Saturday, April 9, 2011

Govt agrees to set up JC for Lokpal Bill; Hazare to end fast on Saturday

2011-04-08 22:40:00
Last Updated: 2011-04-08 23:00:41

New Delhi: Government on Friday night blinked in the battle of attrition with Anna Hazare by agreeing to issue a formal order to set up a joint committee for drafting an effective Lokpal Bill and the Gandhian will end his indefinite fast on Friday.
The announcement of an agreement came from both sides late in the night on the fourth day of Hazare's last-unto-death that triggered a nationwide support for his anti-corruption campaign.

"Government has accepted all our demands and I will end my fast on Saturday at 10:30 A.M. This is a victory for the entire nation," Hazare said.
Union Minister Kapil Sibal, who led the government team of negotiators, welcomed Hazare's announcement and thanked him for it.

"This is a victory for democracy," he said adding it was for the government now now to issue an appropriate order constituting the committee that will include representatives of civil society and government.

However, Hazare's emissaries Kiran Bedi and Swami Agnivesh made it clear that the protest fast will not not be ended till the government issues the order.
The denouement came after his emissaries met ministers for a round of talks, third in two days and after some hiccups.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will be the Chairman of the committee that will also include Law Minister Veerappa Moily, Telecom Minister Sibal, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Water Resources Minister Salman Khurshid as members.

Besides Hazare, those representing the civil society in the joint committee will be eminent lawyers Shanti Bhushan, Prasant Bhushan, retired Supreme Court Judge Santosh Hege and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal. Shanti Bhushan will be the co-Chairman

Celebrations after Hazare accord with govt

2011-04-08 23:00:00
Last Updated: 2011-04-08 23:10:16

New Delhi: Celebrations broke out on Friday night at Jantar Mantar, the nerve-centre of the Lokpal Bill protest led by Anna Hazare, after the government brokered an agreement with Hazare-led anti-corruption activists on the issue.

Dancing to the beating drums and singing of patriotic songs, hundreds of people erupted in euphoria as Hazare announced that he will end his fast-unto-death protest tomorrow morning after reaching an agreement.

The venue of Hazare's hunger strike resonated with 'Anna Hazare Zindabad', 'Bharat Mata ki Jai', 'Vande Mataram' and 'Inquilab Zindabad' slogans as anti-corruption activists waved tricolours.

"This is a great victory. The government has bowed before the might of the public," said Manish Sharma, a DU student who was at the protest site for the past four days.

New quake causes power outages, toxic water spill in Japan

2011-04-08 19:00:00
Last Updated: 2011-04-08 20:57:13

Tokyo: Adding to Japan's misery, the strongest aftershock since the devastating March 11 quake and tsunami killed at least four people, knocked out power to millions of houses and sparked fresh concerns about the radiation-leaking Fukushima nuclear plant where the crisis is far from over.

The latest tremor, whose magnitude was revised to 7.1 from 7.4, rocked the northern and central parts of Miyagi Prefecture, which was the worst affected by last month's mega quake and tsunami, at 11:32 pm on Thursday night.

Radioactive water spilled from pools holding spent nuclear fuel rods at the Onagawa power plant in Miyagi following the aftershock, the nuclear safety agency was quoted as saying by Kyodo news agency on Thursday.

However, the powerful quake did not hamper the ongoing work to restore reactor cooling systems at the crippled Fukushima plant, though workers were briefly evacuated after a tsunami advisory issued, the operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said.
It said no new irregularities were detected in radiation readings or other indicators, except for the surface temperature of the No.1 reactor at the plant, where engineerings have been battling for nearly a month to bring the situation under control.

Before the quake, the reading stood at 223 degrees Celsius. Just after the tremor, it rose to about 260 degrees Celsius at midnight -- but fell back to 246 degrees Celsius this afternoon, according to national broadcaster NHK.

After the tsunami warning issued for the area was lifted, the workers inspected the site and resumed their critical task to cool the overheating reactors at the facility.
Last night's quake triggered panic among residents already being sheltered at local facilities following the last month magnitude-9 quake and tsunami that has left nearly 30,000 people dead or unaccounted for in Japan's northeast.

Two men, aged 85 and 79 respectively, died in Miyagi while a 63-year-old woman was killed in the neighbouring prefecture of Yamagata after the tremor, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency. An 83-year-old woman in Miyagi was reportedly taken to hospital immediately after the earthquake and later confirmed dead.
About 140 people were also injured, Jiji Press reported.

The National Police Agency said five buildings were totally or partially destroyed in Miyagi and three each burnt down in Miyagi and Iwate.

Tohoku Electric Power Company said as many as four million homes lost power at one point and, despite its restoration effort, the outage continued across Aomori and Iwate and in some areas in Tohoku prefectures till this morning, affecting 3.04 million homes.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010


“Corruption will be out one day, however much one may try to conceal it: and the public
can as its right and duty, in every case of justifiable suspicion, call its servants to strict
account, dismiss them, sue them in a law court, or appoint an arbitrator or inspector to
scrutinize their conduct, as it likes.”

-Mahatma Gandhi (1928)


India is a country where honesty and integrity in public and private life have been glorified and upheld in great epics such as the Vedas, Upanishads and in the books and practices of every religion practiced here.
Yet, India today is one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

Bringing public servants under a scanner which makes them strictly accountable is the start of movement against corruption in India. And one significant step in attacking the spectre of corruption in India will be the implementation of the Lok Pal bill.

The Indian Lokpal is synonymous to the institution of Ombudsman existing in the Scandinavian countries. The office of the ombudsman originated in Sweden in 1809 A.D., and adopted eventually by many nations 'as a bulwark of democratic government against the tyranny of officialdom'. Ombudsman is a Swedish word that stands for "an officer appointed by the legislature to handle complaints against administrative and judicial action. Traditionally the ombudsman is appointed based on unanimity among all political parties supporting the proposal.

The incumbent, though appointed by the legislature, is an independent functionary – independent of all the three organs of the state, but reports to the legislature. The Ombudsman can act both on ADMINISTRATIVE LAW


the basis of complaints made by citizens, or suo moto. She/he can look into allegations of corruption as well as mal-administration.1

The functionary is called by different names in different countries; its power and functions also vary. In the Scandinavian countries2 (Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway) he is called the’ Ombudsman'. He can take cognizance of the citizens' grievance by either directly receiving
complaints from the public or suo moto on the basis of information provided by the interested persons, or from newspapers, etc. However, in the U.K. the functionary - known as the Parliamentary Commissioner - can receive complains only through members of parliament.

The ombudsmen can investigate a complaint by themselves or through any public or private agency. After investigation, in Sweden and Finland, the Ombudsman has the power to prosecute erring public servants; whereas in Denmark, he can only order prosecution. However, the power
of prosecution is very rarely used. The strength of the ombudsman lies in the publicity attached to the office, and the negative view that attaches itself to all that the office scrutinises. In Sweden and Finland, ombudsmen can also supervise the courts. In other countries, their authority is only
over the non-judicial public servants. In almost all the cases they deal with complaints relating toboth corruption and mal-administration.

1 The Lokpal cycle, an article by Pradeep K Baisakh.

2 Subset of the Nordic countries.



The misdeeds committed during the Emergency remind us of the necessity of including the PM within the purview of the Lokpal.

The basic idea of the Lok Pal is borrowed from the office of ombudsman, which has played an effective role in checking corruption and wrong-doing in Scandinavian and other nations.

In early 1960s, mounting corruption in public administration set the winds blowing in favour of an Ombudsman in India too.

The Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) set up in 1966 recommended the constitution of a two-tier machinery - of a Lokpal at the Centre, and Lokayukt (a) s in the states.4 The ARC while recommending the constitution of Lokpal was convinced that such an institution was
justified not only for removing the sense of injustice from the minds of adversely affected citizens but also necessary to instill public confidence in the efficiency of administrative

Following this, the Lokpal Bill was for the first time presented during the fourth Lok Sabha in 1968, and was passed there in 1969.

However, while it was pending in the Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha was dissolved, resulting the first death of the bill. The bill was revived in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, and 2005 and most recently in 2008.

Each time, after the bill was introduced to the house, it was referred to some committee for improvements - a joint committee of parliament, or a departmental standing committee of the Home Ministry - and before the government could take a final stand on the issue the house was

There are as many as 17 states where the institution of Lokayukta has been constituted, beginning with Orissa in 1971. However the power, function and jurisdiction of Lokayuktas are not uniform in the country.

3 The Lok Pal Bill, http: / / w ww . hi ndu. c o m/ 2 00 1 /0 1 /2 6/ stori e s/ 05 26 25 1 1. htm.

4 The LokAyukta (also Lok Ayukta) is an anti-government corruption organization in the Indian state.




In some states it has been applicable to all the elected representatives including the CM. In some other states legislators have been deliberately kept out of his purview. Often, lacunae have been left in legislation creating the office, apparently to keep the elected representatives outside
meaningful jurisdiction of the Lokayukta, even when the laws appear to include them.

Lokayuktas have not been provided with their independent investigative machinery making them dependent on the government agencies, which leaves enough scope for the politicians and the
bureaucrats to tinker with the processes of investigation.

Objectives of the bill:5

The Lokpal was visualized as the watchdog institution on ministerial probity. Broadly the provisions of different bills empowered the Lokpal to investigate corruption cases against


political persons at the Central level. Some important features of the Lokpal Bill have varied over the years; in its most recent avatar, the bill contains the following.

The main objective is to provide speedy, cheaper from of justice to people.


Lokpal is to be a three member body with a chairperson who is or has been a chief justice or judge of the Supreme Court; and its two other members who are or have been judges or chief justices of high courts around the country.

Appointment :

The chairperson and members shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the following persons.

It's not clear whether the committee has to make a unanimous decision or a majority decision will do. (a) The Vice-President (Chairman) (b) The PM (c) The Speaker of LS (d) Home Minister (e) Leader of the House, other than the house in which PM is a
member. (f) Leaders of Opposition of both the houses.

Independence of the Office:

In order to ensure the independence of functioning of the august office, the following provisions have been incorporated.

Appointment is to be made on the recommendation of a committee.

The Lokpal is ineligible to hold any office of profit und
er Government of India or of any state, or similar such posts after retirement.

Fixed tenure of three years and can be removed only on the ground of proven misbehaviour or incapacity after an inquiry made by CJI and two senior most judges of SC.
Lokpal w
ill have its own administrative machinery for conducting investigations.

Salary of Lokpal is to be charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.



Jurisdiction of Lokpal:

The central level political function
aries like the Council of Ministers including the Prime Minister, the Members of Parliament etc.

He can not inquire into any allegation against the PM in relation to latter's
functions of national security and public order.

Complaints of offence committe
d within 10 years from the date of complaint can be taken up for investigation, not beyond this period.

Any person other than a public servant can make a complaint. The Lokpal is supposed to complete the inquiry within a period of six months. The Lokpal has the power of a civil court to summon any person or authority. After investigation, the ombudsman can only recommend actions to be taken by the competent authority. A number of safeguards have been taken to discourage false complains or complain of malafide intent.

He can order search and seizure operations.

He shall present annually to the President the reports of investigation and the latter with the action take report has to put it before the both houses of parliament.

It may be noted that the Lokpal is supposed to investigate cases of corruption only, and not address himself to redressing grievances in respect of injustices and hardship caused by maladministration.


Very recently a highly discouraging phenomenon has come to light, that is, the prevalence of corruption in the subordinate courts and even in High Courts. Probably due to this, the present ADMINISTRATIVE LAW.


government has planned to bring the Judiciary within the purview of Lok pal; this is one reason why the Bill has been referred to the Group of Ministers. However given the history of Lok pal
bill, there is a constant risk that the bill will simply lapse because no conclusion is reached within the life of this Lok Sabha!

The political fraternity is understandably opposed to a Lok pal, since the purported target of the Lokpal is mainly the politicians themselves. The publicly stated reason for the current delay is that some important issues are as yet unresolved.6


In the regular dispensation of government there are implicit and explicit ways that citizens can voice their grievances and demand change. But these are often difficult. Within administrative departments, for example, any decision of one official can be appealed to a higher official, all the
way up to the head of a department. However, this mechanism has inherent flaws.

Fish processors rise to challenge

Saturday, April 9, 2011

News photo
True colors: Fifty "tairyo bata" banners used to adorn fishing boats are hung out to dry in the backyard of Eiaki Ito in Shiogama, Miyagi Prefecture, on March 30. Ito and his wife, Kazuyo (below), are interviewed in their tsunami-hit fishing equipment shop in Shiogama on March 31. COURTESY OF EBISUYA, MIZUHO AOKI


Staff writer
SHIOGAMA, Miyagi Pref. — Fumio Oikawa is determined to clean the mud out of his small seaweed salt factory in Shiogama, Miyagi Prefecture, and reopen as soon as possible.
News photo
"I've been coming here to clean up the mess every day from a day after March 11. At first, we couldn't even step into the place, but now it's getting much better," said Oikawa, 63, manager of Ganbare Shiogama, a "moshio" seaweed salt producer, which was hit by the March 11 tsunami.
"I thought it's over for our factory when I first saw its state. But later, when I found out that our (salt) kiln and an altar had survived the tsunami, I thought it's a sign for us to revive the business," he said. " We are going to restart."
Shiogama, about 15 km northeast of Sendai, is known as an entry point for large volumes of fresh tuna and other fish products. It is especially well-known for the production of "kamaboko" (processed fish cake).
The harbor housed nearly 200 fish processing companies and produced about 90,000 tons of processed marine products in 2007, according to figures provided by the city.
Many of the marine product processors in and around the harbor were damaged by the tsunami, leading many owners to consider closing down.
As of Thursday, the prefecture said the total cost of the quake-tsunami damage topped ¥390 billion.
But nearly a month after the mega-quake hit, people in Shiogama are slowly recovering from the initial shock and pulling themselves together to rebuild their businesses.
"I think it's going to take at least a decade for Shiogama to return to the state we were in before March 11. But we are going to try to rebuild the town together," Oikawa of Ganbare Shiogama declared.
Oikawa, who also runs a "kasuzuke" (sake-marinated fish) business, said he and nine other friends founded the salt company in 2009, using part of his kasuzuke plant.
Aiming to make moshio the local specialty in hopes of helping revive the town, whose main seafood processing industry was under threat by the dearth of younger workers and also by rising costs of fresh materials, they started the company from scratch, Oikawa said.
"Many locals helped us in building up the business. And things were just going up when the tsunami came. We had a business deal between a major department store waiting to be signed," he said.
With five full-time employees at the factory, it produced about 100 kg of salt per week before the tsunami washed away everything apart from the kiln and the altar on the first floor. "The tsunami broke almost everything, including the drying machine and the storehouse."
But when he thinks back to the time when he and his friends began to build the salt factory two years ago with hardly any money, he said it is not difficult to get things going once again.
"Once the factory's production capacity is back, I guess we can restart producing salt pretty fast," Oikawa said, adding he will consider other pursuits, including marinated fish, after the salt business is revived.
"And once we put together the company's environment, we have to think about how we are going to design the damaged town. For this, we definitely need government support," he said.
Compared with the worst-hit ports, including Kesennuma and Ishinomaki farther north, Shiogama's damage from the tsunami was light.
Damage sustained by some factories is repairable but several hurdles have to be overcome, said Eiichi Sasaki, director of the Shiogama Danchi marine products processing industries cooperative.
"We now have a short supply of fish that many of our members were getting from Kesennuma and Ishinomaki, where all the refrigerators keeping tons of fish are broken. Once their stocks run out, what are they going to do?" Sasaki asked.
"Also, it's really difficult to redevelop distribution routes once they are gone. Newcomers taking seafood products to market will create tougher competition."
To retain their distribution routes, most of the co-op's 69 member companies have recently restarted some operations, Sasaki said.
"Initially, I thought many factories would close down after the tsunami. But it looks like the number of companies that will go out of business is going to be far fewer than I'd expected," he said.
Many factories were operating on loans from banks, so financial support from the government will be crucial for the industry to recover, Sasaki explained.
Eiaki Ito, who runs a fishing boat business and fishing gear shop named Ebisuya in Shiogama, was also firm on plans to restart his business.
Washing 50 "tairyo bata" banners that fishing boats hoist to announce a large catch, Ito said the vessels are ready to go any time.
"Luckily, seven out of nine boats had no damage. And the boats' fuel tanks are fully filled," Ito said.
The March 11 tsunami hit the fishing gear shop just a few minutes walk from Shiogama port, breaking glass and all four refrigerators for fresh bait. It also trashed the shop's interior.
The total damage is going to cost him at least ¥30 million, Ito said.
"I don't know how much of the damage will be covered by insurance," he added. "I also don't know whether there are people who want to get on a fishing boat after what happened."
Ito said flatfish and gopher are easily caught off Shiogama, but he worries if things will be the same in the Pacific after the monster quake and tsunami.
But whatever the situation, Ito said he is intends to open the shop within a few months.
"The only thing we can do now is move forward and not look back," Kazuyo, Ito's wife, said.