Assam

Ponzi-Pyramid, NPS and the Pious Fraud

Posted on Updated on

TMC MP Kunal Gosh’s arrest perhaps has refreshed your memory of the horrific Saradha scam. If not, let me remind you. Saradha group of companies looted thousands of crores of rupees from the poor people of the states of West Bengal and Assam. It is alleged that West Bengal Chief Minister was fully aware of the detailed functioning of the company and her party was getting maximum benefits from the satellite television channels and newspaper owned by the company. Kunal Gosh claimed that those media houses were working under the direct instructions of TMC. In fact Mr. Gosh claimed that he was compelled to sack one of his editors to satisfy Didi! Same things happened in Assam. Saradha CMD Sudipta Sen himself alleged that a powerful minister of Gogoi cabinet, top cop of the police administration, journalists and even so called artists were benefited out of his fraudulent company.

Saradha was not the only company to loot the hard earn money of the poor investors of the state. There were many other ponzi companies like ABYSS, Ramel etc etc. We also noticed the operation of the fraudulent pyramid companies like Unipay2You, Royal Forex, Sambav etc in Assam. Those companies also looted thousands of crores. Some of the perpetrators were booked and many got spared.

Another such possible threat of pyramid scheme is going to be exposed through this article.  It may be shocking for you to know that government welfare scheme National Pension System is going to be used as a tool to fool the poor people of the state by some pyramid fraudsters.

Image

National Pension Scheme is a social security scheme by government of India. It is meant to provide a secure retirement life to the citizen of the country keeping in mind the inflation, rising cost of living as well as increased life expectancy. Swavalamban Yojana is designed for the workers of unorganized sector under NPS. It is expected that the scheme will benefit the poor workers to great extend. Under this scheme if the subscriber pays a minimum yearly contribution of Rs. 1000 and maximum Rs. 12000; government will contribution another one thousand to their pension account i.e. Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN). This scheme will continue to till FY 2016-17 and may be extended also. No doubt it’s a very good scheme for the poor unorganized workers.

Now let’s see how the pyramid fraudsters are planning to the fool those poor unorganised workers. In the first week of this month (Nov’2013), an NGO (Non Government Organization) is register under the Societies Registration Act 1860. The organization has designed such a plan that you even can’t raise question to their noble (?) initiative! They will organize awareness camps to promote Swavalamban Pension Scheme (PRAN CARD). To get involved with the campaign you need to donate only Rs. 500/-. Yes! This is not a big deal. In fact they will be helping the poor to get their legitimate entitlements! But they have different plan to benefit you as well. What is the actual plan?

The subscriber needs to pay Rs. 500/- and the organization will liaison with the Point of Presence (PoP) to open his/her NPS account. Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) have identified 58 PoPs all over the country. PoPs are basically banks (both PSU and private), private financial institutions and Department of Posts. The next move is very interesting. The subscriber will be qualified for an income as soon as he adds three subscribers (A, B and C) in his immediate downline and A and C again add three subscribers each as their immediate downline. The first subscriber (Top of the pyramid ToP) will get a bonus of Rs. 200/-.

Now, calculate the total amount received by the organization. The organization had added 13 NPS subscribers so far and had collected Rs. 6500/- from the bottom of the pyramid (BoP). The organization will be incurring the expenses Rs. 1300/- for their PRAN card and Rs. 200/- as bonus to the ToP. Thus their net profit is going to be approx Rs. 5000/- from the one single ToP!

Image

Remember if the ToP somehow fails to add a single subscriber he/she will not be eligible to get the bonus amount of Rs. 200/-.

The organization has also a very lucrative award and reward plan. If there is a 100 pairs of countable (A and C only constitutes countable pair, B is not countable!) subscribers, the ToP subscriber will get a tab and if there is 25000 such pairs under the ToP, he will get a Skoda car!

Image

Let us make it easy to guess the total benefit of the pyramid organization from such single ToP subscriber 25000x3x400=30000000. Yes, you are not mistaken; the fraudster can earn a hefty amount of approx Rs. 3 crores! So, giving a skoda car as incentive is not a big deal! We shouldn’t forget that the huge income of the fraudster is nothing other than the great loss to the poor people of the state.

Now let’s examine why such scheme is viable to operate in Assam only. The reason behind the rise of ponzi schemes like Saradha, Jeevan Suraksha, Ramel etc is same with the case of this pyramid schemes. Lack of financial literacy, financial inclusion and the anti-poor attitude of the formal financial system are the major reason behind this menace. Financial literacy is a must to protect the financial vulnerability of the poor of the state. Moreover, the status of financial inclusion is worse in Assam. Business Correspondent model ‘Swabhiman’ has become a liability for the banks. At the same time the 58 PoPs identified by Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) are not poor friendly. The fraudsters can read the weakness of the financial system in Assam and they are making cash on it.

This fraud scheme is reaching the interior parts of the state like wildfire. Districts like Barpeta, Nagaon, Dhubri etc are more prone. In fact a huge network has already been built within a couple of days. Some of the subscribers are even thinking that this is the only way to get the PRAN card!

The fear is not only to lose the Rs. 500 alone, but to lose the entire life savings of the poor unorganized workers. Our fear is based on some crucial documents. We have accessed some documents which clearly indicate that even some of the government machinery is also involved in this fraud campaign. We are not disclosing those documents here to help the administration to nab the fraudsters.

We hope, government will wake up and take action against those fraudsters.

UNiTE to End Violence Against Woman

Posted on Updated on

25th November is observed as the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Woman; on the same 25th November, 2013 newspapers from Assam carried a number of cases of violence against woman. Some of those were horrific and inhuman in nature. A young woman was brutally raped, when she was going to take her son back from school in Kalajan of Lakhimpur district and she succumbed to death at GNRC Hospital, Guwahati. Another Dulumoni Gogoi, a 22 year old house wife was missing and her dead-body was found in the bank of river Disang. A house wife Jesmin of Digboi couldn’t bear the inhuman violence and atrocities by her in laws for dowry and finally left her in laws along with two young children. Another newly married woman Gitika was murdered by her in laws and was thrown into a pond in Sarukhetri of Barpeta district. Sujata, a mother of three children was brutally killed by her drunken husband in Jagiroad of Morigaon district of Assam. Akita Parbin, another 21 year old pregnant woman was brutally killed by her in laws in Dhaligaon area of Chirang district.

These are few cases which were reported in two vernacular newspapers in a single day. Can we imagine how long will be the list if we add all such cases reported in all newspapers published from Assam on a day or so forth? And more horribly, how many of such cases have been going unreported?

We have Dowry Prohibition Act, domestic violence Act and even we have added the sections like 304B, 498A etc into the Indian Penal Code, but the graph of crime and violence against woman is still in upward spiral! Where the problem does lies?

Let’s have a reality check, my younger sister Abida was also brutally murdered in 2005 by her in laws. I had to fight for almost two years to register the case. I had to seek the intervention of human rights commission and CID’s woman cell just to register the case! I had to cross many junctures, where I was supposed to pay bribe. Can you imagine the amount of pain when you are asked to pay bribe to the doctor who conducted the Post Mortem of your deceased sister?

You can’t be assured that the relatives of the victims of the cases reported on the International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Woman will not have to go through the same trauma and suffering as like as me? The accused husband of deceased Akita Parbin is an oil smuggler; he knows how to manage the police and administration. In fact he can buy system. If this is the situation, how we can expect that violence against woman will decrease?

The theme of 2013 International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Woman is “UNiTE to End Violence Against Woman”. Pandit Nehru wrote much earlier that only legislation cannot solve the deep rooted social problems. We need to unite to fight and eliminate these social evils.

Mydul Mullah’s Sacrifice will Go in vain? NRC updating still in Vague

Posted on Updated on

When the world was celebrating the festival of sacrifice “Eid-ul-Azha”, a family at Khandakarpara of Brapeta district of Assam has been mourning the ultimate sacrifice of their young member Mydul Mullah. Soon after the Namaz of Fazr family members and the kith and kin of Mydul Mullah assembled at his graveyard to pray for the eternal peace of his departed soul.Image

Mydul Mullah, a 25 years old youth was brutality killed by police along with four others in Barpeta on July’21, 2010. They were part of a peace demonstration demanding current modalities for NRC updation. Police fired on the demonstrators violating the police manual. It was reported that the police hadn’t handled the situation carefully and sensitively. If they wanted, the demonstration could be managed peacefully. But the police was hand in glove with the AASU goons to attack the demonstrators. The police opened fire on the picketers without any provocation. It was also alleged that police intentionally shoot the demonstrators on head, chest etc to have maximum casualty. Family member says, a single bullet went straight into the heart of Mydul Mullah, which claimed his life. They also asked, if the police was really trying to only flee the agitators, why they shoot on his heart? Why not on legs (as prescribed in the police manual)?

There are number of such unanswered questions in the mind of the family members. After his death political leaders like Maulana Badaruddin Ajmal, Himanta Biswa Sarma etc visited their house. The politicians condemned the incident and tried to console the family, assured them justice. But nothing materialised. The family is weeping for the last three years. The family, who lost their earning member for a noble cause can’t forget him for a single day. Every festival increases the absence of him badly. Elderly mother cries like anything, while the others go to Idgah to perform special Namaz of Bakri Eid. Perhaps the politicians have forgotten about their promises, but how a mother can!

After three years of the great sacrifice of Mydul Mullah, the family and the neighbours are having a serious doubt. Perhaps his sacrifice will go in vain. Though the government has postponed the NRC updation with the faulty modalities immediately after the incident; but recently government is working under the dictation of AASU (All Assam Student Union) as far as the preparation of the modalities is concern. In fact more dangerous clauses are being incorporated in the modalities to detach the name of the genuine minority Muslim’s name the state from the updated NRC. Provision of house to house enumeration, providing with the facilitators to fill up forms, provision of application for NRC updation of D voters etc are eliminated from the current modalities submitted before the honourable Supreme Court by the state government. The state government, where Himanta Biswa Sarma is a cabinet minister and who visited the family after soon after the incident assured that interest of the genuine Indians will be protected. Same story with the principal opposition of party of the state assembly, the party president Maulana Badaruddin Ajmal, who also visited the family perhaps has forgotten the cause behind the sacrifice the life of those people who lost their life in the street of Barpeta. Indeed, their death was the main force behind the success of his political career. No major initiative has been taken up by the party to uphold the sacrifice of Mydul Mullah and his fellow martyrs. The All Assam Minority Student Union (AAMSU) also not working in the pace as expected. They has become a party in the writ petition filed the Assam Public Works in honourable Supreme Court most recently. Who knows, perhaps they are also trying to erase those painful memories!

But the family members can’t forget his sacrifice. They still hope Mydul Mullah’s sacrifice will not go in vain. One day the poor people of the state will get justice.

The proposed NRC modalities: Passport to another violence in Assam

Posted on Updated on

On 12 July’ 2013, Jaydeep Shukla, Extra Assistant Commissioner to Government of Assam submitted the additional affidavit in Supreme Court of India on Writ Petition (Civil) No. 274/2009 filed by Assam Public Works, regarding updation of National Register of Citizen (NRC). The additional affidavit is more of dictation by AASU (All Assam Students Union) then any submission of a democratic government of an Indian state. AASU submitted their suggestions on May 21, 2013 opposing the earlier affidavit given by government of Assam and held a meeting with the group of Ministers to discuss the modalities and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) on July 4, 2013. The government accepted the recommendations made by AASU. The modified modalities and SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) have incorporated some perilous clauses and deleted some basic ethics and democratic values.

Surprisingly, no other organizations were invited to the meeting, not even the representatives of AAMSU (All Assam Minority Students Union), whereas they were present in such meeting before preparing the earlier affidavit.

What are in this additional affidavit?

Clause 4(b) of the additional affidavit outlines that there would be no house to house enumeration, only application forms will be distributed house to house though government machinery. This affidavit also deleted the last two lines of introductory para of earlier affidavit “the Citizenship (Registration of Citizen and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rule, 2003 prescribed for house to house enumeration of all the households as done in case of population census or in the intensive revision electoral rule” vide clause 5 (i). The point 7 of SOP submitted earlier “Distribution of forms and house to house enumeration” also deleted by clause 5 (ii) and inserted “Inviting application from the head of the family”. The new modalities outlined that the forms will be available at circle office too.

Question arises, why AASU is interested to delete the clause ‘house to house enumeration’? Is updation of NRC is not an intensive work? Does not it seem to be seriously important? The affidavit says that forms will be distributed through government machinery. If government machinery can distribute the forms house to house, why can’t enumerate house to house?

Or the house to house distribution will remain in black and white and in practical the citizen will have to collect it from circle office? Imagine, what hurdles will have to face by the people of the char areas, where there are no roads, boot is the only means of communication, where one week’s travelling will be required to collect the form from circle office! Whereas, in case of any other states such updation always done through house to house enumeration.

The expertise of AASU does not end here. The affidavit also clearly mentions that there will be no provision of any facilitator! Where more than half of the population is illiterate and they are being asked to fill up their application forms from their own? Doesn’t it put a serious question mark on AASU’s inner intention?

Clause 4(c) of the additional affidavit says that the ‘D’ voters can apply for inclusion of their name in the updated NRC. But they would be finally included in the NRC, only when they are declared as non foreigner by Foreigners Tribunal. Even though they have sufficient documents to get registered their names in updated NRC. Doesn’t this provision violet the basic tenet of Indian judiciary? They will be treated as guilty until they are proven innocent (not innocent until proven guilty!). If we look at the conviction rate of ‘D’ voters, it is found that the conviction rate is very low. Total 55184 ‘D’ voter cases were registered between 1985 to 2012 (July), out of 55184 only 6590 were declared as foreigners. The conviction rate is 8.37%. That means more than 91% of those ‘D’ voters were genuine Indian citizen and were illegally harassed. And if we link it up to the proposed modalities that more than 91% of ‘D’ voter’s name will not be included in the updated NRC with out their fault! The additional affidavit also clarifies that the pending cases at Foreigners Tribunal will not affect the implementation of NRC updation. Doesn’t it alternatively say that we are not bothered about your sufferings?

Another crucial clause is incorporated in the affidavit, which indicates that if somebody’s name is not included (not satisfied with the outcome), will have to appeal through Foreigners Tribunal only and that also within 60days of such rejection. The option of tagging competent civil court might be there, which by virtue of its competency could direct the government to pay compensation to victim if rejected illegally. But in case of only Foreigners Tribunal, the judge will not hold such power to direct the authority to pay compensation. Interestingly, this appeal process will also not link up to the NRC updation process.

Point (g) of the annexed modalities along with the additional affidavit says, “…However, persons who are originally inhabitants of Assam and their children and descendants, who are citizens of India ab initio, shall be included in the consolidated list if the citizenship of such persons is beyond reasonable doubt and to the full satisfaction of the registering authority.” Doesn’t it summarily mean that the registering authority can add any name if they wish to do so? What is the reason behind this absolute power to authority? Is this represents any of our democratic values?
A legitimate doubt comes to mind, whether AASU really wants to update the NRC or trying to keep the issue alive to keep themselves in the limelight; otherwise why they are providing such dangerous, non viable and peculiar suggestions?

Why Congress government is playing with NRC?

If we closely observe the recent political developments in Assam, it becomes very clear that Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is taking some non conventional decision to be in power in the next term also. After the violence in BTAD and RHAC, the result of the panchayat poll has shown that Congress has lost ground in the minority belt. At the same time AIUDF has been becoming invincible in that belt. On the other hand BJP’s rise in the municipal election has actually threatened Congress. Gogoi is ready to change the role of the game. It seems that his nod to ULFA’s demand to declare Assam as a tribal state or accepting the suggestion of AASU on NRC updation blindly are the part of his greater political plan. He has to prove that he is more pro-nationalist than declining AGP or Sarbananda Sonowal. No doubt his power thrust may bring another bloodshed in Assam.

Why AIUDF is silent spectator?

In recent times, AIUDF is getting a boost politically after every clash or violence with minorities of the state. Be it 2010’s police firing at Barpeta or BTAD violence in 2012. If the NRC updation is preceded with the current modalities another violence can’t be avoided by any means. For a political gain AIUDF’s silence may be quite natural. Otherwise do you see any reason behind this epic silence?