Saturday, July 2nd, 2022 20:12:03

Corruption Scam And India’s Public Life

Updated: December 11, 2010 1:29 pm

It is raining scam in India at an alarming rate!!! Even as this article was being finalised an LIC housing loan scam has surfaced on November 24, 2010. With the arrest of senior officers of the LIC and several nationalised bank, it would indeed continue to dominate headlines for some time, but its real impact would be known only in days to come.

                Earlier, the 2G scam, with Dravida Munnetra Kazhgham’s (DMK) dalit face A Raja at the helm, has been quivering for a while and gases and lava have been flowing in the pubic domain even before its recent final eruption of this volcano. The Commonwealth Games (CWG) reeked of scam from word go and lid was off from the stinking can, when it appeared that the work would not get done even after the closing ceremony. It was quite a funny site with not only Delhi’s Chief Minister and Lt Governor moving around like municipal inspectors with broom and shovel, but also Union ministers and senior bureaucrats acting like construction supervisors. It is a different matter that even that could not prevent a foot over bridge from collapsing. Let us be sure that not only Kalmadi’s Darbari(s) (courtiers, pun intended), but even if Kalmadi’s own head rolls, not all the skeletons in the CWG cupboard would be out in the public domain.

                India’s adarsh (ideal) Army is looking to clear scam taint on its olive-greens in the Adarsh Society scam in Mumbai. Indeed, a few relatively smaller, though they too were big enough, had cropped in the past (the petroleum scam, various issues that cropped up during the Kargil operations, the Sukna land scam and so on), but the needle of suspicion was never on an ex-Army Chief. Even though the Maharashtra chief minister has lost his chair owing to the scam, we should recall that so had Lalu Yadav in the fodder scam!

                Lest we forget a rather ‘insignificant’ incident in India’s capital city, where a building collapse in not-so-fancy ‘trans-Yamuna’ locality consumed seventy poor lives. The chief ministerial bear hugs and announcements of compensatory doles in lakhs hide a huge scam that Delhi’s real estate is since the post-Independence expansions began in the early 1960s. We should better be reminded that many of the city leaders irrespective of party colours have a fistful of this lucrative pie.

                And, even as the BJP is crying scam in the Parliament, stalling rising India’s supreme legislature till the Congress and the UPA are sent packing lock, stock and barrel from the corridors of power from the Raisina Hill, one of its shining generals, the first to capture a southern citadel, BS Yeddyurappa of Karnataka was found doling out land pattas to his own family, kins and favourites (in that order). We must remember that he has been weathering the mining scam that the Reddy brothers have been charged with. The moralistic and moralising BJP has been unable to remove BSY from his throne. The implication of this deserves analysis not only from the perspective of the BJP, but also from the party system that holds the reigns of power in contemporary India.

                These indeed do not include a million mutinies of corruption and scam that our billion-plus country would be going through in its entire length and breadth on a minute-to-minute basis. Without projecting a dooms day scenario, we need to comprehend the gravity of this problem eating into the vitals of our system. The journey of India from corruption to scam has been a significant one and deserves a deep introspection by each one and everyone.

                Incidentally, what does the word ‘scam’ mean? It was neither a part of popular discourse, nor is it available in dictionaries half a century back. Dictionary-dot-com describes it of obscure origin, dates it in 1960-65, links it with betting in the US and gives its meaning as ‘a confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit; swindle’. Obviously, in half a decade the word has acquired the meaning of huge swindling of public money, the scale which corruption does not cover. It is noteworthy that in the past couple of decades, India has faced more cases of scams than of corruption. I would go a step further to suggest that corruption has ceased to be an issue in the days of scam. However, the journey of India from corruption to scam acquires significance, when four major scams are striking at the roots of the Indian democracy and fifth one is just unfolding with the prospect of grabbing headlines as 2010 draws curtains.

                In the age and time when we speak of scams running into thousands of crores, if not more, recounting the history of corruption in the country would be considered futile. It is nonetheless necessary here for three reasons. First, in order to see the journey from corruption to scam via criminalisation, the processes which are still on and make the situation alarming to say the least. Second, the role of political tolerance of this phenomenon even by taintless leaders in the name of efficiency that constructs an avoidable monster deserves a consideration. Third, corruption, popularly perceived as misuse of public office for private gains, is a criminal act and breeds criminality in public life that eventually brings in criminals in public and political spheres, a scourge that we have been debating for the past 25 years.

                Mahatma Gandhi’s lament at the corruption in the Congress governments during 1935-37 signaled early beginnings of honeymoon of power with pelf in India. Even as India was finding its feet as an independent nation, VK Krishna Menon, the person credited with unparalleled speech in the UN on Kashmir, was considered to be instrumental in jeep scandal as Indian High Commissioner in London in 1948. The jeeps purchased for the Indian Army’s for use during the Kashmir operations against the Pakistani-tribal invaders were substandard and were not delivered in time and in full. That the fiasco of the Indian Army during the China war in 1962, when Krishna Menon was the defence minister, in terms of absence of even the basic requirements of the army was an extension of the jeep scam did not deter Nehru from defending him. Indeed no finger could ever be raised at Nehru, but he agreed to Krishna Menon’s exit from the Union Cabinet only when the Congress party put its foot down. Similarly, another of Nehru’s favourite, Punjab chief minister Pratap Singh Kairon, was surrounded in controversy. He finally resigned after Nehru’s death in 1964 after being indicted by Das Commission. He was assassinated a year later while travelling from New Delhi to Chandigarh after meeting prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, an incident which in retrospect was an early reflection of how corruption links with criminality. Autobiography of a Kairon minister gives details of how he used people with criminal antecedents to protect his domain.


              CORRUPTION AND DALIT POLITICS


“Is there one justice for Sudras, and another one for Brahmins, who develop their belly without performing any work? In Tamil Nadu, there is no rebirth for ‘Manu Dharma’ which advocates one justice for self and another one for Sudras”. These were the golden words uttered by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi in defence of spectrum killer Raja, in the aftermath of CAG reports, which confirmed the killing.

                On November 14, after the resignation of Raja, Karunanidhi, exhibiting his passion for Democracy said, “We have asked Raja to resign only to allow the functioning of parliament which we consider as the mother of democracy in India”. He didn’t stop with that! Showing his concern and love for Dalit community, he said, “The stalling of parliamentary proceedings during the last one year was part of a pre-planned effort to get the ouster of Raja, a Dalit who had totally dedicated himself to the cause espoused by leaders like Dr BR Ambedkar. Raja is my affectionate brother.”

                Earlier in May 2010 too, Karunanidhi played his usual “Dalit Card” to defend Raja. He said, “Raja is a Dalit. That is why dominant forces are levelling malicious charges against him.”

                To remind the readers, way back in November 2008 too, Karunanidhi said, “Raja is being attacked for he is a Dalit!”.

                This is the emblematic ‘Dravidian’ politics, which has been going on for more than six decades in Tamil Nadu. And Karunanidhi is adept in playing it!

                The Dravidian Racist leaders always have three “Aces” up their sleeves! Aryan-Invasion Theory, distorted Manu Dharma and Brahminical Oppression of Dalits, that is, Dravidian Card, Sudra Card and Dalit Card! The “Fourth Ace”, which invariably turns out to be their “Trump Card” is Social Justice Card! They always claim that their actions have the sole objective of “Social Justice” and consistently their actions are of dubious nature. It is law of nature that dubious actions have devious objectives.

                For the Dravidian leaders, self-interest is the sole objective. Holding the “Four Aces” they always win, for they play in the name of social justice. In due course of the game, while they emerge as winners, the Tamil people end up as “Jokers in the Pack”! The tragedy is Dalits are played as “Discards” in this game of cards.

                The Dravidian Movement was built on the foundation of “Anti-Brahminism”, which was a mixture of Aryan-Invasion Theory, distortion of Manu Dharma and the myth of Dalit oppression by Brahmins. But in the history of Tamil Nadu, the Dalits have never had issues with Brahmins and it was always the BCs and OBCs, who indulged in unbridled oppression against Dalits. Many instances of caste wars between OBCs/BCs/MBCs and Dalits, violence committed by OBCs/BCs against Dalits are recorded in the history.

                The Dravidian Parties have never promoted Dalit leadership and the Justice Party, which spearheaded the Dravidian Movement, was full of OBC leadership, who were rajas, zamindars, landlords, businessmen and financiers. They had hatred towards the oppressed classes and discriminated against them.

                Writer Subbu in his hot selling Tamil Book Dravidian Maya (Trisakthi Publications, Chennai) writes, “Sir PT Thiyagarayar, President of Justice Party, which was pioneer for the Dravidian organizations, requested the government to settle the oppressed classes outside the Madras city limits. MC Raja, who was the leader of the oppressed classes then, had protested against Sir PT Thiyagarayar.”

                Subbu quotes another incident – Smt Sathyavanimuthu, a Scheduled Caste leader and politician, while speaking at the ‘Untouchability Eradication Conference’ at the ‘Periyar Thidal’ (Periyar grounds), told EV Ramasamy, “Your speech has empowered only those reformed cadres, who are sitting in front of you wearing black shirts. Brahmins never give any trouble to the oppressed classes. Information is that only the non-Brahmins cause sufferings to the oppressed classes.”

                As Mr Karunanidhi has played the Dalit Card to defend spectrum killer Raja and attempted to project him as a Dalit icon ala Dr Ambedkar, it is imperative to know how Dalits are treated in Karunanidhi’s administration. Here is an apt example:

                Mr Janarthanan now serves as a special sub collector of Kanyakumari district. He belongs to a scheduled caste listed in the constitutional order. On March 18, 2008, the ruling DMK organised a function to mark the distribution of free colour television sets in Nagercoil. DMK minister Suresh Rajan wanted to include the names of a few people in the list of beneficiaries. But, the sub collector refused to comply. Angered minister insulted him by calling his caste name. Mr Sheik Dawood, who was the personal assistant to the minister, assaulted the sub collector. This incident happened right in front of the general public. (Page-19, Dravidian Maya, Author Subbu, Trisakthi Publications).

                In May 2002, two dalits were forced to eat human excreta by DMK functionaries in Thinniyam village in Tiruchi district. In September 2002, in Kaundampatti village in Dindukkal district, a dalit agricultural worker was forced to drink urine for having lodged a complaint of trespass with the police against a person from a dominant caste.

                Karunanidhi had said that Raja had totally dedicated himself to the cause espoused by leaders like Dr BR Ambedkar. While his contribution to the society in general and Dalit community in particular was absolutely nothing, his contribution to the party was immense, especially during the 2009 parliament elections, thanks to the Spectrum loot, which had allegedly played a vital role in “taking care” of the electorate resulting in DMK-Congress combine’s victory. That was the main reason why DMK exerted pressure on the Congress to continue with Raja as the Telecom Minister in UPA’s second term also. The Nira Radia Tapes have exposed the DMK shenanigans and the Dalit icon Raja’s Machiavellian agenda.

                The readers should not jump to conclusion that the nation’s wealth would not have been looted had the ministry gone to Dayanidhi Maran. Otherwise, why should Dayanidhi Maran lobby himself for the Telecom portfolio, or, why should he force the Prime Minister to remove the particular clause regarding “Pricing” from the Terms of Reference of the EGOM in 2006? What explanation does he have for the Rs 600 crore he allegedly gave to Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal, as exposed by Nira Radia Tapes?

                The events, which have unfolded and are still unfolding give a clear picture that the Dalit icon Raja had totally dedicated himself, not for the cause espoused by Dr Ambedkar, but only for the cause espoused by Karunanidhi and his third family, as exposed again by Nira Radia Tapes.

                By his statement on Raja, Karunanidhi has insulted Dr Ambedkar and the entire Dalit community. For Dravidian Leaders, politics is a game of cards, where Dalits are used as “Jokers” and “Discards”, and Social Justice is a game of Chess, where Dalits are used as “Pawns”. When compared with the magnificent contribution of Dr Ambedkar to Mother India, the contribution of Dravidian icons like Annadurai and EV Ramasami are not even peanuts. While Karunanidhi, Jayalalitha and their ilk use Annadurai and EVR as “Aces”, they use Ambedkar as “Joker” to declare themselves as winners in the political game of cards. After causing a permanent injury to Dr Ambedkar by reducing him to the level of EVR and Annadurai, an insult is added to the injury now by equating him with the Spectrum Killer.

                A Raja is the latest addition to the list of Dalit politicians, who served the cause espoused by the OBC Dravidian leaders. A Dalit politician need not join any Dravidian party, either to indulge in corruption or to serve the cause espoused by Dravidian leaders like Karunanidhi or Jayalalitha. He can accomplish both even by staying out. The best and apt example is Thirumavalavan, President of VCK (Viduthalai Chriuththaigal Katchi). His party’s Motto is “refuse (to submit), transgress; rise (from shackles), return (the blow)” (Adanga Maru; Aththu Meeru; Thimiri Ezhu, Thiruppi Adi), which is nothing but a straight call for violence. As implied by their motto, the party cadres quite often indulge in violence and hooliganism.

                Thirumavalavan, a self-styled Dalit leader, was brought into the limelight in the nineties by the Late Congressman GK Moopanar, who revolted against former prime minister Narasimha Rao’s alliance with Jayalalitha and started his own Tamil Manila Congress. Since then, Thiruma has been having alliance either with Karuna or Jaya and in the bargain his fortunes have been on the rise and now his party functionaries are roaming around the state in Tatas and Toyotas, while their followers are still struggling to make ends meet. Following the footsteps of his Dravidian Masters, Thirumavalavan also distorts Dr Ambedkar’s writings, speeches and opinions and deliberately misleads his followers, thereby helping the Dravidian parties. For example, it is a well-known fact that Dr Ambedkar never supported the Aryan Invasion Theory, but Thiruma keeps peddling it along with his Dravidian racist counterparts to cheat the masses.

                Thiruma is not only skilful in cajoling the Dravidian leaders, but he also has a unique knack of flirting around with the leaders of minority (Muslim and Christian) communities. Though Dr Ambedkar’s advocacy for Buddhism is well known, Thiruma on the one hand rejects it and on the other hand tacitly encourages his party cadres to convert to Christianity and Islam. He has a penchant for fighting for the causes of Muslims and Christians even at the cost of Dalit causes. At a time when Hindu Dalits were being persecuted by Christian Vanniyars in the district of Dindukkal, he was fighting for Muslims in Vellore district.

                In January 2010, a Hindu Dalit by name Andi was murdered by Christian Vanniyars while he was celebrating Pongal in an Amman Temple in Perumalkovilpatti village, in Dindukkal. At about the same time in January 2010, another Hindu Dalit Sadaiyandi was attacked and human excreta were thrust inside his mouth by Christian Vanniars in Meikovilpatti village near Dindukkal. Thirumavalavan didn’t even bother to visit the villages, but went to Vellore on January 20, 2010 and fought for Muslims’ entry into an unused mosque inside the fort, which is under the control of ASI.

                In another place called Eraiyur in Villupuram district, Christian Vanniars

were discriminating against Dalit converts for years. Here again Thirumavalavan didn’t act in support of his community, though he maintains a good relationship with Christian Clergy and Church leaders. In Kanthampatty village near Omalur, Salem district, Hindu Vanniars have been refusing entry for Hindu dalits inside the Draupathi Amman Temple for years. Thirumavalavan despite being closely acquainted with Vanniar leader and PMK (Pattali Makkal Katchi) Founder Dr Ramadoss, didn’t bother to solve the problem there.

                Though he claims to work for Dalit causes, in reality he has done literally nothing for the community, which he represents. His party is allegedly funded by minority organisations, which throws light on his proximity with those leaders, his fighting for their causes and his tacit help for conversions. The sudden rise of Thirumavalavan in just over a decade shows, a politician need not be in power to get his fortunes increased and necessarily need not work for the causes espoused by Dr Ambedkar to attain the “status” of Dalit icon.

                Karunanidhi, a great stalwart and experienced politician, cleverly uses Thiruma as a “pawn” in his cold war against Congress. Recently, when some of the local Congress leaders went hammer and tongs against DMK regime, Karuna induced Thiruma to talk against Congress and Thiruma not only obeyed it by giving an interview to a weekly magazine, but also went to the extent of inducing his cadres to desecrate Rajiv Gandhi’s statue. But when matters turned for the worse, he brazenly wrote an apologetic letter to Sonia confirming his “respect and admiration” for Nehru family, though he had spared nothing to take on Congress at every meet in support of LTTE earlier. And Thiruma doesn’t feel shy of being used by Karuna as long as his personal interests are served.

                Tamil Nadu has another self styled Dalit leader Dr Krishnasamy, president of Puthiya Thamizhagam, who does nothing for the community. Though he doesn’t have as much a following as Thirumavalavan, he too functions in a similar way, hobnobbing with Dravidian parties and flirting with minority leaders.

                Tamil Nadu has witnessed truly great Dalit leaders genuinely working for the poor and the downtrodden. true nationalists silently remembered the great Congressman, freedom fighter and Dalit leader Kakkan, who served as a member of the constituent assembly of India, member of parliament, president of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee and in various ministerial posts in Congress governments in the erstwhile Madras State between 1957 and 1967. Immediately after retirement, Kakkanji traveled by bus and during his final years, he was seen lying on the floor of a hospital in Madurai like an orphan with no one nearby to attend to him. When he died, he had zero assets! When he was alive, he had worked for the education of untouchables and fought for the entry of Dalits in temples. He was encouraged, motivated and supported by Vaidyanatha Iyer, who led the Dalits into the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple and Rajaji passed an ordinance for the temple entry of Dalits, when he was the chief minister of the erstwhile Madras province.

                The Congress party, even while celebrating his birth centenary in June (delayed by a year), exposed only the factionalism within, and the sycophancy on Nehru family, but not an iota of respect to Kakkanji. Neither Thiruma nor Krishnasamy, nor any of the Dravidian leaders remembered him. The Dravidian government, which spent huge amount of taxpayers’ money for the celebration of centenaries of Dravidian racist icons such as EVR and Annadurai, didn’t spend even a fraction of it to observe the centenary of this great Dalit icon, who genuinely toiled for their upliftment.

                Apart from Kakkanji (1908- 1981), the state had witnessed an array of dalit leaders such as Pandit Ayothidasar (1845-1914), Rettaimalai Srinivasan (1860-1945), MC Raja (1883-1945) and N Sivaraj (1892-1964) and many others, who truly fought for the empowerment of oppressed classes and did yeomen service for dalit causes.

                After Independence both the Indian National Congress and the Dravidian Parties, have forgotten all these icons even while they were using Dr Ambedkar’s name only to dupe the gullible masses. The dalit politicians, who associated themselves with these political parties, were all self-centered and they took care of only their personal and family interests. None of them bothered to espouse the dalit causes.

                Tamil Nadu has been under the clutches of the two major Dravidian parties alternatively since 1967. The state still has hundreds of worshipping places refusing entry to dalits, hundreds of manual scavengers, scores of caste walls separating dalits and OBCs/BCs/MBCs, two-tumbler system in hundreds of tea shops, separate burial grounds for dalits and refusal of entry even in saloons!

In certain villages, the dalits are not allowed to walk on the public road, wear chappals, ride bicycles, wear dhotis folded, wear towels on shoulders, use common wells and get clothes washed or ironed. Laundaries have separate almirahs for dalits! But the Chief Minister is talking of the disgraced Raja dedicating himself for espousing the cause of dalit prajas.

                Karunanidhi has only used Raja as a pawn in typical Dravidian style. While the Dynasties have been hugely benefitted, the dalit king is likely to end up as a scapegoat. The dalits of this country must realise that they need only Ambedkars and Kakkans and not Rajas and Thirumas. Will they?

 By BR Haran from Chennai


The Mudgal affair, the precursor of modern day cash-for-questions in Parliament, rocked independent India’s political life in 1951. HG Mudgal had to resign his parliamentary seat. The Haridas Mundhra-LIC deal in 1957-58 unearthed by Feroze Gandhi was close to scams we are talking about. It consumed the then finance minister TT Krishanamchari, who indeed returned back to the Union Cabinet a few years later.

                Not surprisingly, AD Gorwala Committee appointed by the Planning Commission in 1950 said in its report:

                The deviation from moral standards of ministers, legislators and administrators takes various forms. These can be classified under three main heads: corruption, patronage (based on communalism, sectarianism, nepotism and favouritism) and influence. Whatever the form, there can be no doubt that it vitiates policy, weakens administration and undermines public confidence.

                Santhanam Committee report in 1964 said, “We heard from all sides that corruption has, in recent years, spread even to those levels of administration from which it was conspicuously absent in the past. We wish we could confidently and without reservation assert that at the political level, ministers, legislators, party officials were free from this malady.” Though expressing doubt if these ‘allegations’ were true, the committee stressed the significance of popular impression. The history should remind us the significance of both the impression and reality.

                The Supreme Court of India raising fingers at Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh for ignoring reports of scam by his cabinet colleague, is in this genre of impression and really carrying on an illicit alliance. Clearly, at one sweep this scam casts its nefarious shadow at three offices—aside from on an individual minister’s office, collective responsibility that a cabinet government signifies and the primus inter pares status that the office of Prime Minister enjoys—are under shadow because of indiscretion of one person.

                Raja belongs to the dominant regional party of Tamilnadu DMK that has been a partner in the Union government continuously since 1996. The contemporary political discourse in India has focused on coalition dharma and on most occasions charged the nodal national party with defying the tenets and practice for its own aggrandizement. The DMK has not only attempted to corner a position on the Raisina Hill with a winning combination, it has obviously used the opportunity to fill in party coffers. Why should the party stand by a person against whom charges of scam have been flying thick and high for over a year? In fact this incident as well as the one in Karnataka highlights that even while a party may raise decibels of its shouts against a ‘ruling party’ on corruption and scams, most parties are in bare elements in this political hamam and they ably supported by the bureaucracy at the highest levels. Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party are silent on the issue, but neither Mayawati nor Mulayam Singh Yadav has escaped the corruption and criminalisation taint. The global corruption watchdog NGO Transparency International has created a Global Corruption Barometer based on a global survey. This barometer rates political parties as the most-corrupt institution worldwide, for they lack institutional transparency. Indeed, the Indian parties are not exceptions.


               POWER, CORRUPTION & LIES


Corruption has become the reigning deity in India. There are temples raised to all kinds of Gods, some well known, some obscure and some eerie. However, the god of corruption by which most politicians and a large number of bureaucrats, live and thrive, is officially unacknowledged. Gone are the days, when Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel wrote in his advice to the Secretaries to the Government of India, as under; “Today my Secretary can write a note opposed to my views. I have given that freedom to all my Secretaries. I have told them, ‘If you do not give your honest opinion for fear that it will displease your minister, please then you had better go. I will never be displeased over a frank expression of opinion.”

                The present governance has become a Thali Culture, where the bureaucrats are expected to anticipate both, overt and covert wishes and prepare notes for the orders of the political bosses accordingly. If they do not follow the implied and unspoken wishes, out they go to the jobless jobs, which have been specifically earmarked for those, who do not toe their line.

                Instead of taking any action on any serious issue, the standard ploy is to set up an inquiry committee or an inquiry commission to discover as to why a particular incident happened, when the causes are well known and sometimes, months if not years in advance. It is equally applicable to Commonwealth Games, Adarsh Housing or 2G Scam. If a hall of shame were to be set up, in the national and state capital, probably it will have to be the biggest building in such places.

                In the season of swindles, inducement, enticement, kickbacks and scams, a study by an international watchdog on the illicit flight of money from the country, perhaps the first-ever attempt at shedding light on a subject steeped in secrecy concludes that India has been drained of $462 billion (Rs 20,556,848,000,000 or over Rs 20 lakh crore) between 1948 and 2008.

The amount is nearly 40 per cent of India’s gross domestic product, and nearly 12 times the size of the estimated loss to the government because of the 2G spectrum scam.

                According to it, illicit financial outflow from India has been growing at 11.5 per cent per year. Nearly 50 per cent of the total illegal outflows occurred since 1991. Around a third of the money exited the country between 2000 and 2008. The study reveals as to reforms seem to have accelerated the transfer of black money abroad.

                Since the days of one party rule are over, the governments, at least at the central government survive on the support of coalition partners. A new terms has been coined as coalition dharma, in which the departments given to coalition partners, have been literally converted into the fiefdoms and almost independent empires. It is more so, if they have a sizeable number as their members, capable of bringing down the government. It is the duty of the major party to stand for good governance, rather than allow it to be blackmailed by the regional parties, for the sake of staying in power. Of course, this requires a fine adjustment, but the ruling party should know that if it wants to be in power so do its coalition partners.

                If CAG is to be believed the government suffered a loss of 1.70 lakh crore in the auction of 2G spectrum in 2008 based on 2001 prices. In fact, it is reported that the Telecommunication Minister not only ignored the advice of the Law and Finance Ministry, but also of the Prime Minister’s Office, in favouring ineligible selected firms, and in advancing the cut off date of receipt of application. The CAG has pointed out, that “13 applicants were even ready with demand drafts, drawn on dates, prior to the notification of the cut off date. Evidently, these applicants had advance information about the issue of this notification by DoT, which enabled them to take appropriate advance action to draw the DDs and prepare other relevant documents for complying with Letter of Intent conditions.

                What was the motivation behind this kind of action, whether it was for love or money or in good faith is anybody’s guess? With the Telecommunication Minister gone, The TRAI, which was like a wet cat, has now written to the Telecommunication Department asking it to cancel 62 licences given to five companies.

                Rules and laws exist. But, most people charged with its enforcement have converted the enforcement into a gold mine of their own. Otherwise, how do you explain that death of 70 person and over three hundred in the illegal buildings collapse in Delhi in November, 2010.

                To cover up, Delhi government appointed a one-member judicial commission to probe the incident “in view of the scale of the mishap, the large number of casualties and the number of complex issues connected with the incident”. This is an executive function and using commissions and committees has become a standard ploy to assuage pubic outrage for the time being till the next equally or a more serious incident occurs. Incidentally, such commission are not investigators nor are they court of law, which can punish anybody. They want affidavits to be filed and then dissect the same and give their reports.

                Surely you do not need any commission to tell you, whether the building was approved or not or whether its structure could take a large number of stories. What has happened to the commissions set up since Independence, or their recommendations nobody knows.

                Another glib talk is that the matter is being investigated by the CBI. Incidentally, no political party has agreed to confer a constitutional status on CBI, like that of the CAG or Election Commission. Cases have to be referred to the CBI and then afterwards government sanction is required to prosecute anybody for any legal infringement. CBI becomes a whipping boy and a shield, as may be deemed fit by the government.

                It is not that we lack rules, It is because the Governments lack the will and follows the policy of willing to strike, but afraid to wound. Slick talk and talk of zero tolerance to corruption is nothing more than a zero, unless followed up by action. Politicians know it well that a dog is not considered a good dog, because it is good barker. Similarly, a man is not considered a good man and good ruler, because he is a good talker.

                Happy New Year, 2011, May It see the fulfiment of all your cherished desires.

By Joginder Singh

The writer is former Director, CBI


Raja is a dalit. So is Mayawati. Whenever questions on her integrity has been raised, be it the Taj corridor or statues and parks for dalit icons, including herself, the scholars of inclusionary politics have described it as attack on a leader of stigmatised communities. In the age of scam-a-day India needs to debate if it is proper to talk of relative integrity. Also, if it is proper to argue of the leadership and elites of stigmatised communities be permitted a ‘positive discrimination’ in this area too.

                The demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) has been stalling parliamentary proceedings for days now. Generally, stalling and disruptions of proceedings is not new to the functioning of the Indian Parliament for the past few years. However, the Indian parties ought to take a more introspective view of both this strategy as well as a JPC’s utility. The JPC on the Bofors gun did not lead punishing of the guilty. Would it serve any purpose in this case?

                Even as the results of Bihar elections pour in, a list bahubalis (musclemen) themselves or proxied by their wives is prominently displayed. Ever since the Vohra Committee unraveled the nexus between politics and crime in India, the debate has not ceased but no transparent mechanism has been created to check this. The Election Commission of India has creditably made it mandatory to declare probity by candidates. A declaration of First Information Report registered against candidates and elected representatives at various levels of governance has been unable to check entry of criminally-inclined candidates. The parties too give weightage to winnability. Whether such ‘politicians’ contribute to the party coffers is a moot point, many of them adorning ministerial offices not only add to corruption and scams, they also create serious systemic distortions that lead to such immoral acts.

                Soon after the CWG India slipped three positions in the Corruption Perception Index of the Transparency International to occupy 87th position with four other countries, which are not quite distinguished company. Obviously, India has experimented with watchdog ombudsman institutions such as Lok Pal and Lok Ayukta. However, these could not be institutionalised. It is worrisome that the recent appointment of Chief Vigilance Commissioner has come under controversy. The person selected and now occupying the office allegedly has several corruption-related skeletons in his cupboard. Aside from creating credible institutions, India needs to focus on its institutions and strengthen them from the perspective that any deviation from an established norm by anyone is corruption and it must not go unpunished.

 By Ajay K Mehra

The writer is Director (Honorary), Centre for Public Affairs, Noida

 

 

 

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