Thursday, 28 May 2020

Resolving Crime And Corruption!

Updated: April 16, 2011 10:33 am

Once upon a time decades ago there was a Bofors scandal. It was a corruption case involving an Indian Prime Minister, a foreign Prime Minister, foreign businessmen, Indian middlemen and government officials. The case was never solved. The Indian PM was killed. The foreign PM was killed. The foreign businessman fled India. The main Indian middleman died. The CBI got tired and closed the case. The media got bored and stopped reporting the case. So while the case could not be solved it got resolved.

                There followed the anti-Sikh genocide case. Decades passed. Many relatives of the genocide victims pursuing justice died. The media got bored. The case was never solved. It got resolved. The media and the nation moved on to more pressing cases.

                There was the Jain Hawala case. It involved illegal funding of politicians and terrorists alike by the same foreign sources. The case was never solved. The court gave it up for insufficient evidence. Later the Chief Justice of India who heard it wanted the case to revive but to no avail. There were other more pressing cases. The case was never solved. It got resolved.

                There was the Koda mining scam. Thousands of crores were looted and stashed abroad. Years passed. The case has not been solved. It is getting resolved. The media started to forget it. It focused instead on the 2G spectrum scam.

                In the 2G scam thousands of crores were looted and stashed in foreign banks. The media took it up. But years have passed. The case hasn’t got solved. But it is getting resolved. Attention from it is beginning to fade away. There was another more pressing case to engage everybody’s attention. It was the Commonwealth Games (CWG) scam.


Few would deny that India is suffering from a silent and deadly crisis that shows little evidence of abating. The cancer of corruption has reached fatal proportions. The collapse of governance endangers democracy and the basic rule of law. The stage managed clashes in parliament between the government and the opposition destroy all hope of deliverance from this crisis by politicians. Across the board, politicians make the appropriate noises befitting their respective roles. But their actions betray full contentment with the status quo. They want above all to complete their full terms in the House. From where then might ordinary citizens expect deliverance?

                It is unrealistic, and also undesirable, to expect a population attuned to democratic elections to take to the streets and compel change. Change can come only from the elite that rule the nation. But from among the ruling elite the politicians undoubtedly comprise the worst segment. The better segments exist within the bureaucracy, the armed forces and the judiciary. Undoubtedly there are black sheep in all these three segments too. But the majority remains untainted. The fault of this majority lies mainly in playing a passive role and refusing to confront the few black sheeps that smirch the reputation of an entire institution.

                Well, things can change. Things are changing. Chief Justice of India , Justice Kapadia, is utilising all the constitutional powers at his command to initiate reform. Slowly but surely the efforts of the Supreme Court are bearing results. But those minimal results will not suffice. The time has come for the passive majority among the bureaucrats to also play their role. More and more bureaucrats are getting sick of the excesses committed by politicians. It is time for the honest among them who constitute the vast majority to take a stand. They need to remind themselves of what Jayaprakash Narain advised the officials of India to do. That advice was deliberately and shamelessly distorted by the Congress government led by Indira Gandhi to justify the illegal and treasonable imposition of Emergency.

                To oppose the corrupt acts of the Indira Gandhi government JP simply urged government officials to obey only legal orders of their superiors. He urged them to disobey all illegal orders. One believes that if that advice is taken to heart by the bulk of the honest officials who man the administration the nefarious designs of the corrupt political class will be thwarted. India would reclaim governance. Indian democracy would be reformed. Any illegal or improper orders by politicians should not be accepted by officials if issued orally. The officials must insist upon written orders. Illegal orders in writing should be at first refused. Subsequently if insisted upon by higher authority the orders must be followed only after recording explicit dissent on the files.

                If the vast majority of honest bureaucrats were to unite and follow this advice corruption would end and governance would be restored. One is aware that it would not be easy to follow this advice. Politicians could transfer officials, destabilise the education of their children, harass them in other ways, and even register false cases against them.

                Officials with family responsibility cannot easily take on their corrupt political masters. The venal political class that rules us is capable of anything. Nevertheless those who are honest would be sustained by inner conviction and courage if they make a firm resolve. To meet the crisis in India, sacrifice and courage are needed. The bureaucrats must summon such courage. India and history depend on them. If they act, India will achieve its unique version of the Jasmine Revolution.


In the CWG scam crores were looted by state ministers, central ministers, CWG organisers and government officials. The case is still receiving some attention. But it is beginning to fade. No major person has been convicted. The media is beginning to show signs of boredom. And there is a more pressing case to engage its attention. It is the Hasan Ali money laundering case.

                In the Hasan Ali case billions of US dollars have been stashed by Indians in illegal foreign bank accounts. The case is still being pursued. Three years have passed since the criminal evidence surfaced. But the main accused has still not been convicted although he is in police custody. It is not certain that this case too will be solved. But most certainly it will one day be resolved. Another more pressing case is bound to engage the public’s and media’s attention. When that happens, Hasan Ali may be forgotten. Already the Fake Pilot Case has started to overtake it. There are other unsolved scams too numerous to mention.

                And all this while, the establishment is obsessed with promoting commerce through cricket. Interspersed with triviality is the debate between the ruling and opposition parties in which protagonists score cheap shots against each other. One would like to call the level of the debate third-rate. In all honesty one cannot. It is distinctly fifth-rate.

                Time is a great healer. It heals the agony of the people and of the national media. Time helps everyone to forget. That is what journalism is all about. It focuses on the news of the day. Today’s news makes yesterday’s news redundant. But history is unlike journalism. It freezes events in time. It does not forget. It will recall one day the marvel of how the Indian nation could resolve crime or corruption without solving it. And our children’s children and their children will wonder and ask how our generation managed to achieve this. Let them ask. We will not have to answer. We will be dead and gone. Will democratic India remain alive? That is what all of us should start to seriously ponder.

By Rajinder Puri



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