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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Only the corrupt get great responsibility

To watch or not to watch, that is the question. The athletes from around the Commonwealth world have done nothing to deserve a boycott, but with so many star athletes dropping out, die-hard fans may go on a holiday. Yet there’s a lot to be said about the taxpayers and downtrodden of India voicing a protest against such open robbery of public money in the name of the games. Money this country can ill afford, which has been pocketed by corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and international vendors. And it’s not peanuts. The cost of the CWG to the people of India is climbing close to the Rs70000 crore mark almost as much as that other invitation to corruption – National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

Rs70000 efficiently utilized would have gone a long way to improving lives of the desperately poor in the country. What was most disturbing was the human excrement on the mattresses in the luxury apartments being readied for the CWG. This is a message being sent out to the haves from the have-nots. This is something the rich and powerful refuse to factor into their headlong rush to cheat and rob the public.

What is the point of creating luxury for the rich when they are surrounded by filth and degradation? It’s happening right here in Goa too, when the filthy rich decided to turn Goa into their private party zone. Life will only get better for the wealthy when life gets better for the poor. This disparity in lifestyles is what led to major social upheavals in different parts of the world at different times in history.

Collapsing over-bridges, filth, bad planning, over spending and an impending inquiry which will go on for decades is just one chapter in the book of corruption of India.

If we don’t watch the CWG as a protest against corruption, then we should also work against a government that has perpetrated one scam after another on this nation. Loans which were waived for desperate farmers went instead to their money lenders, many of who turned out to be members of the ruling party. The mathematics was simple. Banks would not extend credit to marginal farmers. They lent to moneylenders at low interest. Farmers borrowed from moneylenders at exorbitant interest. They committed suicide when they lost their land and still could not repay the loan. Reacting to the suicides the government declared a waiver of loans. The moneylenders and rich farmers benefited from this. They did not pass on the loan waiver to the debtor farmers. Suicide resulted in compensation. So farmers found that suicide turned out to be actually a viable option. It was this macabre situation that created India’s entry to the next Oscars Peepli Live

Where do you start? The Jeep Scandal involving Krishna Menon in 1948? Eight years later he was inducted into the Nehru cabinet without portfolio. Rotting food grains while people starve? And no one is punished? Therein lays the rub. The government goes out of its way to protect the corrupt in its ministries.

The latest instance showing protection of the corrupt has to be the greatest. The brand new Chief Vigilance Commissioner P.J. Thomas is Accused Number 8 in a corruption scam in a palm oil import case. He is out on bail; the case has not been cleared. As Telecom Secretary, Thomas is also under the scanner in the 2-G spectrum scam.

This is the Chief Vigilance Commissioner of the country. Someone who heads a bureau geared to prevent corruption in the nation. The candidate has to be above suspicion. So who selected him?

The selection of the candidate is also supposed to be arrived at through consensus by a committee of three of the (supposedly) most politically powerful people in the land – the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. “Consensus” means all have to agree. The Leader of Opposition BJP’s Sushma Swaraj registered her dissent against Thomas’ selection. She had no issue with the other two candidates. Her dissent was over-ruled by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister PC Chidambaram. Proving once again that to be seen to be corrupt is vital for success in government.

Way back in 1939 Mahatma Gandhi distressed by signs of corruption in the Congress even before we got independence made this statement: "I would go to the length of giving the whole Congress a decent burial, rather than put up with the corruption that is rampant." Mahatma Gandhi May 1939.

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