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Rs 1,7,60,00,00,00,000 & What can YOU & I do about it?

21 November 2010 1,112 views 16 Comments

Amidst the muck and the dirt that has come to surface in the last few weeks, I am sure I am not alone in thinking, where are we headed?

Is this the India that aspires to be an economic powerhouse? a permanent member of the UN Security Council, one of the world’s largest economies and a shining example of a successful democracy? or is this the India that is condemned to forever remain a “third-world” country, where glitzy high-rises sit cheek-a-jowl with degrading poverty, where food rots in storage even as half of young kids are malnourished, where elected “leaders” brazen it out when suspected of siphoning off public money – an India that is typified by a “Chalta-hai” attitude and “Usse Kya farak padega?

This is the India where a Minister says this on the issue of corruption:

Don’t become so sensitive..and don’t threaten to disrupt the proceedings of the House over this..

…where a petition to investigate the charges of fraud in the context of CommonWealth Games attracts less than 200 signatures even after three days of relentless emails…where a retired central vigilance commissioner has this to say about corruption:

…society is no longer seriously concerned about corruption and there is social acceptance.

Corruption Live Chat 176000 Crore Scandal

…where, in the biting words of M J Akbar

Greed is the new religion and all are welcome to feed at the trough.

where

…There is no shame left…

and where, in the words of Guru Nanak-ji whose anniversary we celebrate today,

Decency and righteousness have vanished, and falsehood struts abroad…

As MJ Akbar puts it…

It is tempting to ask whether there is an India left when most of its ruling class has abandoned every principle in its composite, vulgar commitment to theft

…where an “Adarsh” follows a “CWG” that followed a “spectrum“, which followed a Koda…with an aviation scandal thrown in between for good measure…And how far back does one go? 90s? 80s? Bofors? An entire generation has grown up having no clue what “Bofors” was and what it meant…As Dr Kalayanaraman-ji wrote,

In a scam-ridden land, led by chamcha-giri..Who cares?

Show us “You Care”

Join the online discussion on The Roots of Corruption – and What can YOU and I do about it? This Sunday, 28th November @ 630pm IST. Make sure you are there…make sure your voice is heard…Make sure you speak up…because ALL IS NOT WELL…It is actually desperately not well. Join us for the the online chat jointly hosted by || Satyameva Jayate || and the Indian Army Fans on Facebook coming Sunday. Make sure you are there. 

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Jai Hind, Jai Bharat!

16 Comments »

  • 1. B Shantanu (author) said:

    From Boggledygook by M J Akbar:

    A. Raja’s spectrum scam is about sheer size. I have no idea at which point India’s mind begins to boggle, but once you have written Rs 1.76 lakh crore in digits, you are very clearly in boggleland.

    …The prime minister does not sit in a helpless office. He has the right to demand any file from any ministry. A note from him can stop any process till fuller examination. A phone call by a bureaucrat from his office will pour sand into any government wheel. Any decision that involves more than Rs 500 crore has to go through the Cabinet. Dr Singh knew every detail about the one thief who could have put 40 from Ali Baba to shame. What did he do about it? A whole lot of nothing.

    …The CAG exposé of Raja was known to government before the Opposition disrupted Parliament. Why did the prime minister ignore publicly evident condemnation until ruly turned unruly?

    Now you know why some astute commentators label MMS as a despicably dishonest man

  • 2. CHURCHILL KUMAR SHAH said:

    Dear Indians its our fault to choose leaders of such kind (A.Raja,Shashi Tharror,Suresh Kalmadi,Ashok Chavan Etc.,)and we must obey this all rascals are fully corrupt.If it happens to continue like this then we should not pay any tax to Government this is one way to get our Indian Govt on track and anyway all of our money goes in the pocket of Politicians for their luxurious life.Our Govt must take severe action on A.Raja where the money have gone 1.76 lacs crore? he knows who are involved in this issue and he was refusing to resign from post of ministry.Treat Raja like animal no mercy on Raja & hand him over to CBI automatically he will open his mouth my God 1.76 lacs crores???DMK firmly backing A Raja, the Congress it appears is virtually finding itself in a bind to defend the Telecom Minister.
    The Opposition has been baying for the minister’s blood more so after the CAG report which found fault with Raja’s handling of 2-G spectrum deal. We know this party DMK, Congress are totally hand in glove with each other in corruption and we can see blindly.why did P.M & Sonia Gandhi waiting to get decisions from Karunanidhi? Our main motto is to get back our 1.76 lacs crores.Our Govt must investigate serious about this matter and no party must poke their nose in this case and punish hardly all those who are involved in corruption no matter whoever He/She might be.It’s our money dear friends not politicians wake up.

  • 3. Gypsy said:

    Precisely the question! I repeat after you, what can you and I do about it sitting abroad? What can 1 billion people sitting in India (minus those in power, busy lining their pockets) sitting and sleeping peacefully in India, can do? What will make all of us do ‘something’ about it? What is that something?

    Zilch!

    It is the same situation that existed in 1639 CE; corrupt chieftains, emperor, kings, princes were looting the spineless ryot. It had to be some one like Robert Clive to bribe Kings’ generals and take over the country. And he had his sepoy battalions.

    What is so different now? Clive is already sitting in Delhi, fleecing the country. The Generals and the Rajahs are sitting in the Court, living on handouts. The ryot is as spineless as ever. What can you and I do? Nothing will happen.

  • 4. Prakash said:

    Number numbness threshold is different for different people. For some, it could begin at double digits, for some others, only beyond lakhs and crores. The numbers 30 crores (Boforce?) and 160000 crores (2G) are beyond comprehension for most Indians. Corruption is not a problem because of the numbers involved. Corruption is a problem because of the processes used. If you did not worry about it when the numbers were still within everyone’s comprehension, you would not get much far by worrying about it now. You could always look at the processes and do something about them, but that would involve thinking about the whole society in a sympathetic manner. Mere morality will not suffice. In any case, not many would have the moral authority to point fingers at corrupt politicians. Anyone who has travelled by trains often; has got a passport; has got admissions to colleges and schools will have compromised some or other time. Only those who have never boarded a reserved compartment holding a waitlisted ticket (it is illegal to do so) might have the authority to point fingers at others!

    If you look at numbers, and if you come from some ethical hocus focus, politicians could easily trick you. There are many examples to support that thesis. In 2004-5, they made you believe that some of Indian crown jewels were sold cheap by Arun Shourie. Numbers were thrown at people to suggest that the price at which some companies were sold was too low. Dozens of articles were written, committee investigated the issue, and debates made it appear as if there was lot of corruption. After a while everyone forgot about it just like everyone forgot chara ghotala and many other scandals. The divestment happened through proper procedures, but the issue was still reopened for investigations. In most other cases, proper procedures were not followed in the first place, there was corruption, but political expediency dictated the outcome. Even now, good politicians get harassed much more often than the bad ones by using corruption as a tool.

    The point is – those who talk about corruption as some kind of moral story, or those who try to link it to the plight of poor people, or those who point to big numbers or bad politicians simply miss the point. Corruption is all about a process. It is not about people, price, or purity.

  • 5. Ram S Pejawar said:

    Over the years the muck of apathy by the majority of us in addressing issues of open corruption and the poverty of mind. We all sat back in the comfort of the niches and have not actually addressed these problems. Most often have I heard that it is too enormous and only the Government can have the resources to address these problems
    I do not think so. If some interested individuals can patiently sit together for a one hour session, we CAN address this frankenstien and totally eliminate it within the decade at the most if not in five years of implementation.

  • 6. KSV SUBRAMANIAN said:

    What extreme poverty forces them to do. This is an article from Tehelka.

    “Maariyamma is likely to be killed by her children because they cannot afford her. They will give her a loving oil bath. Several glasses of coconut water. A mouthful of mud. Perhaps a poison injection. She is just one of many old parents in Tamil Nadu dying in this way. But no one blinks at these ritual murders.”

    http://www.tehelka.com/story_main47.asp?filename=Ne201110Maariyamma.asp

    And the criminals for whom power is a means for corruption and looting the money meant for the ordinary citizens of India are blind to the sufferings of the people. They are on a looting spree unmindful of the sufferings of the deprived citizens of the country on whose behalf they swear day in and day out.

  • 7. Sid said:

    @Prakash,
    Corruption is all about a process. It is not about people, price, or purity.
    Really!!! Why would anyone be concerned about a process without it’s impact on the lives of people or direction of the society in the long term? I am afraid that it is you who is missing the point. I would not give a damn if corruption did not impact my life or the lives of millions like me. But it does, so do the numbers, so do the people like Raja/Kalmadi.
    Only those who have never boarded a reserved compartment holding a waitlisted ticket (it is illegal to do so) might have the authority to point fingers at others!
    I never did. But then I had to swallow my pride and pay bribe to get my father’s pension out nearly a decade ago. First you claimed that corruption has nothing to do with morality and then you are claiming that those who are guilty of boarding a compartment illegally can not blame others of corruption!! Your point is only correct when one accepts that both Raja’s action and action of illegal boarders are corruption and corruption is immoral. You are contradicting yourself.

    People like Raja is given a mandate to see the governance gets done transparently and they clearly know it. Those people who board a reserved compartment illegally have a mandate to obey the law but some does not know whether it was the law and others who know it have never seen that breaking law would result in punishment. Why they do not know it? Because administration is so corrupt that basic maintenance of law and order has crashed. In other words, people who board a train illegally are [1] victims of corruption by other layer of the society and [2] are convenient device through which corruption is spread and institutionalized. Iss hamam mein ham sabhi nangey hain. That, however, does not eliminate the shame of nudity.
    The divestment happened through proper procedures, but the issue was still reopened for investigations.
    I vaguely remember the issue. I also know that politicians pay tricks. But what alarmed me was that the refusal of government in releasing any white paper about the issue. If every procedure was followed why would they deny issuing any white paper? Good question, is not it?

  • 8. KSV SUBRAMANIAN said:

    “Your are not appearing for the accused, is it” asks Hon. Court to CBI:

    “Opposing a petition by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) for the apex court’s monitoring of the 2G spectrum probe, the Central Bureau of Investigation claimed that any such move at this stage would “prejudice” the rights of the accused when they would be chargesheeted. Surprised by the argument, the Bench of Justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly quipped, “You are not appearing for the accused, is it?”

    The CBI is more concerned with the accused.

    http://www.dailypioneer.com/298539/CBI-says-no-to-court-monitoring-probe.html

  • 9. Prakash said:

    @7. Morality, value judgements lead to a black and white world where pots are calling kettles blacks 24/7 (Notice how Mrs. Sonia Gandhi is harping about probity in public life and asking BJP to follow suit and dismiss Yediyurappa – it is merely a political game. It has nothing to do with values). Values are important for an individual, and for a close-knit society. At global level, information does not travel fast enough, is not available easily enough for value judgements to make any sense.

    On the other hand, process can be easily checked. Imagine if passport office procedures were streamlined and every individual given a firm date at the time of form submission, and every schedule put online for every case. That would reduce corruption by a factor of 100. In case of 2G scam, bid submissions were advanced…a clear violation of procedures.

    My point is simple. Procedures, like scientific experiments are verifiable. Values are ethereal. In the world of politics of values, might is always right.

  • 10. Sid said:

    @Prakash(#9),
    No value exists in the context if none judges the value. Nothing in the world is pure black and white. Yet, in real life when court hears on a case, lawyers use reductionism to strip unwanted details and present a dispute as a series of reference points. Similarly, when we are debating on corruption, it is indeed possible to judge it based on the morality, although other factors may be considered if they are made to be seen as relevant.

    I do not care what Sonia G or Rahul G or Gadkari wants. The moment I surrender my rights of questioning a politician in the name of loyalty I also surrender my freedom to think. I want Raja to be punished because I have seen that documents presented in V Sundaram’s article were very convincing. If Congress times or it’s pimp editor can come up with similar damning stuff about Reddy brothers in KN too we should raise our voices for prosecuting them. On a side note, why is everybody demanding Yeddurappa’s resignation is beyond me. Everyone should have demanded an investigation into the alleged wrong-doing.

    Values are important for an individual, and for a close-knit society. At global level, information does not travel fast enough, is not available easily enough for value judgments to make any sense.
    I have heard a globalist argument in so many contexts that now-a-days it irritates me. So you mean that at a global level individual or close-knit societies should not expect to retain morality or structure? Information is needed by a court to make a decision. For a court, it does not matter how it travels. For an electorate, however, it is good enough to demand honest investigation even if there is a tiny scope. In Raja’s case, the scope is not just tiny. And you have not been able to obfuscate that scope with your generalist or globalist argument yet.
    Your attempt at obfuscating the question of morality makes me remember the famous Orwellian quote: “Political writing in our times is largely the defense of the indefensible.”

    On the other hand, process can be easily checked.
    Really? What did the last sixty years of history tell you?
    Imagine if passport office procedures were streamlined...
    Yes, imagine. Keep doing that. It is resulting into excellent governance.
    Values are ethereal. may be for you. Each culture defines a set of values. However, the question of morality is one of the very few values that are common across all the cultures. Do you know why? Because man becomes civilized when they learned that assigning better priority to common good is good for all the individuals in long term. The very definition of corruption (as applicable in governance) stems from that enlightenment. This value is not “ethereal”.
    In the world of politics of values, might is always right.
    In a tribal society, yes. In a modern society each concerned citizen should make effort to ensure that does not happen. The moment we stop keeping that guard on, the law and order would just crash. No fashionable obfuscation then would enable it to function after that.

  • 11. subodh khanna said:

    THE scale of corruption is so enormous that it boggles the mind.the water has gone above head,time honest citizens,whose tribe is decreasing day by day, to get together ,area wise,townwise,distrist wise.otherwise with corruption getting in al vitals of society,no honesty will be left.

  • 12. Anonymous said:

    It is the social acceptance of corruption that is more disturbing than anything else. Today if you do not give a bribe if asked for you are labelled as a fool and a person who let opportunities slip away by not bribing his way through.

  • 13. Ankit said:

    The people have become immune to corruption, it no longer disturbs them if anyone asks for a bribe or if someone is caught taking a bribe. Bribe is accepted as a part of today’s life and it is this mindset that needs to be changed.

  • 14. B Shantanu (author) said:

    @Churchill: Nothing will change unless well-intentioned,capable people with integrity get into active politics…Let us work towards making that happen.

    @Gypsy: Actually we can do a few things…as we discussed over the chat yesterdya…you can watch a replay of comments here.

    @Prakash: “You could always look at the processes and do something about them” Well, we did talk about this too yesterday..I wish you could have joined.

    @Ram: I am not sure if you were on the talk yesterday..but if not, pl do read the “replay” of the chat.

    @KSV: Thanks for the link…Truly shocking..

    @Sid: V astute observation: “..Because administration is so corrupt that basic maintenance of law and order has crashed. In other words, people who board a train illegally are [1] victims of corruption by other layer of the society and [2] are convenient device through which corruption is spread and institutionalized. Iss hamam mein ham sabhi nangey hain. That, however, does not eliminate the shame of nudity.

    @Subodh: Hope you found the chat yesterday thought-provoking.

    @Ankit, Anonymous: Pl do read teh replay of chat comments…Thanks

    ***
    Please note I may be delayed in responding to and/or moderating comments as I am travelling for the next few days

  • 15. Sid said:

    You may start another thread to cover all the masks that Radia tapes are removing. Here is a new one:
    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Shourie-was-promised-RS-seat-by-Tony–Anil-Ambani-s-lobbyist—N-K-Singh-told-Radia/717916

    This time it is Arun Shourie. I find it interesting that IE, ran by a congress stooge, choose to focus on a tape of Arun Shourie and budget discussion instead of focusing the journalists …. hell no, opinion makers. More unfortunate is Swapan Dasgupta’s attempt to clear the smoke using more smoke here:
    http://www.swapan55.com/2010/11/radia-tapes-dont-shoot-every-caller.html

  • 16. B Shantanu (author) said:

    @Sid: Excellent suggestion…here you go As more skeltons keep tumbling out of the cupboard…

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