Opinion: Record Does Not Support Pravin Mundkur’s Assertions on IAGB

By Kaplesh Kumar

(Editor’s note: Mr. Kaplesh Kumar, a former president of India Association of Greater Boston, is currently chair of the IAGB Nominating Committee that oversees Sunday’s elections.)

WELLESLEY, MA–I was both disappointed and concerned to read Mr. Pravin Mundkur’s article on IAGB.  Disappointed that India News England did not seek a rebuttal or contrarian point of view from those “more in the know” for simultaneous publication and concerned that Mr. Mundkur’s article could harm IAGB by unfairly skewing its upcoming elections this Sunday for its 2017-2019 Executive Committee on the basis of unfounded and actual or implied innuendos and assertions.

Unfortunately, this article adds fuel to potentially actionable Facebook postings by others intentionally defaming the Nominating Committee’s (NC’s) presidential nominee, a distinguished member of India’s minority community of whom we should be proud, citing “alternative” facts, likely provided by those, or their supporters, who may stand to benefit in the election from the spewing of baseless and inflammatory venom against the nominee.

Kaplesh Kumar

Mr. Mundkur has raised certain matters that need to be addressed to set the record straight.  Although his entire personal involvement in the IAGB Executive Committee was for a limited time as a Secretary, he has thought it fit to pontificate on the workings of the the Executive Committee and the Nominating Committee and from it implied gross improprieties in decision making by the President and NC.

Mr. Mundkur is right that the Bylaws need improvement.  It is a fact of life as no Bylaws or constitution in the world expressly addresses all matters, and the Bylaws need to be interpreted as and when needed. And, yes, the EC and the NC in carrying out their responsibilities consequently need to interpret the Bylaws where there is insufficient guidance.  But, where the author is wrong is in his assumption that the interpretation can be arbitrary. On the contrary, it has to be reasonable and consistent with the intent of the drafters as expressed in the Bylaws.

The record does not support Mr. Mundkur’s assertions. A review of it sets the matter straight.

Mr. Mundkur says that efforts should be made to allow maximum voter participation.  Well, that’s exactly what was done two years ago and turned out to be the biggest complaint of those who lost in the election and their supporters. Mr. Mundkur had a front row seat to all what had then transpired.  This past experience necessitated that the process be tightly controlled this time around within the guidance provided by the Bylaws.  This is precisely what the current NC has done.

The article makes general statements to the effect that the President can stack the NC with his or her friends insinuating that it is one big club.  Similarly, there was a comment on Facebook implying a conspiracy to the effect of “you scratch my back and I yours.”  So what does the record show?  The NC last time of which I was chair was appointed by the EC of which Mr. Mundkur was a part and Dr. Anil Saigal was President. The two other appointees were IAGB past presidents Dr. Anupam Wali and Mr. Amrit Soni.  None of them is a personal friend in the classic sense although I respect them all.

The appointment by the EC this time, with Ms. Jaya Voruganti President, again named me as chair of the NC along with IAGB past presidents Mr. Shiva Sheel and Mr. Rajinikant Malipat. As before, save for Ms. Vouganti who is a friend, neither of my NC colleagues is a friend in the above sense although I do deeply respect them both. I was told that the current NC appointments were not pulled out of the hat but were based on the number of votes in the EC that each person considered received. For the record, let me expressly state that Ms. Vouganti played absolutely no role in the NC deliberations and decision making.

So, there you have it.  Even if one accepts that possibilities may exist under the current system of appointments and nominations being manipulated, the facts do not bear them out! Which is not to say that the Bylaws need not be revisited.  In fact, to the current EC’s credit, a  lot of work was done under the Bylaws committee chairperson Mr. Narender Chhabra and I believe they have been posted on the IAGB website.  It is my understanding that these were approved by the EC, but for them to become valid they need to be approved at a special meeting of the general body called following a detailed hearing.

As the final nail in the “scratch my back” and “manipulate” coffin, the conspiracy theorists may chew upon the fact that both the previous NC as well as the current one have operated on the basis of consensus. Either all the past presidents involved in the two NCs have been ganging up against some candidates for reasons best known to the doubters or the NC in each case did indeed pick the better of the two candidates.

Another fact to chew on is that the current nominee for President, Mr. Syed Ali Rizvi, has been nominated by no less than eight IAGB past presidents.  So, while the Bylaws do need to be amended, the system has worked pretty well to date.  Many of us whose affiliation with, and leadership of, IAGB dates back decades, indeed for several of us to its early days and much longer than the author’s IAGB involvement, we cannot all be wrong, no matter how much the detractors may want to confound the eligible voter.

I leave the IAGB voter with this last thought.  Do not get distracted by self-serving extraneous matters. Your first loyalty must be to the organization, not to a friend or someone you could benefit from.  The bottom line is vote your conscience for the best candidate in your opinion and do not get hoodwinked by self serving extraneous irresponsible statements.  If you vote honestly, IAGB will win, no matter which candidate is elected. The NC is doing its job, you too need to do yours.

(Editor’s note: Mr. Kaplesh Kumar, a former president of India Association of Greater Boston, is currently chair of the IAGB Nominating Committee that oversees Sunday’s elections.)

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