ever come. That he had never planned for this. That it was the worst moment of his entire TFS journey.
Now that the moment had arrived, at around 2.30pm on a warm March afternoon, at TFS’s office in Bengaluru’s Koramangala, on the terrace, in front of almost 200 nervous employees, Raghu was overcome by emotion.

He gave himself a few seconds to recover. And then a few more.

The previous 18 hours had been tough. He had barely slept, knowing what was around the corner. Monday had started way earlier than usual. He woke up at 5am but there wasn’t much to do, so he idled around and, then, when his two-and-a-half-year-old son woke up, he made him breakfast. At about 7.30am, Raghu and his wife, Shilpa, left home. Their destination was TFS’s first office—the company had started here in 2011 with just two people—Raghu, 33, and Aprameya Radhakrishna, 34. It was a 100 sq. ft terrace office; No. 855, 4th Floor, 7th Main, JP Nagar, Bengaluru-78.

At around 8.15am, when Raghu and Shilpa reached the office, TFS’s finance controller Deena Jacob was already there, waiting for them with a clutch of documents. It was Raghu’s idea to meet there—to see the end of TFS’s journey from where it had all begun.

Before he got down to it, though, Raghu had to honour a simple request from Shilpa—he could sign the documents only after 9am, at an auspicious time. The group whiled away the time, fondly recollecting old memories, making plans to buy the 100 sq. ft room as a keepsake. Once the clock struck 9, Raghu got down to it. One after the other, he signed 16 copies of shareholder agreements, all stating that he was okay getting in Ola Cabs as a 100% investor in the company.

The 16 slight scribbles brought closure to months of helplessness and frustration. And just like that, TFS was sold to Ola Cabs.

This is the story of two entrepreneurs who set out to build a big business (after a drunken night at the Tavern pub), couldn’t, and so cashed out and moved on. It is the story of TFS’s oversized ambition, a black swan event, a government’s knee-jerk reaction, cash burn, over-reliance on venture capital funds and life in the times of Breaking News media coverage.

This is the story of how, in just two months, TFS went from a prospective good second bet in the taxi aggregator business in India, almost on the verge of raising $200 million, to a company that no venture capitalist would touch.
It all started when Ola Cabs (the company’s name is ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) turned up the heat—on 22 August 2014.


It was a business-as-usual move, a competitor trying to score a quick win, about getting the numbers up, sharply, just before stepping out to raise funds. And so, on a cool Bengaluru morning, Ola Cabs dropped Ola Mini cab rates by almost one-fourth, from Rs.13 to Rs.10 a km, making cabs cheaper than an auto rickshaw. The fare for an Ola sedan was slashed from Rs.16 to Rs.13 per km. And that was only for the consumer.

For drivers, Ola started a weekly incentive scheme—a driver who did 30 or 40 trips a week could earn as much as Rs.8,000 as a bonus.

In September, Ola changed the driver incentive scheme once again—to a daily one. A driver who did five trips a day would get a bonus of Rs.500, seven trips, Rs.800, 10 trips, Rs.1,200. Then came the Ola Wallet and a promise of 100% cashback, on the first recharge for every user, till October 2014.
Ola’s rival, across town, TFS, was watching the firm’s every move closely. Ola’s logic was clear. The company had raised Rs.250 crore in a round of funding in July 2014 and was burning money to get more customers and drivers on its platform. In the process, it was losing as much as Rs.200 on every ride.

“We thought it would not last, that it was just a spike,” says Raghu. “The daily driver incentives given by Ola had started affecting us because, at the end of the day, a driver has both devices and will choose whoever gives him more money. So we waited for September and October to see whether Ola would stop.”

TFS was confident that Ola would.

The company couldn’t have been more wrong.

On 28 October, Ola raised $210 million (about Rs.1,281 crore) from SoftBank Internet and Media Inc. (SIMI) and its existing investors—Tiger Global, Matrix Partners India and Steadview Capital.
“We never expected that someone would write a $210 million cheque for a cab aggregator company in India so soon,” says Raghu. “With that kind of money on the table, Ola would not stop. That’s when we thought we couldn’t just be on the sidelines and watch. That we would have to fight for our survival.”

In the start-up world, whenever there is a large difference between two firms, raising capital becomes very difficult for the laggard. With $210 million at its disposal, Ola had serious potential to outrun TFS. So if TFS had to survive, it needed to grow. And then, because it had only so much cash in the bank ($8-10 million left, part of the $12 million TFS had raised in August 2014 from Accel US), it had to get into the market to raise another round, a big one.

Burning cash

On 1 November, TFS decided to play the game. It came up with a simple strategy. Thanks to the higher per km rates, consumers weren’t using the service for short distance travel. So, at the consumer end, TFS dropped rates. To Rs.49 for the first 4km and then Rs.14 per km. But at the driver’s end, it needed to incentivize drivers to pick up rides. So it held on to the old rates for drivers (Rs.200 for the first 10km). So if a customer was paying Rs.49 for a 4km run, the driver would still receive Rs.200.

To put it simply, TFS was losing Rs.150 per ride.

But the strategy worked brilliantly. Almost immediately, there was a significant surge in the number of transactions. By the end of October, TFS was doing about 8,000 transactions per day without losing any money. By the second week of November, the number of transactions had jumped by almost three times. And so did the losses. On an average, TFS was losing Rs.36 lakh every day.
In November, TFS burnt through $1.8 million (almost Rs.11 crore).

If that wasn’t enough, the firm started expanding to other cities. It entered Hubli, Ahmedabad, Mysuru, Kolkata and Chandigarh. The way Raghu and Aprameya saw it, it was a do-or-die strategy. “You can be conservative,” says Aprameya, the co-founder of TFS, “but once you get aggressive, then you go for the kill. Maximum growth, maximum cities, all positive signs.”

Sometime in the third week of November, TFS started exploring the market to raise funds—around $200 million.

Things looked good.  In early 2014, skeptics had questioned the size and scale of the Indian taxi aggregation business, but with SoftBank’s $210 million investment in Ola, almost overnight, the market was validated. Everyone agreed that it was a multi-billion-dollar opportunity. Private equity and hedge funds in the US and Hong Kong were excited. “We were bleeding,” says Raghu, “but we took a call to get aggressive. We saw a 4X jump and our investors were so happy. It was amazing. So many investors were interested in participating. And everybody was telling me, this is amazing Raghu, this is great. We can put in a large sum of money.”

Over the next couple of weeks, talks between TFS and prospective investors progressed smoothly. The company saw interest from more than 20 investors in the US. Due diligence and number crunching had already been done. Only two steps remained; a partnership meeting with the firm, where the entrepreneur makes a presentation to the firm’s senior team, and the final nod for investment. Usually, entrepreneurs like to do this face to face. With that in mind, on 6 December (a Saturday), at about 8.30pm, Raghu boarded an Etihad Airways flight from Bengaluru to San Francisco. Only when he landed in the US, on Sunday morning, and connected to the airport Wi-Fi, did he realize that while he was on the flight, an incident with dire implications for the taxi business had taken place in India.

Late in the evening, at about 11pm on 6 December, news broke that a Uber cab driver, Shiv Kumar Yadav, had raped a 26-year-old woman passenger in Delhi.

The aftermath—ban, ban, ban

Once Raghu reached his hotel, he got on to a call with Aprameya and the senior management team from TFS to discuss the Uber incident. In Delhi, things looked grim. There was widespread anger and the air was rife with rumours that all taxi aggregator firms would be banned. Other states, too, such as Karnataka and Maharashtra, were considering a ban. The news of the ban was circulating on social media, but TFS hadn’t received any notice.

Back in San Francisco, Raghu started feeling the pressure. He had lined up almost 20 meetings with VCs and hedge funds the following day, Monday, 8 December. He didn’t want to go in unprepared. So he asked for a breakfast meeting with Arun Mathew of Accel US and Ashish Gupta of Helion Ventures. They met, first thing Monday morning. “And they were like, it has become a big thing,” said Raghu. “Everybody in the Bay Area is discussing this, and just this. That’s when Arun told me it was a really bad time for me to visit because most talks would be on the Uber incident.”
Mathew was right. Raghu’s first partner meeting was at 8.30am, and this is how he remembers it going.

First question: What do you think about the Uber incident?

Second question: What will happen to Uber?
“I was like, this is the heat of the moment...,” Raghu replied. “Over a period of time, things will settle down. I think, in some part, Uber will have to make some changes in its business model, and stuff like that. But it doesn’t mean things will get eliminated, it is an essential service.”
The partners weren’t convinced.

Third question: Have taxi aggregators been banned?

Fourth question: What does the law say?

Fifth question: Why have you not taken permits?
“I told them we had not received any notice,” says Raghu. “It is not a banned service, as long as the regulations governing aggregators are absent. It is a new model, and the government hasn’t thought about this.” The partners didn’t share Raghu’s optimism. In their mind, regulation was top priority, and they needed more time to figure it out before committing to investing.

Over the next five days, every meeting, 23 in all, Raghu had followed a similar script.

Even as all this was happening, back in India, Aprameya was facing the music of a government that was desperate to be seen as doing something. In a knee-jerk reaction, it wanted to ban the service. On Tuesday morning (9 December), Aprameya got a call from the Bengaluru police commissioner to come for a meeting at 11am. Most cab operators were there, except Uber. “They made me stand up and asked me, what is your model? Do you take responsibility?” says Aprameya. But, before he could answer, someone behind him quipped: “Sir, on their website, they are saying they don’t take any responsibility.” As Aprameya tells it, the commissioner was furious, and it felt like being back in school, being reprimanded by the teacher.

The same day, news appeared that the home ministry had banned Uber and all other taxi aggregators in Delhi. But there was nothing in writing. “Till date, we have nothing in writing saying we are banning you,” says Aprameya. But public sentiment was against the aggregators, and they couldn’t make a statement about not actually being banned.

TFS was helpless. It wanted clarity, but couldn’t get any as there was no formal paperwork. “The media said the home ministry has banned the service but we were working with the transport ministry. They were saying an internal memo has been sent. So there was no clarity.”
Back in San Francisco, Raghu decided to wait it out another week. And seek fresh meetings with VCs who had Indians in their management, with the idea that perhaps they would understand the regulatory flux in India better than the Americans, for whom absolute clarity on regulation was top priority. But, even in those meetings, nothing changed. “It was sheer bad timing,” says Raghu. “I wasn’t frustrated because I could understand their concern. But there was disappointment.”
Raghu could have stayed longer, but the holiday season was about to begin. On 21 December, he got back to Bengaluru. He had no money but assurances from a couple of investors, who were keen to sync back after 7 January, when they would be back from holidays. Back in India, things hadn’t changed much. There was no regulatory clarity in Delhi or Chandigarh, where there was supposedly a ban. “The funny thing is we didn’t stop operations anywhere,” says Raghu. “Because we didn’t have any notice. It was only in the news.”

In the second week of January, things became difficult. The firm was losing money every day and it just couldn’t stop the incentives. The investors who had promised hope after 7 January got back and said they were unsure.
And the existing investors were not in a position to bring in money.
“It needed a big guy to come in and write that cheque. It was a lot of money,” says Raghu.

The sale

On 10 January, two of Accel India’s partners, Anand Daniel and Prashanth Prakash, asked Raghu and Aprameya out for coffee; 30 minutes into the meeting, the Accel partners broached the subject of an interest from Ola Cabs.

“So why don’t you guys consider this? It is something we can explore,” said Daniel. “In the meantime, if there is inbound interest from a large player (fund), that can also be considered.” It wasn’t an easy discussion to be had. Raghu says that his first reaction was ‘no’. “We said that as founders, we wouldn’t want to sell to competition,” he says. On their part, Daniel and Prakash argued that on the face of it, Accel was interested in talking with Ola but that it was not their decision to make. “They have approached us and we think it is our responsibility to come and tell you guys. So you guys decide,” said Daniel. The meeting lasted about two hours, after which both Raghu and Aprameya went back to office.

Once inside the boardroom, they frantically started putting together the names of the investors that they could reach out to at short notice.

They were going to ask for some money to “weather the storm to survive”, says Raghu. They cut down on the amount of $200 million. On a piece of paper, Raghu put down 14 names. And over the next few days, he began calling each one of them.
It was a futile effort.

TFS had very little money left, and absolutely no time.

The company had less than $2 million in the bank, which would have lasted only till mid-February. “We ourselves were not convinced (that we would survive),” says Raghu. “I called all the 14 people, and we even convinced two to participate; but it was too little, too late. We could have survived only for two-three months with that kind of money.”
After a while, pragmatism won. The firm couldn’t afford a scenario where there would be no money to pay the salaries of the 1,800 employees. Or worse, pay operators.
Between 15 and 20 January, the promoters realized selling out to competition was probably their best option.

“That’s when we reached out to our investors to reach out to Uber and also began talks with Ola,” says Raghu.

Even as all this was happening, on the morning of 28 January, The Times of India ran a story, citing people it didn’t name, that Ola Cabs would acquire TaxiForSure. For $200-250 million. The story said it is a “sealed deal and could be announced in the next few weeks”. Raghu claims the deal was far from being sealed as TFS had just begun talks. And not just to Ola but also Uber.
For the outside world, it didn’t matter.

At TFS’s office, all hell broke loose.

“You know, 28 January was so miserable,” says Raghu. “I walk into office and see and pages opened on some of the employees’ monitors. It is an open office, and you feel so bad. And you can’t walk up and say anything. And people are also not going to come up and ask.” Over the next few days, the cross talk among employees increased, so did the speculation. “For a few days after that, people would just leave at 6pm. We’ve never seen our office empty at 6,” he adds.
Previously, on 20 January, the firm had “capped marketing expenses and put a freeze on hiring. So now, people started co-relating and jumping to conclusions”. It wasn’t long before the taxi operators started dropping by. Curious to know what’s happening because their livelihood depended on TFS’s existence.

Aprameya and Raghu were helpless and frustrated.

“We believed we are open and transparent,” says Raghu. “So now what? How do you hold that belief? Some people felt they are getting cheated because they are getting to know things from the newspapers. That phase was really bad—where we had no answers.”
It is another matter altogether that concern over the future of the employees was playing on top of their minds in seeing the deal through.
And to solve that piece of the puzzle, Raghu turned to Phanindra Sama, the founder of Redbus, for advice.

Sama had made a successful exit in 2012, when he sold Redbus to Ibibo, but the exit hadn’t gone as well as Sama would have liked it to.

In the first week of February, Raghu and Sama met at a Café Coffee Day outlet in Indiranagar, at 5pm. Raghu had a simple question for him: what are the mistakes he could avoid? Or what is it that Sama would do differently, if given a chance?

It was then that Sama shared an interesting anecdote with him. Something that took place after Redbus was acquired by Ibibo.

When an employee walked up to him and said: “Phani, just like you, we also gave our blood, sweat and tears for the firm. So why is it that you are the only one making money?”
So Sama asked him, “What is it that you want?”
And he said: “One month’s salary as bonus will do.”
“That’s what Phani told me,” says Raghu. “That if at all, you should give one month’s bonus to all the employees. And I was like, okay, if that’s the case then why one month, we will give two months’ bonus.”

That’s how equity stock option (ESOP) acceleration (for TFS stockholders) and two months’ bonus for about 1,800 people became the centre of the conversation and negotiation with Uber and Ola. With Uber, the discussions went far, before a scary reality emerged. The company globally has 848 people on its rolls. TFS had 1,800 people in India. If the deal was to go through, it would lead to a massive bloodbath.

“That’s where we closed it,” says Raghu. “So product, engineering, marketing, analytics, and tech, Uber has its own thing. And also Uber believed only in a driver-led model, so our operators (people who own and run a fleet of cabs) would also go. So it would have been a bloodbath and 90% of our people would have had to go. That’s why we said no.”

After that, it was just Ola. And Bhavish Aggarwal, the founder of Ola, agreed the company would continue to work with operators, and also ensure that none of the people in the team would lose their jobs.

The meeting

Towards the end of the meeting, Aprameya wants this writer to take a guess on how much money TFS raised in its three-and-a-half years of existence.
$60 million?
Take another guess.
No, come on.
$26 million till December last year. The $10 million after that, the bridge round was just for the deal to happen.
Aprameya says the firm didn’t respond or acknowledge a report in The Times of India on the last round being $30 million.
“It is good for us if people are quoting a higher number.”
He continues: “We raised $26 million and sold for $200 million... That’s 1/9th of what Ola has raised. And Uber has already pumped in a lot of money—at least five times more than that. We were doing 40,000 transactions a day with that money. You know it would have required one more guy in the world to say, ‘Yes, we will fight SoftBank’. It never happened, but that’s okay.”
It is evident that luck and timing haven’t exactly gone TFS’s way.
Raghu says it is about circumstances. “We were lucky to have lived this journey and made a respectable exit. From a personal ambition, vision and goal, yes we were unlucky. But it could have been worse. Much, much more worse.”

Welcome to Digital India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched his government's Digital India programme on July 1 and kicked off the Digital India Week - promoted heavily on Twitter with #DigitalIndiaWeek - in a bid to finally push India into the 21st century.

Like most government initiatives, the Digital India plan too is heavy on hype and low on substance. The overall idea is to make "India prepare for the knowledge future" and come up "transformative" programmes. But what do these big words mean? Your guess is as good as mine. The hashtags look good on Twitter, but in the real world, you need more than the buzzwords.

The reality is that India, despite its supposed IT superpower tag, still lives in the industrial age, and barely so. When it comes to "digital India", the basic problem that the country faces, and will face in greater measure in the coming years, is connectivity. Just yesterday, Akamai came up with its report on state of the internet in various countries. The net speed in India is the second lowest among all Asian countries. If you bring European countries into the picture, the state of the internet in India can aptly be termed pathetic. It is not only slow, but also extremely expensive.

The situation is so bad that even government bodies have started talking about it in stark terms. "As of September 2014, India has a 15 per cent internet user penetration and is ranked 142nd, way below some of its neighbouring countries like Bhutan and Sri Lanka," a TRAI report recently noted.

The most regrettable fact about the state of internet in India is that it is fixable. The problems can be mitigated, the infrastructure can be improved, internet connectivity can reach more places, and the quality of service can be better. And that doesn't require too much effort. All it requires is some intent to make a change.

At a time when the rest of the world defines minimum broadband speed as above 2mbps - in the US, it is 25mbps- our government (read TRAI) - still defines it as 512kbps, which is 50 times slower than the minimum speed in the US. Simply raising the speed and forcing telecom operators to meet it will improve the service manifold.

Then there is the curious case of telecom operators erring, undeterred. In most countries across the world, practices like fair use policy, which telecom providers use to throttle the internet speed on some imagined pretext, are not allowed by regulators. In fact, recently, the FCC in the US fined AT&T, a service provider, $100 million for using such tactics. But in India, telecom operators not only offer expensive and slow internet, but also throttle speed at will so that they can sell top ups. Yet, the government has refused to take note.

Now comes the question of reach. Most places in India are still serviced by MTNL and BSNL. Even as the two service providers seem to have pulled back - mysteriously so - from pushing for better internet connectivity in India, private players have shown no initiative to step up. Instead, they are busy milking individual customers by offering them bare minimum services, while dolling out quality but exorbitantly priced plans to corporate customers.

What is worse is that even 3G and 4G connectivity, which were supposed to end India's speed woes, have not improved the scene. The telecom infrastructure is so bad that nowadays getting a reliable 3G service that works consistently at a speed of 1mbps or above (which is also 20 times less than the theoretical speed) is impossible even in metros like Delhi. The 4G services, meanwhile, continue to be part of some dream that will come true some day. An even if it does, there is a feeling that it will end up working like the frustratingly slow 3G because, you guessed it right, the telecom infrastructure is bad.

Who is responsible for the mess?

TRAI and the government. Yes, telecom operators are also responsible. But they are doing things that they are allowed to. If the regulator allows Airtel, Vodafone and others to milk customers, they will do so.

Without the basic infrastructure there is no hope for Digital India. All those e-learning programmes, e-government services, tele-medicine plans, and audio-video education delivery require good internet connectivity. Yet, the government shows no urgency in solving the real problem, which can end with a little insight and earnest efforts. Instead, it continues to sell buzzwords.

Forbes list of Indian billionaires

Forbes list of Indian billionaires is based on an annual assessment of wealth and assets compiled and published by Forbes magazine on 25 September 2014.[1] The combined net worth of the 2014 class of the 100 richest Indian's is $346 billion, up from $259 billion a year ago in 2013. This is the first time, all the 100 Richest people are billionaires.

India : Lifestyle of Riches

Courtesy Article:

In booming India, being rich is not enough. For the moneyed classes, it's increasingly about flaunting their wealth in ways typical of the nouveaux riches in Russia, China or the Middle East.

India's well-heeled used to be more shy about displaying their wealth in the decades after independence from Britain when a tightly-controlled economy and dominant socialist thinking limited the opportunities for showing off.

But many prosperous Indians are embracing conspicuous consumption, turning their backs on the mantra of frugality espoused by independence hero Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation who eschewed possessions.

"They have thrown off the parsimonious Gandhian phase when it was considered poor taste to flash wealth," says Radha Chadha, co-author of "The Cult of the Luxury Brand" who has studied the affluent in Asian countries.

The biggest sign of changing attitudes to wealth and shopping can be seen in the stampede to India of flashy Western designer brands from Louis Vuitton, Prada, Chanel and Bulgari as well as sports car makers Ferrari and Maserati.

Attend any society event in Mumbai or the capital New Delhi and "it's a brave woman who arrives without a designer handbag", says Chadha, who is also a brand consultant.

In the past, dazzling extravagance was the exclusive domain of India's former feudal leaders who splashed out on bespoke Rolls-Royce cars, diamonds the size of duck eggs, palaces and armies of servants during British rule.

Later, luxury-seeking consumers had to go mostly to boutiques in five-star hotels. But a shopping mall building boom is bringing to India the sort of air-conditioned high-end retail found commonly elsewhere in Asia.

"People are less inhibited in their spending," said New Delhi furniture designer Raseel Gujral Ansal at an opening show of her creations last month as the city's elite oohed over sofas, chairs, beds and tables.

Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called for the rich to tone down their excesses and to "eschew conspicuous consumption".

But Indian billionaire Azim Premji says the phenomenon is common in nations like China, Indonesia and Thailand where people are enjoying new wealth. "The first few years, people want to show visibly they are very rich," he said.

He heads one of India's largest outsourcing companies, Wipro, and is renowned for his frugal lifestyle and philanthropy in a field of domestic billionaires whose extravagance frequently makes headlines.

The country's richest man, Mukesh Ambani, moved last year into a billion-dollar, 27-storey skyscraper home in Mumbai with three helipads in a development that towers over nearby slums.

He once gave a $60-million Airbus jet to his wife as a birthday present.

"People always had money but now they are no longer afraid to reward themselves," said Shreyans Group chief executive Ashish Chordia, an importer for Porsche and other sports cars in India.

Sales of prestige cars such as Mercedes and Ferraris accelerated 80 percent last year, despite punishing 100-percent duties and potholed roads.

"Last year was phenomenal," says BMW India president Andreas Schaaf, referring to sales.

Aston Martin last month joined the list of luxury marques driving into India with plans to sell three models - the V8 Vantage, priced at $348,341, the Rapide at $483,146 and the One-77 at a whopping $4.5 million.

The Indian luxury market as a whole is forecast to triple to $15 billion by 2015 from $4.76 billion at present, according to global consultancy AT Kearney, though it still lags China's which stands at $9.6 billion.

The number of Indians who have financial assets of over $1 million, excluding main residences, now stands at 127,000, the 2010 World Wealth Report by Merrill Lynch Capgemini says.

According to a new survey of 160 financial advisors by a private banking arm of Citibank, Indians are the most likely members of the global super rich to spend more on private jets and yachts over the next few years.

At the same time, observers say the new ostentation underscores how the divide between India's wealthy and its poor is widening.

"It makes me uncomfortable how much people spend on weddings," concedes one New Delhi society wedding organiser, who says families will regularly spend 10 million rupees ($225,000) on just one event in India's multi-day weddings.

India is home to the world's biggest number of poor people. Some 42 percent of Indians, or 455 million people, live on less than $1.25 a day, according to the World Bank.

India's statistics on health, infant mortality and malnutrition are worse than those for some countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express, describes the well-off as "divorced and insulated" from poverty.

"We send our children to private schools, get treatment only in private hospitals, have our own security in gated communities, never need to use public transport," he noted in a column.

At the glitzy Emporio mall in New Delhi, chauffeur-driven Mercedes, BMWs and the occasional Rolls-Royce or Bentley regularly pull up to disgorge wealthy occupants to shop at boutiques where handbags retail for $2,000 and more.

"I don't take my mother-in-law here - she's shocked at the prices," said Shaila, a businessman's wife, as she fingered a woven soft-leather Bottega Veneta bag priced at 136,899 rupees ($3,080) in one of the mall's boutiques.

"I never tell her what I pay for things. She thinks it's a lot if a handbag costs 500 rupees," Shaila said, asking that her last name not be used.

Banned Products Sold In India

Well it seems nobody in India really cares what companies sell and what is being consumed. Surprisingly, these products are banned across the world, but not in India. Here's a list:


A 2010 story published in The Hindu said that branded honey sold in the country was contaminated. When Centre for Science and Environment examined 12 branded honey products that were sold in India, including those made by companies like Dabur, Himalaya, Patanjali, Baidyanath, Khadi and two foreign organisations based out of Switzerland and Australia, scientists found high levels of six harmful antibiotics in 11 samples.
Indian companies who export their products abroad, and foreign companies by default, must conform to stringent standards as most developed countries have banned or strictly regulated antibiotics in honey. So setting an example of double standards, most Indian companies dump the contaminated honey on the domestic market in the country, since there are no regulations here.
“It is clear that foreign companies are taking advantage of the lack of regulations in India. After all, if our government does not care about the health of its people, why should these companies care?” CSE director Sunita Narain was quoted telling by the daily.


Among the long list of banned medicines outside India are commonly used drugs like Novalgin, D-Cold, Vicks Action-500, Enteroquinal, Furoxone and Lomofen (anti-diarrheal), Nimulid, Analgin (pain killer), Ciza and Syspride, (acidity and constipation), Nimesulide (painkiller) and Buclizine (appetite stimulant), which are still being sold on the Indian market.
India's best-selling car Maruti-Suzuki Alto 800


India's best selling car Maruti-Suzuki Alto 800 and a few others like the Tata Nano and the Hyundai i10 failed the independent crash test conducted by Gobal NCAP. The structure of these cars proved inadequate and collapsed to varying degrees, resulting in high risks of life-threatening injuries to the occupants. The extent of the structural weaknesses in these models were such that the fitted airbags would not be effective in reducing the risk of serious injury. Surprisingly, these cars with all its inadequacies are being sold in India. Drivers please be careful!



67 pesticides which are banned or restricted in many international markets are still in use in India. Expert committees set up by the Central government have examined the matter and they recommended continued use of the pesticides in most cases while restricted use was recommended for some. Some pesticides still used in India include Carbaryl, Malathion, Acephate, Dimethoate, Chlorpyrifos, Lindane, Quinalphos, Phosphomidon, Carbandizm, Captan, Tridamorph, Practilachlor, 2.4–D and Glyphosate.

Kinder Surprise


Kinder Surprise is banned in the US and not Kinder Joy.
Well if you try taking one of these into the US you could be fined up to $2,500 per illegal Kinder egg. Because a toy is kept inside a confection, Kinder eggs are embargoed from point of entry into the US. The embedded toy within the candy is deemed a choking risk for small children.

India : The Rich Kids

A woman I went to college with in New Delhi, now 29, lives in her family home on Prithviraj Road, one of the toniest parts of the capital. She has a shiny new convertible BMW 3 series, bought by her father. She doesn’t have a job.

She called me recently and we met for lunch. She looked dull and withdrawn. She told me she was extremely depressed and felt that her life wasn’t worth living. She isn’t the only Delhi rich kid to feel this way.

Sanjay Chugh, a Delhi-based psychiatrist, says he treats three or four young, wealthy, unhappy patients a day. “Such children are often brought up being told that they have nothing to worry about and that money can take care of everything,” he said.

Often, newly wealthy parents don’t want their children to go through the hardships they experienced growing up, Mr. Chugh says. But they fail to teach them there is more to life than fancy drinks, new toys and branded clothes.

On a recent evening at a posh lounge in Delhi, I saw Prada and Gucci-clad teenagers arrive in Lamborghinis, Jaguars and Porsches. They air kissed and went to the bar. “Hedonism is back,” a note on the bar’s website says.

After an hour or so of drinking, a chubby guy in the group got the bill. “Oh, just 60? Not bad,” he said loudly. It was 60,000 rupees ($1,000.)

An acquaintance in Delhi says she spends most afternoons in her apartment, sitting on the couch drinking beer and smoking marijuana.

“I always got what I wanted, and that’s just how it works and always will,” the 30-year-old said. When she was 13, she asked her parents for a top of the range laptop, and she got it. “Apart from this, you are not getting anything this year, except that holiday in Cairo,” she quotes her parents as saying.

Mr. Chugh says many young patients are in denial of their depression.

He says situations and symptoms often include a need for instant gratification, an abundance of money, feelings of emptiness and lack of purpose, minimal parental supervision, and alcohol and drug addiction.

“They never learnt how to be responsible for themselves and those around them, and they keep moving from one thing, place, or person to another in pursuit of happiness,” he said.

“Unfortunately, this problem is increasing day by day and it will be more serious in the future,” added G. Satyanarayana, a sociology professor at Osmania University in Hyderabad. “[Parents] have no time to spend with children and inculcate essential values needed for a rooted, balanced and healthy life.”

courtesy: WSJ

“Modern society is rational and rigid, whereas postmodern society is irrational and flexible by definition. Delhi transformed into a postmodern society about two decades ago. Naturally the behavior of kids born in the postmodern era reflects the postmodern culture,” he said.

Samir Modi, managing director of Modi Enterprises and father of two teenage girls, believes there are two different approaches to raising children. “You either spoil them or you make them realize the value of money,” he said.

His daughters have some luxuries, he said, but they get a set allowance each month. “They have to manage within it, no matter what,” he said. If you give children all the money they want, they won’t have a reason to work for it in the future, he added.

“It is our job as parents to lead by example and set clear objectives and boundaries for our children,” he said.

Radhika Borde, a social scientist who spent her formative years in New Delhi, comes from a privileged background and her grandmother left her a handsome inheritance when she died.

“I lived in Delhi during the period of my undergraduate education and had the typically glamorous lifestyle of people my age,” she said in a recent interview. “Very soon however, I started to find it quite boring.”

“The India of dirt, danger and determination that I saw as a child was far more interesting,” she said, referring to her childhood in Jharkhand. “This was the India of villages, village politics, poverty, many smiles, laughter and strong social ties,” she said.

Ms. Borde left New Delhi. She divides her time between the Netherlands, where she is getting a PhD in environmental science, and rural Jharkhand.

Mr. Modi’s children and Ms. Borde appear to be in a minority.

I met my college friend at her mansion again. She sipped her tea, munched on cookies and stared blankly at a huge rock on her finger. She said she had just got engaged to an investment banker and will have a beautiful house on Baker Street in London. Apart from that, she barely spoke to me.

India : Criminals in politics

Criminals in politics
Original Report

The 2009 Lok Sabha:

1.1 2009 LS race saw tainted faces in 450 of 545 seats
1.2 Party-wise sitting MPs & MLAs with criminal cases (2013)
1.3 Madhya Pradesh: survey of 10 parliamentary constituencies
1.4 2014: 34% MPs have criminal background; an increase of 4 percentage points
1.5 Likelihood of elected politician to be a criminal vis-a-vis the common man
1.5.1 1 in 54 MPs faces kidnapping charge
2 Criminals in politics are i) richer and ii) more likely to get re-elected
2.1 CRIME PAYS FOR SOME? (statistics)
2.2 RS seat goes for 100cr: Cong MP
2.3 ‘74% tainted candidates got a second chance’
3 Pendency (in years) of criminal cases against MPs
3.1 Types of criminal cases against MPs
3.2 Serious criminal cases pending for the maximum duration:
4 Trials against MPs in serious cases continue for 7 years on an average
5 Trials against tainted MPs and MLAs to be completed within a year: SC
5.1 Time limit on netas’ trials at odds with earlier SC ruling?
6 2012-14: Ministers allegedly involved in criminal cases
7 2015: SC-Unseating if criminal cases cancelled
8 2015:no serious charges against MLAs
9 Parliament, not Judiciary can debar
10 See also


TNN & AGENCIES 2013/07/12

The Times of India

450 ‘tainted’ [presumably, Lok Sabha] constituencies have at least 1 candidate facing criminal charges

104 seats [presumably, Lok Sabha]have 2 tainted candidates

& 56 constituencies [presumably, Lok Sabha] have more than 5 contesting tainted candidates

Voters tend to choose clean candidates. In seats where only 1 candidate had a criminal record, voters chose 83% of the clean candidates But percentage of clean candidates went down to 35% in seats with more than 5 tainted candidates

Between 2004 and 2009, number of MPs with criminal charges has risen from 128 to 162

The silver lining was number of MPs charged with rape, murder, kidnapping & extortion dipped from 296 in 2004 to 274 in 2009

2009 LS race saw tainted faces in 450 of 545 seats

Himanshi Dhawan | TNN

The Times of India 2013/07/12

New Delhi: At least one candidate with pending criminal charges was in the running in 450 of the 545 Lok Sabha constituencies during the 2009 general election. This indicates that the Supreme Court order that disqualifies candidates who’ve been convicted could have far-reaching repercussions on the electoral process.

Data analysed by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) says that 150 constituencies had a single candidate with pending criminal charges while as many as 56 constituencies had five or more candidates who were “tainted”. The study is based on affidavits submitted by candidates ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

Despite the dominance of muscle-power in our legislatures, voters have shown discretion in choosing wisely. The study points out that given a choice in the constituencies that had only one candidate with pending criminal charges, voters rejected tainted candidates, and chose 83% of the clean candidates.

The percentage of clean winners, however, drops to around 35% in constituencies with more than 5 tainted candidates.

Data provided by these politicos in their election affidavits show that 30% have criminal cases pending against them and 14% are fighting cases that fall under serious criminal offences, most with potential sentences of over five years. We aren’t talking here of any minor crimes, these MPs are accused of murder, rape, forgery, inciting hate and dubious deals: fraud and cheating.

State assemblies are no better. About 1,258 (31%) out of the 4,032 sitting MLAs from all state assemblies have declared criminal cases and 15% have declared serious criminal charges.

Among political parties, BJP leads the charge with 118 (12%) of its elected representatives having declared that they are booked under serious criminal charges. Keeping the saffron brigade company in the accusedof-serious-crime bracket is the Congres with 107 (8%) of its MPs and MLAs fighting murder, forgery, kidnap, rape charges among others.

Legislators from parties such as Shiv Sena and Raj Thackeray’s MNS, Shibu Soren’s Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, and the lesser-known Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) started by ex-CM Babulal Marandi have most of their elected representatives facing criminal cases. Eight of JVM (P)’s 11 legislators are accused of criminal activities, while 77% to 80% of elected Shiv Sainiks have criminal cases against them. JMM tops, or bottoms out, this list with 80% of its elected members waiting for courts to take a call.

Looking at the data state-wise, Karnataka’s 2013 polls saw the state’s tally of tainted MPs plus MLAs at 74, while over half of Bihar assembly (58%) qualifies to be in the tainted bracket. Gujarat’s 2012 polls saw its tainted MP-MLA count reach 57, that is 31% of the total from the state. On this count, 47% of legislators from Uttar Pradesh (state polls held in 2012) have declared criminal cases, Uttarakhand (which also went to polls in 2012) has 29% elected politicos with pending criminal cases.

The only good news from states that held elections in 2012 is Mizoram, where none of the 60 elected MPs and MLAs have any criminal cases against them.

Criminals in politics2.jpg
Party-wise sitting MPs & MLAs with criminal cases (2013)

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha | 82%

RJD | 64%

Samajwadi Party | 48%

BJP | 31% (Out of 1,017 BJP MPs & MLAs, 313 have criminal cases)

Congres | 21% (Out of 1,433 Cong MPs & MLAs, 305 have criminal cases)

Criminals in politics3.jpg
Madhya Pradesh: survey of 10 parliamentary constituencies

40% of AAP candidates in Madhya Pradesh have criminal records, 30% are billionaires PTI [1] | Apr 9, 2014

BHOPAL: Strange as it may seem, 30 per cent of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidates for the second phase of Lok Sabha polls in Madhya Pradesh are billionaires, while 40 per cent have criminal records against them.

This was revealed in an analysis of candidates for the second phase by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and MP Election Watch (MPEW).

The ten constituencies which are set to go to polls in Madhya Pradesh during the second phase of polls on April 17 are Morena, Bhind, Gwalior, Guna, Sagar, Tikamgarh, Damoh, Khajuraho, Bhopal and Rajgarh.

Four out of ten of Cogress and BSP nominees have criminal records against them, while only three out of 10 BJP candidates have criminal cases filed against them.

All the 10 Congres candidates are billionaires, while eight out of 10 BJP nominees, four out of 10 BSP nominees and three out of six Samajwadi Party nominees are billionaires.

Giriraj Yadav, an independent candiate from the Guna constituency has a murder case against him, while Brindawan Singh Sikarwar, the BSP candidate from Morena has an attempt to murder case pending against him

2014: 34% MPs have criminal background; an increase of 4 percentage points

Every third newly-elected MP has criminal background

IANS | May 18, 2014

In 2009, 30% of the Lok Sabha members had criminal cases. This has now gone up by 4%. NEW DELHI: Every third of the newly-elected member of Lok Sabha has a criminal background, an analysis of the disclosures they have made in their affidavits has shown.

An analysis of 541 of the 543 winning candidates by National Election Watch (NEW) and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) shows that 186 or 34% newly elected MPs have in their election affidavits disclosed criminal cases against themselves.

In 2009, 30% of the Lok Sabha members had criminal cases. This has now gone up by 4%.

According to the analysis, a candidate with criminal cases had 13% chance of winning in the 2014 Lok Sabha election whereas it was 5% for an aspirant with a clean record.

Of the 186 new members, 112 (21%) have declared serious criminal cases, including those related to murder, attempt to murder, causing communal disharmony, kidnapping, crimes against women, etc.

Party wise, the largest numbers 98 or 35% of the 281 winners from the BJP have in their affidavits declared criminal cases against themselves.

Eight (18%) of the 44 winners from the Congres, six (16%) of the 37 winners from the AIADMK, 15 (83%) of the 18 winners from the Shiv Sena, and seven (21%) of the 34 winners fielded by Trinamool Congres also have disclosed criminal cases against themselves.

Likelihood of elected politician to be a criminal vis-a-vis the common man

1 in 30 MPs faces murder charge, for rest of India it’s only 1 in 1,061

Ratio Of Netas Accused Of Crime Far Higher Than That Of Aam Admi

Atul Thakur TIG

The Times of India 2013/09/29

Criminals in politics5.jpg
It’s often argued that criminalization of politics merely reflects the increasing criminalization of society. However, an analysis of data on Lok Sabha members facing criminal charges and official figures on crime in India show that the proportion of people facing such charges is way higher among members of Parliament in Lok Sabha than in the population as a whole. In fact, for a range of serious charges, the rate among LS members is anywhere between 20 and 200 times higher. TOI analysed data compiled by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) from affidavits filed by MPs at the time of elections and figures from the National Crime Records Bureau to come up with this sobering finding. (We added together cases pending police investigation and cases pending trial by courts to arrive at a cumulative number.)

Sample this: One in every 30 MPs elected in the 2009 general elections was facing charges of murder or related charges. On the other hand, in the populace at large, there was at worst one person per 1,061 of the same age group (aged 25 and above) facing investigations or trials for murder in 2009.

1 in 54 MPs faces kidnapping charge
Similarly, one in every 23 MPs was facing the charge of attempt to commit murder. For the population at large, the corresponding number was one among every 4,220.

MPs also convincingly outdid average Indians in kidnapping/abduction and dacoity/robbery cases. In 2009, one in every 54 MPs was facing investigation or trial for kidnapping/abduction or dacoity/robbery. The corresponding figures for the general population was one kidnapping/abduction case per 5,510 people and one dacoity/robbery case per 3,832.

When it comes to riots too, our MPs clearly stand out from the crowd. Compared to one case for every 1,436 Indians, the figure for the Lok Sabha was one in every 54. The honourable exception to this otherwise depressing pattern is rape, where the ADR data indicates that there was no pending rape case against any of the MPs elected in 2009.

For the purposes of our comparative analysis, we laid down certain parameters to get around the problem of the ADR and NCRD data not being strictly comparable. These actually worked in favour of the MPs — and without which the numbers would have been stacked even more heavily against them.

Since it would be unfair to compare crime rate for MPs, who have to be 25 years or more of age, with the entire population including children, we took only the 25-plus population of India in 2009 for comparison. That roughly halved the population figure. Unfortunately, NCRB data does not give us figures for how many of those cases are pending against those aged below 25, so we took into account all crimes, including those that would have been committed by people younger than 25. This seriously overestimates the general crime rate, since it is an established fact that nearly half of all crimes are committed by people aged between 18 and 30. Despite that, crime rate among our netas is much higher than among the general population.

Another point of difference between ADR and NCRB: The ADR data on murder-related charges against MPs includes cases under section 300, 302, 303, 304, 304A, 304B, 305, 306, 308 of IPC. The corresponding NCRB data compiled by TOI includes section 302, 304, 304A, 304B and 308. There are similar differences for other crimes. Yet, the comparison does indicate the degree of difference in criminalization in Parliament and in society at large.

Of course, it is possible that some or even a significant chunk of the charges MPs face are politically motivated. But even if 10% of them are genuine, that would still mean our lawmakers have a much higher proportion of criminals in their midst than those who elected them.

Criminals in politics are i) richer and ii) more likely to get re-elected

Bigger the criminal charge, fatter the politician’s wallet

Tainted Netas Win More Elections

Himanshi Dhawan TNN

The Times of India 2013/07/30

New Delhi: Money and muscle power not only help to win elections but also help in making politics a rather profitable affair. An analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) for the last decade shows that 62,847 candidates had average assets of Rs 1.37 crore. But candidates who won elections had average assets of Rs 3.83 crore.

What’s more interesting is that the wealth of legislators who faced criminal cases rose even more — to Rs 4.30 crore — and MPs and MLAs facing serious pending charges like murder, kidnapping and rape were on top of the heap with average assets of Rs 4.38 crore.

Not only do candidates who combine the cocktail of politics, criminality and crores have a higher chance of re-contesting, they also have a better record of winning elections than candidates with a clean record, says the study. The study by ADR — a thinktank working on poll reforms — is based on affidavits filed by candidates before the Election Commission .

Of the 62,847 parliamentary and assembly candidates since 2004, 11,063 or 18% have criminal cases against them. Of these, 8% or 5,253 have declared ‘serious’ criminal cases.

CRIME PAYS FOR SOME? (statistics)
Rs.1.37cr: Average assets of 62,847 candidates who have contested MP and MLA elections since 2004

Rs.3.83cr: Average assets of victorious candidates

Rs.4.30 cr: Average wealth of MPs and MLAs who face criminal charges

4.38 cr: Average wealth of legislators facing serious charges like murder, kidnapping & rape

18%: Number of candidates facing criminal cases

8%: Number of candidates facing serious criminal cases

RS seat goes for 100cr: Cong MP
Congres MP from Haryana Birender Singh said big money was buying seats in Rajya Sabha, training focus on the malaise gripping politics. Singh is reported to have said he knew a person who had kept Rs 100 crore to become an RS MP but managed to achieve his objective with Rs 80 crore. “Not one, but I can tell you 20 (such) people,” he said. The opposition accused the Congres of “cutting deals”.

‘74% tainted candidates got a second chance’
Speaking on the study, ADR’s professor Trilochan Shastry said, “Criminalization is a fact which can’t be denied. Money plays a big role in elections and criminalization makes it worse.”

ADR also exposed the doublespeak of political parties. The analysis of criminal records of 4,181 repeat candidates shows that 1,072 of them had a criminal case the first time they contested an election and 788 had cases the second time also. This indicates that political parties gave tickets to 74% of candidates with criminal records the second time despite being aware of their dubious backgrounds.

Of the 4,181 candidates who contested more than once, 3,173 showed an increase in wealth. While the average assets of re-contesting candidates went up to Rs 2.34 crore, the average assets of the 4,181 candidates with criminal records grew from Rs 1.74 crore to Rs 4.08 crore.

The assets of all recontesting candidates have grown — to Rs 2.85 crore on average. This translates to 134% growth in declared wealth in less than five years. About 1,615 of the 4,181 candidates showed an increase of over 200%, 684 an increase of over 500%, while assets of 317 candidates increased by over 1000%.

In a break-up of political parties, 75% of Shiv Sena MPs and MLAs since 2004 have declared criminal cases against them, followed by the RJD with 46% such candidates and the JD(U) with 44%. The BJP and the Congres were at 31% and 22% respectively.

Pendency (in years) of criminal cases against MPs

50 MPs have criminal cases pending against them for more than 10 years

Ashish Tripathi,TNN | Mar 11, 2014

The Times of India

LUCKNOW: Two MPs from UP figure among the top eight parliamentarians against whom criminal cases are pending for more than 20 years in the law courts, reveals an analysis done by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-government body working for transparency and probity in elections.

The two MPs are BJP's Ramakant Yadav from Azamgarh, and SP's Ramkishun from Chandauli. Yadav is an accused in a murder case which is pending in the court for the past 25 years. Ramkishun is accused in a robbery case pending for the past 24 years.

The ADR in association with the National Election Watch (NEW) did the analysis following the directions of the Supreme Court. The SC on Monday had directed that the criminal cases against MPs and MLAs be completed within a year from the date of framing of charges by the trial court.

Types of criminal cases against MPs

The ADR and NEW analyzed the affidavits of the Lok Sabha MPs elected in 2009. It found that 50 Lok Sabha MPs from 2009 have a total of 136 criminal cases pending against them for ten years or more. Similarly, 30 Lok Sabha MPs have a total of 58 serious criminal cases pending against them for ten years or more.

The study also revealed that there are five Lok Sabha MPs who have declared a total of 14 cases of murder which have been pending for ten years or more. Kameshwar Baitha of JMM has declared 10 cases of murder against himself which have been pending for an average of 12 years. Guddu Premchand of Cogress from Ujjain Constituency, Madhya Pradesh, has declared a case of murder which has been pending 29 years.

Further, there are nine Lok Sabha MPs who have a total of 14 cases of attempt to murder against them which have been pending for more than 10 years. Kameshwar Baitha of JMM has six cases of attempt to murder against him which have been pending for an average of 11 years. Venugopala Reddy Modugula of TDP from Narasaraopet vonstituency has a case of attempt to murder which has been pending for 23 years.

There are 20 Lok Sabha MPs who have declared a total of 30 cases of kidnapping and wrongful confinement which have been pending for 10 years or more. Kameshwar Baitha of JMM has declared seven cases of kidnapping and wrongful confinement which have been pending for an average of 14 years. Kalmadi Suresh of Cogress from Pune Constituency has declared a case of wrongful confinement for three or more days which has been pending for 28 years.

There are four Lok Sabha MPs who have declared a total of four cases of robbery and dacoity which have been pending for more than 10 years.

The ADR has also issued an appeal for the people: "While the judiciary has taken very important steps including July 10 2013 judgment which debarred elected representatives from continuing in office after conviction to decriminalize politics, political parties have continued to field candidates with serious criminal cases because of their 'winnability' factor. In this scenario, the role of citizens becomes pre-eminent. The upcoming Lok Sabha elections gives us the opportunity to elect clean and more accountable MPs."

Serious criminal cases pending for the maximum duration:

29 years Murder: Guddu Premchand of Cogress from Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh 28 years

Rioting and Theft: Adhikari Sisir Kumar of AITC from Kanthi, West Bengal

25 years Murder: Ramakant Yadav of BJP from Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh

24 years Attempt to Commit Robbery: Ramkishun of SP from Chandauli, Uttar Pradesh. Concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage war: Gandhi Dilipkumar Mansukhlal of BJP from Ahmednagar, Maharashtra.

23 years Attempt to Murder: Venugopala Reddy Modugula of TDP from Narasaraopet, Andhra Pradesh.

20 years Murder: Kameshwar Baitha of JMM from Palamau Constituency, Jharkhand.

Attempt to Murder: Abdul Mannan Hossain of Cogress from Murshidabad, West Bengal

Trials against MPs in serious cases continue for 7 years on an average

Himanshi Dhawan | TNN

The Times of India

New Delhi: Cases of murder or kidnapping against parliamentarians remain pending in trial courts for an average of 7 years and if you’re Ujjain MP Guddu Premchand, it could even be 29 years.

In the current Lok Sabha, 30 parliamentarians charged with serious offences like murder are yet to stand trial for the last 10 years, an analysis by Association for Democratic Reforms has found. These are among the 76 MPs facing serious criminal charges.

No wonder then that the one-year deadline set by the Supreme Court to try legislators with serious criminal charges has left politicians a worried lot. Congres parliamentarian Premchand has a case of murder pending against him for the longest period of time, 29 years, according to ADR.

Premchand in a statement denied the charge, saying he had no pending cases against him and the report was an effort to malign his political image. ADR’s data is based on 2009 election affidavits filed by candidates with the Election Commission and TOI has not verified it independently.

Among other MPs who have long pending cases against them include Trinamool MP from Kanthi in West Bengal Sisir Kumar Adhikari who has cases of riot and theft pending since 28 years while BJP’s Ramakant Yadav from Azamgarh in UP has a case of murder pending against him for the last 25 years.

SP’s Ramkishun was accused of attempted robbery 24 years ago while BJP MP Dilipkumar Mansukhlal Gandhi from Maharashtra has a case of concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage a war for a similar period. This list includes Congres MP from Pune Suresh Kalmadi who has a case of wrongful confinement for three or more days which has been pending for 28 years.

Andhra Pradesh’s Venugopal Reddy Modugula has a 23-year-old case of attempt to murder while Kameshwar Baitha of JMM has a 20-yearold murder case pending against him. Congres MP from West Bengal Abdul Mannan Hossain has a 20-year-old case of attempt to murder pending against him.

There are 14 Lok Sabha MPs who occupy a special place in the hall of shame with 14 cases of murder or attempt to murder which have been pending for 10 years or more against them. These include Baitha and Guddu Premchand.

These are followed closely by 20 MPs who have declared a total of 30 cases of kidnapping and wrongful confinement which have been pending for 10 years or more. There are four Lok Sabha MPs who have declared a total of four cases of robbery and dacoity which have been pending for more than 10 years.

Trials against tainted MPs and MLAs to be completed within a year: SC

Finish trial against tainted MPs and MLAs in a year: SC

Cases Of Graft, Heinous Crimes Fast-Tracked

Dhananjay Mahapatra TNN

The Times of India

New Delhi: After ordering disqualification of MPs and MLAs immediately after conviction for heinous offences, the Supreme Court on Monday took a second big step towards cleansing the political process by directing that trial proceedings in cases of corruption and serious crimes against elected representatives must be completed within a year.

The apex court’s July 10, 2013 judgment had robbed elected representatives of the benefit under Section 8(4) of Representative of People Act which allowed them to save their membership in respective Houses by merely filing an appeal within three months of the order of conviction.

However, “tainted” MPs and MLAs drew some comfort from the snail-paced judicial process, hoping that cases against them would linger indefinitely, or that they could use delaying tactics in order to prevent the court from reaching a final conclusion about their alleged guilt and pronounce a judgment.

The order, passed by a bench of Justices R M Lodha and Kurian Joseph on Monday, ends the last hope of MPs and MLAs of evading early adjudication and a possible conviction resulting in a sentence of two years or more, which generally follows in a corruption case or in serious offences. CLEANING UP POLITICS

Trial proceedings in cases of corruption and serious crimes against MPs and MLAs will have to be completed within a year of charges being framed

All trial courts must adhere to one-year deadline. If they overshoot, they’ll have to give written explanation to chief justice of HC concerned

On July 10, 2013, SC had ruled that MPs/MLAs would immediately lose their seat in case of conviction

But lawmakers facing cases could still hope for them to drag on for years. The SC has now closed this loophole 76 MPs face serious charges

The SC order could adversely impact the future of many politicians. As many as 76 (14%) of the 543 MPs have serious charges pending against them. Similarly, 1,258 or 31% of the total 4,032 MLAs across India have criminal cases against them, with 14% facing serious charges. P 15 Deadline to start after framing of charges

In an interim order on a PIL by NGO ‘Public Interest Foundation’, an SC bench said, “Where sitting MPs and MLAs are facing corruption cases and other serious offences, the trial will be completed expeditiously on a day-today basis and in no instance later than one year from the date of framing of charges.”

This means, those who get elected in the coming general elections and have pending criminal and corruption cases against them, the verdict will be out before May next year. If found guilty and sentenced to more than two years imprisonment, they will immediately lose their membership. This order will also have a sanitizing effect on political parties and ensure that they do not field candidates with criminal background.

The bench directed all trial courts, which are hearing cases of corruption and serious offences against MPs and MLAs, to strictly adhere to the one-year limit from framing of charges and warned that if they overshot the deadline, then they would have to give written explanation to the chief justice of the high court concerned.

“In extraordinary circumstances, where the trial court is not being able to conclude the trial within one year of framing charges, it would submit a report to the chief justice of the concerned HC indicating the special reasons for the delay. The chief justice may issue appropriate directions to the concerned court for extension of time for conclusion of trial,” said Justices Lodha and Joseph after additional solicitor general Paras Kuad agreed with the court’s view on behalf of the Centre.

The bench took framing of charge as the starting point for fixing one-year time period for completion of trial keeping in mind the law commission’s recommendation that filing of chargesheet “is not an appropriate stage to introduce electoral disqualifications”.

The commission said there was not sufficient application of judicial mind to the charges levelled by the investigating agency at the time of filing of chargesheet.

However, it recommended that framing of charges involved application of judicial mind to the charges and evidence.

The commission in its recommendation to the Union government on February 24 proposed disqualification of MPs and MLAs if a trial court framed charges against them in cases of corruption or heinous offences.

Time limit on netas’ trials at odds with earlier SC ruling?

7-Judge Bench Had Said Such A Bar Wasn’t Judicially Permissible

Dhananjay Mahapatra | TNN

The Times of India

New Delhi: By fixing a oneyear limit for completion of trial against elected representatives, did a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court overstep a seven-judge constitution bench ruling that no outer limit could be set for conclusion of criminal proceedings?

There were several judgments before 2002, in which different benches of the apex court had fixed definite time periods for completion of trial and had ordered that if it overshot the limit, the trial would come to an end and the accused would be acquitted.

All these judgments and their correctness were tested by a seven-judge bench in P Ramachandra Rao vs State of Karnataka [(2002) 4 SCC 578]. The bench ruled, “It is neither advisable, nor feasible, nor judicially permissible to draw or prescribe an outer limit for conclusion of all criminal proceedings.

“The time limits or bars of limitation prescribed in the several directions made in Common Cause (I), Raj Deo Sharma (I) and Raj Deo Sharma (II) could not have been so prescribed or drawn and are not good law. The criminal courts are not obliged to terminate trial or criminal proceedings merely on account of lapse of time, as prescribed by the directions made in Common Cause case (I), Raj Deo Sharma case (I) and (II). Such time limits cannot and will not by themselves be treated by any court as a bar to further continuance of the trial or proceedings and as mandatorily obliging the court to terminate the same and acquit or discharge the accused.”

Monday’s order by a bench of Justices R M Lodha and Kurian Joseph stayed within the parameters laid down in the seven-judge bench’s judgment by clarifying that corruption case and heinous offence trial proceedings against MPs and MLAs would not be terminated on expiry of the oneyear period.

It said if under extraordinary circumstances the trial proceedings could not be completed within the prescribed one-year time limit, the trial judge would send a report to the chief justice of the high court concerned explaining reasons for non-completion of proceedings. The bench said the chief justice would give appropriate directions after going through the trial judge’s report.

Justices Lodha and Joseph said it was the right of every accused in criminal case to get expeditious trial. “For that to become a reality, the governments must provide more number of judges,” it said and requested additional solicitor general Paras Kuhad to impress upon the government to increase the strength of trial judges.

It said in some countries the judge to population ratio was 50 per lakh but in India it was abysmally low at 16 per million (10 lakh). The budgetary allocation too was meagre, it said. “All trials should be completed in one year, why only for MPs and MLAs? But for that the governments need to give more funds and provide adequate judicial infrastructure,” it said.

2012-14: Ministers allegedly involved in criminal cases

90% of T-ministers face criminal charges

New Delhi:

TIMES NEWS NETWORK The Times of India Aug 30 2014

Ministers with Pending Criminal Cases
12 Union Ministers Have Pending Criminal Cases

About 44 of the 194 state cabinet ministers from 13 Assemblies (where elections were conducted in the last two years: 2012-14) and 12 out of 45 Union ministers [in 2014] have criminal cases pending against them.

The figures have been arrived at by the Association for Democratic Reforms and the National Election Watch which analysed the election affidavits of 239 of the 245 ministers.

In the states, 26 or 13% ministers have serious criminal charges, including rape, attempt to murder, kidnapping or electoral violations against them.

For instance, there are two ministers from BJP in the Rajasthan cabinet -Gulab Chand Kataria and Rajendra Rathore -with cases of murder pending against them. Odisha's Prafulla Kumar Mallik (BJD) also faces a kidnapping charge.

TDP's Ganta Srinivas Rao from Andhra and TRS ministers Thanneeru Harish Rao, Eatala Rajender and Guntakandla Jagadish Reddy from Telangana have declared that attempt to murder cases are pending against them.

Incidentally, Telangana has the highest percentage -90 -of ministers facing criminal charges. India's newest state is followed by Andhra Pradesh, where more than half of the ministers have criminal cases (56%), followed by Karnataka (34%) and Odisha (27%).

In fact, the only two chief ministers who face criminal charges come from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh: K Chandrasekhar Rao and N Chandrababu Naidu.

States where no ministers face criminal charges include Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.

States that were considered for the report include Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura and Telangana.

2015: SC-Unseating if criminal cases cancelled

The Times of India

Feb 06 2015

Amit Choudhary

Non-disclosure of pending criminal cases at the time of filing nomination paper can cost an elected member his seat with the Supreme Court ruling that it amounts to corrupt practice and the election must be quashed on that ground. In a landmark verdict, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant held that concealment or suppression of criminal cases tantamounts to “fraud“ with the electorate and it creates an impediment in the free exercise of electoral right.

“As the candidate has the special knowledge of the pending cases where cognizance has been taken or charges have been framed and there is a non-disclosure on his part, it would amount to undue influence and, therefore, the election is to be declared null and void by the Election Tribunal,“ it said.

It said that disclosure of criminal antecedents of a candidate, especially pertaining to heinous or serious offence or offences relating to corruption or moral turpitude at the time of filing of nomination paper, is a “categorical imperative“. The bench said that an informed electorate is the foundation of a vibrant and healthy democracy and they have a right to know about criminal antecedents of people in the fray . It said non-disclosure of criminal cases by a candidate is an attempt to suppress, misguide and keep people in the dark.

“Concealment or sup pression of this nature deprives the voters to make an informed and advised choice as a consequence of which it would come within the compartment of direct or indirect interference or attempt to interfere with the free exercise of the right to vote by the electorate, on the part of the candidate,“ it said. “This attempt undeniably and undisputedly is undue influence and, therefore, amounts to corrupt practice,“ it said.

“The attempt has to be perceived as creating an impediment in the mind of a voter, who is expected to vote to make a free, informed and advised choice,“ it said.

2015:no serious charges against MLAs

The Times of India

Feb 12 2015

No Delhi MLAs face murder, rape charges

The new Delhi assembly is `cleaner' compared to its earlier avatar with a dip in the number of legislators with criminal cases, according to an analysis by Association for Democratic Reforms, reports Himanshi Dhawan. Though the percentage of MLAs with criminal cases has dropped marginally from 36% to 34%, none of them have pending serious criminal cases such as rape, kidnapping and murder. Of the 24 MLAs with criminal cases against them, 23 belong to AAP . Of the 70 legislators, 44 (63%) are crorepatis compared to 51 (73%) in 2013.

Haryana, Jharkhand and J&K assemblies, elected in 2014, also saw a drop in the number of MLAs with criminal antecedents.

The Times of India

2015 Assembly also has fewer crorepatis

Feb 12 2015

Himanshi Dhawan

The 2015 Delhi assembly is cleaner and poorer compared to its 2013 avatar with a dip in the number of crorepati legislators and those with criminal cases. The assembly elected on Tuesday is overwhelmingly dominated by Aam Aadmi Party with 67 members while BJP has three. The percentage of legislators with criminal cases has dropped marginally from 36% to 34% while the figure for crorepatis has come down from 73% to 63%.

Significantly, none of the MLAs have serious criminal cases like rape, kidnapping and murder pending against them.

The analysis by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) is based on affidavits submitted by candidates to the Election Commission.

In contrast, both the number of crorepatis and those with criminal cases increased in the 2014 Maharashtra polls.

While crorepati MLAs increased from 66% in 2009 to 88% in 2014, the number of legislators with criminal background increased from 136 (52%) to 165 (57%) in the same period. Haryana, Jharkhand and J&K assemblies, which were elected in 2014, also saw a drop in the number of legislators with criminal antecedents. However, there was a substantial increase in the number of moneybags in all three. In Delhi, 24 of the 70 MLAs (34%) have declared criminal cases against themselves. Of these, 23 belong to AAP while one is from BJP. This is down from the 2013 assembly when 25 (36%) MLAs declared criminal cases pending against them. In the 2008 Delhi assembly elections, 29 (43%) out of 68 MLAs had declared criminal cases.

No MLA declared heinous criminal cases like murder, rape, attempt to murder and crimes against women. Incidentally, 91 out of 673 candidates with criminal cases, including 60 candidates with charges of heinous crimes pending against them, lost the assembly polls.

Delhi MLAs this time are a shade poorer as well. Of the 70 MLAs, 44 (63%) are crorepatis this year compared to 51 (73%) in 2013 and 47 (69%) in the 2008 polls.

The average assets per MLA has also dipped from Rs 10.83 crore in 2013 to Rs 6.29 crore this time. BJP had won 32 seats compared to AAP's 28 in the 2013 elections.

Parliament, not Judiciary can debar

The Times of India Feb 19 2015

Parliament, not us, can bar tainted netas from contesting polls: SC

Amit Choudhary

The Supreme Court said the Judiciary could not restrain tainted people from contesting elections as it falls under the legislature's domain, which alone was competent to enact a law on this issue. A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu said the idea of restraining people against whom charges of heinous offence has been framed looked “attractive and noble“ but the court has its limitations. “In the name of judicial activism, we cannot enter into an area belonging to Parliament. Separation of pow er is a basic structure of Constitution and we must respect it,“ the bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri and Arun Mishra, said. “It is for Parliament to decide.They know how to run the country and who should run for election. We should not step in,“ it added.

Additional solicitor general Maninder Singh said the issue had already been settled by a constitution bench judgment of the apex court, which had refused to restrain the government from appointing tainted MPs and MLAs as ministers and left the matter to the conscience of the prime minister and chief ministers.

Backing the ASG's submission, the bench said when the constitution bench had refused to pass an order against appointment of tainted representatives in the council of ministers, how it could pass an order pre venting tainted persons from contesting elections.

The bench also said that in criminal jurisprudence, a person is presumed innocent till he is convicted and his right to contest elections cannot be curtailed just because charges were framed against him.

India - No Home for Poor

Covered by Aljazeera

Clearly proves why India is a failed state, run by Mafia and 90% Indians are idiots

Mumbai, India - On June 30, police evicted residents of a settlement called Mandala on the outskirts of India’s financial capital, Mumbai. When the residents of this slum protested calling for the right to affordable housing, they were met with violent police action.

The authorities then proceeded to break down their makeshift structures in Mankhurd on the premise that they needed to protect the mangroves that border the settlement. However, a day after the eviction it was reported that the land was being handed over to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority to build a Metro Rail yard.

Two years ago, the Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, had promised the residents of Mandala affordable housing via a pilot project sponsored by a federal government scheme called the Awas Yojana.

In 2004-2005, over 80,000 homes were demolished in a city-wide campaign, including parts of Mandala. It was then that the residents of numerous settlements across Mumbai and a handful of middle class activists formed a movement for the right to a home in the city called the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Movement [Save Housing, Build housing].

In the end of May, thousands of people from Mandala and supporters from other slums of Mumbai under the banner of the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Movement gathered and collectively occupied the land that has been lying vacant since the demolition nearly a decade ago.

They built temporary structures on spaces where their homes used to be and marched into every government office that dealt with their demands, but were told that their matter was under consideration.

The residents and activists repeatedly apprised Forest Department Officials during their meetings about encroachment that was destroying mangroves, but their complaints went unheard, and they themselves are blamed for the loss of mangrove cover.

A situation that repeated itself in another part of the city, when the authorities went ahead with another demolition drive on June 6 in in Malvani, Malad, where hundreds of homes were demolished. Authorities claim they were merely following the law to protect the city’s mangroves.

Mankhurd also houses the waste dumping grounds of Mumbai as well as a number of rehabilitation colonies. It is a part of Ward M or Chembur East, which according to a government report from 2009, is home to the highest number of resettlement colonies in the city with over 77 percent of the population (as per the 2001 census) that lives in slums.

It has the highest illiteracy rate in the city, as well as a child mortality rate with a life expectancy rate of 39.30 years.

According to a Human Development Report prepared by the United Nations Development Programme for the Mumbai Municipal Corporation, "the relevant dimension is that the area, they [slums] together occupy is just six per cent of all land in Mumbai explaining the horrific levels of congestion". Delhi has 18.9 percent people living in slums, the report said.

India - Reality of a Poor State

From the wall of Sandhya Navodita, again proving India is run by Mafias, is a failed state and 90% Indians are Idiots ...

मेरा देश बहुत पुअर कंट्री है. यहाँ आपकी खैरियत किस्मत के हवाले है. जिनका भाग्य तेज है वे मर्डर करके भी पूरी उम्र शान से जीते हैं, और अगर आपकी किस्मत खराब है तो भले ज़िन्दगी में किसी को कभी रसोई वाला चाकू भी न चलाना आता हो पर उसे क़त्ल के जुर्म में सारी जिंदगी जेल में सड़ाया जा सकता है.
इस देश में पुलिस, आर्मी और दबंग जब शिकार पर निकलें तो बेहतर है रास्ता छोड़ दें वरना मौज मस्ती के मूड में निकले सत्ता में उन्मत्त शेर के सामने जो पड़ेगा मारा तो जाएगा ही.
जीने के जो तरीके आप जानते हों वे भी बताएं.
मैं तो इसलिए भी उदास हूँ कि मुम्बई की एक खबर देखी. किसी गोपी ने एक लड़की के साथ रेप किया था. पुलिस संदिग्ध मान कर गोपाल को उठा ले गयी. गोपाल के पिता की इस सदमे में तुरंत मौत हो गयी.
केस चला. फर्जी सुबूत, पुलिस की फेब्रिकेटेड अपराध कथा ने गोपाल को पीट पीट कर गोपी बना दिया. उसे सात साल की सजा हो गई. समाज के तानों से परेशान बीवी को गोपाल ने सलाह दी- इज्ज़त से जीना है तो दूसरी शादी कर लो. बीवी की दूसरी शादी हो गयी. दूसरे पति ने उसकी दोनों बेटियों को नहीं स्वीकार किया, नतीजा बेटियाँ अनाथालय पहुँच गयीं.
माँ ने रेपिस्ट जानकर गोपाल से सम्बन्ध तोड़ लिए.
अब जब सात साल की जेल में रहकर गोपाल हाईकोर्ट से छूटा तो वह सड़क पर है. सब कुछ उजड़ गया.
ऐसी बहुत सी 'कहानियाँ' मेरे पास हैं. आपके पास भी होंगी. कल एक दलित को को चारा काटने वाली मशीन में दबंगों ने काट डाला .
परसों एक औरत को थाने में जिंदा जला दिया गया.
इसके पहले एक 38 का नौजवान पत्रकार अचानक मारा गया.
इसके पहले आसाराम बापू के गवाह एक एक कर मारे जाने लगे.
इसके पहले एक पत्रकार पर पेट्रोल डालकर आग लगा दी गयी.
इसके पहले दो लड़कियों को रेप के बाद मार कर पेड़ पर उनकी लाशें झुला दी गयीं.
इसके पहले एक लड़की को चलती बस में रेप कर अधमरा कर सड़क पर फेंक दिया.
इसके पहले किसी मंगल सिंह ने खुद को आग लगा ली.
इसके पहले कई हज़ार नहीं लाख किसानों ने खुद को फांसी लगा ली.
इसके पहले कई लोगों को बेस्ट बेकरी में ब्रेड की भून दिया गया.
इसके पहले एक सोसायटी में किसी जाफरी को जिंदा जला दिया गया.
इसके पहले एक साबरमती ही फूँक दी गयी. नहीं , माफ़ कीजिए, साबरमती में बहुत से ज़िंदा इंसान जीवित फूँक दिए गए.
इसके पहले ........ इसके पहले भी बहुत सारे वाकये आपको याद होंगे. मुझे तो सब याद भी नहीं. और लिस्ट गिना भी दूँ तो क्या फर्क पड़ना है. बस किस्मत की ही बात है. अगर आप पुलिस, फ़ौज या दबंग नहीं हैं, तो यह देश आपके साथ कैसा भी सुलूक कर सकता है.
कोई भी गोपाल गोपी बनाया जा सकता है.
मेरा देश इसीलिए पुनर्जन्म में यकीन रखता है.
अगर आज आप सुरक्षित हैं तो अपनी योग्यता पर बहुत इतराइये मत. अपनी किस्मत टेस्ट कर लीजिये.
यह मेरा बेचारा गरीब देश !! जहां किस्मत है तो हत्यारा भी निर्दोष हो सकता है. और किस्मत ही ख़राब है तो निर्दोष भी किसी और के जुर्म की सज़ा भुगत सकता है.
बस यही क़ानून है, यही संविधान और यही लोकतन्त्र !!
हालाँकि मैं दिल से चाहती हूँ कि इन सब का काश वही मतलब हो जो किताबों में अब तक पढ़ाया जाता है. इन सब के बावजूद मैं चाहती हूँ. भले मेरे चाहने से कोई फर्क न पड़ता हो, पर मैं चाहती हूँ कि फर्क पड़े.

India - A Collapsed Country

They wear White Khadi Kurtas and Jackets on top of them, their hands are seen mostly folded in the photographs, most of the time they are all covered with tight security around them - No prizes for guessing it right, they are the political, powerful people of India running the Govt offices of this country.

I will rather dare to say that they are the Mafias and top goons of India who have now captured the parliament and making policies for this country. Yes, India's top offices and our symbol of democracy is taken by the Mafia and syndicates.

Let's take a closer look at the responsibilities that they need to adhere being at the top position of a country:

They have police, they have intelligence agencies, they control military, they control Electricity, cooking Gas, Petrol/Diesel, Telephone, Television, Internet, Hospitals & Healthcare, roads, trains and aeroplanes. Their decision affects Manufacturing, businesses, market control, Sensex, Financial health and system of the country. These people are responsible for improving health (medical system), sports, education (lower and higher education, universities, professional colleges), entertainment (arts & Cinema) and importantly culture and image of the country.

Beside the above mentioned fields the very important aspect of a successful government is to make people feel that nobody means nobody (that includes : common cheaters, shopkepeers, malls, small and large Institutes, small and large corporates e.g. local manufacturer to Reliance, Tata, Birla) can cheat on them and people will get the right judgement in right amount of time in case of cheats. Govt need to make people believe they are safe from the unsocial elements like thief, robbers, supari killers and Mafias.

Well, we need to understand where are we living : it is called - Ochlocracy ("rule of the general populace") - Ocholocracy is democracy ("rule of the people") spoiled by demagoguery, "tyranny of the majority", and the rule of passion over reason.

A demagogue ("people's manipulator") or rabble-rouser is a political leader in a democracy who appeals to the emotions, fears, prejudices, and ignorance of the lower socioeconomic classes in order to gain power and promote political motives. Demagogues usually oppose deliberation and advocate

immediate, violent action to address a national crisis; they accuse moderate and thoughtful opponents of weakness. Demagogues have appeared in democracies since ancient Athens. They exploit a fundamental weakness in democracy: because ultimate power is held by the people, nothing stops the people from giving that power to someone who appeals to the lowest common denominator of a large segment of the population.

Now coming back to the point - India's top offices and our symbol of democracy is taken by the Mafia and syndicates.
It didn't happen in a single day but what are we seeing today is the higher acceleration of a cascading deterioration in moral and the results of greed spanned over in multiple decades.

After the freedom, country started fresh in the able leadership of Gandhi, Nehru, Patel and Azad setting up the moral of the people at the highest level. In the later phase of India and elections it was the rise of "bahubalis" who were earlier employed by the political leaders to make sure they get the vote of their locality, these bahubalis were influential enough (due to their terror of course!!) in their locality that people were not simply able to reject the offers (either vote or be ready for the consequences!!) made by these local goons, most of the times these goons were helpful hands to arrange the travel (trucks, tempos, trolleys, cars & taxis) of entire locality to reach the local poll booth and caste the votes  - see how they were helping the democracy by making people to use their voting rights -  in early 60s and 70s. In the starting era of 80s it started when some local political parties (no doubt they had the biggest hands in accelerating this culture!!) started inviting these bahubalis to contest elections and like every time our fearful public already living in a very bad socio-economic conditions were forced to use their democratic rights and make them winning.

This was happening all over India from north to South and East to West by the time of 1990s when parties like SP, BSP, BJP, Shiv Sena were aggressively finding, recruiting and inviting bahubalis, trade union leaders and supari killers for the higher govt. positions. Of course these people were a sure win for the seats they were contesting because professional goon elements or mafias never rival to each other but help even if they are from different parties and that was a major reason why it was relatively easy and they had higher chances to be elected. Now as the mafias from all over India had started pouring down into the politics this was the time of their left and right hands to join the same and they were able to do so too. Now whats happening today is the third and fourth level of related goon elements are trying to join the politics.

These people when came into the politics they got the govt offices, police was now under the control of these elements, the force of talented Govt officials were now reporting to these anti-social elements - these greedy elements were able to run their self interest businesses now with the legitimate govt approvals and they started looking forward to improve their empires - very fast they found the various avenues like Real Estate (that was their already favourite one), CPWD things (for which they were killing and fighting so far all the time), Hospitals & duplicate medicines (they were able to get the doctors to refer these medicines), Education (got finished with anganwaadis and all kind of farewell schemes, setup their own Private Institutes), Roads and railway tracks (for which they were killing each other in their goons days), killed the cinema and arts they were not able to understand and there was a rise of  ... choli ke peechey ... kind of cinema in this era. They killed the law and order to make sure it will be only what they perceive is correct would be the law & order. Today law and order has nothing to do with Baba Saheb's constitution but it works differently
depending upon person to person and the who's who.

This is how India as a country failed but it
looks progressive to those who are now keeping their faith in the elements. Looking forward to choose a lesser evil again to make him a better devil.

Now the situation has come where common people are passing through the cut-throat competition to be the part of this kind of mainstream politics - these people are now ready for any kind of bloodbath and to perform any kind of morally deprived tasks to get cosy with these leaders.

No doubt why India is not interested in the habitation of poor people, education to everyone, why vyapam and asaram witness are killed like dogs and people are silent, why metro projects, bullet trains and malls are on the priority (to receive the heavy investmenton these projects) and why nobody is worried about the deteriorating health condition of poor kids. No doubt the sign of a country that is collapsed and highest govt offices are taken over the Mafias and yes 90% Indians are Idiots!!