Friday, October 26, 2012

Like Rats Fighting A Plague

Media introspection! Self-introspection! This is what Rajdeep Sardesai screamed for the 2016th time on his show on October 25. Here’s what I wrote in the post “Confederation of Indian Agitators”. It was an attempt at a sarcastic look into some NGO operations: “In case you haven't heard, over the last decade or so there are many NGOs created whose job is to just channel funds. They are NGO “fund raisers”. Some are even supported by banks. They collect funds from Indians, NRIs and others and channel those funds to the NGOs of the choice of the donor. Their earnings come from commissions from the funds donated.”.

Last night on Karan (The Tool) Thapar’s show on CNN-IBN they were discussing the conviction of Rajat Gupta for insider trading. Most of our media members are in deep shock over the conviction of such a “good man”. The Social Genius even tweeted she had met him once and he spoke “perfect Bengali” (Mr President, take that warning!). The judge who convicted Gupta told him there are many good men in history who have committed bad deeds. Naturally, during the Tool’s show Ramalinga Raju and his good deeds came up for discussion. Sanjay Baru, former media advisor to PM, mentioned all of Raju’s good deeds. No, he wasn’t defending Raju in any way. None mentioned the difference that Raju is still being “tried” while Gupta’s trial is over and he’s been sentenced. In some part of the democratic world, crimes do get punished and fairly swiftly. In India we should trust Beni Prasad Verma who laughed that Salman Khurshid could even be involved in a scam of 76 lakhs. Yeah, even petty NGOs do better than that.

This here is the pic of the website of Quadriga Art. The site claims it’s a “global leader in direct marketing and creative services.  We offer nonprofit organizations, fundraising agencies and commercial brands innovative direct marketing campaign solutions that produce extraordinary results. For more than seventy years, Quadriga Art has helped value-driven clients raise money and create connections”. So you see, as the first para says, this fund-raising broker thing is becoming fairly common in India too. But here’s the surprise as Anderson Cooper reported in a series of NGO frauds that had some connection to Quadriga:

But here's the problem: Not one dime has gone directly to help disabled veterans. Instead, CNN's Drew Griffin discovered the charity sends free stuff to veterans groups - stuff they say they didn't ask for and don't need. We're talking about thousands of bags of coconut M&Ms, bulk shipments of chef's aprons and military dress shoes. The veterans groups have had to sell the items to raise money so they could buy items vets actually do need. So, where did the nearly $56 million donated by Americans go? Griffin followed the money trail to a company called Quadriga Art, a company that specializes in fundraising. Quadriga Art and its subsidiaries have more than 500 charities on their client list, including DVNF. A source who had first-hand dealings with Quadriga tells us it’s the "financial equivalent of heroin addiction for charities".

Now, the list of NGO frauds that Cooper covered in his series on AC360 is too long to cover in a single post. Just search for “AC360 Charity fund frauds” and you will likely run into a coal mine. No, this coal isn’t in mother earth. What should trouble us is the number of NGOs in India who are similarly receiving a lot of funds but nobody knows where these funds are really going. The US Senate has launched an inquiry into the NGO fraud mess. In sharp contrast some of these Indian NGO operators are celebrated TV panellists, have received Padma Shri awards and some individuals are even on govt bodies. One such person is Binayak Sen who is a ‘convict’ but is on the Planning Commission. Mine is not to wonder if he is really guilty or not. But fact is he has been convicted and his conviction is under appeal. Even before he is cleared by courts the GOI puts him on the Planning Commission. I guess, considering his brilliance, Rajat Gupta too would be welcomed on the Planning Commission by the GOI.

Following the Thapar show Rajdeep Sardesai, the Monk, followed as usual. Following the Jindal-Zee extortion spat he had the same topic on his mind again: “Media introspection”. Following a series of introspections viewers will be convinced nothing will change. Rajdeep’s whole show can be summed up in one sentence of Justice Katju: “You want everybody to be regulated except yourself.. You are what? Lords and Gods”? Following another slap from Katju, Rajdeep will learn nothing. Following…. Never mind! If there was ever true and honest introspection, the news media would have wondered about many panellists they get on their shows that are dubious. Since we are on NGOs, let’s talk about Teesta Setalvad.

The most outrageous decoration ever has to be that of Teesta Setalvad. According to reports she is on ‘anticipatory bail’. Time and again the funding of her NGO, her fake affidavits and complaints from her own colleagues have been reported. In yet another damning report this is what The Pioneer carried today:

The FCRA permission granted on November 21, 2007 to CJP by the Ministry of Home Affairs mentioned that “The bank account mentioned in your application should be used for receiving foreign contribution and no other amount should be credited to this account”. However, a local donation of Rs 10 Lakh, received from The Chatwal Groups by cheque no376284 dated 26/02/09, was deposited by CJP in this FCRA account… These were in clear violation of condition mentioned in the FCRA registration”. Huh? The Chatwal group? Oh, like Teesta got Padma Shri I recall somebody from The Chatwal Group was also awarded Padma Bhushan despite wide protests. Do read the full report in The Pioneer for the amazing transfer, handling and misuse of funds reported in Teesta’s NGO.

If newspapers are repeatedly carrying so many reports on wrong doings of Teesta how is it that she is such a favourite panellist with our TV channels? It doesn’t stop there. She not only gets a Padma award, she gets to be on Sonia Gandhi’s NAC. This is like a private club that drafts laws for the nation. Rajat Gupta must be regretting his misdeeds weren’t in India. He could have been making laws here. A convict on the Planning Commission, a tainted NGO operator in the NAC! What’s the message to ordinary citizens? Crime Pays? That’s not all Teesta is also on the govt’s Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE). This is a body under the HRD ministry that influences decisions on education in India. No wonder many people joke that we might as well have Ajmal Kasab teaching marketing tactics in business schools.

The serious question is about the Coalgate issue being totally buried in the media. If Zee had, as alleged, blackmailed Naveen Jindal to the tune of 100 crores for silence why are the other channels silent on Jindal and Coalgate? Why shouldn’t one suspect that they have already been silenced through some form or the other? There is another case of payments by a steel company ISPAT to VBS (suggesting Virbhadra Singh of Congress) which has been in the news. The reports are around a page long in most sites and newspapers, including The Hindu (October 22). Buried in the report is one sentence that Rajdeep and others aren’t talking about yet. It says: “Mittal diary for 2006-2010 show routine payoffs to…. Payments to journalists for stopping negative articles and photographs are also listed in these cash accounts. Why isn’t the media or the BEA or the PCI asking for these names? Shouldn't this raise quite an alarm in the media? Nothing!

The charade of introspection and self-regulation is as big a scam as Coalgate. Last night on Rajdeep’s show he had N. Ram as a panellist to discuss this so called “media introspection”. None of the channels has so far even vaguely reported the land grab case of N. Ram. Nothing! All the NGO representatives and business celebrities who often feature on media panels somehow turn out to be connected to some scam or wrong-doing or the other. That the media is the first line of defence for the corrupt is increasingly coming across as true. Corruption and scams are a nation-wide plague. The more one scams the more the respectability. Scams less than crores seem to have even lost respectability. The day illegal dealings and scams in the media start being punished severely I believe corruption will start diminishing in other spheres too. In the meantime, imagine a battalion of rats trying to protect you from plague


  1. This is one of your outstanding articles.

    A private club making laws for the country describes NAC aptly. And the real shocker is that Teesta is on it. The NAC is probably one of the main reasons the country is going downhill so fast. In fact they are another pack of rats fighting the plague.

  2. Sorry, but I must post another comment. I just read the Pioneer article mentioned by you. This Padma ward winning member of the NAC and CABE is rolling in the right stuff, and no mistake. I'm quoting from the Pioneer article with a remark or two in parenthesis, and the sentence from the preceding para pasted after the same for the sake of clarity:

    "Out of Rs 1.56 crore received by CJP (that's the NGO headed by Teesta and Javed) towards foreign donation in the recent years, an amount of Rs 25.50 lacs was transferred in the Fixed Deposit Account on various dates, Rs 27.75 Lacs transferred to another account of CJP, over Rs 4 Lacs transferred in the name of Teesta Setalvad and Rs 1.60 Lacs to Sabrang Communications & Publishing Pvt Ltd , and Rs 2.04 lacs transferred in Account No-014104000105705.

    "Rs 46,530 was paid on legal work from this account." (And all this dough was collected to provide help and succour to those who suffered in the Gujarat riots in 2002. From the sums transferred one can conclude that Teesta and Javed have suffered most horribly in said riots).

  3. Ok, here's the thing: NGOs are a popular business. An NGO after 3 years of registration becomes quite valuable. They are routinely bought and sold in the poorer states of the country for very good prices. Now, why would someone buy an NGO? Simple. To get government funds, of which a small portion is used for showing work done on the ground, and siphoning the rest off.

    Every journalist worth his salt knows all this. The enterprising ones blackmail the NGOs and get something out of them. Those who do not blackmail are busy with easy stories and are not going to bother with the kind of time and energy required for investigating an NGOs activities. And then, there are the NGOs of netas who few will touch. Every neta has a dozen or two NGOs designed to siphon off government, CSR or foreign funding just like they have educational institutions and trusts to do pretty much the same thing.

    To sum it up, NGOs are channels for charity money to be siphoned off into the owner's pockets. They are parasites that feast off the bodies of those dying from hunger or disease, riots or calamity.

  4. On to large projects: Every private project with a significant impact on land and natural resource causes a bunch of blackmailers to emerge from the woodwork.

    One set is of local activists. These fellows either con a few innocent villagers or gather a bunch of supporters and start protesting against the project, trying to make newspaper headlines. Once an activist group gathers some momentum, the project owners notice and try to negotiate with the activists on the sum required to shut the activist up.

    Activists generally have nothing to lose and can use brinkmanship to drive very hard bargains. They usually have the project owners by the balls for some corner that has been cut. After a point, the project owner cannot risk major delays. So a good payoff is made to the activist who then passes some of the moolah down to his chamchas.

    There is another side: In some cases, the activists pay off journalists to print. But in most cases, the local newspaper proprietors are very happy to oblige. The activists suit their purpose. In fact, they will have their journalists go after the project and dig up flaws, however small. After a few big negative stories splashed on the front page against the project, a feeler is sent by the newspaper owner to the project owner. Negotiations happen, a 'package' is worked out in a manner quite similar to the manner in which the whole Zeendal farce has been played out. It is standard practice. The project owner pays up, usually to activists, most small or large newspapers, local administration officials and ofcourse, the netas.

    The negative stories and protests cool down soon afterwards.

    This is the story of virtually every private greenfield project. And that is the way the world works.

    1. U are bang on...I think like me u are involved in some project and everything is absolute truth..just a little addition, now a day's , latest entry is of advocates also....

  5. Shucks I did not know Teesta was on NAC and CABE - I wonder what will history books have to say about Hindus in this country soon...and if Sonia comes back to power in 2014 (which is widely expected thanks to BJP's infighting and power of the CBI) - then the next generation of kids will be all brainwashed further...

    1. My daughter says that, with the entry of Teesta into CABE, a chapter on Guj 2002 riots and Modi will soon be a part of the primary school CBSE curriculum. Best to brainwash 'em young.

  6. Now Gadhkari is stuck in the middle of scam, all the congress scams seem to be miniscule in the best jury of India. People start to forget the real big scams made by the son-in-law. mother-in-law and her slaves. Gadhkari is fuming for not getting support from his party members.

    The media may even tell that Modi is behind the attack on Gadhkari and more party time.

    People have to realize that the harder the media tries to sell lies and bluff the people, the more corrupt the government becomes.

    1. Gadkari is not so much of a fraud but a jackass (forgive my french) but how stupid can one be at that level..i hope he resigns in time! Compared to him there is almost nothing to link UPA to any of these scams (at least on the face of it no paper trail and obviously paid media wont dig deeper, also shows how smart UPA is). If BJP can repair the damage in time, maybe there is still little hope for 2014.

    2. I agree with your view. This is the reason why congress is able to rule this banana republic. They indulge in corruption and are not caught whereas BJP is caught with its pant down. Congress men have actual sexual encounters and are not caught (NDT, AMS, Maredia....) whereas BJP men are caught when they are vicarious pleasure.

    3. Dear Mr Bhat, ED & Bhrastacharpeeditindian,

      Please realise that the reason the Congress was able to corner Mr Gadkari was simply because it has CBI in its hands. The Congress is like a power hungry monster which eats, drinks & urinates power. It continuously uses CBI to collect Data against its political opponents but use it against its oponents only if it finds itself in political disadvantage. Unfortunately the Congress still manages to comeback to power by simple virtue of TINA(Their is no alternative). Its similar to carrot & stick policy.I always mention that Congress thrieves on following : 1) Muslims, Money,3) Media & 4) CBI.
      As far as Mr Gadkari is concerned, he has offered to face the probe & the BJP did well by not throwing him out immediately as it would get time to think over other possibly candiates till december & take the decision only after the 2 state elections are over to avoid destablalising itself. BJP will always be the Best Bet against fighting congress by simple logic of Loha Lohe Ko Katta hai.Politics is not for soft hearted.

  7. well here is a link that will address ur fears of how uncaring the MSM is!!

  8. media crooks,absolutlty bang on,every word is the true reflection of reality,keep up your fearless posts

  9. Wonderful. Now when NGOs seek funds, not sure whether one should donate. Thank you.

  10. Whores........ Whores. and more Whores.

  11. // Rajat Gupta must be regretting his misdeeds weren’t in India//

    I remember once when Cho Ramaswamy was posed a question about severity of punishments in China as compared to India "One Govt. official in China who was found guilty of food adulteration was sentenced to death. How severe is that ?" and Cho said "He is an unfortunate fellow. Had he been in India and done that, he could have become the President"

    [This came the year after Mrs. Patil's election which Cho and Shourie campaigned against]


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