Thursday, January 20, 2011


Recent utterances by a lawyer-cum cabinet minister in the union government defending the culprits who caused the nation a whopping revenue loss of Rs 1,76 crore is nothing but a national shame and no honest citizen can swallow this nauseating action. Is it a reflection of the deteriorating moral fiber of the Indian Society at large as condoning or assuming an attitude of "hear no evil, talk no evil, see no evil", lest it will affect one's peace and tranquility? Or is it a situation where honest citizen has become helpless against those who are powerful and corrupt to the core? What choice the Indians have, as a part of the democratic system, to elect people or parties most of whom are considered corrupt? A sorry situation indeed!,

Here is a minister who disingenuously argues that the 2G scam did not cause any loss to the country while the matter is under judicial consideration and Parliament is paralyzed on the issue of forming a Joint Parliamentary Committee ( JPC) to probe the matter in its entirety! Besides the Parliament Accounts Committee is also seized of the matter. This raises the inevitable question as to what one understands by the term Loss or Profit in English Language. Typically loss means loss of money when some thing is sold at lesser than the real cost. But who decides about the real cost of the 2G Spectrum? That can be clear only when there is an open auction and highest bid will naturally coincide with the market value of the material. Since Comptroller And Auditor General (CAG) has made a computation based on certain criteria the value of loss must be reckoned as a reality and a minister with gift of the gab has no right to fool the people of this country by deft use of the beautiful language that is English. If this gentleman's view represents that of the GOI it raises many questions about the integrity of the very government supposed to be headed by a "clean" man!

Same applies to other scams and corruption cases involving purchase of Bofors Guns, organization of Common Wealth Games, Adarsh Kargilgate etc. Corruption is a dirty word used to describe extra payments to seek a favor and such favors can be conferred by only those enjoying power or a position to cause delay or to destruction of evidence or do some thing considered improper. Even an attender in a government office can earn an extra buck by denying entry to the office and the value of bribe grows exponentially with the extent of power the "babus" enjoy in creating inconvenience and road blocks to get some thing to be done for the citizen.

Think about the PDS which is supposed to provide the minimum food grain needs of the BPL population at heavily subsidized rates but the grains are hijacked to the open market, the pilferage being as high as 75% in some states. It is not that the GOI is not aware of this massive scam but very little has been done during the last 35 years, the merry go-around going on and on resulting in continuous loot of the national resources. While the states blame the Central government, the onus is put on the states for the mismanagement of the food gain distribution. Probably this scam also wil be justified saying that after all the food is not wasted, being consumed by Indians, though they may not be BPL category.

What about the Onion scam? Knowing pretty well that there could be some shortage of this crop because of untimely rains, the exporters were allowed to sell the material abroad while traders were allowed to hoard to create an artificial shortage! The result is there for all to see as the onion prices shot up by 400% suddenly on a "tearful" Monday in many places across the country, sending shock waves amongst the consumers who depend on onion for their day to day cooking of food preparations. Whether it is the food ministry or the commerce ministry or the consumer affairs ministry or the PM's Office, all were trying to pass the buck around without taking any responsibility for the heinous crime against the country. A senile ex-minister even had the temerity to comment that consumers should not raise too much noise if price of onion goes up by a few rupees! Under all these manipulations who made how much money has been forgotten under this scam.

Look at the systematic efforts going on during the last few years to undermine public sector enterprises in food production, processing and marketing like agro-industries corporations, cooperative industrial enterprises, the erstwhile Modern Foods and a score of others whose existence was justified for decades as social ventures. But under the economic liberalization regime many of them have been sold to private sector at low prices while many others were allowed to wither away slowly while serving the needs of a few politicians and bureaucrats for power and perks at the expense of the exchequer. It was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who pioneered the policy of creating public enterprises as a part of the socialistic pattern of government so that these would provide employment to millions of people and serve as a counter balance against uncontrolled profiteering by the private industry. Whether such transformation with too much emphasis on role of private sector in providing services to the citizen is driven by the large industrial giants and if so what was the quid pro in this change will never be known.

Nepotism is another form of corruption though the economic value of such activities is difficult to estimate. When some one who does not deserve some thing, gets the same because of some body's benevolence it is a case of nepotism and whether it is benevolence or a "business" involving financial considerations there cannot be any justification. Look at the recent appointment of CVC where a" tainted" bureaucrat was favored to act as a referee on corruption and since it is still under the judicial scrutiny of the Supreme Court, a value judgment is difficult to make. Similarly there are hundreds of such appointments made by the governments where those not qualified are catapulted into positions requiring special knowledge and sills. Take the case of FSSAI, a body vested with the power to protect the quality of food and ensure safety of the citizens from health hazards and can the GOI vouchsafe the suitability of the present incumbent to head the Authority? What are the considerations in choosing such an individual who does not know even the basics of food science or technology? One will never know!

What about Defense food purchases? Though it is well known that millions of rupees worth of foods are bought year after year obviously to feed the jawans fighting for the country and the quality is often compromised for financial considerations, no one seems to be unduly concerned. It is a lethal alliance between the favored supplier industry and the Defense purchase authorities that deprives the jawans of the much needed safe and healthy foods while guarding the borders from terrorists and foreign enemies. Though this is going on for decades no one seems to be too much bothered. It is refreshing to see the Defense authorities being summoned by the CAG recently to fix the responsibility and one can only hope that the CAG report on these irregularities in Defense purchases as and when it comes will not suffer the same fate as that on 2G scam. The present turbulence regarding black illegal money hoardings in foreign countries, about which the Supreme court is considering action, involves billions of rupees being slashed away in tax havens and secret bank accounts by those cheating the government of rightful taxes does not seem to be serious in prosecuting the fraudsters and traitors and recover the money lost due to tax evasion.

Is the corruption a monopoly of any political party? Close on the heels of the 2G loot comes the scams related to land and mining in Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Jharkand and other states costing billions of rupees to the exchequer. Obviously corruption is a trans-political phenomenon, spread across the entire political spectrum in the country. The old saying that one who puts his finger in a honey pot would always be tempted to lick the hand is apt to describe the behavior of those enjoying power to day. It is unfortunate that a few patriotic persons with public service motto who espouse the cause of the country are sidelined, harassed and humiliated when public campaigns are organized against those responsible for these scams. Is it the end of the tunnel for Indians who aspire to be part of a country with pride and decency amongst the comity of nations with financial scams, one after the other, making themselves a laughing stock of the world? Is there no hope that there could be a reversal of fortunes one day? Unless there are stringent systems to punish such scamsters expeditiously with onus to prove innocence on the accused under jurisprudence and exemplary punishment awarded to the guilty people and their families including capital punishment, not much can be expected under the present dispensation.


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