Amit Varma’s article, “Mobs are above the law”, Mint, 7 June, is a grim reminder of the state the inept handling of our democracy by politicians has landed us in. It has been compounded by the lack of passion we, the educated classes, feel about issues. We feel and behave as if these are happening on some other planet and are not going to affect us. So we just discuss such issues in the lunch room and/or drawing rooms and then get on with our lives. We fail to realize that, through our indifference, we have allowed cunning people to take advantage and capture the power to dictate laws and terms. This is going to affect how we and our children live our lives. The time is now right for the educated classes to rise and unite and create a new political party.
Jerry Rao has, as usual, written a good piece on the need for a free-market political party in India, “Tired of socialists”, Mint, 8 June.
He correctly refers to the fact that I have been trying to register a party that is expressly opposed to socialism and that I have made very little headway. In fact, I tried to register the old Swatantra Party (there was no registration required in the old days) but my application for registration was rejected.
An amendment to the Representation of the People Act made when Rajiv Gandhi was prime minister stipulated that the constitution or the rules and regulations of political parties should contain a provision swearing loyalty to democracy, secularism and socialism. The Election Commission sent me a form for registration which I completed and returned, accepting democracy and secularism but rejecting socialism, as the Swatantra Party was opposed to it in principle. The registration was turned down.
A friend and I filed a writ petition in the Bombay high court in December 1996. The writ was admitted. It has still to come up for hearing. This is the hurdle. Under current law, no party that refuses to accept socialism can get registered as a political party. So much for our democracy!
I refer to the Quick Edit, “No shopping at home”, Mint, 2 June, which questions the lack of domestic mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in India. You rightly say that India has not seen many major domestic acquisitions, except for Shaw Wallace by UB, Punjab Tractors by M&M, and two in aviation: Jet-Sahara and Kingfisher-Deccan.
A major reason for the lack of such transactions in the domestic market is regulations. RBI does not allow banks in India to fund domestic acquisitions. Acquisition funding was a complete no-no till a year and a half ago—when RBI liberalized the rules by allowing banks to fund overseas acquisitions. A spurt in overseas M&A has been witnessed since then.
Equity remains the only route available for domestic acquisitions. A major fillip to such transactions can be provided by private equity players in India, though this market still has a long way to go, as noted by Mint in a recent editorial.
—Yogesh Kumar Gupta
With reference to “Chicken wire and chewing gum”, Mint, 5 June. China is the main destination for animal parts. Unfortunately, China does not care whether this trade is illegal or if it completely destroys species. Whatever China does, be it building steel mills, collectivization or killing birds (Mao ordered the wholesale destruction of birds to save crops), it is always on a large scale. This results in irreversible damage, with no room to reverse course.
Many people will ask why we should antagonize China over mundane matters like the conservation of tigers. It may also seem impractical and against free trade. But the situation is so grave that unless urgent and harsh steps are taken, we may lose this heritage of mankind.