Modi must expedite action on corruption
by G B Reddy on 23 Jul 2017 2 Comments
Contrary to the opinion of pollsters and pundits, people overwhelmingly voted in favor of the Modi-led BJP in the 2014 elections in the hope of redemption from the gargantuan menace of corruption. Yet even after three years of rule, not a single “Corruption Tiger” has been sent behind bars. This puts Modi’s credibility at stake, despite his demonetisation and GST Act initiatives. 


It is never too late it is to learn from the wisdom of past luminaries. Some credit George Bernard Shaw with the reflection: “Politics is the last resort of scoundrels”. The question to ponder over is simple.


Surely, it is unfair to expect ‘scoundrels’ to turn into angels overnight on being elected to represent people through murky electoral processes in the name of democracy. Such is the grim reality. This brings us to another reflection by G.B. Shaw, “there are no morals in politics, only expedience.”


India’s national security continues to reel under grave threats from a wide range of scoundrels with known criminal credentials elected to represent various constituents at all levels. There is no need for external adversaries to spell doom to the nation. 0


Think of eminences such as Lalu Prasad, RJD supremo and former Chief Minister; his wife Rabri Devi, also a former Chief Minister; son Tejaswi Yadav, currently Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar; and daughter Misa Bharti, Member of Parliament, and her husband Shailesh Kumar.


All of them are under investigation in separate cases registered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the income tax (I-T) department.


On 7 July 2017, the CBI registered a case against Prasad, Rabri Devi and Tejaswi Yadav for alleged irregularities in a deal dating back to 2006, when Prasad was railway minister.


Tejaswi Yadav has dubbed the charges of corruption levelled against him as a “conspiracy and political vendetta” hatched by the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo.


Tejaswi has given absurd and bizarre justifications to prove his innocence: “I did not even have a mustache. How can a boy of 13 or 14 years do all this?” Tejaswi became Deputy Chief Minister at 26 years of age, but feigns ignorance of the murky deals carried out in his name after he became eligible to exercise his vote.


Misa Bharti and her husband Shailesh Kumar are under scrutiny by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with a Rs 8,000/- crore money laundering case.


Look for one leader or family involved in alleged corruption and one can find many political colleagues in the same boat.


The courts have established a prima facie case against Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi for culpability in the alleged criminal misappropriation of assets that belonged to myriad shareholders, using money belonging to the Congress party, in the National Herald case.


Mercifully, the trial of A. Raja, M.K. Kanimozhi, MP (both DMK), and 15 others including bureaucrats and businessmen in the 2G spectrum scam has reached the last stage after five years; the special CBI court is likely to give its verdict within the next three months or so.


Other “Big League” names include Suresh Kalmadi and then Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in the Commonwealth Games Scam; Vijaya Mallya; Subrato Roy of Sahara; Lalit Modi in the Indian Premier League scam, and all those who colluded with them. Even religious places have been turned into ‘dens’ of corruption and harbor criminals and terrorists.


Currently, the Sasikala jail bribery scam and Blind X-Ray Machines at the airports are making headlines.


Suffice it to say that the list of corruption cases is a long one. If one adds the number of scams at States, districts and even panchayat levels, the cumulative impact on India’s national security will be horrendous.


Unfortunately, the “laws of the land” permits scamsters to delay the final verdicts beyond their lifetimes. Note that the final verdict on the Bofors accused is yet to be delivered. 


The law permits accused to appeal against the CBI Courts verdicts in higher courts and this makes a mockery of the “due process of law”.


N Ram, former editor-in-chief of The Hindu and Frontline, drawing on the experience gained in investigating the Bofors Scam, has highlighted the hopelessness and the helplessness of the intractability of corruption, its pervasiveness, omnipresence and multifariousness, in India.  He now recognises that “combating corruption is decidedly a challenge of the here and now”.


The foundations of corruption were laid immediately after independence. Recall the “Jeep Scandal” involving late V.K. Krishna Menon in 1948, Mundhra Scandal and Cycle Import scandal in 1951; BHU funds misappropriation in 1956; Teja loan scandal in 1960; Pratap Singh Kairon scandal in 1964; Kalinga Tube scandal in 1965; Nagarwala scandal in 1971; and Maruti scandal in 1974. The list is endless. Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi presided over the governments in which these scandals occurred.


Experts claim that the “command economy and License Permit Raj” heralded or set the rapid pace of corruption. But the post-1991 era of economic liberalisation only accelerated its spread exponentially.


The Tehelka exposé showed politicians, bureaucrats and senior military officers accepting money to influence a fictitious arms deal. While this took place during the tenure of the BJP-led government, the nation still awaits closure on the corruption scandal in the purchase of the Bofors howitzers from Sweden during Rajiv Gandhi’s rule.


The UPA regime, after 2004, allowed corruption to explode.  The 2G scam, Satyam SCAM, Commonwealth Games scam, Coal scam, Chopper Scam, Tatra Trucks scam, Adarsh Housing Society scam, are some of the ‘big ticket’ ones. Add to them the Bihar fodder scam; Kerala solar scam; Vyapam scam; Food Adulteration in India; Barak Missile scam; BSNL Telephone line scam; Iron Ore mining scam; sand mining scam; and so on.


Since I.K. Gujral, almost every Prime Minister has been sermonizing from the ramparts of the Red Fort on Independence Day, that “Corruption is national security threat”. Many have pledged zero tolerance of corruption”. Instead, corruption has spread like wildfire and now we even have a phenomenon called “paid news” afflicting the media. 


For long there have been no effective institutions and mechanisms empowered to crush the menace of corruption. The CBI is viewed as a “caged parrot” as are the Anti-Corruption Bureaus in the States. Under the Congress Party, CBI was derisively called the Congress Bureau of Investigation; today the Congress charges the BJP with the same.


Then there are the phenomenal delays by the Judiciary in delivering judgments despite the knowledge that justice delayed is justice denied.


Nevertheless, two initiatives are notable at the international level. The UN General Assembly adopted an historic treaty on October 31, 2003 - the UN Convention against Corruption - to fight global corruption. And, at the recently concluded G 20 Summit, corruption found a prominent mention in the Joint Statement issued: “Fighting Corruption: We remain committed to fighting corruption, including through practical international cooperation and technical assistance, and will continue to fully implement the G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan 2017-18. We endorse four sets of High Level Principles aimed at fostering integrity in the public and private sector…”


Pervasive corruption threatens democracy and undermines the war on international terrorism. Terrorists, like drug traffickers, gunrunners and people smugglers, are playing havoc with the help of poorly paid, ill-disciplined and corrupt border officials who are open to bribery.


Recently, the Adarsh Housing Society investigation report named high ranking Army officials involved in the scam in the name of Kargil war widows. Prime Minister Narendra Modi must not delay taking bold decisions and ensure effective implementation in sending the culprits behind bars. He must order an administrative takeover of the building till such time as it is decided that demolition is the best way to protect the security of neighbouring security apparatus. The argument that demolition is wasteful would imply that illegal structures, once erected, become legitimate. He might do well to scrutinise those still holding key positions as post retirement bonanzas. 


In conclusion, I would like to recount some pearls of wisdom on “Corruption”:

1)      Corruption is authority plus monopoly minus transparency - Unknown

2)    Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power - George Bernard Shaw

3)     Corruption and hypocrisy ought not to be inevitable products of democracy, as they undoubtedly are today - Mohandas Gandhi

4)    Power does not corrupt people. People corrupt power - William Gaddis

5)     Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts, perhaps the fear of a loss of power – John Steinbeck


The views expressed are personal

User Comments Post a Comment

Back to Top