Zero Hour: The Scania scam and how India fared before 2014

In 1986-87, Rajiv Gandhi Govt set up six Technology Missions to tackle some of India’s fundamental problems. The UNO highly praised the outcome of these Missions

Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari with Vijay Chhibber, who after retiring as Secretary of Road Transport Ministry, joined Scania Commercial Vehicles as Director.
Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari with Vijay Chhibber, who after retiring as Secretary of Road Transport Ministry, joined Scania Commercial Vehicles as Director.
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NH Web Desk

"We may have been a bit naive, ... we really wanted to make it in India but underestimated the risks," said Henrik Henriksson, CEO of the Swedish truck and bus maker Scania to Swedish channel SVT. The company’s internal inquiries had revealed that Scania paid bribes to win bus contracts in seven different states between 2013 and 2016. He also revealed that a minister in India was also paid bribe but did not name the minister.

Curiously, news agency ANI circulated the following statement from the office of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari: “Media reports that in Nov 2016, Scania delivered a luxury bus to a company that had close ties with Nitin Gadkari's sons are malicious, fabricated and baseless. The minister & his family members have nothing to do with purchase or sale of the bus: Union Min Nitin Gadkari's office.”

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There was life and India before 2014!

In 1986-87, Rajiv Gandhi Govt set up six technology Missions (headed by Sam Pitroda) to tackle some of India’s fundamental problems. The focus areas were: rural drinking water, literacy, immunisation, edible oils, telecommunications and Dairy production. The now famous and highly successful Polio Vaccination programme was one of the outcomes of the Technology Missions. When the Mission was set up, India had zero indigenous production of polio vaccines!

Zero Hour: The Scania scam and how India fared before 2014

The Mission for Literacy roped in over 20 lakh volunteers to spread the message about literacy and build awareness among the rural population of India! In 1989, the Technology Mission on Literary was awarded UNESCO’s Noma Literary Prize for its performance.

When another highly successful Mission, the Edible Oil Mission, was set up, India had imported one billion dollar worth of edible oil in the previous five years. The Mission headed by Dr Varghese Kurien (Of Amul) turned it around so much that by 1990 India was exporting oil cakes! And I thought their focus was only on telecommunications.

Today we talk about fake UNESCO certificates! Did you know the UNO recognised the value of our Technology Missions and recommended every developing country to adopt similar Missions? The humble STD/PCO booths, a novel concept introduced by Rajiv Gandhi-Sam Pitroda team, provided telephone access to common people for the first time and also generated nearly 2 million new jobs in the country!

One day in 1988 then PM Rajiv Gandhi received a call from the then US President Ronald Reagan, informing US decision not to sell a super computer that India wanted for agriculture and weather forecasting. Result: C-DAC was formed, and PARAM super computer developed by 1990! (Tweeted by Jay Ambadi)

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2. 10,000 businesses went bust

The ministry of corporate affairs revealed that 10,113 companies had gone out of business in just 10 months across the country. The number in poll-bound West Bengal, however, was just four. Here is how other states fared.

Zero Hour: The Scania scam and how India fared before 2014

How many farmers in Parliament?

As many as 216 Parliamentarians have listed farming as their occupation, reported Dainik Bhaskar. And barring 18, the rest are all Crorepatis by a long chalk, their ‘average’ wealth pegged at Rs 18-Crore! Now one knows why the Prime Minister and the Agriculture Minister were claiming that the government was working towards doubling farmers’ income.

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Nehru missing from the party?

To commemorate 75 years of Indian Independence, the Government has formed a large committee and issued a press note giving details of the events planned. It mentioned Mahatma Gandhi, Vallabhbhai Patel and Subhas Chandra Bose. But conspicuous was the name of the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. While the antipathy of the BJP and the Prime Minister to Nehru, and their habit of blaming him for all present ills, is well known, the omission took many by surprise. Some took to Twitter.

“Bose died in 1945; Gandhi in ‘48; Patel in ‘50. Nehru spent 9 years in jail in the freedom struggle; was PM for 17 years after; built dams, labs, hospitals, colleges, factories; gave India a chance at modernity—and he won’t be in exhibitions to mark 75 years of independence?” Another tweet read, “Won’t we celebrate #Nehru in official events marking 75 years of Independent India? Asking because the first PM’s name missing from the Ministry of Culture’s list of freedom movement leaders to be commemorated.”

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No ‘market’ for BHMS

Ahmedabad based Dr Om Lakhani, who had dared Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishna of Patanjali Yogapeeth to a televised debate on efficacy of Ayurveda and some of the medicines market by Patanjali, caused another storm in a teacup by asking people to boycott Homoeopathy colleges.

While Homoeopathy is legal in India, he maintained there was no market for it (he may be wrong there!). More pertinently he accused these colleges of being money-making rackets run by politicians. “ Many of these homeopathy colleges are owned and run by politicians or their cronies basically to fleece young people of money.

Once these people finish BHMS, they realize there is no scope for the same in real world. Hence now there is a petition to allow AYUSH people to practice modern medicine. If AYUSH was so effective why do BHMS/BAMS want the government to allow them to practice modern medicine? If AYUSH is so effective why don't politicians get treated in such institutions instead of getting admitted to AIIMS or Medanta?

The truth is the entire system of AYUSH is created in part to allow politicians to keep running a cash cow called private and homeopathic medical colleges to fleece thousands of families of their hard-earned money,” tweeted the good doctor.

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How do ‘journalists’ make money?

A Chandigarh based journalist’s arrest has taken the lid off a real estate scandal in the Union Territory. The city-based journalist Sanjeev Mahajan, reported The Tribune, had drugged, kidnapped and swindled an elderly person Rahul Mehta of his house in the city. Mehta apparently lived alone and his house was forcibly occupied by Mahajan in connivance with a builder and the brother of a DSP of Police.

Mehta was then taken to Bhuj in Gujarat, to Maharashtra, Delhi and then to Rajasthan and confined to various ashrams. Documents meanwhile were forged and scamsters produced a fake proxy to impersonate Mehta in front of the Registrar and changed the ownership. The house was then sold twice, first for Rs 2.40 Crore and thereafter for Rs 2.90 Crore.

Mehta’s UK-based cousin had filed a case in the High Court for his share in the property and when he visited Chandigarh and could not find Mehta, he was taken to Mahajan. The journalist offered him Rs 25 lakhs in cash to withdraw the case. Police have arrested seven people so far but according to reports has not been able to recover the original or the forged documents till now.

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Short Bytes

* 75% drop in CAG reports in the last five years. From 55 reports in 2015, it came down to 14 in 2020. There were zero defence audits last year and just three railway audits. Naturally, the current CAG is a Gujarat cadre IAS officer. The government’s defence is it was all due to the pandemic.

* US (4% world population) has as many psychiatrists as the rest of the world put together. UK (4% of India's population) has as many psychiatrists as all of India put together.

* Remember the Kotler Presidential award? PM Modi was the first recipient in January 2019. Two years have passed and it seems nobody else has been given the award since then.

* The entire country had Free:

Smallpox vaccine, BCG, DPT, OPV, Measles vaccine, Polio vaccine.

This was done even when India was poorer. Was done as a duty, without propaganda and without high petrol taxes!

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