India’s corruption ‘gurus’ ruining Nigeria

Salisu Suleiman editor of Nigeria Intel writes about corrupt Indians looting & ruining Nigerian economy in his article: Nigerian Corruption: the Indian Connection

The Dana Air flight from Abuja to Lagos crashed a few km to the airport with over 150 people on board

When we think of politicians and public officials who looted (and are still looting) hundreds of billions of dollars from the Nigerian public treasury, what usually comes to mind are numbered Swiss bank accounts and ultra-secret deposits in the Caymans and Bahamas. We imagine assets and investments in England, the United States, Dubai and Europe.

Less known destinations for Nigerian loot include South Africa, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco. More recently, looted funds from Nigeria have been traced to Australia, Hong Kong, Brazil and China. But how does stolen money leave Nigeria? Who are the middlemen and agents helping to fleece our country in what is clearly the most blatant capital flight from Africa?

Welcome, Indians. Many people now think of India mostly in terms of the country’s economic successes and technological advances. With a billion people and one of the fastest growing economies in the world, India has become a major power. From one of the poorest countries on Earth, the world’s largest democracy has projected itself unto the global scene. In what can be viewed as reverse-colonialism, Indian businesses have taken over several notable British icons and businesses. And for what it is worth, some of the most valuable franchises and real estate in the British Isles are now owned by Indians.

But what is the downside to India’s remarkable successes? Is there more to it than meets the eye? The truth is, despite India’s remarkable achievements, the country remains very corrupt. And because of its vast business and trade links with Nigeria, some of those unorthodox methods are compounding Nigeria’s already hopeless culture of corruption. When Indian corruption and Nigerian corruption meet, the outcome can be devastating.

Since the Dana Air flight, which killed over 150 people on board and an unknown number on the ground, much attention has been focused on the Indian owners of the company. Allegations that the aircraft was not airworthy have emerged. Though the company has denied it, an official was quoted as saying the plane had technical problems and was not fit to fly. For those who know Nigeria well, if a bribe was all that was needed to certify the plane as airworthy, then the required signatures would have been obtained in an instant.

A few years ago, Nigeria was gripped with the drama of the deportation of the Vaswani brothers who have been labeled ‘economic terrorists’. They allegedly caused Nigeria losses amounting to billions in unpaid customs duties, among other corrupt practices. In typical Nigerian fashion, the matter has been forgotten. Serious allegations of compromise at the top echelons of the Nigerian Customs Service have been shelved. This is just one case that came to light. Many others are unreported. Some estimates indicate that Indians help to evacuate more than $50 million daily from Nigeria through dubious paperwork and official collusion.

Despite these sharp practices, if Indians simply engage in the importation of stale rice and sub-standard automobiles at outrageous prices and also help Nigerians launder money, it would be a simpler affair. The greater danger comes with the involvement of Indians in Nigeria’s health services. Currently, a significant percentage of all fake drugs found in Nigeria come from India. And as if it not enough to sell death to us, the angels of death (or Indians of Death) have come to reside among us.

A notorious example is a so-called ‘super specialty’ hospital located in Karu, Abuja. Initially, complaints of fraud and medical malpractices were seen as the actions of rivals and detractors trying to spread malicious rumours about the hospital. However, there is a growing litany of complaints from too many sources who claim have been defrauded by this hospital for the authorities to simply ignore.

One blogger whose sister had a nasty experience at the hospital puts it this way: “Those Indians are quacks; they do not posses basic medical credentials. The head of the hospital, an Indian woman is not a medical doctor. The deputy is her son and not a medical doctor as well. A specialist hospital operating in a Nigerian government built infrastructure does not have a medical director”.

Operating structure and credentials aside, more worrisome are the reports of unneeded and unnecessary surgeries the hospital forces on patients. One person reported the case of a patient who had gone there for treatment on his leg. According to her, “the quack doctor did a terrible job on him and he’s presently walking with crutches. The poor guy went to the hospital with his two legs and they turned him to a disabled being after paying almost N2.5million”. Another reported, “My mother is a victim. After paying over 5 million naira for (unneeded) operations, she is bedridden. Avoid these killers at all costs. You have been warned!”

Considering the plethora of complaints against this Indian hospital, isn’t it high time our health authorities investigated what is going on there? Or have they also received the ‘Indian Treatment’?

Trivendrum ‘Dosa fest’ evokes good response

The ongoing ‘Dosa Fest’ at the Keys Hotel, Thiruvanantpuram, Kerala has evoked good response.
The menu at Keys boasts a variety of dosas from the everyday ghee dosa to the exotic ‘chakkuli pitha’. The fete is on till the end of this month. Timings are from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The Methi dosa is priced at Rs. 45 while the Mysore masala dosa is priced at Rs. 65, exclusive of tax. All dosas are accompanied by unlimited sambar, coconut chutney and a special chutney of the day. A hot favourite with children is the cheese and egg dosa.

Global Warming: Sand Sculpture by Sudarsan Pattnaik

Renowned sand sculptor Sudarsan Pattnaik recently created a 7- feet structure on Puri beach of Odisha, depicting climate change to draw tourists’ attention towards global warming.In his creation, that took around 5 hours to complete, Pattnaik portrayed scorching sun blazing down over a habitation.
Tourists at the beach supported the artiste’s attempt to create awareness about climate change and global warming. Pattanik, who has represented India in over 50 international sand sculpture championships, said, “The sea-level is rising. In Odisha, it is very difficult to come out during the day due to the scorching sun.”

Poli(tics)wood, like Bollywood

Shombit Sengupta an international creative business strategy consultant writes in The Indian Express

Electronic media has made Indian politics more and more entertaining. It’s beating Bollywood’s clichéd storylines of love, hate, fight, prison, poor man becomes rich man. Indian politics has more or less the same storylines except the love affair bit, making it Poliwood. Wonder why our political journalists are avoiding love affair diagnostics?

We’ve got enough titillating stories where politicians invoke celestial powers to get jobs done. Even Indira Gandhi had visited Ma Anandamayi with daughter-in-law Maneka. A few months ago, instead of inviting investors, a yagna was held in Bengal for getting business into the state. Did it work? A believer pointed out, “Didn’t Hillary Clinton come to Kolkata last week to promise American economic partnership?”

On issues of governance, we seem to witness Bollywood-style histrionics or banana skin slips, where the banana skin can be clandestinely put in front of a politician by anyone with a vested interest. In a one-party majority Presidential system of government where the whole nation elects the leader, there’s less of a chance for Poliwood drama. 

In India, from being colonised by a gun-toting monarchical British political system, we chose our current Parliamentary politics. This democratic government process seems to match the diversity of our Hindu-dominated, multiple God culture where all politicians are perforce wary of banana skins, from voters and opposition alike. In trying to escape banana skins, how much attention are elected politicians paying to keeping their electoral promises? Only when the quality of politics is at a higher ground can there be better governance. Instead of giving us Poliwood stories of corruption, divisive politics, managing caste equations and allies, can we have our elected representatives resolve our many economic problems, and provide employment, education and health for the masses?

Read the full column : Poliwood

Gupta’s Humor Express: After the full-page report, the full-page ad

Mail Today‘s outstanding political cartoonistR. Prasad, on the irony of newspapers running advertisements from the controversial truck maker, Tatra, when it is at the heart of a major corruption scandal involving the Indian Army.

Among the newspapers which received the full-page ads is The Indian Express, whose controversial full-page report on the coup that wasn’t was vital ammunition in the battle between the outgoing Army chief, General V.K. Singh, and the Congress-led UPA government.

Cartoon: courtesy R. PrasadMail Today & sans serif

INDIA: Young Aging Expert Is Editor of “Seniors World Chronicle”

75yrs young Ravi Chawla Founder & Editor of ‘World Seniors World Chronicle.com’ with around 5 Lakh Hits in 6 yrs with 12,000 + post from 250 countries Handing over Ownership & Editorial Rights to Sailesh Mishra.

Mumbai-based Ravi Chawla, Founder Editor and Owner of Seniors World Chronicle, announced today that he is handing over complete charge and ownership of the Internet daily digest of international news and reports on Aging, to Sailesh Mishra of Silver Innings.

Seniors World Chronicle.com was launched in 2005 by Ravi Chawla, who has worked all his life as reporter, editor and publisher of specialist journals. This journal has already published nearly 12,000 reports from 250 countries and attracted an estimated 500,000 visitors up to end March 2012.
Chawla is completing 75 years of age in a few weeks and has opted out in favour of the dynamic young Sailesh Mishra to continue operations of Seniors World Chronicle.
Mishra has 15 years of hard core marketing experience and since the year 2006, has dedicated himself to work with Senior Citizens.
Says Mishra: “I am Social Gerontologist by Experience and Founder President of Silver Inning Foundation, Not for Profit and ‘Silver Innings,’ a Social Enterprise working with Senior Citizens.”
For increasingly internet savvy senior citizens everywhere,Seniors World Chronicle serves as a single source of international coverage of all issues concerning older persons. Access is free to all internet users and no registration is required.

More information from:
Ravi Chawla 91-9322 633 718
Sailesh Mishra 91-9987 104 233

US President Obama, age 21 subscribes Airtel from Nalgonda(AP)!

If the records of a private telecom operator are to be believed, then US President Barack Obama is a 21-year-old resident of Nalgonda in Andhra Pradesh. In a telling laxity of the telecom service providers in granting telephone connections to all and sundry without proper verification, a Nalgonda resident by the name of M Prasad secured a cellphone connection with the number 9177523297 by passing off the photograph of the US President as his.

To prevent such ludicrous irregularities from occurring in the future, the cops have suggested that TRAI should immediately ban the telecom service providers from activating the mobile connections through third party mechanism.

Read the full news: Man uses Barack Obama’s photo to get new mobile phone connection

Amar Ujala rolls out readers engagement programmes “Plant a Tree & Save the Earth”

Launches “Plant a Tree & Save the Earthinitiative on Earth Dayand ‘Ek Paigam Maa ke Naam’ contest for Mother’s Day

With an objective of taking brand closer to its readers, Brand Amar Ujala has initiated interaction with its readers. The initiative was started with a CSR activity on World Earth Day. The activity was successfully planned & executed across AU footprints wherein we asked our readers to “Plant a Tree & Save the Earth”.

The initiative was flagged off by Amar Ujala by planting a tree. Tree plantation was supported by a signature campaign wherein in lacs of people across AU footprints pledged to save the earth & plant a tree.

BestMediaInfo

Initiative was graced by the presence of Chipko Movement leader & famous environmentalist Padm Vibhushan Sundarlal Bahuguna who also planted a tree with and sang a poem on the occasion. State cabinet Minister Indira Hridayesh & Harish Chandra Durgapal were among the other dignitaries.

Apart from tree plantation & signature campaign, readers were requested to switch off their lights for an hour in the evening on World Earth Day – 22nd April and contribute their bit to Save Our Mother Earth.

“For a brand to flourish the brand needs to work at the grass root level & connect with its target group. We need to develop a bond with our readers to motivate him to like & develop a relationship with the brand,” said Amar Ujala in a prepared statement.

Taking the drive forward brand has launched Mother’s Day activity –Ek Paigam Maa ke Naam. With an objective to celebrate motherhood with readers, readers are asked to write a note, a poem or a song for their mother. Winners along with their mother will be will be felicitated on Mothers Day by Amar Ujala.

Book review by Aditya Sinha: Pakistan on the Brink

Fear and Loathing in AFPAK

Aditya Sinha

Next week marks the anniversary of the assassination of Osama bin Laden, the man who sat in a cave and on September 11, 2001, attacked America. In the decade between the attack and the assassination, the Americans produced a long list of books dealing with AfPak – Obama’s shorthand for Afghanistan-Pakistan, though his advisors believe it ought to be PakAf – but almost all see matters through the prism of the US strategic establishment. Bob Woodward probably covers wider ground than most, but only because he is, as the late essayist Christopher Hitchens put it, “stenographer to the stars”; and still, his books have not been the best on the subject. (Tuesday will see the release of Peter Bergen’s Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad, which promises to be fairly juicy.) Surpassing them all, arguably, is Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid, whose Taliban: Militant Islam, Fundamentalism, and Oil in Central Asia fortuitously published just before 9/11 suddenly became a handbook for not just those of us covering the War on Terror but the entire planet. Since then, Rashid has put his expertise to good use, producing newspaper and magazine articles that rival The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh for both inside information and deep perspective. In 2008, he published Descent into Chaos: The US and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia which though demandingly dull reading, was uncannily prescient of how things would unfold in the region. And now comes his Pakistan on the Brink: The future of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the West which makes for an absorbing, if sobering, read.

Courtesy: Aditya Sinha, Editor-In-Chief, DNA

It begins with an account of the secret US operation to kill Bin Laden; it is a defining incident not just because 9/11 began a chain of events which changed the world (the destruction of Iraq, the democratisation of West Asia, the global trend of encroachment on civil liberties in the name of security, etc), and not just because the hunt for Osama changed warfare in that the unmanned aerial vehicle has become the weapon of choice for the world’s militaries, but also because the unilateral operation defined bilateral relations in such a way that Rashid says: “The United States and Pakistan are just short of going to war.” What a sea-change from their relationship until 9/11.
Ahmed Rashid’s riveting account of the Osama operation beat Bergen’s upcoming book and a probably Woodward book on the subject (I’d bet on the Woodward book to come out shortly before the November US presidential elections). In this, and with the various political analyses in the book, Rashid was helped by wide access: regular meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a briefing to US President Barack Obama, briefings from the UN hierarchy and of course, sources all over the Pakistani establishment. His big source in the US government was apparently the late Richard Holbrooke, the special envoy for AfPak, who suddenly died at the end of 2010, perhaps due to turf wars in the US administration which Obama could not mediate and which contributed to the failure to find a way forward in AfPak.
The Osama operation made the Pakistanis livid. Faced with angry junior officers, Army Chief General Parvez Kayani “took the easy way out by blaming the entire episode on the Americans for breaching Pakistan’s sovereignty – but he failed to answer the obvious questions: What had bin Laden been doing in Abbottabad for six years, and why had the ISI not found him?” Rashid asks. He says something you rarely hear his countrymen publicly ask, that the violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty was actually by Osama, and not by Obama.
For the duration that Osama was a fugitive many Indians smirked at how Pakistan appeared to be pulling the wool over the US’s eyes. It turns out that the US wasn’t fooled, and that it was making plans. As CIA director, Leon Panetta gave his government a list of clandestine operations he wanted, including “even setting up a parallel intelligence organisation that would be hidden from the ISI”. In 2009, Obama “had secretly authorised the CIA to conduct large-scale recruitment of Pakistanis to establish a clandestine intelligence operation, with the help of fifty CIA officers… In other words, the Americans had set up a specific, secret, second intelligence agency to find Osama bin Laden.” Obviously, despite the sheer audacity of the idea of a secret spy outfit right under the ISI’s nose, it was something that had to be done. Obviously, it would seriously injure bilateral relations.
The biggest factor in souring relations was the US approach to Afghanistan, for Obama never made it clear what he wanted. We know that he wants to start leaving Afghanistan by 2014; it’s a political decision given the domestic unpopularity of the war. We know that he has overcome the American revulsion to negotiating with the Taliban (as even India has); “the Taliban had matured considerably since the 1990s”, having tired of war and also having tired of being ruthlessly under the ISI thumb. We know he wants to leave a permanent base in Afghanistan.
But beyond that, the Americans have never clearly defined a political approach to sorting out Afghanistan; as Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars points out, Obama’s first year was spent fighting a battle with the Pentagon on another troop “surge” with which he was able to sell his pull-out plan. Holbrooke’s brief was never taken seriously. The Americans, as Rashid tells us, started negotiating with the Taliban without telling Pakistan, but once the ISI found out, it threw the negotiator in jail. The ISI then planted a phony negotiator who tripped the process up. The Americans never had a strategy for Karzai, around whom nepotism and corruption intensified. The US was unable to help the Afghans build an economy, and Rashid predicts that when troops begin leaving, Afghanistan will collapse in an economic depression.
The US has to now deal with the Pakistan Taliban, whose fingers are itching for Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. It’s not a far-fetched dream. One of the book’s implications is that as the Pakistan state weakens so does the Pakistan Army. Though the Army dominates the state, it is still part of it. If you watch Gen Kayani’s pattern of behavior, as Rashid does, you begin to see that Gen Kayani is a singularly weak Army Chief, made weaker by President Asif Ali Zardari granting him an extension. There truly is a Mexican standoff between the extremists, the corrupt civilians and the Army. How Pakistan pulls itself out of this is difficult to see, though you can’t blame Rashid for trying to figure a way out.
Since we keep hearing about how Pakistan wants India out of Afghanistan (and how the ISI uses the Haqqani Taliban against Indian interests), Rashid views are refreshing: “Pakistan accepts only… no role for India – yet India is the region’s economic powerhouse and is the most likely investor in Afghanistan’s economy,” he writes. “A peaceful solution to the Afghan war must include the participation of India.”
While reading this fascinating and lively collection of essays, I wondered whether Ahmed Rashid would have written this book had Al Gore become president instead of George W Bush. Would Gore have invaded Iraq, diverting resources that could have helped Afghanistan to its feet, as Rashid argues? After all, Iraq was an American neo-conservative project. Who knows? The Americans suffered a huge blow to their pride and prestige with 9/11, and as it involved Arabs they could not let the Arab World go unpunished. They had to show the world that they could destroy a country that was brazenly against it. In that sense, with Pakistan’s Taliban far from defeated, and the nuclear-armed military losing its grip with each passing day, you would have to say that Pakistan is really and truly on the brink.

Newspaper Ad Spend In USA & What India Can Learn

There’s a lot that the newspaper industry in India can learn from what’s happening in US

The newspaper industry globally is in deeper mess. According to recent data released by the Newspaper Association of America, total newspaper ad spent fell another 7.3 percent in 2011 to reach $23.9 billion, getting to a low that was last seen in 1984. This data was seen despite the overall growth in media ad spent by 0.8 percent last year.

Yet what has proven to be the biggest disappointment is that the rate of decrease of spending in the last year was faster as compared to 2010 and stood at 6.3 percent. And it is the print edition of newspapers that are suffering the most. Print ad revenues reduced a whooping 9.2% last year. Even classified ad spent fell by 11 percent.

However there was a bit of good news in the horizon as well. Online advertising on newspaper brands was up 6.8 percent reaching a total of $3.2 billion.

Experts have been talking about this decline in newspaper ad spent for years. What they were desperately hoping was that the rate of increase of online revenue would match this rate of decline. However that has not happened, leaving newspapers more worried than ever about their future.

This lack of ad spent in newspapers has been observed in most of the developed world. India, compared to these figures of the US or the rest of the developed world, provides a very different picture. In India, the print industry grew by 8.4 percent from 2010 to 2011 i.e. from Rs. 193 billion it grew to Rs. 209 billion (all figures from the FICCI-KPMG India Media and Entertainment Industry Report 2012).

Even advertising revenue grew 8.7 percent while circulation revenue grew 3.7 percent. Thus unlike many global markets, India continues to show a growth in the newspaper industry every year. With literacy levels going up and more people being added to the target audience of newspapers, this healthy growth is expected to continue another five to ten years.

courtesy: http://www.mediavataar.com

The Indian newspaper industry it seems has nothing to worry about. That is surprisingly not the case.

In many other things, like information technology, India has had the opportunity to leap frog to the advanced technology rather than struggle with creating it. A similar opportunity is staring at the face of the newspaper industry.

Globally, since the last half a decade, newspapers have struggled to retain their foothold in the changing times. With most people shifting to reading their news on newer devices like tablets and even smart phones, this decline will be further intensified. This has forced the industry to adapt to the changing times. Many have made mistakes but some clear patterns of what the industry should do to survive is emerging.

Thus the smart Indian newspaper would be the one who would not wait for the situation to get dire. Instead looking at where newspapers are going globally, they will be ready when their time comes. They’ll have invested in the infrastructure required to be ready for the future. Indian print industry is thus in the midst of exciting times, where they can learn from the mistakes of their global counterparts and avoid getting into the mess they have gotten into.

Indeed in the next couple of years, this will no longer remain a choice, but will become a kind of necessity and the one who will adapt the quicker, will not only survive, but thrive.