The election of Pushpa Kamal Dahal, popularly known as Prachanda, as Prime Minister of Nepal proves beyond a shadow of doubt that India played no role in the recent election in the Himalayan republic. It is possible that India’s critics may describe the situation as a failure of New Delhi’s Nepal policy. The Maoist leader, who remained underground indulging in guerrilla warfare in the 1990s, had never been kindly disposed towards India. More importantly, he has a soft corner for China. True, this is the third time he assumes power. The last time he was in power, he was in alliance with the Nepali Congress, which has always been favourably inclined towards India.
In the hung Parliament that the election threw up, most pollsters and political analysts expected Sher Bahadur Deuba to form the Government as his Nepali Congress had emerged as the single largest party with 89 seats. Alas, he took the position for granted and refused to strike a deal with Prachanda, who had no difficulty walking out of the alliance and forming a post-poll deal with another former Prime Minister, KP Sarma Oli. They are birds of a feather with a shared aversion for India. What is of concern for New Delhi is that two incorrigible anti-India politicians will be sharing power for the next five years.
The success of the Government depends on how Prachanda and Oli are able to contain their elephantine egos while working together. As of now, the ruling coalition has the support of 169 MPs in a House of 275. The Nepali Congress remains a potential threat as it is capable of exploiting the differences that are likely to crop up in the ruling coalition. For historical, political and cultural reasons, India has a great stake in Nepal’s development. That passports are not needed for people of the two countries to visit each other is in itself a measure of the strong bonds that bind the two countries. On its part, China wants to replace India as Nepal’s strongest ally. That is why it has been liberal with its purse, as in rebuilding the earthquake-hit centuries-old cultural structures at Kathmandu. It is in India’s interest to find ways to keep Nepal as its most trusted partner in development.
Lessons from Chanda Kochhar
The arrest of former ICICI Bank Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar by the Central Bureau of Investigation would not have surprised anyone as the case was registered against them about three years ago. The charge against Ms Kochhar is that as the top bank official, she was instrumental in sanctioning a loan of Rs3,250 crore to Videocon Group firms. Within a few days of receiving the first instalment of the loan, Videocon deposited Rs68 crore in a company promoted by her husband. This was seen as a quid pro quo. That is why Ms Kochhar was sacked by the bank. The Supreme Court also did not find any merit in her contention that her dismissal was unjustified. And until three years ago, Chanda Kochhar was the queen of Indian banking.
Ever since KV Kamath chose the young woman from Jaipur for an executive post in the bank, she had been climbing up the ladder making a success of whatever assignment she was given. She brought dynamism and professionalism into the bank, making it India’s pre-eminent private bank. Awards and recognition, honours and honorary degrees came her way. Even the nation conferred upon her its third highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan.
For women all over India, Ms Kochhar was a role model. Her career was doomed, however, when she decided, allegedly, that the family’s fortunes were more important than integrity in business deals. If only she had remembered that service comes before self, what happened to her would not have happened and she would have remained a shining star of Indian corporate life. Her downfall should be an example to all those who control public money, for they are just trustees, not owners.
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