Interview with Jaya Kamlani

Photo of author and activist Jaya Kamlani receiving the NRI Institute’s Bharat Samman (Pride of India) award from former Army Chief, General V K Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs and Manu Jagmohan Singh, Secretary General of NRI Institute on January 12 at the Leela Palace, Delhi.

Interviewer: Hans-Jürgen John
Interviewee: Jaya Kamlani
Date: April 19, 2016
Photos placed at disposal by Jaya Kamlani

Interview with Jaya Kamlani, author and activist.

Interview with Jaya Kamlani about Donald Trump, her book «To India, with Tough Love» and the situation for children and women in India.

Photo of author and activist Jaya Kamlani receiving the NRI Institute’s Bharat Samman (Pride of India) award from former Army Chief, General V K Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs and Manu Jagmohan Singh, Secretary General of NRI Institute on January 12 at the Leela Palace, Delhi.

Jaya Kamlani receives the NRI Institute’s Bharat Samman (Pride of India) award from former Army Chief, General V K Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs and Manu Jagmohan Singh,  Secretary General of NRI Institute on January 12 at the Leela Palace, Delhi.

 

Almost no interviews these days without a question about Donald Trump. Will he become the next President of the United States? Or are his statements only words in order to win the elections?

Who am I to foretell when the political pundits have been proven wrong for their predictions so far?

Why is he successful?

All politicians promise you the moon. But, I can understand why Donald Trump’s message «Make America Great Again» resonates with the working class citizens. Since the 2007-2010 Great Recession, their incomes have remained stagnant while corporate profits have soared. So voters have turned out in droves to bring change to America. They do not trust the politicians any more.

Who can stop him?

The Republican establishment has tried to derail Trump’s momentum in the primaries. They have instead provided support to challenger Senator Ted Cruz. It appears the Republican nomination is headed for a contested convention this July. Rules will then be written and rewritten on the fly by the party committee in each state.

There will be elbow-twisting, wheeling-dealing, behind the scenes delegate manipulating at the convention. Elections in America have been known to be stolen before.

What if Donald Trump does not get the Republican nomination? Will the real estate mogul then pursue a third party option for the general election this November? It remains to be seen.

Donald Trump is only one candidate. What about those from the Democratic Party?

On the Democratic Party campaign trail, the contest is heating up between Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

Sanders focuses on important issues of the people such as income inequality, Wall Street influence on politics, campaign financing, and unfavorable US trade deals that have cost millions of Americans their jobs.

On the other hand, Clinton has the experience, especially in foreign affairs. She also has the super delegates in her pocket. In the grand finale, she can pull them out like white rabbits from a black hat and walk away smiling.

What do you expect from the next President of the United States?

I sincerely hope our next president will remember his/her oath to serve the country and its people. I hope our next president will bring honor and dignity to our country and be the beacon of light for justice and peace in the world.

 

Photo of Jaya Kamlani receiving Hind Rattan (Jewel of India) Award in Delhi by Dr. Bhishma Narain Singh, India - January 25, 2016

Jaya Kamlani receiving Hind Rattan (Jewel of India) Award in Delhi by Dr. Bhishma Narain Singh, India – January 25, 2016

 

What is your latest book about?

This year, I am not writing a new book. Instead, I am adding a couple of chapters at the end of my memoir «Scent of Yesterday». It will include chapters on my peace related activities and the US elections. Since the book already has chapters of historical nature about India and America, this piece would fit well. I will then republish my memoir.

«To India, with tough love» is about violence against women and children. You say the India Supreme Court justices have a copy of this book and even the Prime Minister has one. But will rapists read your book, too?

«To India, with Tough Love» is more than a book on women and children. It is about my observations during my tour through rural India and the city slums. It is about mass farmer suicides and genetically modified foods. It is about corruption in high places and acute poverty. It is about the caste system and toxic environment. It is about trafficking of children and injustice to women. It is also about the Good Samaritans who are bringing change to India.

An Indian-American scientist from California sent copies of the book to all the Supreme Court judges of India as a Republic Day gift in January 2014. He felt if anyone could help bring change to India, it would be the Supreme Court judges.

I don’t expect rapists to read my book. Their evil minds work in malicious ways. They are always hunting for their next victim. They are not interested in reading, bettering themselves or doing something good for society.

Society’s values have further deteriorated in the new millennium. Internet pornography and videos have promoted more rapes. Bollywood is also guilty of promoting such culture by producing movies that portray women in poor light and in compromising roles. Sex sells. That is the ugly truth. Besides, young idle jobless people gravitate towards mischief. They have no fear of the law, as laws are not enforced in India. As is said, an idle mind is a devil’s workshop.

 

Photo of Jaya Kamlani
Jaya Kamlani is an award-winning Indian-American author and poet, and a former Silicon Valley technology consultant. Jaya migrated to the U.S. in 1969 and has been living there since.

She believes we all have a role to play in making this world a more compassionate place.

 

Her publications include: Non-fiction «To India, with Tough Love» (2013) – a book written to bring change to India; memoir «Scent of Yesterday» (2014) and a poetry collection «Garden of Life» (2015).

Author and activist Jaya Kamlani received the NRI Institute’s Bharat Samman (Pride of India) award from former Army Chief, General V K Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs and Manu Jagmohan Singh, Secretary General of NRI Institute on January 12 at the Leela Palace, Delhi.

Kamlani also received the Hind Rattan (Jewel of India) Award at the 35th Congress of NRIs on January 25, 2016. There she spoke about her concerns about women and children’s issues in India.

Website: www.jayakamlani.com

Author page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/jayakamlani

 

Photo with Aditi Arya, Miss India and Jaya Kamlani at the Bharat Samman Award ceremony at Leela Palace, Delhi India.

Aditi Arya, Miss India and Jaya Kamlani at the Bharat Samman Award ceremony at Leela Palace, New Delhi, India.

 

Will it change something if your book becomes a school book in India and pupils have to read and comment about it?

«To India, with Tough Love» is not intended for high school students, as the infamous December 2012 rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey (Nirbhaya) is covered in detail in the book. The book also covers child trafficking issues. However, it is recommended for college students and those over eighteen years of age.

Top twenty colleges associated with the Mumbai University carry the book at their libraries. I would like to see more universities across India carry it. I would also like the book to be translated in Hindi and other languages, but have not yet pursued this option.

How much is your book? How much are books in India? Is it cheap enough that an average Indian can buy it on Amazon?

You cannot compare apples to oranges when it comes to book pricing in India versus America. Discounted book prices by Amazon also tend to vary from time to time. The book is not affordable for an average Indian. It took me seven intense years to research, write and get it published.

Also, India has strange FDI rules for online retailing.  Authors selling via Amazon have to split their commission with a third party distributor in India.

Therefore, if readers in India want to purchase my books, they should do so through Amazon.com, not Amazon.in. Volume discounts can be arranged with my publisher.

What about your readers? Do most of them live in India?

My readers are spread throughout the world, because many of the issues discussed in the book are universal issues.

To be born in India sounds like to be born into a trap. There is poverty, there is injustice, violence against women and children, corruption.

Where there is greed, there is corruption. And where there is corruption, there will always be a big disparity between the rich and the poor. The poor are kept uneducated, so they cannot question authority.

Violence towards women and children is rampant. Women are still considered second-class citizens. Sometimes, girls are forced into arranged marriages in their early teens. This subordinates them at a tender age and makes them vulnerable to domestic violence.

Is there anything positive you can mention?

Yes, India is rich in its culture. The people of the country are warm, friendly and hospitable. India was once known for its spirituality. Although that has diminished today, you will still find many spiritually inclined, especially in smaller towns and rural areas, where most of the population lives. India has made great progress in technology. It has many highly educated people. However, the mass has been kept uneducated.

What can be changed? How? By whom?

The Supreme Court and the High Courts of India can ensure laws are enforced against corruption, trafficking and violence towards women and children. Universal education must be promoted. The country also needs many good leaders.

Will you keep on visiting India or will you stop it for security reasons?

In the last three years, some Indians wrote on my Facebook postings that I should not visit India and that I should not sell my book in the country. I also received messages and emails telling me to refuse my awards this January in India. They asked me to stand in solidarity with the locals who were returning their awards. A politically driven move during the state elections to protest religious intolerance in the country.

However, since my recent visit, I have overcome my fear. I realize I have family and friends and people in high places I can turn to for help, including the American Consulate. I also believe that as more Indians read my book, they will realize that I have brought out both the good and bad aspects of the country because I care.

The book was written with the intent to bring change to India. I have no plans to visit the country in the near future. But circumstances can change and I might find myself on the plane again.

What advice can you give to India? Which country in the world can be a role model for India? The USA?

My recommendations for India are mentioned in the book. I believe both USA and India can become partners and good friends, as each has plenty to offer to the other. Each has its own shortcomings and virtues. It can be a mutually beneficial relationship.

There are many problems. To name the issues is easy. Where are the possible solutions?

There are many solutions offered throughout my book. Also, the Good Samaritans chapter demonstrates what some NGOs and individuals have done to bring change to rural India – how they have brought water and solar energy to the villages, how they have uplifted the poor, empowered the women and educated the children in remote rural and tribal areas.

 

Photo of Jaya Kamlani displaying her Bharat Samman award. Her friend Meena Sharma, Seattle U.S., accompanied her to the awards ceremony.

Jaya Kamlani displaying her Bharat Samman award. Her friend Meena Sharma, Seattle U.S., accompanied her to the awards ceremony.

 

How can India fight poverty?

India must first ensure that its children are educated and that adults are equipped with livelihood training skills. Also, it can follow the «inclusive capitalism» examples explained in my book. But above all, it must ensure that basic amenities, such as water and energy are available to all people in the city slums and villages.

In the new millennium, many NGOs have taken that initiative. Once these amenities are available, then basic personal needs such as food, clothing and shelter must be met before the children can be educated. However, when the poor are compelled to migrate from state-to-state for jobs, their children drop out of school.

The poor people are provided ration cards for subsidized food by the government. But the Public Distribution System is ridden with corruption. The poor often do not receive their fair quota of grains. Their ration card is invalid when they travel to another state to seek work.

How can India fight corruption?

India needs to enforce its current laws and show by setting an example that even the high and mighty are accountable for their actions.

How can India fight violence against women and children?

The courts must enforce and even improve current laws to protect women and children. The government can run a public relations campaign to address violence against women, including domestic violence, dowry-related deaths, rape, female infanticide, and even forced marriages.

Teaching martial arts at school can serve as a good defense mechanism against violence towards children. High school education should be made mandatory. This would ensure that children who graduate are at least eighteen. It would help prevent child marriage, which often leads to domestic violence.

Education can empower young girls. An educated woman is also your best weapon against poverty and over-population.

You were born into Hindu religion. Does it influence your everyday life?

I am more spiritual than religious. I care for humanity, regardless of their religion. I also attended a Catholic convent school and a Jesuit college. This taught me tolerance for all religions.

Can religion in India be the key to solution of problems? Or is it a hindrance to changes?

There should be separation between religion and the state. Religious institutions have not solved poverty or other social problems in India. Many of the temples coffers are filled with gold treasures and wealth donated by the patrons, worth millions of dollars. If these temples truly want to lift their communities from poverty, it is within their power to do so.

Where do you derive your energy from?

I derive energy from my faith in God and humanity, from the beauty and harmony in nature, from music, from my family and friends, and from my conviction that even the worst days do pass. Most of all, I always count my blessings.

How long will it take India to change?

India’s biggest handicap is its population of 1.3 billion people. To educate the young and employ the youth is an enormous challenge. Its treatment of women belongs to a long bygone era. It may take a generation or two to bring the needed change, because people’s mindsets have to also change.

Thank you so much for the interview Jaya Kamlani.

«To India, with Tough Love» is available at Amazon:

 

Cover of To India, with Tough Love by Jaya Kamlani

 

http://www.amazon.com/India-Tough-Love-Injustice-Corruption/dp/1479337897

Interview with Douglas Linares Flinto

Interview with Douglas Linares Flinto in his office at Brazilian Business Ethics Institute

Interview with Douglas Linares Flinto about Ethics, Whistleblowers and his Brazilian Business Ethics Institute.

On March 17th of 2016, Andrea Greco and Giuseppe Oddo launched the book «The Parallel State: The first investigation on Eni». Andrea Greco is an economics journalist for the Italian journal La Repubblica (The Republic).

Part of the book is the fight story of my Linkedin friend Douglas Linares Flinto, Chairman & CEO of Brazilian Business Ethics Institute against Eni, for nearly 15 years.

Eni S.p.A. is an Italian multinational oil and gas company headquartered in Rome. It has operations in 79 countries, and is currently world’s 11th largest industrial company with a market capitalization of 68 billion euros (Source: Wikipedia).

History is full of wonderful stories retelling the story of David versus Goliath. What happens to David if Goliath fights back?

Our world is run by those who say yes and repeat it endlessly. Why? They are part of companies. They have to feed their families. They are in line. I like companies. I support companies and I know some great leaders. They are the backbone of our society. And they are not above the law.

And there are others, oftentimes journalists who stand up and say no. Why? It is their job. They are paid to find the truth behind the truths.

But here is a man who is not paid by anyone. He is just there and fights for justice. And he is successful. Hear and read his story and perhaps you decide to support Ethics too wherever you live on this wonderful world. Have a nice day. (Hans-Jürgen John, Founder Johntext)

Mr Flinto, could you please summarize to our readers your professional story?

My story begins back in 2001. I was an executive of Eni’s Brazilian subsidiary. Temporarily I took over the main sales management of Agip Brazil. I received complaints of irregularities involving conflicts of interests, internal corruption, fraud, and even emission of «cold invoices».

Please explain to our readers: What are «cold invoices»?

In this case, executives of my team have issued invoices in the name of large companies. But the fuel was sold at the gas stations of accomplices. Therefore the term «cold invoices».

These «cold invoices» ended up in CPI – Parliamentary Inquiry Commission of the State Legislative Assembly of Mato Grosso opening the way for a lawsuit for tax evasion.

Interview with Douglas Linares Flinto in his office at Brazilian Business Ethics Institute
Photo: Fabio Gomes

You reported this?

Yes, respecting the determinations of Eni’s Code of Ethics, I reported the misconducts and nonconformities with the words and spirit of the code. The company itselfs declares that this is the guideline for all the six-legged dog’s actions.

Sorry that I laugh. But what is a «six-legged dog»?

According to the website of Eni: The official interpretation, given by the Eni Press Office in the 50s, is that the six legs of this imaginary animal was the sum of a car’s four wheels and the two legs of its driver. A kind of modern centaur and an assurance that this mode of transport would reach its best performance through a symbiosis between man and machine.

Okay. Thank you. Please proceed.

I ended up getting fired. They said it happened due to an «administrative and organizational restructuring».

The millionaire scheme I reported had metastasized throughout the company, and in Agip Brazil’s backstage, the top management, in collusion, ran the illegalities and illegal activities practiced in Eni’s Brazilian subsidiary.

So I decided to write to the Board and to the company’s main shareholders, including to the main one, the Italian Government.

Didn’t you sign a contract that you will keep silent about all information concerning your business? This is usual today.

No. I was a former employee following the company’s Code of Ethics.

What happened next?

The resignations at Agip Brazil continued until it reached the commercial management. A few months later, Eni announced to the market the sale of all the Brazilian assets to the state oil company Petrobras, currently involved in the largest corruption scandal in Brazil.

However, no contact was ever made with me. Eni never answered any of my mails. After killing the whistleblower (me) in Brazil, the company tried to do the same thing to me in Italy.

Okay. That was the end of the story. You applied for another job and decided to focus on your life?

No. In 2010, Eni decided to file a civil action in the Court of Rome against me and the Brazilian Business Ethics Institute – an institution I founded in 2003 to promote Ethics in the business and student world – demanding an indemnity of 30 million Euros for damage caused.

Fortunately, in late 2014, the judge ruled Eni’s lawsuit as «groundless». The company didn’t accept my proposal agreement, but preferred to appeal to the sentence.

So there is your word against the word of Eni?

On March 17th of 2016, Andrea Greco, an economics journalist for the Italian journal La Repubblica (The Republic), in a partnership with Giuseppe Oddo, launched the book «The Parallel State: The first investigation on Eni».

These journalists did great investigation research about Eni. They interviewed former employees, experts, politicians and scholars. They narrate in this work that the chief executive of the Italian energy giant is more important than the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The biggest scandals and cases of corruption emerged in Eni.

In a book of this magnitude, there is a chapter dedicated to my country titled as «Bribes and suffering in Brazil». The authors highlight the Brazilian’s biggest corruption scandal involving the state-owned Petrobras as well as the payment of bribes by Saipem (Eni’s subsidiary).

Interview with Douglas Linares Flinto performing in front of an audience
Photo: Fabio Gomes

And they write about you in the book?

My story concerning Eni is part of this investigative book. This is a big victory for me.

What impact has this for the whistleblowers of the world?

It is also a victory to all the whistleblowers that are being silenced around the world by companies that don’t respect its own Code of Ethics.

I hope my story can be an example and motivation to other whistleblowers. Ethics should not be regarded to and used as a marketing tool. Unethical companies need to be unmasked to no longer harm its employees and their families.

How has this story changed your life?

I have always imagined I would make my career in the oil market. Now I am driving a civil society organization that promotes such an important and recurring topic, the Ethics. I was dismissed after serving a Code of Ethics. This motivated me to establish an institution to promote Ethics in the student world.

Students of today are the company leaders in future. Since the foundation I work as I have never worked before. I am happy and satisfied. I am sure I am on the right way.

Why are you not entitled to receive a pension?

In Brazil, companies deduct from its employees’ salary a percentage for a retirement. When Agip Brazil dismissed me I could not pay the amounts to the government for my future retirement. Today I am over 50 years old and I will not be entitled to a retirement paid by the government of my country.

How can you say that you have been put in the black list of all the companies operating in your country?

Everyone knows the black list exists. No one proves its existence. It is a veiled subject in the human resources department of companies around the world. I am certain the Eni Group put me on this black list to prevent me to get a new job. Every time a company receives a curriculum vitae it consults this list.

Is your professional story with Agip related to your decision to create the Brazilian Ethics Institute?

Well, Eni turned the employee who tried to protect the company into a participant in the scheme I reported. Would you hire an executive with these qualities? I have, modesty aside, an excellent curriculum. So the only way for me was to found the Brazillian Ethics Insitute and give my qualities a new home and direction.

Do you regret anything?

If I regret anything? No. I would do it all over again. Why? The answer is simple. Ethics is always worth it! And my fight against the Italian giant Eni continues.

Let’s shift to what happens today in Brazil. What is your opinion over the scandal related to Petrobras?

Petrobras and Eni are not formed only by corrupt employees. Most of its employees work with dedication and integrity in both companies. I am sorry that almost no one has the courage to face the illegal actions behind the scenes of the company. The Lava-Jato Operation completed two years of operation and is conducted jointly by United States’ FBI. It is changing all in Brazil.

Today the Brazilian population believes that corruption will not return again. I and the Brazilian Business Ethics Institute believe there will be a significant improvement in the quality of the companies operating in Brazil.

How do you think we can fight corruption in business? Are Codes of Ethics enough?

It is the people who give life to the companies. Companies need to invest in the character of its employees from the janitor to the CEO. The Code of Ethics should be the Highest Law in the company.

The Code of Ethics cannot be a book to meet the requirements of the stakeholders and investors. The Code of Ethics needs to be the bedside book of all the people within the company.

Interview with Douglas Linares Flinto
Photo: Fabio Gomes

The other side of this coin are the whistleblowers. They are not enemies of the companies. Whistleblowers are protectors of name, reputation and image. Every CEO prefers to take notice of all activities inside his company not from the newspapers but from employees.

Whistleblowers who should protect their companies are scared that their professional career is interrupted and that they loose their retirement.

With the exception of a few countries, such as the United States or England, there are no mechanisms to protect whistleblowers and they continue to be «killed» and «buried» around the world.

That’s the reason why the Brazilian Business Ethics Institute is already working on the creation and the launch of a «Global Platform of Protection to Whistleblowers» which will use the power of the Internet to try and end the number of «serial killer» companies.

Thank you so much for the interview

Instituto Brasileiro de Ética nos Negócios (Brazilian Business Ethics Institute)

www.eticanosnegocios.org.br

Lo Stato parallelo: La prima inchiesta sull’Eni tra politica, servizi segreti, scandali finanziari e nuove guerre. Da Mattei a Renzi

di Andrea Greco (Autore), Giuseppe Oddo (Autore)

Lo Stato Parallelo

http://www.amazon.it/Lo-Stato-parallelo-inchiesta-finanziari-ebook/dp/B01BVCTJWA