September 13, 2014

Astonishing Tales of How the United States and India Are Intertwined

India Inside: Astonishing Tales of How the United States and India Are Intertwined

Posted: 09/11/2014 5:28 pm EDT Updated: 09/11/2014 5:59 pm EDT
As Washington prepares for a historic visit by India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 29, many are unaware of the histories of these two free econom...
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First of a three part series highlighting how the ties between the world two largest democracies are rooted in history. As Washington prepares for a historic visit by India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 29, many in America think that interaction between America and India, separated by nine to twelve time zones, must have been enabled by jet travel.
While the Boeing Company is the largest American exporter to India today, selling Dreamliners and defense aircraft, trade between the countries had maritime beginnings. In reality, the histories of these two free economies have been delicately intertwined for more than 500 years.

India: The Bird of Gold

According to British economist and historian Angus Maddison the richest economies of the late fifteenth century were China and India. But intrepid Europeans driven by gold, glory and god in that order were ready to build better and more reliable ships to find a reliable sea route to the "Indies." As every American schoolchild learns, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, after being refused by the King of Portugal, received funding from Ferdinand of Spain to sail west and "discovered" the Americas on October 12, 1492.
And the next five centuries marked the rise of the Americas, particularly of the United States. India touched the American ascent at key points in U.S. history.
On July 8, 1497, Portuguese royal Vasco Da Gama led a fleet of four ships with a crew of 170 seasoned and experienced men in a different direction from Columbus, around the coast of Africa, but with the same goal. Da Gama's fleet arrived in Kappadu near Calicut, India on May 20, 1498 on India's western Malabar Coast.
Portugal, France and principally Great Britain slowly colonized, some would say plundered, India. By the mid-20th century, India produced just 2% of the world's GDP compared to about 20 percent when Columbus and da Gama went exploring. But I get ahead of myself. India was a major exporter of spices, textiles and tea. On December 31, 1600, the British East India Company, was formed and soon granted a royal monopoly by Queen Elizabeth I for all trade in and out of India. This made its top executives as wildly affluent as the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs of today and they also enjoyed political power and prestige. 

Yale, Yorktown, and the Star Spangled Banner
One such success was Boston- born Welshman Elihu Yale who had a 20 year run with this company and was second governor of Fort St. George (now Chennai), India. In 1718, the tiny Collegiate School of Connecticut in New Haven wrote to Yale asking for financial support. Yale shipped a carton of goods which the college sold to fund a new building. When the college asked for more money, Yale complied on the condition that they rename the school for him. And so was born Yale University. Today's Yale's power in American society and academia, and the size of its endowment, is exceeded only by Harvard; don't forget that it began with money first made in India.

By 1773, the 13 colonies were consumers of much of the trade with India that continued to enrich the British crown and top executives of the John Company (the nickname for the East India Company which was by then more powerful that today's GE, IBM Apple put together). American revolutionaries calling themselves the Sons of Liberty dumped 373 chests of East India Company tea from the SS Dartmouth into Boston Harbor on a frigid December day, marking the beginning of the American Revolution.
The bitter battles for American Independence lasted for nine long years until George Washington defeated British general Charles Cornwallis at the Battle of Yorktown on October 19, 1781. The 43 year old Cornwallis was down but not out, however. He returned from Virginia to England to cool his heels for a short time but then was appointed to the top post of the British East India Company and given the title of Governor General of Bengal. Cornwallis was remarkably successful in India. The Cornwallis Code became the cornerstone of revenue collection, land management, justice administration and police systems. Echoes of the Cornwallis Code still remain in the way that India's government functions today. I remind American executives of this legacy of the Battle of Yorktown, when their companies try to buy real estate in India today.

The Wadia family in India built the HMS Minden, a 74-gun teakwood boat on which attorney Francis Scott Key was held prisoner by the British in Chesapeake Bay on one rainy September night during the War of 1812. In America, everyone knows that as he watched the lone American flag fly atop Ft. McHenry, Key penned a poem which we call the Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem. Today the Wadia (boatman) family, descendants of Persian refugees to India, runs Bombay Dyeing, a textile company and GoAir, an airline.
The South Falls, Bombay Rises, Selling Ice to the Indians

During the American Civil War, exports of cotton from the Confederate States of America to Europe were blocked. Indian entrepreneurs had started growing the crop in the rich black soil of Western India, but the shortage in the Civil War caused a boom in cotton and in the textile mills that supported the crop prior to its export to England. During the Civil War, Bombay boomed and the expansion continued for decades afterward, making it India's largest city today and the one that contributes over 30 percent of personal income tax by all Indians.
Later in the nineteenth century, a remarkable American entrepreneur made millions selling ice from New England around the world. Frederick Tudor sent ships loaded with ice and insulated by sawdust all the way to the ports of Calcutta (now Kolkata) where the British East India Company had its Indian capital. They granted him an exception to their monopoly since ice from the Himalayan Mountains was far more expensive, and Tudor's emissaries built ice houses in Calcutta and Bombay. This improbable sounding story of American exports is beautifully documented in Gavin Weightman's 2004 book "The Frozen Water Trade."

We the People
A hundred years ago, on the West Coast of the United States, a ragtag group of Indian expatriates organized themselves into the Gadar Movement, whose goal it was to help India become independent of British rule. About the same time, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar came to study for a master's and doctorate at Columbia University in New York. Ambedkar was later a key architect of the independent India's constitution. The first three words of India's constitution are the same as those of the United States: "We the people."
It is important to remember this shared DNA as we in America look at trade, cultural and political opportunities with the world's second most populous country when Prime Minister Modi arrives in Washington this month.

September 12, 2014

ISIS Sanctuary Map

Source: Institute for the Study of War Iraq Updates

ISW has updated its ISIS Sanctuary map in advance of President Obama’s speech on a strategy to confront ISIS. This map, covering both Iraq and Syria, shows the extent of ISIS zones of control, attack, and support throughout both countries.


Full text of Vinod Rai's interview with Arnab Goswami

Sep 11, 2014, 08.44 PM IST
Arnab Goswami: Mr Vinod Rai thank you very much for joining us. I looked forward to meeting you and talking to you for a very long time. I wanted to talk to you when all the scams were breaking out. And you avoided us.

Vinod Rai: No I did not avoid you. But I was doing a job which did not require me to speak to the media every other day.

Arnab Goswami: And when you spoke to the media people got very upset.

Vinod Rai: Well not really. I hardly spoke to the media when I was on the job. Later on, after I retired I did speak to the media more extensively.

Arnab Goswami: Are you ready to speak to us?

Vinod Rai: Sure

Arnab Goswami: I have put down a lot of things which I felt the people need to know and the nation needs to know in writing. So I can certainly talk about them now.

Arnab Goswami: First of all Congratulations on your book, here it is, the first cover, 'Not just an account, the diary of a nation's conscience'

Vinod Rai: Yes, well, I don't know if in any way I have infringed on the IPR, Intellectual Property Rights of the Supreme Court because the Supreme Court has observed in a judgment that the CAG is not only a 'Munim' (Accountant), he is a constitutional appointee. So we picked up the title of the book from there.

Arnab Goswami: Expectations are big. Its a season of tell all books now-a-days. We have had Sanjaya Baru, Natwar Singh, PC Parakh, now yours, so are you going to reveal as much as possible today? In the course of this conversation because the show is Frankly Speaking. Are you going to reveal as much as you can about Coalgate? About 2G? And about CWG, and anything else I ask you.

Vinod Rai: Well certainly why not, to the extent that I have written about things. I must reveal those things because I think a large number of people need to know what's transparency all about. What's accountability all about? In fact the factors which drove me to write this book is that people should know how the government functions. And that's why...

Arnab Goswami: Or how the government should not function? Well if they did not function properly it was for the external auditor to point it out to them. Do you the think revelations in your books and what we are going to talk about today will be as fearless as your audit reports were Mr Rai.

Vinod Rai: Well certainly, if there was any element of fear, anywhere then we should not have come out with all that we came out with in our reports. Fearless, certainly why not.

Arnab Goswami: I looked forward to them . Mr Vinod Rai a couple of weeks ago you were quoted as having said, 'Politicians came to my home, and told me not to name some people and to protect some others in connection with the commonwealth games and the coal allocation reports'. That is my first question to you Mr Vinod Rai is who are these politicians?

Vinod Rai: See to a certain extent I have not been very accurately quoted in that particular news item. What I have mentioned, and what I had mentioned has been written in the book is that during the course of meetings in the in the PAC or the sidelines of the JPC, etc large number of people told me that look we need to keep this out and we need to keep that out. And I mentioned in the book that after the PAC meeting on the 2G, Congress MPs did tell me that keep the Prime Minister out of this. Now, my logic then was that there were...

Arnab Goswami: Which Congress MPs?

Vinod Rai: Aaah.. There were 3-4 Congress MPs, they aren't Congress MPs anymore. So its very easy to find out who are they ( Arnab interupts)

Arnab Goswami: It is very difficult to find out because most of the Congress MPs did not get re-elected,

Vinod Rai: I can't recall the names just now, but the Congress MPs who were present in those meetings were Mr Sanjay Nirupam, Mr Ashwini Kumar, Mr Sandeep Dikshit. Now which of them were at the lunch telling me to do that I really can't tell you

Arnab Goswami: But all of these MPs in different ways did tell you to keep the PM out of it.

Vinod Rai: But that was the time when the report was already out. And I mentioned to them that there are letters written by Mr Raja to the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister has replied to them on the same day. And these were decisions that were taken by the telecom minister. Keeping the Prime Minister full informed, on how do we keep them out.

Arnab Goswami: It is a completely unethical thing to do for members of parliament to try and influence you and keep the Prime Minister out of it.

Vinod Rai: But there was no way in which they could... Ethical or unethical, otherwise.

Arnab Goswami: But they did try.

Vinod Rai: But when they...

Arnab Goswami: But they did try

Vinod Rai: But the report was already out.

Arnab Goswami: But they did try to

Vinod Rai: Ya, but the report was already out.

Arnab Goswami: What did they say to you?

Vinod Rai: They just said keep him out. But the argument was futile. The argument was that, that was ... futile attempt.

Arnab Goswami: If you're saying these Congress MPs were trying were trying to frame some kind of a ring side defence around the Prime Minister. Why would they do that?

Vinod Rai: It was not only a ring side defence. What I have mentioned in the book also is, that see what happened to the 2G PAC was that when the PAC was constituted, sometime in April 2010, our report had not come out as yet. Our report only came out on 16th November, 2010. The then chairman of the PAC wanted to conduct his meetings on 2G. We told him we don't have a report as yet. So he started Suo Moto meetings. The first meeting was on 20th June itself.

Arnab Goswami: I want to come back to what you said. We will go into these details. When you were quoted as saying and you say this wasn't a very accurate quoting, but you did say. And this is all in the context of the fact the Mr Vinod Rai as a person in his book itself says the nation's conscience keep and you are one of those people who has actually held up the dignity of the office of CAG, and the constitutional office that you held. So people came to your house you say, 'some messages we did receive', something which I have written about in my book. You talk about the lobbying by senior UPA fuctionaries, to ensure that they did not figure in the CAG's reports on scams which were being looked at by you. Tell me more about this?

Vinod Rai: Yea, that's why I said...

Arnab Goswami: I think the time has come to reveal a little bit about these

Vinod Rai: Yea I will tell you about each one of these...

Arnab Goswami: Did someone from the PMO come?

Vinod Rai: From the PMO, No, nobody came to try to influence me on any of the reports ... which we are not ...

Arnab Goswami: Did anybody from the PMO come to meet you to talk to you?

Vinod Rai: No no, friends of the PMO ... I see, among friends and officials we are friends all the time. We meet, but nobody came to influence at the time of preparation of a report.

Arnab Goswami: See, my colleagues were encouraged to talk to me, my colleagues meaning bureaucrats?

Vinod Rai: Yea, I have said that in the context of another issue. That was on the civil aviation issue. I have said that because the report, a draft report had been given to the civil aviation ministry had a particular trend. Now, those colleagues, a large number of them felt that we were not being accurate in having used a particular word.

Arnab Goswami: I will come to that as well. When these scams were breaking out, I am principally talking about coalgate, 2G and CWG Mr rai, did bureaucrats from the PMO come and visit you? Did they try to speak to you? Is it true they came and talked to you and met you to give their perspective on it because there have been some reports that some top bureaucrats from the PMO came and visited you and tried to speak to you at that time. You were giving the government a lot of trouble.

Vinod Rai: Exactly, top bureaucrats in the PMO were all friends and colleagues of mine. We meet and interact all the time socially OK. But nobody came to me in the context of trying to pressurise me or to influence the content of a particular report.

Arnab Goswami: Did Mr TKA Nair come to meet you?

Vinod Rai: TKA Nair. I have known him from Kerala days. We meet very often, in fact I met him only about a fortnight back.

Arnab Goswami: What did TKA Nair tell you at that point of time?

Vinod Rai: Nothing to influence me or the report at that point of time.

Arnab Goswami: What did he say?

Vinod Rai: Well socially we have been meeting. I have been to his house a dozen times; he has been to my house a dozen times.

Arnab Goswami: Mr Rai, you on multiple occasions in the book and including an entire chapter have spoken rightly about accountability, probity and transparency, You have even said and I would like to quote you- This is a book about accountability, this is a book about transparency, it is about that vital quality in society of which we seem to have created a huge deficit of ethics. If that is so Mr Rai, why haven't you named all these politicians? Shouldn't you walk the talk?

Vinod Rai: Most certainly I have named each one of them. See this book is divided into 3 parts. First is my early life, my career as a civil servant, whether in kerala or in Delhi, or in fact I spent a year in Nagaland, I have written about that also. The second part I have taken up 5 case studies about those audits that we did. Because I thought they were the most authentic documents available with us. And then I have analysed each one of these audits into who went wrong in each one of them. I have chosen these five not because they were sensational only, they were certainly sensational, but because of the different types of failures which took place in those audits. Now, in the course of these audits, anybody we found fault with or any decision we thought had gone awry, we pointed it.

Arnab Goswami: No, I am saying this Mr Rai, because the entire country would want to know who were responsible for these scams. Who allowed it to happen? Why was there so much brazenness at that point of time. And whether you feel in the future this brazenness will continue or stop. So lets start with the 2G scam, I want to start by discussing the role of the Prime Minister at that time Dr. Manmohan Singh. You write and I quote- He that is Manmohan Singh chose for reasons, which can only be speculated, to ignore the warning signals. Let me ask you very directly Mr Rai. Do you put the onus of the 2G scam on Manmohan Singh? Do you think Manmohan Singh could have prevented the 2G scam and failed?

Vinod Rai: See its like this, the Prime Minister in any country, or is the primus inter pares of a council of ministers is number one. All matters of importance go to the Prime Minister. And ultimately the buck stops on the prime minister's desk. In this particular case I found that minister of his own council who were writing to him again and again, saying that problems are, or there is talk about developments in the telecom sector, I quoted Mr Kamal Nath who is was the Commerce Industries Minister, writing to the prime minister and expressing concerns about the development in the sector. I have written about the finance ministry expressing concerns, I have written about the law ministry expressing concerns. Now, all these things went to the prime minister.

Arnab Goswami: So the Prime Minister could have replied to all of these things differently. The Prime Minister you yourself sad could have responded to Mr A Raja differently. And you have said that if he had done so, the course of India's political history, Mr Vinod Rai, would have been different. What in your view stopped the Prime Minister from acting in the way that he should have.

Vinod Rai: Well I do not want to speculate any reason. But I believe in a large number of ways it may have been a compulsion of coalition politics. Because 2G, the entire telecommunications sector was being handled by a different party other than his. And we had evidence of the license being given out at particular prices not only from Mr Raja's time but before also from the previous minister who was also from the DMK. He found that there was a track record that the previous minister had started in a particular way; Mr Raja took over in that particular way. But Mr Raja kept informing the Prime Minister what he was planning to do.

Arnab Goswami: Raja has all along maintained. Let's go deeper, Raja has all along maintained that the prime minister was in the know and every action of his was at the Prime Minister's approval. Do you believe A Raja?

Vinor Rai: I don't want to go into the statements made by A Raja. He has written a letter on 15th November to the Prime Minister, he had written a letter on 26th december of the Prime Minister, in both the letters he has indicated what he is planning to do. And whether he has; approval of the prime minister on record I don't know. Prime Minister's correspondence with Raja clearly indicates what he is planning to do. And whether he has the approval of the Prime Minister on record, I do not know.

Arnab Goswami: No, the Prime Minister's correspondence with Raja clearly indicated that Raja intimated the Prime Minister about his plans to advance cut off dates and change the rules of the game.

Vinod Rai: On 26th december he has written that and he has got a very template reply to it.

Arnab Goswami: A wishy washy reply?

Vinod Rai: No it just says I have received your letter, which briefed me about the developments in the Telecom sector, Now that is the place where may be...

Arnab Goswami: Does the Prime Minister respond like that?

Vinod Rai: Well these are what we call interim replies. Its acknowledgement of a letter that has come, that's all. And it would be followed up with a regular reply. But as a reply what should have probably gone out is please do not take the steps it is discussed in a group of ministers.

Arnab Goswami: So Manmohan Singh should have paid heed to the warnings received by letters from Subramanian Swamy, Rajeev Chandrashekar in 2011.

Vinod Rai: Well all those letters did come in, but his own cabinet colleagues were advising him. Like his own cabinet colleagues were saying that lets discuss this in a GoM. The finance ministry was also saying that lets bring it to a group of ministers. The Law Ministry had also advised him to do that. But somehow it did not take place.

Arnab Goswami: So he could have put his foot down and insisted on an auction, instead of just acknowledging the receipt of Raja's letters.

Vinod Rai: It may not necessarily have been an auction. It could have been any course of action. But a unilateral decision taken by the then telecom minister.

Arnab Goswami: He could have been more assertive. You would say vis-a-vis Mr Raja instead of just accepting his version of the event. I mean the letter here which you quote in your book, 2 or 3 times the Prime Minister says, you know Sri Raja i have received your letter, dated 26th december regarding the recent developments in the telecom sector with warm regards, yours sincerely Manmohan Singh.

Vinod Rai: That's what I call a template response.

Arnab Goswami: It's a ridiculous response.

Vinod Rai: It's a template response.

Arnab Goswami: You're being polite about it.

Vinod Rai: It's what we call an interim response. It is only to say 'I have received your letter.'

Arnab Goswami: Yeah he could have overruled Raja.

Vinod Rai: In a couple days time, or maybe even at that time, take it to a group of ministers, as he was advising otherwise also.

Arnab Goswami: He didn't do that. He could have annulled the liscences allotted by Raja in that 4 month window between liscences given and the actual spectrum allotted. The liscences could have been annulled in that period had the prime minister put his foot down.

Vinod Rai: Well that would have been an extreme step, but it could have been stopped because between this letter of 26th december and 10th of January when the LOIs were actually issued, there was a fortnights time.

Arnab Goswami: Well then in that case, it's quite obvious Mr Rai, that a person who had seven or eight stages of the development and evolution of one of the biggest scams in the world, the 2G scam, who could have acted and stopped it all, was Manmohan Singh.

Vinod Rai: Well as I told you, the buck stops at the PM's desk in any parliamentary democracy. He is the CEO of the country. He can stop, or he can initiate, both. I have written in the book that he probably chose not to stop.

Arnab Goswami: No, but you have said that the PM was completely aware, and this is the nub of the issue. You have written that it is obvious, and I am only enumerating what you have written - it is obvious by the exchange of these letters, between Raja and the PM that the PM is indeed aware of Raja's intentions, as way back as Novemeber/December 2007. So he was completely aware of it.

Vinod Rai: Most certainly so. And that is why I have reproduced those letters, which were in public domain, but may not have been seen by a large number of people, and that's the letter of 15th November and 26th December.

Arnab Goswami: And now that these letters are out, and a large party of these letters are in the appendix of your book, Mr Vinod Rai Rai, is there any doubt in your mind, and that's why I began by saying that today is a time to speak up Mr Rai, it's not a time to hold back, and I'm sure you respect the prime minister, I'm sure you remember the days where he taught you at the Delhi School of Economics, but I'm asking you as a journalist to the former CAG to speak up and tell me whether you think all of this, this scam, this whole first come, first serve 2G scam, could have happened without the active involvement of the then prime minister of India.

Vinod Rai: No, that's exactly why I have said that if he had put his foot down, probably the fate and the course of UPA 2 would have been different. If he had put his foot down and stopped this process from unfolding. It could have been any other process, we are not prescribing a process, it could have been any other process, but this process was faulty in a large number of ways. And the govt has also accepted that rules and regulations were not being followed, goalposts had been shifted, yes, the competition (?) that we did, they have been debating the amounts.

Arnab Goswami: It's a dereliction of duty, Mr Rai, that you are talking about.

Vinod Rai: Well, dereliction of duty, whichever way you put it.

Arnab Goswami: But the PM was completely aware, of each development in the 2G scam.

Vinod Rai: The 26th of December letter, makes it pretty clear, what the intentions of the then minister were.

Arnab Goswami: Why did you hold yourself back at that time? Did you speak to the Prime Minister? Tell me what your interactions were with the prime minister in this period, when you were investigating looking into, and when the 2G scam report came out.

Vinod Rai: Yeah, we did. You see for the CAG, it's not appropriate for the CAG, it's not ethical for the CAG to converse with the PM or anybody else in the govt on an issue which is coming out in a report. We don't go ask questions of a PM or a minister. We look at records, after we have looked at records, we raise queries, and they give us answers.

Arnab Goswami: You must have met him.

Vinod Rai: I have met the PM any number of times.

Arnab Goswami: What did he tell you about the 2G scam?

Vinod Rai: When I met the PM, the report was out.

Arnab Goswami: When was this?

Vinod Rai: And the first time I met the PM after the report was out was on the 16th of November itself. 16th of November was the day the report was tabled in parliament. That was the day we were completing 150 years of existence of the CAG's establishment, and we had a function in the Vidhyan Bhavan, where we had the President a nd the Prime Minister etc come, and that was when I met the PM for the first time.

Arnab Goswami: Who walked up to whom? Did you walk up to the PM or did the PM walk up to you?

Vinod Rai: It was my duty to receive the PM and escort him to -

Arnab Goswami: What did he say?

Vinod Rai: Well, the PM, the usual thing, he did mention that this report had been tabled today, and he had a defensive approach to our computations, he said 'I don't agree with your calculations'

Arnab Goswami: What did you say to him?

Vinod Rai: So I said, 'We have given four models of calculations, any of them can be taken as correct or I have said in the report itself. In the report itself it says that these computations can be debated, but that there has been a loss to the national ex checker, cannot be denied.

Arnab Goswami: You don't think the PM was trying to influence your mind?

Vinod Rai: By then it was too late. By then, the report was out, and he was not trying to influence, he did not try to influence me before the preparation of the report.

Arnab Goswami: Do you think, that the seeds of the scam rest in the fact that the PM of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, consented to keeping spectrum pricing, outside the purview of the GOM, after giving in to the then minister, Dayanidhi Maran?

Vinod Rai: In fact that is an issue which we found, which we felt was leading up to the entire problem. In the year 2006, the then telecom Minister, Mr Maran decided that pricing of spectrum should not be within the terms of reference of the group of ministers which had been constituted earlier. And he wrote back to the then PM and even said that 'as I discussed with you, please keep this out.' And though the terms of reference were issued, and the meeting should have taken place, for the entire calender year of 2006 not a single meeting of the group of ministers took place because pricing continued to be a part of the terms of reference. It was in December that the cabinet issued revised terms of reference, in which spectrum pricings did not figure and then the meetings took place.

Arnab Goswami: Why did the PM of India oblige Dayanidhi Maran? And the term relating to spectrum pricing was deleted in the revised terms of reference issued on 7th December 2006.

Vinod Rai: That's very difficult for me to conjecture today, because it finds no evidence in the records of govt. There must have been conversations, but audit normally goes by record only, and we didn't find any other record, excepting this exchange.

Arnab Goswami: No, how can you say that? On 20th February 2006, Maran wrote a letter to Manmohan Singh asking for spectrum pricing to be kept out of the GOM's purview.

Vinod Rai: Yes. I said that in January and February. He's written twice. He's also written that 'as discussed with you', which means that he did make a pitch in a person to person discussion, to keep spectrum pricing out. And whatever assurance the PM must have given, the terms of reference were not changed. And since they were not changed, the meeting did not take place.

Arnab Goswami: Yeah, but there is no written proof that the PM obliged Dayanidhi Maran.

Vinod Rai: There is no evidence on record to show that how this issue has examined to remove pricing from the spectrum.

Arnab Goswami: Is this, is the 2G scam got a lot to do with the PM of India trying to keep his fingerprints off the scam while trying to influence it from behind?

Vinod Rai: Well that's not possible for any PM. It's not possible for any PM because what happens is each of these large issues do land up on the table of the PM.

Arnab Goswami: Mr Rai you refer, now let's go back to a certain MP from the ruling party that is the Congress Party, who went on to question, during a PAC meeting, the finance ministry for it's failure to compute losses during the 2G case. The same MP you say went on to point out how the deal for SWAN was a sweetheart deal and called it a black and white case. Who was this MP?

Vinod Rai: Yeah, see, what happened was -

Arnab Goswami: Who was this MP?

Vinod Rai: Now let me see if I can recall

Arnab Goswami: The congress MP, during a PAC meeting, questioned the finance ministry for it's failure to compute losses during the 2G case and actually, went on to point out how the deal for SWAN was a sweetheart deal and called it a black and white case.

Vinod Rai: Yeah. See what happened was -

Arnab Goswami: Who was the MP?

Vinod Rai: I'll tell you. See what happened was before the audit report was out. The PAC had started examination, and they called lots of people, finance ministry officials were also called in. And when the finance ministry was called in, the member that was then asking questions was one Mr KS Rao. He told them that look, have you computed the losses. They said no we haven't. So he said why haven't you done that. And they said we don't have the where withal to compute losses, which is very fair, it is not the finance ministry's job to compute losses, it is the audit's job. And he said look it's a very simple thing. And I have mentioned it because these issues were brought into media attention by the retired DG who said that it was -

Arnab Goswami: You talk about another MP, a lawyer you mention, presumably from the Congress again. Who wondered why there was no action by the finance ministry between 2001 and 2010 on bidding. Who was this MP? Was it of his own govt?

Vinod Rai: No it was not of his own govt. This was from 2001 to 2010, so it goes across two governments, and that was Mr Ashwini Kumar.

Arnab Goswami: Ashwini Kumar?

Vinod Rai: Yeah.

Arnab Goswami: And you also say that the same MPs later tore into the CAG's findings?

Vinod Rai: Yeah that's what I had said. You see what happened was before our report was tabled, these were the suo moto kind of examinations being done by the CAG. They didn't have my record. So whatever evidence was available to them, whatever information was available to them, from the media or wherever, they were talking on the basis of that. Once the report came, and we presented the report to them, I think the contours of the game had changed. And they found it worth their while to question the CAG's findings.

Arnab Goswami: Yeah but you say that the same MPs later tore into the CAG's findings. In fact you also say, and I think this is very important Mr Rai, that Congress MPs walked up to you during lunch time in parliament and said that we have to ensure that the PMs name does not get dragged into this - we come back to the same issue - adding, that what you people say sounds reasonable, but what do we do? Who is this MP?

Vinod Rai: Yeah, I told you. Sandeep Dixit, Sanjay Nirupam, Ashwini Kumar, these are the three names that I can remember, I can't remember

Arnab Goswami: Sandeep Dixit, Sanjay Nirupam and Ashwini Kumar

Vinod Rai: Yeah, these are the three names that I can remember; I can't remember all of them. These MPs certainly said - but it was too late, the report was already out, the PMs name was very much there in the report.

Arnab Goswami: So you're saying that privately Congress members were conceding that there was something wrong in the process, but they were trying to shield the PM?

Vinod Rai: They accepted that our findings were reasonable. Very clearly accepted that they were reasonable. That our findings could not be faulted on the fact that yes, rules and regulations had not been followed by the telecom ministry, on the fact that goalposts had been changed, we could not be faulted, they agreed with it also. The computations, well, they had a different viewpoint.

Arnab Goswami: Why were they doing this? Whose instructions were these congress MPs trying to protect?

Vinod Rai: Well, that's very difficult for me to conjecture. Obviously they must have had an agenda, but it's very difficult for me to conjecture.

Arnab Goswami: Who's agenda?

Vinod Rai: Maybe the Congress Party's agenda, or the UPAs agenda, I can't say 'cause parties, MPs, they represent a party,

Arnab Goswami: They're not in govt

Vinod Rai: They're not in govt, so obviously every party has it's own agenda. And lots of the discussions that take place, they take a policy decision and go by it.

Arnab Goswami: Did the Congress Party have something to hide then?

Vinod Rai: Well, I don't know if the Congress Party had anything to hide. There was nothing they could have hidden, it was already on record.

Arnab Goswami: Mr Rai, you were under pressure, you say, clearly in your book. But in your public utterances you have maintained that there was no pressure on you during your auditing process. You have been asked this question a couple of times, I think once to a magazine, once to Rediff, and you keep saying 'I faced no direct pressure excepting everyone saw through the media' --- I, are you trying to downplay the pressure? Because I have a feeling, a seasoned administrator like you, you know, you feel that the fact that you did not give in to the pressure, justifies that the fact that you don't have to speak of where the pressure came from.

Vinod Rai: Certainly not. Well, it's an equally seasoned journalist asking me these questions. But let me assure you, that if pressures of any, had come, number one they would not have made any impact on us, because the Indian ordinance department are very professional, totally apolitical, and they don't get exposed to any political leanings in their career, so there's nothing that they need to be cowed down upon. But pressures if any can they come, can only come through the media space.

Arnab Goswami: How?

Vinod Rai: Well in the media space people were talking about the CAG was exceeding his mandate, the CAG was going to media -

Arnab Goswami: I thought the media was supporting you.

Vinod Rai: The media has been very supportive, the judiciary has been very supportive, in fact that's one of the reasons why these stories have continued to produce practical results you know? They have. I mean, the audit reports that we put out

Arnab Goswami: Did you ever leak a story to the media?

Vinod Rai: Me a leak a story?

Arnab Goswami: Did you ever leak a story to the media?

Vinod Rai: No, no.

Arnab Goswami: Did you ever in a moment, perhaps you know, in a different form of epiphany think that you will not get to the truth in the normal way, hence it is important to put the material out in the public domain because none other than the PM accused you of crossing the line vis a vie the media

Vinod Rai: Yeah, I was confident of one thing. That there was no amount of pressure or force that could have stopped us from getting to the truth, that's number one. So we never had any doubts in our mind that any pressure would stop us from revealing the whole truth. But the strength of the audit dept is that they don't conjecture about anything. Anything that is in the documents is only what they write about, so that's why, anything that was spoken to the media, if it was spoken from the govt's side, I always responded to it, but responded to it in writing and didn't get into media space.

Arnab Goswami: But you were hurt by the kind comments that were being made about you. The book recounts every single negative comment that congress men & cabinet ministers said about you. At the end of the day & I said this to a politician & politicians usually have thick skins but bearcats don't. Were these comments made intimidate you? Were you hurt somewhere when all this was happening because personal aspersions were being cast on you including whether you wanted to join BJP later?

Vinod Rai: It's like this when you put out a report that is going to hit somebody you obviously expect a hit back at you there is no doubt about it. Because whoever is going to be hit is going defend his position. So we expected it & we were prepared for it also especially when we put out the 2G report which was the first one this list. But we ensured only one thing we were one sure ground, facts that we were putting were absolutely right. So obviously what faults were being found we were accepting them? The only thing that hurt me in person was some personal remarks which were being made which could have been avoided because the CAG has his job & you have no other person that Venkatraman saying this Pranab Mukherjee saying this & he came to the office & said that your job is to find fault with the present Govt, so why should they be making a personal attack

Arnab Goswami: May I say this I don't say this often I am not in the game of paying any compliments on camera. But please don't take my questions as an attempt to grill you sir. You are not the villain, the villains are out there & we all know who they are so please doing not take this otherwise in the course of this conversation. I would however want to know whether you were disappointed that the PM of India did not defend you. When you speak I find that you are very sincere about your job & very serious about the office that you held. He in fact chided the office of CAG public. I mean page number 66 you recount that part with fair amount of bitterness don't you. Where he said 29 June, 2011 he accused you of leaking stories. He said "I think CAG also leaks & it is not the function of the CAG & it has never been that the CAG has held press conferences like the present CAG has done. But nobody is commenting on this. It is not right for the CAG to go into issues which are not the concern of the CAG. It is not the business of CAG to comment on policy issues. They should limit themselves to mandate given under the constitution, we are a permissive society if the media can get away with murder so can the CAG. He was chiding your office not just you personally

Vinod Rai: I wish he had told me this personally he had not. He spoke to media on this we were certainly very upset. I happened to be out of Delhi when he made these comments. I came back to Delhi & I got the transcripts from the PMO that they had put on the website & I had given a reply to PM & I didn't deem it fit for me to get into media space & talk about what the PM had said. So I made a point by point reply to the 3 observations he made pertain to the CAG & I said look you can even discuss this with me but in any of my discussions with him he never

Arnab Goswami; so you have met him

Vinod Rai: I have met him. In the letter itself I wrote that if you wish I am available at short time notice. Arnab Goswami: & he called you

Vinod Rai: He called me

Arnab Goswami: At short notice he called you

Vinod Rai: HE called me

Arnab Goswami: PMs don't give appointments at short notice he obviously wanted to meet you

Vinod Rai: In all fairness I must say that when a CAG seeks appointment he gets it. Like I got it

Arnab Goswami: You got it. Then what happened?

Vinod Rai: I had written a letter that had 3 points. The first one was which you have read out saying that this CAG hold media conferences that no CAG has done before. I pointed him out in my entire tenure & then I was half have during my tenure I never held a press conference & I said that its a fact. Number 2 he said that I transgressed my mandate. I explained him my mandate. My mandate is to conduct performance audit & it is cleared by parliament to that & performance audits go a step beyond finance audits also which is to see the efficiency of spending the money & it is my job to point these things out. I mentioned it very properly. Then the last point which I think is an unfair observation on CAG which you alluded to it earlier why should CAG leak his own report its like stealing your own thunder

Arnab Goswami: He accepted your points?

Vinod Rai: Of course he accepted. He listened to me & he was very accommodating

Arnab Goswami: Was he looking nervous? Was he concerned?

Vinod Rai: He certainly exceeded to the points that I was making because I had record to show him that we had media policy not today from but 1988

Arnab Goswami: Did you have any apprehensions?

Vinod Rai: No he didn't share any apprehensions. But he did ask me I hope you do not want a reply to this letter, I said well this is a prerogative issue

Arnab Goswami: Did he have any apprehensions about the political impact or otherwise

Vinod Rai: No none of these issues. Theses issues were of 2012 & he didn't mention any

Arnab Goswami: No personal conversation

Vinod Rai: no personal conversation in that meeting Arnab Goswami: He said nothing to you? You were at war with him

Vinod Rai: I was at war but I have said in my interactions with him he has always been gracious. If you say we were at war well the media made it like we were at war but I think we were totally following the mandate of any CAG which means without fear or favour. Just like Venkatraman has said, Dr Radhakrishnan had said

Arnab Goswami: Mr Rai let me move to Coalgate. Does the PM in your view, like you said that PM in 2G scam, does he bear the ultimate responsibility in the way the Coal scam unfolded. You have spoken of his inaction in the 2G case. Was the case same in Coal

Vinod Rai: Well in Coal the issue that arose in the year 2004 itself immediately after then coal secy Mr Parekh had pointed out that the process of allocation was leading to lobbying, pressure & what he called windfall games to the allot tees. This was brought to the notice of PM who is holding the portfolio at that time because then coal minister was not in govt. The PM is understood it

Arnab Goswami: Let's move 1 step back. I want to know who brought it to the notice of PM Vinod Rai: The Coal Secy Mr Parekh who had been secy for some time & he has written on paper saying that the screening committee process of allocating the coal mines is leading to pressures & lobbying & windfall games

Arnab Goswami: Parekh had written to the Govt way back if I am not mistaken in 2004

Vinod Rai: he wrote to his own minister

Arnab Goswami: Proposing the auction route

Vinod Rai: that was accepted by the PM on 1st of November that very year

Arnab Goswami: Then he wrote to the cabinet secy in March 22, 2005 about the coal mafia being inside the govt.

Vinod Rai: Ya that letter we dont have because it was not incidental to the audit report. But what we have picked up is that the minister wanted him to be removed & then in reply to the minister's letter he wrote all this but all this is not the part of the audit report.

Arnab Goswami: Was there a meeting between you & Manmohan singh at any point of time directly or indirectly in presence of any other where this issue was red flagged by you

Vinod Rai: No. See what happens is we give out audit report. The intention is not to be disruptive to the govt. The intention is only to introduce corrections in whatever is happened. So there is always if you shut a door you have to open a window. Govt functioning must continue if you have followed this process which is not accurate you can change the course. So when we prepare the draft report of this the draft report had all kind of findings in it. I did brief then finance minister about what was due to come in the report & I even apprised him of the correctives he should be taking at that time & the specific issue was that the mines had been allotted 57 of them to be precise but 56 of those mines which had been allotted after 2005 not even a single spade had been remnants to them which means people had got the mines but they had not started mining. Govt allotted these mines for the express purpose of boosting up power generation & power generation requires coal linkage, fuel linkage & that is why these mines were given. You cant take mines & keep sitting on them till 2012

Arnab Goswami: What did then Finance Minister do with your advice?

Vinod Rai: He said yes we must bring this to the notice of the PM & we did bring this to the notice of the PM that the draft report is out before the final report comes the Govt must take its notice.

Arnab Goswami: As in there was a meeting?

Vinod Rai: The finance minister & me

Arnab Goswami: Finance Minister & you met

Vinod Rai: We had a meeting with the PM

Arnab Goswami: Then Finance Minister & you had a meeting with the PM

Vinod Rai: Ya the PM was apprised by both of us

Arnab Goswami: Have you raveled this in your book?

Vinod Rai: We haven't talked about meetings

Arnab Goswami: But there was a meeting between you & the then PM Dr Manmohan Singh & the then Finance Minister I presume you are referring to the present President of India Pranab Mukherjee

Vinod Rai: Ya to indicate what were the findings of the draft

Arnab Goswami: When were these meetings?

Vinod Rai: This was at the stage of preparations of the draft report

Arnab Goswami: Around which time frame do you think?

Vinod Rai: I don't recall when the coal report was put out but it must have been before 2 months of the final report was tabled. Because we have a process in which we report the draft findings to Govt so that the Govt has to make any comments on it & we don't want to be factually incorrect. At that time we point out the draft findings & this discussion should have taken place around that time.

Arnab Goswami: So what did the PM do?

Vinod Rai: Well I don't know none of the advice that I gave or none of the suggestions that I made emanated from govt. The Govt just gave us a reply To whatever the things were & talked about are computations & said look legislative processes take a long time & so form 2004 to 2012 we haven't been doing & that is it. We incorporated all this

Arnab Goswami: Did you ever hear back. Did you have any conversation with anyone in that meeting either the then finance minister or the PM on what happened?

Vinod Rai: Well not really. We didn't get a hear back but evidently these issues must have been discussed among the cabinet colleagues & it must have been decided to go through with whatever

Arnab Goswami: What was the then Finance Minister's own view? Did he take what you said seriously?

Vinod Rai: Well yes .The finance minister, in fact I must say to the credit of then Finance Minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee that 2-3 issues that I brought to his notice he immediately took them up. Another issue notice that I brought to his notice was the amendments which the audit tax need to be taken & he acted upon it immediately

Arnab Goswami: So this is a strange situation we are getting in where the then Finance Minister takes what you say very seriously. He picks up on the issue & he & you go to Dr Manmohan Singh & you apprise him of all the issues & eventually we find a situation where it is the voice of people like Sri Prakash Jaiswal that prevails & not that of then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. How could this have happened & after this happens, How sincere in your view ,now completely be honest be with me, was Manmohan Singh being & please do not prevaricate I know when you want to be polite you can be polite to a fault but its politeness on one side versus being frank on frankly speaking on one side. How sincere was PM when he gave himself a clean chit on Jan 3, 2014 saying that "I feel sad because I was the one & I kept insisting that the spectrum allocations should be transparent, fair & equitable & I was the one who insisted that the coal allocations should be done on the basis of auction? These facts are forgotten media plays In the hands of opposition & I will be proven right" How sincere was he being?

Vinod Rai: He was accurate to the extent that he said yes auctions should be the process of coal allotment but after having taking the decision in November 2004 why it took so much of time for this process to be introduced is any body's guess.

Arnab Goswami: what is your guess?

Vinod Rai: Well there were evidently people in Govt & outside Govt who did not want change in the process it was very cozy for them to continue with the process that was ongoing

Arnab Goswami: And he played along with them

Vinod Rai: Whether he played along with them or the issue really reached him or not I really can't say because the records do not show any of those things but yes the situation did not change & till very recently also the auction process has not commenced.

Arnab Goswami: Mr Rai, it appears to be that the constant theme of your book which is vocal on the issue of accountability is this. How accountable is Manmohan Singh for the misdemeanours of his subordinates? You have spoken about the 2G scam, you have spoken about the Coal scam,you know,which we discussed, but now also the CWG scam. Mr Rai, when the PMO confirmed that Suresh Kalmadi, and each of these facts are very important today because as our viewers are seeing this, they are recollecting what was happening in that period. You know and therefore it is your responsibilty to share. When the PMO confirmed that Suresh Kalmadi be chair of this organising committee, was it compliciting in allowing Kalmadi to subword the process of establishing his hold of the organising commiittee of the CWG? And with it the alleged corruption that came with it? Because you had red-flagged the CWG gates and what was happening sometime earlier?

Vinod Rai: See, the Common Wealth Games, before they were played out in India, were played out in Australia.

Arnab Goswami: Ya

Vinod Rai: We had a huge contingent of people, 139 if I remember correctly, who had gone much in advance to study how they had played it out in Australia. There they found that there was a minister mandated for the Common Wealth Games by an act of Parliament and whoever is given this .. .(Arnab Goswami interrupts)

Arnab Goswami: Sure

Vinod Rai: So, it was very much in the government domain that the Common wealth games were to be implemented. But in this particular case the argument trotted out was that it is the Indian Olympic Association which should be incharge..

Arnab Goswami: Headed by a Congress man?

Vinod Rai: Of?

Arnab Goswami: Called Suresh Kalmadi..

Vinod Rai: Indian Olympic Association Chairperson.

Arnab Goswami: President of the Indian Olympic Association.

Vinod Rai: Absolutely.

Arnab Goswami: Sports minister, government had no role in it?

Vinod Rai: They did not, infact the former, the then Late Sports Minster Mr Sunil Dutt wrote very strongly against it also.

Arnab Goswami: What did the Prime Minister do?

Vinod Rai: After that letter was received, I don't think any action was taken on it.

Arnab Goswami: So the Prime Minister did nothing there as well?

Vinod Rai: Well, that was far too early in the game.

Arnab Goswami: But had the Prime Minister intervened at that point of time? Had the Prime Minister intervened? Instead the Prime MInister as per your page number 125, you say, 'In December 2004, the PMO wrote to the Ministry of Sports that institutional arrangements had been evolved for the conduct of the games and Suresh Kalmadi should be the Chair of the organising committee and Executive Board. In other words, government money being spent...

Vinod Rai: By a body which is not accountable

Arnab Goswami: By a body that is not accountable to the government. Only perhaps in some indirect way accountable to the Congress party. Because the President of the IOA was a Congress man.

Vinod Rai: It was in form and substance both, incorrect.

Arnab Goswami: The Prime mInister could have, Mr Rai..don't hold your self.The Prime minister could have stopped the Common Wealth Game scam from happening by introducing systems of accountability atleast in the large spents that were happening at that time, but he did not. He was simply acting as a post man.

Vinod Rai: Well, systems of accountability have played out even in that setup. But unfortunately what happened was the games got into a huge mess before they actually...(Arnab Goswami interrupts)

Arnab Goswami: Sir, Suresh Kalmadi's position was strengthened by the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh in 2004, five to six months after the general elections. I am only going by what is in your book and you end that paragraph by saying, 'after this Suresh Kalmadi had arrived.'

Vinod Rai: Absolutely accurate. Because after that, when the Prime Minister wrote, the PMO wrote to the Sports Ministry saying this will be the formulation of the Committee, it was totally within Suresh Kalmadi or the President of the IOA to control the entire Common Wealth Games. And he did infact control it entirely.

Arnab Goswami: So the Prime Minister of India certified an unaccountable structure to spend huge amount of taxpayers money.

Vinod Rai: That's why I said, in form and substance both, it was incorrect.

Arnab Goswami: So the Prime Minster should have not done that?

Vinod Rai: Well, its very difficult for me... (Arnab Goswami interrupts)

Arnab Goswami: If the Prime Minister had applied his mind at that time and seen through the consequences..

Vinod Rai: See, we had the example of the Asian Games earlier. Asian Games if you recall were.... Mr Boota Singh was then actually made incharge of the Asian Games and he was a sitting minister. There could have been a role for the Indian Olympic Association but under the overall charge of a minister. Because a minister can be better accountable to Parliament and to the...(Arnab Goswami interrupts)

Arnab Goswami: So the Prime Minister strengthened Suresh Kalmadi?

Vinod Rai: Well, the Prime Minister appointed him certainly so, certainly so.

Arnab Goswami: So the root cause of the CWG scam goes back to 2004.

Vinod Rai: If somebody in government, accountable to government, accountable to the Finance Ministry or accountable to the Parliament in the nature of being a minister had been there, certainly he could have been held far more accountable.

Arnab Goswami: How do you feel about this? The 2G scam, Coalgate and CWG scam, the some total of our conversation is that the Prime Minister of India could have done so much and chose to do nothing.

Vinod Rai: WelI I don't think..

Arnab Goswami: I think that's unforgivable.

Vinod Rai: No. I think we are laying too much of blame only on the Prime Minister because there are large number of functionaries who did not.......(Arnab Goswami interrupts)

Arnab Goswami: Show they are benefitted.

Vinod Rai: Ya.. No.They did not perform the role that the nation expected them to perform. They did not perform the role that their oath of allegiance they had taken to the constitution.

Arnab Goswami: What was the role of powerful bureaucrats? T K A Nair, Pulokh Chatterjee in the PMO at that time?

Vinod Rai: Powerful bureaucrats actually...See, when we conducted the audit, the files at the PMO were not made available to us. So what role they played we really don't know.

Arnab Goswami: Mr Rai, you are known for your reports on 2G, and Coal, and CWG but I find a very interesting excerpt on Civil Aviation. In the context of Air India's fleet acquisition policy, you write about a meeting on 2nd August 2004, 'In a draft audit report which had been sent by the CAG to the ministry for its comments, audit had views and expressions in the meeting, the minister nudged ...'

Vinod Rai: That's right

Arnab Goswami: nudged, emphasis applied, 'air India to revisit its proposal. The moment the draft audit comment was read in the ministry, all hell broke loose, bureaucrats of all hues, serving and retired including Air India officials started approaching us to drop the word. The funny part is that just about everyone dispatched to plead with us against the usage of the word nudge'..that is the civil aviation minister nudged Air India to revisit the proposal, 'almost everyone acknowledged that the meeting was infact the turning point where the minister nudged Air India.' Don't take 28 planes, take many more. Right?

Vinod Rai: Ya

Arnab Goswami: Spend a lot more money. So the minister was telling Air India, you may have plans for X number of planes but you may need 2X or 2 and a half X or 3 X. Right? So the minister was almost forcing, coercing Air India to spend a huge amount of money. Now, my question to you sir is, who is the minister?

Vinod Rai: See, the minister for civil aviation then was Mr Praful Patel. This meeting took place on 2nd August, and it took place in the cotext of the fact that the then CMD of Air India, I think it was Mr Thulasidas, he brought forth a proposal which had been approved by the Air India board to purchase 28 air crafts. Then, in that meeting it transpired that the minister said that you must have a longer term perspective.

Arnab Goswami: I won't understand how this were to happen. A board approves a decision to have 28 aircrafts.

Vinod Rai: That's exactly what we also felt because its the job of the board to keep their commercial antena up. Which root is more profitable, which should be non-stop, which air craft is better, which seat type is better is the job of ..(Arnab Goswami interrupts)

Arnab Goswami: How many planes did they finally buy?

Vinod Rai: They bought 68 of them.

Arnab Goswami: They wanted to take 28, they took 68 ... 40 more planes?

Vinod Rai: Because what happened was, then this meeting took a decision that they look at a longer term perspective. The CMD went back to his board, discussed it, the board sought a clarification which also I have mentioned in it (book), and that clarification was, 'what exactly?' So they said, 'look, you have to look at a longer term perspctive', which was clearly the government indicating Air India that look you must buy a larger number of aircrafts. Now, we found this strange.

Arnab Goswami: What kind of money that would involve?

Vinod Rai: Well, it was about 38,000 crores.

Arnab Goswami: Extra or?

Vinod Rai: Totally, totaly 38,000 crores. Ya, it went up from about 1000 million dollars to about 6000 million dollars, that's the way it went. And we found it strange becaue these proposals are always examined in the finance ministry and the finance ministry was not convinced about it but the finance ministry wrote that this is a supply side, supply driven proposal. Which means just because you have bought more aircraft doesn't mean that Air India is going to come out of the red but more damaging part of it was, 97 percent of this purchase amount was going to be debt. I don't think any airline can survive by such a huge debt. And then on the other side you were following open skies policy wherein all private aircraft, private airlines were allowed to fly but more damaging was the fact...(Arnab Goswami interrupts)

Arnab Goswami: Did you ask Mr Praful Patel? Did you meet him?

Vinod Rai: I have never met Mr Praful Patel, I have never met him.

Arnab Goswami: You feel there is a scam there?

Vinod Rai: Well, I don't know if there is a scam there but it's proven now that the aircraft which you bought within five years, they had to be sold. Which means that there was ... (Arnab Goswami interrupts)

Arnab Goswami: But there was an official ... You know this is very strange, Air India officials are pressurizing you to remove the word nudge.

Vinod Rai: Not Air India, more the government officials.

Arnab Goswami: Government officials, the civil ministry officials I presume were desperate to remove the word 'the minister nudged'

Vinod Rai: Yes, because ... (Arnab Goswami interrupts)

Arnab Goswami: So they were trying to downplay the influence of civil aviation minister Praful Patel?

Vinod Rai: Well, most certainly so, most certainly so, because the meeting says that they were asked to reconsider, they are advised to reconsider and we had read into that simple thing as 'a nudge.' And we took a decision to remove the word nudge because normaly audit follows a very structured formulation and nudge was not a word appearing in our documens.

Arnab Goswami: Who dispatched these people to plead with?

Vinod Rai: I don't know who dispatched them but they were meeting my officers more than meeting me at regular intervals.

Arnab Goswami: So all going around ... I mean the civil aviation ministry officials were going around requesting and pleading at any level?

Vinod Rai: At any level.

Arnab Goswami: Telling the CAG officials please remove the fact that the civil aviation minister Praful Patel nudged Air India to try and get more planes?

Vinod Rai: Exactly so, and I was quite surprised much much later when I read a book written by a retired executive director of Air India where he said it was not a nudge, he ordered. That seemed to bethe understanding of the officials in the ministry and Air India both, because the CMD went back to his board and this board which had deliberated on the purchase of 28 aircraft over 2 years, within 4 months came back ...

Arnab Goswami: In any conversation, did you mention this to the Prime Minister?

Vinod Rai: No, I didn't have any occasion to meet with the Prime Minister on this particular issue later ... No.

Arnab Goswami: Mr Rai, there's a question mark on your mind, isn't it?

Vinod Rai: No, I didn't

Arnab Goswami: There's a question mark in your mind on why this was happening at that time?

Vinod Rai: Well, I don' think so, I mean whether it was driven by any other factor we really don't know.

Arnab Goswami: The NCP was very powerful.Government was formed, NCP was a critical part, Praful Patel was the Civil aviation minister, his Arnab Goswami Sharad Pawar was extremely influential, part of all UPA coordination committee decisions.

Vinod Rai: May have been. I said this right in the beginning of this interview that this is a discussion that may have been in the compulsion of coalition politics.

Arnab Goswami: Mr Rai, all that you tell me today is an eye opener for those who worry about the state of this nation. And many people will thank you for sharing all these details. I want to talk about the personal price that you paid for it, you devout an entire chapter in your book to the CBI and an Investigation vis a vis Atul Kumar Rai that makes a mention of you. Let me ask you straight Mr Rai, were you victimised by the previous government for your audits? Was the CBI used as a tool against you to fix you? Was there an attempt to fix you directly or indirectly?

Vinod Rai: This was a very strange thing that happened. Nobody in the CBI has approached me but it was an email that I received from a journalist. He said that a preliminary enquiry has been registered against finance ministry officials in the context of the appointment of Mr Atul Rai and I have been named in it. Now, that took me totally by surprise so I rang up the CBI director then and the answer that I got was, 'Yes there is someting about Atul Rai but your name doesn't figure in it.' But in all fairness he immediately dispatched an officer to me with the preliminary enquiry information report and that report in the first or second line itself says that it is a source information indicates that when Atul Rai was working as a director in the finance ministry, Vinod Rai Rai was the secretary. Now, why should Vinod Rai Rai be mentioned?

Arnab Goswami: Why would it be mentioned?

Vinod Rai: Well, it goes on to say that Vinod Rai Rai facilitated the early release of Mr Atul Kumar Rai but more surprising part of it and where we found the report to be laughable was in the next para, it reproduces an extract to the file where my joint secretary has recorded that I have discussed with the secretary and the secretary says that Atul Kumar Rai cannot be released now because Parliament is in session, he can only be released when Parliament finishes and that will be on 31st May and this record is sometime in March April.

Arnab Goswami: Somebody was fishing for information against you?

Vinod Rai: Well, I don't know whether somebody was trying to fish information against me or not but somebody did feel that yes, this is one way to ... (Arnab Goswami interrupts)

Arnab Goswami: Were you affected? Was your family affected? Were you personally affected? Tell us about that.

Vinod Rai: By then much water had flown. This didn't..because I was very clear in my mind that there was nothing that they could find on record or otherwise in a way in which I could have facilitated this appointment. And ultimately it boils down to the fact that some Form 15 or something has not been properly filled up, that's about it all. For that a criminal investigative agency?

Arnab Goswami: Will you ever get into politics or take political office Mr Rai?

Vinod Rai: Well, I have not done it as yet, except I mean ... (Arnab Goswami interrupts)

Arnab Goswami Goswami: Have you been offered?

Vinod Rai: No, I have not been offered. Political people do keep meeting me all the time but I have not been offered and I don't think politics is my cup of tea as I have said earlier also that I 'll not get into politics.

Arnab Goswami: Why do you say that? You think good peopel should not join politics?

Vinod Rai: Well, there are a large number of good people in politics and wanting to join politics. But whether I am a good person or not I only say this is not my cup of tea. That's it.

Arnab Goswami: Well Mr Rai you have been very frank, you are polite but without doubt, those watching this interview will have one thing to say that you are a man of high integrity. For going through what you did, for putting out what you did at that point of time and for enduring all that you were called, you were called names and all, I think the country owes you a debt of gratitude. It's my honour to speak to you today.

Vinod Rai: Thank you very much, but please be assured that politeness didn't make us hold back anything that my department wanted to put into the report.

Arnab Goswami: I don't think so sir, I am convinced at it. Thank you very much.

Vinod Rai: Thank you very much, it was a pleasur

September 11, 2014

Scottish independence vote: Unionists claw back lost ground

Supporters of keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom have clawed back a 4 percentage point lead over separatists
Scottish independence vote: Unionists claw back lost ground (© Reuters)


Edinburgh: Supporters of keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom have clawed back a 4 percentage point lead over separatists, a YouGov poll showed on Friday with just a week to go before Scots vote in a referendum on independence.

The YouGov survey for The Times and Sun newspapers put Scottish support for the union at 52 percent versus support for independence at 48 percent, excluding those who said they did not know how they would vote. YouGov's last poll showed support for independence at 51 percent.

"The 'no' campaign has moved back into the lead in Scotland's referendum campaign," YouGov President Peter Kellner said in a commentary on the survey. "This is the first time 'no' has gained ground since early August."

Pollsters YouGov and TNS have shown a surge in support for independence since late August as the secessionist campaign led by Alex Salmond won over supporters of the traditionally unionist Labour party and some female voters in Scotland.

So far only one poll this year, from YouGov last weekend, has put the separatists in front. That survey, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2 to 3 percentage points, showed a 2 percentage point lead for the independence campaign.

"Although 'no' is back in front, the 'yes' campaign has held on to most of its gains since early August," Kellner said of YouGov's latest survey, which polled 1,268 people in Scotland between Tuesday and Thursday.

The sudden collapse of the strong unionist lead has prompted investors to sell sterling, shares in companies with Scottish exposure and British government bonds on fears that the United Kingdom might break up.

Following a vote for independence on Sept. 18, Britain and Scotland would have to begin work on dividing up the United Kingdom's $2.5 trillion economy, North Sea oil and the national debt while Prime Minister David Cameron would face calls to resign.

Scotland would have to decide what currency it would use after London said it could not keep the pound, while Britain would have to decide what to do about its main nuclear submarine base on the Clyde, which the nationalists would like to eject.

Broken Britain?

The polls showing a large swing in support to the Scottish nationalists sowed panic in the British ruling elite. Cameron headed to Edinburgh on Wednesday where he begged Scots not to destroy the "family of nations" that makes up the United Kingdom.

In a hurried attempt to win back support for the union, the Labour Party rushed dozens of lawmakers to Scotland where it is the only political force that rivals the Scottish nationalists.

After two British banks - Edinburgh-based Lloyds and RBS - said they would shift their registered head offices to London if Scotland voted to break away, Salmond accused the British government of orchestrating a campaign by corporate lenders.

"Scotland is on the cusp of making history. The eyes of the world are on Scotland," Salmond, a 59-year-old former oil economist at RBS, told reporters in Edinburgh.

"Scotland will vote 'yes' next Thursday. And they'll vote 'yes' because last minute cobbled up promises from the 'no' campaign which unravel at the slightest scrutiny will not fool anyone in this country, and neither will blatant bullying and intimidation of the Westminster government."

The pro-independence camp says it is time for Scots to rule their own country and build a fairer society without being told what to do by the political elite in London whom they accuse of mismanaging Scotland's wealth.

The unionist campaign, supported by the three main political parties in the Westminster parliament, says Scotland is more prosperous and secure within the United Kingdom and says an independent Scotland would face serious financial and economic hurdles.

(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Google denies breach after hackers leak millions of user logins

Thursday 11 September 2014 09:30
Google has denied that its computer systems were breached and downplayed the threat after hackers claimed to have leaked 4.9 million Gmail logins.

Hackers posted what they claimed were the email addresses, usernames and passwords of nearly five million Gmail customers, exposing them to identity theft.

The data was first posted on a Bitcoin security forum called by a hacker using the name of "tvskit", who claimed that 60% of the entries were valid.

But Google said the data is probably a collection of credentials from different sources, and that only 2% of the credentials were correct and an even smaller proportion could be used to access accounts.

"Our automated anti-hijacking systems would have blocked many of those login attempts," the company's spam and abuse team said.

The team added that the affected accounts were now protected as the account holders had been forced to change their passwords.

The cache of credentials is the third of its kind to appear on Russian internet forums in recent days, according to Ars Technica.

Files that allegedly contained the login credentials of 4.7 million and 1.3 million Yandex accounts were also leaked online.

But both Russian internet firms said the files were full of invalid, obsolete and fake accounts, according to local news reports.
Google warned users not to use the same login credentials for several online services to prevent a single breach enabling hackers to access multiple accounts.

The internet firm said users should create strong passwords, use two-factor authentication and ensure they have recovery options set up correctly.

Yiannis Chrysanthou, security researcher in KPMG's cyber security team, said businesses need to introduce multi-factor authentication instead of blaming weak passwords.

"Catalogues of previously leaked credentials serve as a database for password crackers. This then makes future hacks even easier and quicker;" he said.

Multi-factor authentication
According to Chrysanthou, password cracking research is moving towards intelligent, efficient and content-aware attack techniques, designed to crack most passwords fast.

Every large-scale credential leak, he said, makes cracking passwords easier for the next one and organisations adding password complexity to their policies only slightly delays this process.

"The alternative is to use multi-factor authentication as it improves security by combining multiple forms of identification data," said Chrysanthou.

"Passwords on their own are just one authentication factor because they rely on 'something the user knows'. By adding an 'something a user has' like a smartcard, credential theft and impersonation becomes harder."

Multi-factor authentication will block traditional attacks relying on guessing or stealing a user's password because the password is not sufficient by itself.

"Of course this extra security comes with increased investment – but the improved customer protection makes it viable and valuable," said Chrysanthou.

Rodney Martin: 9/11, ISIL, Al-Qaeda, Taliban Follow Same US Intelligence Playbook


TEHRAN (FNA)- Rodney Martin, Chairman of the American Nationalist Association and a former US Congressional Staffer, from Los Angeles, maintains that 9/11, ISIL, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban all seem to follow the same US Intelligence Playbook to either create a boogeyman or an incident in order to create the mood or environment required to implement the desired policy objective.

"However after nearly 13 years (after the 9/11) that has begun to wear off, Americans no longer buy a war with an unknown or undefined enemy, so now we see the US, via the CIA and Hollywood, beginning to rebrand Russia and Putin as the new Soviet Threat, i.e. a boogeyman that low information Americans can easily wrap their minds around because Putin is a person and Russia is a huge Nation with Nukes," Martin said in an interview with Fars News Agency.

Martin is of the opinion that there is no doubt there was a strategic objective by the George W. Bush Administration, led by Dick Cheney, to implement the blueprint of PNAC, Project for a New American Century. Bush himself lacked the intellectual depth to think in the terms that PNAC envisioned, he was merely the political face. PNAC's Neocon Jewish Supremacists had two primary Goals: a) To eradicate the last strong Arab military checks on Israel in the Middle East, i.e. Iran, Iraq, Syria, et al. and b) Install US Vassal State Governments in these Middle East Countries that would transfer their respective Natural Resource Management to US Firms, such as Halliburton and KBR. The George W Bush Administration's State and Defense Deptartments and CIA was festooned with PNAC/Jewish/Zionist ideologues. Their objective, make the World safe for Israel, which they all held citizenship and make their former and future employers very rich off of  theft and harvesting natural resources of the Nations targeted for "Regime Change" by PNAC. Afghanistan and Iraq were strategic in order to encircle Iran militarily. Afghanistan for Pipeline routes and Iraq for its Oil Reserves. The Clinton Administration had actually negotiated with the Taliban formally for Pipeline Routes. 9/11 created the incident to spring the entire PNAC Plan.      

Rodney Martin is a political activist, current affairs analyst, historian and researcher. Martin is the Chairman of the American Nationalist Association and hosts a regular Radio Podcast, World View Conversations.

A former US Congressional Staffer and Political Candidate, as well as having served in Local and State Government, Rodney Martin is considered by many to be a prolific debater and speaker. He is especially respected by many around the globe who view him as an advocate for preservation of culture and traditions and his opposition to globalism and corporatism and Jewish supremacism which is responsible United States policy in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world. Martin and his wife have been targeted by Jewish Activists in his hometown.

What follows is the full text of the interview:

Q: As you know 9/11 conspiracy theories attribute the planning and executions of the September 11 attacks to parties other than the Al-Qaeda or claim there was advance knowledge of the attacks among high-level government officials. Possible motives claimed by conspiracy theorists of such actions include justifying the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as geostrategic interests in the Middle-East. What's your take on that?

A: There is NO doubt there was a strategic objective by the George W. Bush Administration, led by Dick Cheney, to implement the blueprint of PNAC, Project for a New American Century. Bush himself lacked the intellectual depth to think in the terms that PNAC envisioned, he was merely the political face. PNAC's Neocon Jewish Supremacists had 2 primary Goals: a) To eradicate the last strong Arab military checks on Israel in the Middle East, i.e. Iran, Iraq, Syria, et al. and b) Install US Vassal State Governments in these Middle East Countries that would transfer their respective Natural Resource Management to US Firms, such as Halliburton and KBR. The George W Bush Administration's State and Defense Depts. and CIA was festooned with PNAC/Jewish/Zionist ideologues. Their objective, make the World safe for Israel, which they all held citizenship and make their former and future employers very rich off of theft and harvesting  natural resources of the Nations targeted for "Regime Change" by PNAC. Afghanistan and Iraq were strategic in order to encircle Iran militarily. Afghanistan for Pipeline routes and Iraq for its Oil Reserves. The Clinton Administration had actually negotiated with the Taliban formally for Pipeline Routes. 9/11 created the incident to spring the entire PNAC Plan.      

9/11 also created a marque industry for charlatans who take advantage of those who subscribe to conspiracy theories and those who do question official versions of events and in so doing these Charlatans spread disinformation and keep the focus off the questions that really need to be asked. People spend enormous amount of times on silly concepts such as "no planes ever hit the Trade Center" or "no one really died" or "it was carried out by actors". One can almost make the case these "Disinfo Agents" are part of a another conspiracy designed to keep people confused and from engaging in critical thought and focus or to make people who do challenge official narratives look like unstable nuts.

I seriously doubt Americans or people around the world will ever know all of the facts surrounding the events of and run up to the events on September 11th. For instance, the US went to war with Spain over the explosion of the USS Maine in Cuba, Americans were told the ship may have been attacked, we now know that was false, it was most likely a faulty boiler, BUT America got what it wanted, a war with Spain in order to obtain Spain's Colonial possessions for economic and military gain. Just a few years later the US went to war over the sinking of the Lusitania, yet we now know the British and Americans used the Lusitania to violate the rules of war and to smuggle arms, essentially using the passengers as human shields and the US was drug into a European War in 1917 by the then First Lord of the British Admiralty, Winston Churchill, something he would do again 20 years later in 1940/41. With regard to 9/11, there was a Commission Report which failed to answer the most fundamental questions, such as why did President Bush ignore warnings about the potential use of aircraft as a method to attack high value targets? Why did the US take such extreme measures to secure and protect then assure Bin Laden's family were flown out of the US without being questioned, but detained Arab taxi drivers and students for 6 or 8 months, often using torture and in some cases deported citizens who had no links to any so called terrorist entity. Why did President Clinton fail to act decisively against Bin Laden when he had the opportunity? How did the "Hijackers" plan such an operation, coordinate and execute such an effective and well-coordinated intelligence style operation that had previously only been pulled off by the CIA and Mossad, Israeli's raid on Entebbe for example, go undetected in the United States with its layers of Intelligence and multiple layers of Law Enforcement at multiple levels? The American people are expected to believe 19 Arabs with no formal training pulled off the 9/11 operation and lived and operated in the United States and Europe for over a year undetected. That story is simply not credible. No one believes that any more than the story about Bin Laden's secret domicile in Pakistan for so many years supposedly unbeknown to the ISI and the CIA, both work closely together.  

Q) As we approach the 13th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, there still exists an almost complete blackout in mainstream media of the voluminous forensic evidence that demands an immediate and independent new investigation of that fateful day. If the American people were to demand a new investigation of 9/11, a common criticism we would receive in our activism would be that the government is not very good at investigating itself and when it does so, historically it usually either absolves itself of any alleged crimes or finds convenient scapegoats in the form of either patsies or CIA sponsored boogeymen. What in your mind would be required for a new investigation to be successful and to actually lead to some type of reform of the system?

A: First, there will never be a demand by the "American masses" for a new official investigation of 9/11 nor should the American Government be trusted to conduct such an investigation if there was such a demand. "Average Americans" have the retention span of about 60 seconds. Americans think it's been too long ago, Bin Laden has been killed it's all in the past, time to go shopping with money Americans don't have and watch Reality TV that is designed to make them go shop more and idolize things and people that are far from reality and their reach. Compound that with Americans' drug-like addiction to Hollywood/Media which heard the American populace like sheep to the slaughter. Americans are the ultimate fast food consumers. They want fast food media too. They are lazy and want to be told what to think so they can avoid headaches that may result from critical thought. Critical thought may result in American's Idealism running head on into Reality which would mean they would be like a Drug Addict hitting Rock Bottom with the so-called American Exceptionalism having been the Crack Cocaine they have been on for years to justify very serious bad acts America has supported for years, such as ethnic cleansing, genocide, installation of dictatorships, supporting and funding coups, and stealing other Nation's Resources for Corporate Interests. 99 percent of all "Official Reports" produced by any unit of Government in the United States are a fraud. This includes the 9/11 Report right down to Reports involving local Police Shootings where local Cities make sure all Police shootings are "justified" to avoid having to pay civil judgments to the loved ones of those murdered by the Police who can Rape, Rob and Kill at will then have simply write a "Report" which makes it "justified" or as" if it "never happened". Reform from within the American System will NEVER happen. 90% of Police Officers, Politicians or other Government Employees who engage in bad acts remain "on the job" in the USA. The American Political System is specifically designed and rigged to prevent change. A mere 25 percent of those eligible to participate do in fact participate in the American political process and that is the way the political elite wants it in the USA. Laws are designed to assure no 3rd Political Party can participate and no independent candidate can participate and the Government and Media work to assure no mass political movement can take shape. In the past, the political class sought to assure its existence via denial of access to the vote, today its denial of access to the ballot, i.e. unless you are a member of one of the wings of the same political party, Republican or Democrat, both of which are Jewish/Zionist political wings, you may not participate in the American Political System. When American voters go to the Polls they are led to believe there is a difference between the two "political parties", but in fact the Parties are two wings of the same Party funded by the same special interests and they both support the same issues 80% of the time. Barak Obama has been an extension of the Bush Administration on nearly every major issue. 

Q:The American authorities described the event as coordinated terrorist attacks launched by Al-Qaeda and later claimed that Osama Bin Laden was the mastermind behind the attacks. Then American intelligence forces purportedly carried out a mission code named "Operation Neptune Spear" which caused Osama's death. What do you think? Who did really orchestrate the 9/11?

A: As I said earlier I doubt Americans and the world will ever know all the facts. But this much is certain, the United States has a history of creating proxy groups to do its bidding in an effort to try to keep blood and liability off the hands of the United States. "Al-Qaeda" was developed as a result of the CIA's efforts to interfere in the Soviet-Afghan War, one can say the CIA created the Al-Qaeda just like the Taliban was. Both Groups had CIA issued Credit Cards. In the end Americans and the world must ask critical questions. While some DisInfo Agents on the internet go to great lengths to make people think everything is fake, what people must really do is dismiss these fools and engage in critical analysis and ask who benefits from events. In the case of 9/11, who ultimately benefitted? Did Bin laden and his Network? I am not convinced there was really an Al-Qaeda. Did Bin Laden achieve his goal of the removal of American troops from the Region? NO, In fact as a result there was a greater American presence and what actually took place was the near implementation of the PNAC Blueprint. Ultimately the two greatest benefactors from 9/11 were Israel and Neocons. Whether or not Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan will never be known. It is interesting that the United States was willing to display the dead bodies of Saddam Hussein's sons to prove they were indeed dead, but not the so-called arch enemy of "Freedom" as George W. Bush declared, Osama Bin Laden. Given the US Government's protection of the Bin Laden family and Bin Laden's CIA connections, it is doubtful the operation was legitimate as opposed to a charade for the benefit of the American people and to prop up Barak Obama's image. General Pervez Musharraf has consistently disputed the entire US story of Bin Laden being in Pakistan and once said his ISI believed Bin Laden had died years prior. During the Cold War, the United States made the claim it was forced to combat international Communism of the Soviet Union. There has been no Soviet Union since 1991 and the fact is the United States has proved to be the Imperial entity set on an international agenda. The US has a Defense Budget that is larger than the rest of the world's Nations combined and has bases extends in every Region of the Globe and most of the US's imperial expansion took place as a result of 9/11 under the auspice of the "Global War on Terror" against an undefined enemy, so again people must ask, who gained from the events from 9/11?

Q: My last questions: Do you believe that there is a connection between 9/11 attacks and appearance of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)? Is ISIL an offshoot of 9/11?

A: 9/11, ISIL, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban all seem to follow the same US Intelligence Playbook. Either create a boogeyman or an incident in order to create the mood or environment required to implement the desired policy objective. The United States since 1941 has been unable to exist without a boogeyman. From 1945 until 1991 the US used the Soviet Union in a great Good vs. Evil campaign to build an arsenal of conventional and nuclear weapons as well as engage in gross violations of the sovereignty of Nations. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the US began to act like a drug addict going through withdrawals, it had no boogeyman, so along came Bin Laden and the "Global War on Terror" and there are always useful idiots who are willing to be afraid and give up some freedom. However after nearly 13 years that has begun to wear off, Americans no longer buy a war with an unknown or undefined enemy, so now we see the US, via the CIA and Hollywood, beginning to rebrand Russia and Putin as the new "Soviet Threat, i.e. a boogeyman that low information Americans can easily wrap their minds around because Putin is a person and Russia is a huge Nation with Nukes.

The larger issue is the US is not a sustainable System. It is morally, socially, economically, and demographically bankrupt and shows all the signs of the Soviet Union of 1991. The USA is a dead man walking. It's just a matter of time before it collapses. The real question is what will arise in its place.

Interview by Javad Arab Shirazi