There is a good and bad part of this “boosting.” The good part is that the value of being a minority, of increasing diversity is not (often) questioned. The bad part is that well, things are really not what they seem to be. The most egalitarian ideology fails the acid test of the caste system/biradiri. And the most useful test is to observe how behavior patterns change when the minority becomes a (local) majority.
The best (worst) example is the case of the North-East (Naga) Christians who have often led blockades of Manipur valley (mostly Hindus) including one mega-blockade which went on for 250 (+) days. It was part extortion and part black-mailing and full-scale terrorism. Sick people could not reach hospitals, children could not get to schools and the common people suffered terribly. Of course these incidents barely ever reach the national press let alone international press.
“The life has reached its most difficult stage without food and
essential commodities. There is acute shortage of fuel, which has
affected students not being able to go to schools and colleges.
Hospitals have run out of oxygen, there is shortage of medicines,” it
Then there are the Sikhs, who in our opinion are the most outstanding people on earth. They have been horribly victimized in Partition I and again due to Mrs Gandhi’s machinations in the 1970s culminating with the high crimes of 1984 (we tend not to over-use the word genocide).
Frankly speaking our (wrongly held) opinion of the Akali Dal was that it is a grass-roots organization run by a passionate and close-knit circle. But we had no idea that it is basically just one family which controls every switch on the switch-board. At this level it is akin to Shiv Sena, one organization we are a bit more familiar with. Stereotypes are still mostly true, but the Akali Dal is just another SAsian “family business.”
northern Indian state of Punjab from his office in the secretariat
building. His son, a wealthy businessman, works next door as deputy
chief minister. A few floors away, the
deputy’s two brothers-in-law run key ministerial offices. Together, the
four men sit atop half of Punjab’s governmental departments, including
home affairs, justice, taxation and food supply.
in Punjab, a relatively affluent, agrarian state of 28 million, is
largely a family-run operation, which isn’t uncommon in a country
governed for decades by the Indian National Congress, the party of the
surfaced in India’s national elections, which end with the announcement
of results Friday. Political analysts and voters say this frustration is
an important reason why prime-minister candidate Narendra Modi—a critic
of dynastic politics who said he gave up family life for public
service—is the front-runner. He was leading in exit polls Monday. The father, grandmother and great-grandfather of his opponent,
all served terms as prime minister in India’s postcolonial era.
the U.S. has its own dynastic family names—Kennedy, Bush and
Clinton—none match the depth of India’s family ties. A British historian
in a 2011 study found that two-thirds of India’s national
parliamentarians under 40 were related to other politicians. And voters
here have grown increasingly suspicious that such family networks use
policy-making and executive authority to enrich themselves and their
Journal review of financial and government documents, as well as
interviews, found Mr. Badal’s relatives have benefited financially
during his administration, with government decisions on transportation
and electric power favorable to family enterprises. Badal family
connections in regional TV news broadcasting, meanwhile, have had the
effect of squelching voices critical of the arrangement, according to
Badal, Harcharan Bains, said, “there is no unwritten convention or
written law” in India that people in public life can’t have business
interests. The Badals say their business deals are kept at arm’s length
and deny any abuse of power. Voters support them, they say, because they
improve the lives of constituents, expanding infrastructure and
development, for example.
credibility,” said deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, age 51.
“Why do people want to buy a Mercedes car? Or a BMW car? Because they
know the credibility of that car. You come out with a new car that
nobody knows, nobody will buy it.”
Badal family hails from southern Punjab, where members have long been
affluent landowners. Mr. Badal, the 86-year-old patriarch, is an
energetic man with a long white beard who rose through the ranks of
Shiromani Akali Dal, an influential regional party formed in 1920 to
protect the interests of the Sikh community, who make up a majority of
brief stints as chief minister in the 1970s, and then a five-year term
from 1997 to 2002, earning a reputation as an effective grass-roots
politician. During visits, he would sit under a tree and ask villagers
their problems, residents recalled, then press officials to respond.
family fortunes turned up in the months after Mr. Badal’s re-election
to chief minister in 2007. The state cabinet, which he heads, overhauled
Punjab’s transportation policy, making it less expensive to operate
always been taxed at higher rates than ordinary buses. But a new
transportation policy slashed levies on air-conditioned buses and set
taxes—charged per kilometer—for a new category of luxury buses that was
lower than the tax paid by ordinary buses.
bus company owned by Sukhbir Singh Badal, the deputy chief minister,
saw profits grow to more than 105 million rupees, or $1.7 million, in
2013 from 2.5 million rupees, or $41,000, in 2007, according to the
company’s financial statements. He said his company, Dabwali Transport,
grew by acquiring other bus companies, and acknowledged the lower tax
rate helped his business.
Mohan Lal, told the Journal the change was made to improve services.
Sukhbir Singh Badal, who wasn’t in office when the change was made, said
it was designed “so that even the common man can travel in luxury
without paying high rates.”
of air-conditioned buses has since grown, offering fares that are only
slightly higher than ordinary buses, according to transport department
officials. Fares of luxury buses are roughly twice the cost of ordinary
business has grown to dominate luxury-bus travel in Punjab, particularly
in Bathinda, which has more than a million residents.
than half the permits for luxury and air-conditioned buses granted to
private operators by the regional transport authority statewide—and more
than 90% of those in Bathinda—belong to two transportation companies
owned by the family, according to government documents, and a third
company, Taj Travels, which is owned by a man who is a director in hotel
and real-estate companies also controlled by the family.
Singh Badal’s declared assets have grown to more than 1 billion rupees,
or about $16 million, from 130 million rupees, about $2.1 million, in
2004, according to documents filed to India’s election commission. In
2009, his wife won a seat in the national Parliament.
government guidelines require ministers to fully disclose business
interests and step away from management after taking office. The
guidelines also say ministers must divest themselves of all interests in
businesses that supply goods or services to the government or rely on
official permits or licenses. In states, chief ministers are charged
with making sure the guidelines are met but, according to an official in
the home ministry, the guidelines are rarely followed.
elder Mr. Badal, in a written response to the Journal, said he doesn’t
take an active role in any family related business. If family businesses
have grown, he wrote, “it is only a part of the success story of all
Punjabis over the past 60 years.” After another re-election in 2012, Mr.
Badal’s term goes to 2017.
months after Mr. Badal’s 80th birthday, party delegates elected Sukhbir
Singh Badal as party president to succeed his father. Mr. Badal said
his son was promoted for helping return the party to power.
year later, Mr. Badal appointed his son as deputy chief minister.
Sukhbir Singh Badal, who has a master’s degree in management from
California State University, Los Angeles, had previously served in
India’s national Parliament. He was later voted into the state
legislative assembly, a requirement for deputy chief minister.
Badal said “it was natural” to give his son the job because of support
from voters and the party. Sukhbir Singh Badal said his father “wanted
me to take over, to share his responsibilities.” He also didn’t want to
abandon hundreds of thousands of party workers who feel more secure
under the Badals’ leadership, he said.
2009 to 2013, state-owned power enterprises awarded contracts valued at
3.9 billion rupees, about $64 million, to consortia that included a
company majority-owned by Ms. Kaur, her husband and her mother-in-law,
documents show. The contracts were first reported by the Tribune, a
regional newspaper, and viewed by the Journal, which verified them with
the Punjab State Power Corp.
Ms. Kaur’s father, chairs the state’s power department, and Ms. Kaur’s
husband, Adesh Partap Kairon, works as Mr. Badal’s minister for food
supply and information technology.
Singh Badal sought to revitalize Punjab’s power sector through policy
directives that resulted in bids for a government contract to install
and upgrade electrical infrastructure. A 2.3 billion rupee deal, or
about $38 million, was awarded a year ago to a team of three companies
that included Shivalik Telecom Ltd., which manufactures and installs
electrical infrastructure, and is owned by Ms. Kaur and her relatives.
Kaur’s declared assets grew to $2.7 million in 2012 from less than
$800,000 in 2007. Ms. Kaur and her husband didn’t respond to requests to
company,” said K.D. Chaudhri, chairman of the Punjab State Power Corp.
The bids were judged on well-defined criteria, including technical
expertise, and the contract awarded to the lowest bidder, he said. He
didn’t identify the companies in contention.
Bains, spokesman for Mr. Badal, the chief minister, said, “No law, or
even established rules of propriety have been violated, nor has there
been undue favor,” in contracts awarded to Shivalik Telecom.
Badals have also expanded their media interests. In 2006, they started a
local TV company with a 24-hour news channel, PTC News, which has
become one of the most popular in the state, according to residents.
journalists say they also believe the family has tried to squeeze out
competition through close ties with Fastway Transmissions, which handles
the technical work of transmitting programs.
and two other companies control about 85% of the market, according to
the Competition Commission of India, a national government watchdog
agency. All three companies are co-owned by a man with close ties to the
Kanwar Sandhu said he and his backers decided to launch their own news
channel, Day and Night News, in 2009. They hired Fastway and the two
other companies to broadcast the channel. The
program would be disrupted during the broadcast of news critical of the
government, Mr. Sandhu said, with the sound sometimes overlaid with the
audio track of cartoon shows.
seven months, Fastway and the two other companies terminated their
contracts with Day and Night News, and the channel was taken off the
air. Fastway said the disruptions were caused by technical problems, and
the agreements severed for commercial reasons.
company that owns Day and Night News complained to the competition
commission, saying Fastway was establishing a monopoly and abusing its
position. In its complaint, the company alleged Gurdeep Singh, who had
ownership stakes in all three TV transmission firms, was “closely
affiliated” with the ruling establishment of Punjab.
Singh has bought and sold buses from Badal-controlled transit
companies, according to Mr. Singh and public records. He has also done
work for the family’s political party, according to two party members
and two other people familiar with the matter.
person with firsthand knowledge of the formation of Fastway in 2007
said Sukhbir Singh Badal helped set up the firm and asked Mr. Singh to
run it. Mr. Singh said he knows Mr. Badal, but wasn’t influenced by him
or the Punjab government. Mr. Badal said he knows Mr. Singh, but denied
any connection with Fastway.
ordered by the competition commission found in 2012 that Fastway and the
two other companies had snapped up a number of smaller companies and
“eliminated free and fair competition” in Punjab, amassing more than
four million subscribers, leaving its next biggest competitors no more
than 10,000. The commission’s
investigation also found the disruptions of Day and Night News were
frequent and deliberate. The body ordered Fastway and the two other
companies to pay a fine of 80 million rupees. A lawyer for Fastway and
the other two companies said he has filed an appeal.
the family, it is business as usual. Billboard images across the state
show chief minister Parkash Singh Badal; his son, Sukhbir Singh Badal;
and Sukhbir’s brother-in-law, Bikram Singh Majithia. Official cards that
entitle Punjabis to subsidized grain bear the photographs of the chief
minister and his son-in-law, Adesh Partap Kairon, who is the minister of
food supply. An oval cutout of Mr. Badal’s face was added to the
baskets of thousands of free bicycles given to female students.
a recent rally in Amritsar, Gurudev Singh, 35 years old, said he was
voting for the coalition run by the Badal family’s party for a national
Parliament seat in the current election. “I come from a family of
shopkeepers,” he said. “Their career is politics. It’s a one-family
rule, yes, but that’s how politics works in India.”