Home' Greymouth Star : January 4th 2016 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, January 4, 2016
We appreciate the value of the Letters to the Editor
column as a public forum for West Coasters and
welcome your opinion and suggestions.
Letters may be submitted by post, fax or e-mail and
must include your name, address, phone number
and — except for e-mails — your signature. Noms
de plume are not accepted.
Please keep your letters honest, respectful and
within 300 words. Letter writers will generally not
be published more often than weekly. The Editor
reserves the right to edit or not publish letters,
especially those that are offensive or too long.
Post to PO Box 3, Greymouth, fax to 768 6205 or
e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
uLetters to the editor
1688 - English mariner William Dampier
anchors near Cape l’Eveque on Western
Australia’s northwest coast.
1885 - Dr William Grant of Davenport,
Iowa, performs what is believed to be the first
1919 - Russian Bolsheviks capture Riga,
1923 - Lenin dictates a postscript
to his “Lenin’s Testament ” in which
he suggests Stalin is too rude to
be secretary-general and should be
1930 - Douglas Mawson
discovers what became known as
MacRobertson Land in Antarctica.
1936 - Billboard magazine in US prints first
popular music chart.
1951 - North Korean and Communist
Chinese forces take Seoul, Korea.
1958 - Sputnik I, world’s first artificial
satellite launched in October 1957 by the
Soviet Union, falls to earth.
1961 - Nationalist rebels attack Portuguese
military and civil targets in Luanda, Angola,
the opening shots in a 14-year colonial war.
1967 - Donald Campbell, British car and
speedboat racer, is killed on Coniston Water in
England during attempt to break world water
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
James Usher, Irish churchman-scholar
(1581-1656); Jacob Grimm, German author
(1785-1863); Louis Braille, French inventor
of reading system for the blind (1809-
1852); Sir Isaac Pitman, shorthand
inventor (1813-1897); “General
Tom Thumb” (Charles Sher wood
Stratton), US circus midget (1838-
1883); Sir William Deane, former
Australian governor-general (1931-);
Floyd Patterson, US world boxing
champion (1934-2006); Dyan
Cannon, US actress (1937-); Doc
Neeson, singer-songwriter of Australian band
The Angels (1947-2014); Michael Stipe, US
rock musician (1960-); Julia Ormond, British
“O ur civilisation is still in a middle stage,
no longer wholly guided by instinct, not yet
wholly guided by reason.” — Theodore Dreiser,
American author (1871-1945)
“As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock
when he is with them, so will I look after My
sheep. I will rescue them from all the places
where they were scattered on a day of clouds
and darkness.” — Ezekiel 34:12
In a dramatic and
a 35-year-old Otira
constable, John B
Bromell saved two young men from almost
certain death in the Otira Gorge yesterday
afternoon. After their car had crashed 200 feet
from the highway into the flood-fed waters of
the Otira River, constable Bromell brought the
two men to shore after they had been swept
200 yards downstream.
The two young Christchurch men, who are
still in a fair condition in the Greymouth
Hospital, owe their lives to the quick
mobilisation of emergency ser vices in Otira,
constable Bromell’s powerful swimming and
his experience in search and rescue and in
St John ambulance work.
Upwards of 100 tourists spent Saturday night
stranded in over 30 vehicles six miles south of
the Fox Glacier. They were caught between two
washouts on the Haast Pass highway late on
Saturday night. They could go neither for wards
nor backwards and were forced to sleep in their
cars and buses until the road was negotiable
again after 6 o’clock yesterday morning.
A Group Travel Christchurch coach, with 24
passengers including American and Australian
tourists, was caught up in the washouts and
theirs was not a very pleasant introduction
to the West Coast. The road was clear again
at 6.30 yeaterday morning, and the coach
continued to Fox, where pasengers were well
treated with hot soup and were able to rest.
A fortnight ago, Mr Frederick William
Archer, of Reefton, celebrated his 88th
birthday. On New Year’s Day he had the
experience of receiving a belated royal birthday
present, an MBE.
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
Greymouth Evening Star Co Limited
3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (office)
769 7913 (editorial)
768 6205 (fax)
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
n 2004, Khitish Kumar Pandey
took 10,000 rupees ($220) out
of his pension and put it into
a savings plan run by India’s
embattled Sahara conglomerate.
The Sahara agent told him his
money would triple in 10 years.
Sahara India Pariwar (family) had
become one of India’s most successful
companies over the past three decades
with this kind of financial alchemy,
turning tiny deposits into dreams for small
farmers, rickshaw pullers and food vendors
with little financial knowledge.
Pandey, a 78-year old resident of the east
Indian city of Patna, said the Sahara agent
promised him his money would grow to
roughly 30,000 rupees when the time
deposit matured in October of last year.
His investment documents contained a
sample illustration showing how a 10,000
rupees deposit would increase to 25,940
rupees over 10 years, or about 10% a year.
But when Pandey went to the Sahara
ranch to redeem his deposit, the office
told him he could have 15,000 rupees
immediately — if he agreed to transfer
the remaining 15,000 rupees he was owed
to Humara India Credit Co-operative
Society Ltd, Pandey said. He has so far
not accepted that offer.
Humara is a new Sahara fundraising
vehicle with operational ties to the
conglomerate, according to investor
documents and inter views with Sahara
agents in different parts of India.
“The agent sold me a dream then, and
now he has vanished,” Pandey, who said
he has gone to the Sahara branch office in
Patna, the State capital of Bihar, four times
over the past few months, said. “Every
time they send me back with one assurance
or another,” he said. “ We are completely
helpless. We don’t know who to approach
and how to get my money back.”
Sahara and its founder Subrata Roy
have been under scrutiny for years over its
financial products, including for possible
money laundering. O ver the past four
decades, Roy has built an empire from
his small deposit schemes that includes
overseas hotels such as New York’s Plaza
and London’s Grosvenor House, television
stations, a sprawling community resort
outside Mumbai, and a stake in a Formula
One racing team.
Over the years, Roy has had his picture
taken with the likes of Barack Obama
and Bill Clinton, David Cameron and the
Dalai Lama. But he has spent the last 21
months in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail for not
complying with a Supreme Court order
to return 360 billion rupees to investors
who put money in a 2008-11 Sahara time
The Supreme Court said the 2008-11
plan violated market disclosure regulations
on raising capital, including failure to file
a prospectus — a legal document that
provides details about a financial product
for investors — with the markets regulator.
Selling time deposit plans through
loosely regulated credit co-operatives is
not illegal in India.
Like Sahara’s now banned 2008-11
scheme, the new deposit plans are sold
through the group’s vast network of agents
across the country. They collect deposits
from investors for a fixed period of time
and promise to return the money at
interest rates higher than what banks offer.
In addition to hunting for new
customers, Sahara agents and branch
officials are also trying to get Pandey and
other investors in older Sahara savings
plans to switch into the new credit co-
operative schemes, according to inter views
with these investors.
Sajan Poovayya, who has litigated
corporate and commercial cases before
India’s Supreme Court and is a founder
of Bangalore-based law firm Poovayya
and Co, says Sahara could be violating
the law if it is forcing investors to convert
their maturing deposits into a credit co-
“The minute you actually breach
your obligation to pay me, and rather
than paying me force me to get into a
co-operative movement, that I think
erodes the very ethos of the co-operative
movement on one side and clearly, of
course, flouts the law because there is a
contractual violation in you not returning
Sahara did not respond to repeated
requests for comment.
Most of the nearly two dozen investors
in the old Sahara plans spoken to stopped
short of accusing the conglomerate of
forcing them to convert their plans. But
they said Sahara officials refused to allow
them to redeem their matured deposits
until they agreed to do so.
Savings certificates provided by investors
that showed the transfers. The agents
never make the requests in writing; it is
all verbal, the investors say. In at least one
case, the investor claimed her money had
been transferred from her old Sahara plan
to a new credit cooperative society despite
Most of the savings certificates that
investors showed make no mention of
either the maturity date or the interest
to be paid on maturity. Such omissions
violate Indian laws requiring companies
that run savings deposit plans to clearly
mention all the terms, Ramanand
Mundkur, managing partner of Mundkur
Law Partners, said.
A few certificates did state investors
could expect an interest rate of 10-15%
for a one-year deposit. That compares to
7-8.5% offered by commercial banks.
Vimal Kumar Sinha, the head of Sahara’s
Patna operations, said some recent Sahara
payments to customers were delayed
because of the difficulties the company
faced as a result of the Supreme Court
He declined to comment on individual
cases, such as Pandey’s. But, he said,
some Sahara agents were probably
coaxing investors to convert their savings
into another financial plan without the
company ’s knowledge.
Credit co-operatives are widely used by
India’s rural poor as an alternative bank.
Nearly two-fifths of India’s 1.27 billion
people lack a bank account — most of
them live in rural areas.
Sahara turned to credit co-operatives
mainly because of their relatively weak
oversight, according to current and former
senior Sahara employees, who said they
were briefed on the these financial plans
by Sahara’s senior management. Those that
operate across State lines are registered not
with the central bank but with the credit
co-operatives division at the Ministry of
The first of the Sahara credit co-
operatives, Sahara Credit Co-operative
Society Ltd, was set up in 2010, around the
time when India’s markets regulator started
investigating the Sahara bond scheme the
Supreme Court would later declare illegal.
Sahara has started three more credit
co-operatives since January 2014: Humara
India Credit Co-operative Society, Stars
Multipurpose Co-operative Society and
Saharayn E-Multipurpose Society.
The credit co-operatives division said
it had asked for an explanation from
Sahara Credit Co-operative Society after
receiving complaints of non-payment
from investors. The division said in a
letter sent in reply to a Reuters request
for information under India’s Right to
Information Act, that it had not received a
response from Sahara Credit Co-operative
Pressuring investors, such as Pandey, to
transfer their deposits from older Sahara
financial plans to a credit co-operative is
against regulations, a senior official at the
credit co-operatives division said when
told of the cases.
The official at the co-operatives division
was not aware that Sahara was operating
credit co-operatives, such as Humara
India, the co-operative Pandey and others
were asked to switch into. He said the
division does not have the resources or
punitive provisions to closely monitor
more than 1400 multi-State credit co-
operative societies across the country.
The Reser ve Bank of India (RBI),
the country’s central bank, said it was
scrutinising the rapid growth of credit
cooperatives, introduced in 1984 as a self-
help tool in rural areas where banks are
“ We are looking into it, particularly
multi-state credit cooperatives,” RBI
deputy governor S S Mundra said. The
RBI, he added, should oversee all deposit-
taking institutions, including the credit
co-operatives. He declined to comment
specifically about Sahara’s credit
While most credit co-operatives are
owned by their members, Sahara’s credit
co-operatives have operational links to the
conglomerate, according to investment
documents from Sahara’s customers and
data at the ministry of corporate affairs.
Sahara’s credit co-operatives —
Humara India Credit Co-operative,
Star Multipurpose and Saharayn — are
active in most Indian States, according to
documents obtained from the co-operative
division through the Right to Information
Investment certificates from those three
co-operatives either display a hologram
with the Sahara logo — featuring India’s
flag and the traditional hand-loom symbol
with the Sahara name written in small
letters — or show the Sahara name in the
Humara India and Saharayn did not
respond to requests for comment on their
links with Sahara.
Stars’ head office in southern Hyderabad
city is located in a building that also
houses other Sahara group firms including
its life insurance and asset management
unit. Ranga Charyulu, who introduced
himself as deputy manager at Stars, said
the co-operative society was not linked
to Sahara but was just leasing office space
from Sahara. He declined to give the
name and contact numbers of Stars’ chief
executive or provide any other details.
A visit paid to a Sahara branch in India’s
second-largest city of Kolkata showed
the Kolkata branch has a Humara India
sign at the entrance, flanked by banners
of Sahara-branded investment products,
such as Sahara Life Insurance and Sahara
When asked for more information about
Humara India, the receptionist directed
inquiries to Sahara’s head office in Kolkata,
the State capital of West Bengal.
As a private company tightly controlled
by Roy, Sahara’s finances are largely a
Sahara’s recent moves to raise fresh
money through co-operatives has increased
by $2 billion the total amount of money it
owes its investors when their plans mature,
according to two senior Sahara employees,
one of them a director in a credit co-
operative. The total has now grown to $7.5
billion — and included the $5.4 billion
the Supreme Court has ordered Sahara to
repay investors from the 2008-11 scheme,
the senior Sahara employees said.
This disclosure to Reuters contradicts
what the company has told the Supreme
Court: that it has already repaid 95% of its
roughly 30 million investors in the 2008-
Sahara is also struggling to pay its own
staff in the midst of its push to raise cash
through credit co-operatives. Employees
have staged public protests and agents
have quit over the issue.
“ It was always a one-man show at
Sahara,” Kundanlal Sahgal, a Sahara agent
in Patna who has stopped trying to sell the
new deposit schemes because he is being
badgered by people asking for their money
and because Sahara has stopped paying
him commissions, said.
“ Now that the man has gone to jail
everything has come to a standstill and
no one knows what will happen to the
investors or the agents like us,” Sahgal
said. — Reuters
Indian savers in dark over Sahara’s latest shadow banking
Awdesh Sonia, an agent who used to collect money from investors on behalf of Sahara, works inside his small office in Mumbai.
As the last boats sailed from Gallipoli,
there were some regrets.
Many Australian soldiers felt they had
not been defeated.
And in the days before departure, others
tidied the graves of their mates who would
ever after lie in the soil of what was then
an enemy nation.
The death toll was substantial — 8709
Australians, 2721 New Zealanders, 26,054
Britons, 1358 from India, 9787 French,
49 from Newfoundland and 86,700 Turks
defending their homeland.
For the Australians departing Gallipoli,
top priorities were some decent food, a
wash and sleep.
Soldiers staged through the island of
Lemnos and then returned to Egypt for
rest and retraining for what was ahead, for
many the Western Front.
Even before departing Australia in
1914, the soldiers and the politicians had
anticipated the new Australian Imperial
Force would go straight to France. On the
way, the Australians were sidetracked to
Inspired by Gallipoli, Australian men
had flocked to enlist and the AIF had
more than doubled from two to five
divisions, each containing three infantry
brigades of four battalions.
A battalion contained around 1000
soldiers, though as the war progressed
rising casualties meant some battalions
would fight with just a few hundred.
Battalions were recruited from distinct
geographical areas, so the soldiers knew
each other and their leaders from back
home. Throughout the war, soldiers
identified more strongly with their
battalion than with any other formation.
So, many were outraged when in early
1916 AIF commander General William
Birdwood ordered that each of the 1st and
2nd Division battalions, the veterans of
Gallipoli, be cut in half to create a cadre of
experienced soldiers for battalions for the
new 4th and 5th Divisions.
One soldier described this as like having
a limb amputated without anaesthetic.
There were predictable tensions between
veterans and the newcomers whose
delayed enlistment led to them being
termed “deep thinkers”.
In Britain, the new 3rd Division started
training its mostly raw recruits. It would
not be ready for operations in France until
the end of 1916.
From mid-March, the 1st and 2nd
Divisions headed into France, landing at
Marseilles and travelling north by train.
The 4th Division followed in June and the
5th Division in July.
That left the Australian and New
Zealand Mounted Division in Egypt,
formed in March 1916 from light horse
units which fought — dismounted — as
infantry on Gallipoli.
This unit initially defended the Suez
Canal against an anticipated Turkish
Operating on horseback turned out
to be a type of warfare at which they
excelled. They won a succession of battles,
culminating in the capture of Damascus in
In France, Germany had launched a
massive assault on the fortress city of
Verdun on February 21, 1916.
Little known to modern-day Australians,
this remains one of the most appalling
and costly battles in human history. It was
to last 303 days with perhaps a million
casualties. British historian Alistair Horne
wrote that after the first three months,
the battle seemed to have rid itself of all
human direction and taken on a life of its
No Australian troops fought at Verdun
but it was to have a profound influence on
Australia’s war in France.
With France sorely pressed, all Britain’s
Western Front strategy was directed
to easing pressure on their ally. So was
launched the Battle of the Somme on
July 1. Twenty thousand British soldiers
died on the first day alone.
Fortunately, the Australian corps had
initially gone to the so-called nursery
area of Armentieres to be introduced to
trench warfare and the front lines in the
comparatively quiet British-held Fleurbaix
After the hardships of Gallipoli, the
diggers found France most agreeable. Food
was plentiful, as was booze and female
company in the villages close behind the
But this was deceptive. Having fought
for eight months at Gallipoli, they thought
they were pretty good.
Australian War Memorial senior
historian Ashley Ekins said they really had
no clue about what was ahead.
“They were now going to see warfare
on the Western Front which was on an
utterly different scale,” he said.
“The Germans were a very effective
efficient fighting machine and the
Australians still had a lot to learn. ”
For this fighting, the Aussies were
issued with new kit — tin helmets, Lewis
light machine-guns and Mills hand
grenades, which were not available on
Their first actions, trench raids on
German lines, were nothing special,
incurring casualties for little gain.
German raids on Australian trenches
produced casualties at little cost to
By 1918, veteran Australian troops
were regarded as the best on the western
front, achieving a succession of notable
But that only came after brutal
experiences early in the war, none more
so than their first major battle, the
ill-conceived and poorly planned and
executed attack towards the village of
Fromelles on July 19, 1916.
This disaster produced 5533 Australian
casualties, against relatively modest
History might have headed in a different
direction had there been one particular
fatality among the German defenders,
then-27-year-old corporal Adolf Hitler.
What happened to the soldiers after Gallipoli
Links Archive December 31st 2015 January 5th 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page