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Darker Side Of India 2010: Scams And Governance ‘”A Critical Analysis Of The Current National Ominous Events

While the year is coming to a close, and the radiant hope of another new year 2011 is round the comer, India is still reeling under political turmoil and pressures due to unceasing scams of ominous proportions. In days to come, the ‘˜bitter-fruits’ of the past and recent scams are bound to sicken the very integrity and image of the nation and its errant leaders. This year, there have been unprecedented episodes of scams and scandals all over the country; we heard of PF (provident fund) Scam, sex-scandal in sports, CWG (Common Wealth Games) scam, Adarsh housing scam, and lately of 2G (second generation mobiles) spectrum scam and Karnataka land scam- the process of cleaning-up is still on; and hitherto, how ugly and despicable has the country’s image been painted? In one of the recent ‘˜cartoonscape’ of The Hindu, there was a lurid representation of the nation’s degenerated and sorry state of affairs; observant reader might have noticed the big ‘coooooooooooooo… ruption’ filling the entire rectangular box allotted for that day’s cartoonscape, showing how low the Nation had slipped down from its benchmark of integrity and accountability due to successive scams and scandals.

Now, care has been taken in this critical study, to employ ‘˜fair criticism’; and in my earnest desire to see a great nation of India with a corresponding vision for a prosperous state of Manipur, there seems to be no room for superfluous delighting in ‘˜fault-finding’, and any mention of the country’s plight or its current-darker-side is an empathizing of the issues in question and the persons involved with an energizing hope of a brighter India.

The Darker Side

That within hours of US President’s departure from the country, two top Indian leaders had to be sacked, surely epitomized the depravity of India’s political standards of morality in financial ethics; indeed a dark side of the nation when, on the same day, Ashok Chavan and Suresh Kalmadi were sacked as Chief Minister of Maharashtra and as Congress Parliamentary Secretary, respectively. Such a series of murky events lined-up since the beginning of the year. Hardly do we notice the ‘˜candle of incorruptibleness’ burning anymore in the dark comers of India; instead, leaders far and near blatantly involve themselves in building ‘˜their own castles’, negating the welfare of masses, while most Indians are living below the poverty line; poverty alleviation measures have not been consistently implemented, and often carried out in name only.

A couple of years from now, the eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12) will culminate; but, will it be a culmination of a brighter India in the light of the set targets? Recently, an analytical presentation of my article on the’ Millennium Development Goals (MDG)’ was published in The Sangai Express, dated November 16, 2010, where the grim realities, in the context of India, were highlighted; sadly many targets have not been met so far, and the deadline for the MDG is 2015. Therein had I posited that corruption is antithesis to development; this ‘˜darker side’ of the picture is largely due to scams and scandals all over the country.

Corruption Defined

Corruption is defamed by C Aikin as ‘˜the use of public power for private profit in a way that constitutes breach of law’. The Collins Cobuild English Language Dictionary defines it as ‘dishonesty and illegal behavior in position of authority and power.’ Basically, scam or corruption is a deviant behavior associated with a particular motivation, namely that of private gain at the public expenses. In the Indian context, as per the Santhanam Committee, ‘any action or failure to take action n the performance of duty by a Government servant for some advantage is corruption.’

Scam involving judges’ misdemeanor

This year, during the month of July, P.D. Dinakaran was under the scanner; the Supreme Court collegium recommended that the former Kamataka Chief Justice be transferred to the Sikkim High Court, the smallest high court in the ‘˜Country. This drastic action was taken to show displeasure over Justice P.D Dinakaran’s defiance of all canons of judicial propriety; for he had stuck to office amid welter of corruption and land-grab charges.

In addition, during the second week of November, 2010, Justice Soumitra Sen was removed from his post as Justice of Calcutta High Court. The move was initiated after Chief Justice K.G Balakrishnan, in 2008, wrote; to Prime Minister Manmohan recommending the impeachment proceeding against Sen,,’under the Article 124(4); this was on the basis of the findings of house inquiry, which held Justice Sen guilty of financial misconduct under Judges Inquiry Act, 1968.

The deplorable parallelism between the above two was that Justice Sen decided to cling to office, following the example of P.D. Dinakaran, who had earlier refused to resign in the face of flurry of corruption and land-grab charges; Sen had been found guilty of misappropriation of money he received, as well as misrepresenting facts about it. Defiance of judicial propriety draws attention to the absence of a quick and effective statutory mechanism to deal with errant judges.

Commonwealth Games Scam

The Commonwealth Games (CWG), despite facing the seemingly insurmountable problems at the eleventh hour, was a grand success; many of us heard the jubilant declaration of Michael Fennel, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, who said: ‘Delhi, you have delivered a truly exceptional Games.’ However, since the infection of the CWG scam, involving over Rs. 70,000 crores, needed a thorough clean-up, the Central Government wasted no time in executing a timely action; immediately after the games, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) began the probing of alleged financial and other irregularities by asking MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) and all agencies concerned to submit replies to queries raised by it by October 31. The queries focused on whether the norms had been followed on ‘˜quality tests.’ And as on October 31, 2010, a multi-agency probe into the CWG affairs was currently on, with the Prime Minister appointed special committee headed by V.K Shunglu, Central Vigilance Commissioner, Comptroller Auditor General of India, Income Tax Department, Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigations looking into various Games-related irregularities. In another case of financial irregularities, in response to an RTI plea, information was provided mentioning that the Games Committee spent a whopping Rs. 3.55 crores on Common Wealth Games Federation CEO Mike Hooper; an OC official stated that the contributions of foreign consultants did not justify such colossal expenditure.

Eventually, the Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI), after registering two cases related to the Queen’s baton Relay (QBR) held at London prior to the CWG 2010, on November 15, 2010, arrested two sacked senior officials of the CWG Organizing Committee (OG) ­T.S. Darbari and Sanjay Mohindroo – former Joint Director General and former Deputy Director General of the OC respectively. The first case was registered under sections 120-B. 420,468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code and section 13(2) read with section 13(1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act against them. It is to be noted that these officials had been suspended from their posts earlier on August 5, 2010 for their alleged role in irregularities, forgery and cheating case, in the QBR in London when the issue came to light with the reference of the matter by the British authorities to Indian High Commission concerning huge transfers of money through the Royal bank of Scotland to AM Films, a little known London based company.

On November 21, 2010, the CBI arrested sacked treasurer of Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee M. Jayachandran in connection with the alleged bungling in the QBR in London last year; he was arrested after several rounds of questioning by the investigating agency. As per the prediction of November 23, 2010, the Delhi Assembly’s Winter Session (to end on December 1) would be a ‘˜stormy affair’ with the Opposition BJP ceaselessly raising issues pertaining to the CWG scams. On the same day, the Chief Minister of NCT of Delhi declared: ‘Delhi Games were the best ever. Delhi has earned a name in the Commonwealth Games.’ Being aware of the irregularities involved, she added: ‘If any irregularity is found, we will not spare; anyone.’

Adarsh Scam

Adarsh, the 31-floor high rise society in Mumbai, was supposed to provide subsidized housing for war widows and veterans of the Kargil war. Instead, the beneficiaries and occupants included senior Maharashtra politicians, top bureaucrats, and army brass. It’s been revealed that members of this elite society secured flats for around Rs. 60 lakh apiece, though each flat is worth more than Rs. 5 crores in the market.

According to the investigation report, some members filed information stating their salaries to be fraction of the real figures; few of them showing their monthly income to be less than that of the entry-level public sector employee.

On November 27, 2010, the NDTV reported the notification of CBI that key papers had been stolen from Urban Development Department offices; the missing papers -‘noting section’ of documents- contained signatures of Chief Minister and senior officials on final decisions relating to the Adarsh society.

2G Spectrum scam

According to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, one of the eight major objectives of the new Telecom Policy, 1999 has been ‘achieving efficiency and transparency in the spectrum efficiency.’

In my previous article, entitled, ‘Today’s Mobile Phones’, which appeared in The Sangai Express, dated October 30, 2010, mention was made on the ‘need for a clean-up of the 2G Spectrum scam’; The second generation (2G) mobile phones’ spectrum allocation procedure was supposed to be an innovative and lucrative technological undertaking for the Central Government; but, the resultant scam had caused the national exchequer a loss of over Rs. 1,39,652 crores and illegally accorded gain to few private persons and companies. I further mentioned, towards the end, that the alleged culprits had ‘˜not been so far arrested’. As per the latest report of the CAG’s estimation, the loss to the government amounted to the tune of Rs. 1, 77,000 crores; this figure of loss is higher than the earlier estimation by Rs. 37,348 crores.

On November 13, 2010, one of the top officials of the department of telecommunication and former secretary of the department, DS Mathur blew the whistle on the telecom minister A. Raja’s attempts to grant the controversial licenses to nine operators. According to Mathur, the minister had been warned against the latter’s desire to award around 500 new licenses in May 2007; the former secretary said that his advice had not been heeded.

The report of CAG on controversy over 2G spectrum allocations was laid in Parliament on November 16, 2010. On the same day, the Supreme Court questioned the ‘˜alleged inaction and silence’ on the part of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for 16 months in taking a decision on a private complaint filed by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy seeking sanction for prosecution of A. Raja. On the following day, as reported by the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General), the 2G spectrum allocation had, been ‘arbitrary, unfair and inequitable’.

On analysis, the discovery is that A Raja had handed out 2G spectrum on a first come first served basis, instead of taking the auction route. His basis of handling the spectrum affairs had serious questions relating to procedural irregularities and revenue losses to the Government; due to the mismanagement in the aforesaid process, contrary to the expectation of boom, the end was a massive loss. There had been alleged procedural violation, and ignoring of the advice of Prime Minister, of law and Finance, and the TRAI (Telecom Regulatory authority of India).

Despite the charges leveled against him, even after his resignation as Union Communications and Information Technology Minister, A Raja denied any wrong doing; he insisted that he was persisting with a well-established policy in handling out the 2G spectrum. Over this issue, there have been no clear-cut and truthful answers, and one political storm has followed another; clinging to the issue, the opposition parties made parliament dysfunctional through their incessant demand for action, even against the PM. The report by the NDTV on November 23, 2010, said: ‘˜No work in parliament today’. One of the results of this scam was a dead-lock in the discussions on the ‘˜topic’; perhaps, the first ever scam that has forced the Supreme Court to question the Prime Minister relating to the case involving a union minister;

The solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam represented the Prime Minister, and went through the records to conclude what action had to be taken on the complaint.

The Telegu Desam Party president N. Chandrababu Naidu described the 2G spectrum scam involving Rs. 177,000 as the ‘biggest scandal ever’; and according to him, such corruption can be tackled only by exemplary action. Eventually, Mr. A. Raja did the right thing in resigning as Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology despite his denying of any wrong doing. Now what about the huge loss? Could his simple resignation bring about the recovery of the huge loss? Often, the citizens have to ‘˜cry over spilt milk’ when the culprits have already done the damage; it’s deplorable that those supposed to be stewards of the nation’s treasury prove themselves ill-equipped managers resulting in the mismanagement of the nation’s resources.

The CAG’s report said that the entire process of allocation of 2G Spectrum raises serious concern about the systems of governance in DoT, which need to be thoroughly reviewed and revamped.

Karnataka land Scam

On November 14, 2010, The Sangai Express reported ‘˜land scams’ in Karnataka involving the Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa. It’s always good to first set one’s house in order before implicating the faults of others; it became apparent that, despite the BJP earlier pointing fingers at the UPA Government for the 2G scams demanding the resignation of A. Raja, the party (BJP) itself was in the web of scandals. Yeddyurappa’s administration was already under a cloud over allegation that it notified state-owned land in and around the IT city to favor family members. There was a drastic change in his standpoint before and after becoming the CM of Karnataka. It was sadly evident that, earlier, as deputy CM, 13S’

Yeddyurappa had ordered legal action against a person for encroaching upon land acquired by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA); but after becoming the CM, he ordered de­notification of the land in favor of the same person. Nevertheless, the affairs eventually turned in favor of Yeddyurappa whom the BJP recognized to be in-charge of the party’s stronghold in south India; to the party, it was evident that dismissing him would have negative repercussions. In fact, the CM claimed his innocence when he declared: ‘I am 101 pc confident of retaining my post as the Karnataka CM.

However, it is to be noted that as on December 4, 2010, Mr.Katta Subramanya Naidu Karnataka Minister for Information Technology and Biotechnology submitted his resignation after the Lokayukta files an FIR against him for his alleged involvement in the land scam; he was the first victim of the scam.

Governance and Scams

In this discussion of India’s governance scenario, the term governance is specifically used to connote a genuinely democracy-intensifying concept – to make administration more open, transparent and accountable; this is necessary in view of the diverse definitions, at least three, accorded to the term.

The Congress Government at the Centre is reeling under controversies; often, corruption charges have been leveled by a belligerent Opposition. The transparency and accountability of the government have been often at stake.

The question now is, ‘can the Congress, in a situation such as this, retain high ground?’ Lately, the citizens have witnessed the unbridled expansion of corruption shown by politicians and parties in India, and the issue of ‘˜good governance’ has been severely’ questioned; now, the citizens await the verdict of the Government in power, to see how efficient the matters are resolved to restore the ‘˜rule of law’, transparency and accountability among political leaders.

The scams brought about parliamentary impasse; and as on November 17, 2010, while the Bharatiya Janata Party was absolutely firm on its demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) ‘”on the 2G spectrum allocation, the Commonwealth Games-related projects and the Adarsh Housing Society scam in Mumbai – there was no clarity from its side whether it wanted three separate JPCs, or just one for all the three scams.

Critical analysis of corruptions and scams

Basically, ‘˜dishonest scheme’ in any form has often amounted to a ‘˜scam’; scams are associated with desires for illicit gains, misrepresentations of facts and data, siphoning-off of allotted welfare or developmental funds; misappropriation of financial accounts, assets or wealth, etc. by those in authority or those who hold responsibility over the resources of the Government; also, scams could result from lack of accountability in one’s delegated functions.

Indira Gandhi once remarked that corruption was a global phenomenon; though she was right, the deadly phenomenon was not condemned! Universalism in corruption should never be taken as an excuse for complacency in combating it. The source of corruption could be numerous. In the wake of westernization, industrialization and urbanization, there is a consequential growth in materialism and consumerism; the situation also has brought about erosion of moral and ethical values in public life, and a ‘˜culture’ of corruption pervades every nook and comer of the country having adverse effects on the ‘˜psyche’ of an Indian, and his conduct in personal and occupational life. What have become of the Gandhian principles of ethical life? In the land of Mahatma Gandhi, the means of attaining wealth and power have become questionable; often, lust for wealth and power has been instrumental in corrupting public life. Those people who are supposed to be the custodians of people’s trust often grab or cling to power by foul means; in this game where norms are blatantly ignored, power, instead of becoming a means to the end of service, has turned into an ugly gross and crass end.

Suggestions and conclusion

Globally, the menace of corruptions and scams must be fought against, bravely; according to Gerald Caidin, the scheme of fighting against systemic corruption comprises a global fostering of democratic ethos, universal ideology of public service, and public ethics, education and training.

Today, people in top positions succumb to pressures and yield to enticements; the situation calls for leaders who will live by unvarying principles of conduct amid temptations. Sooner or later, those who hide behind the curtains of responsibilities are exposed to their shame and demotion. The lure for easy money has trapped many people; once they got caught, there is hardly any escape. In this respect, those who pass the truest test of character in trying circumstances pass he tests, while many sink with their own accumulated ill-gotten wealth. The contagious disease of scams demands perfect healing and a thorough clean-up’; the wounded sores lay exposed, and there is a tendency of wider spread geographically and mentally- in the psyche of citizenry to believe a ‘˜lie’ that corruption is ‘˜normal’. In the present Indian scenario, until and unless a social climate is evolved where corrupted persons suffer social opprobrium, no amount of legal or administrative action can be successful.

There is an urgent need to catalogue all possible factors impinging on the problem of scams and then tackle those which fall within the zone of feasibility. In the battle against corruption, it is imperative to initiate and sustain; systemic as well as systematic administrative reforms which can directly or indirectly contribute to the mitigation of scams and corruption. The Santhanam Committee recommended codes of conduct for ministers, MPs and legislators; the recommendations need to be enforced sincerely and promptly. Also, there is a need to evolve a work-culture in India on a par with that of the Japanese as the latter has set a precedent for higher average productivity. Officials and employees need to be informed that stealing money from government coffers is no less criminal than stealing time of the Government.

In the present political scenario, let us hope that the Central Government will act swiftly against those corrupted individuals, and clean up the whole system to bring about accountability, transparency and progress in the affairs of governing the great nation; and despite the negative precedent hitherto set, the younger generation should rise up with integrity as pillars, in the rebuilding of the ruins, with the dawn of another new year.

*The article is written by Paominlen Haokip.

*The writer can be reached at lenjose_l@yaho.co.uk

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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