Corruption creating chaos in India
Any visitor to the numerous discos of the 5-star hotels of Delhi will spot there a crowd of youths whose common factor is hedonism and access to cash. In selected discos can be recognized the sons and daughters of top politicians, officials and businesspersons, all having a wonderful time. This Community of Hedonists acts as a bridge between their parents, seeing to it that an opposition leader - for instance - avoids targeting the family of a ruling party VVIP. The daughters of businesspersons mix and mingle with the sons of high officials, and vice-versa, thereby helping to create a bond between the parents that ensures quick and reliable - if expensive - service for the businessperson at the hands of the official. Of course, the Intelligence Bureau stays far away from such dance halls and the farmhouses knowb to be the haunts of the fun-loving offspring of India’s elite.This, despite the fact that several foreign agencies and missions send attractive males and females to such locations,to ensnare the children of VVIPs.So loyal is Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram to his boss Sonia Gandhi,that he has converted the Intelligence Bureau into a personal detective agency designed to protect the First Family of India. Rather than focus on threats to the people and to the state,Chidambaram has reconfigured the IB to meet threats to the primacy of the ruliong family. Because this columnist is a critic of VVIPs (and has been so for four decades in journalism), not only the telephones of himself and his spouse,but informed friends claim that even that of his chauffeur are being monitored - clandestinely and illegally - by the IB. Chidambaram has converted the Home Minu istry into a Fafkaesque behemoth that needs to get approached even an international conference takes place. Visas are held up, invitees are harassed,and buisiness deals blocked. Of course, those knowing the “proper channel” can navigate their way around such difficulties with ease.
If the IB is in this pathetic state,can the (much-discussed in Pakistan) Research & Intelligence Wing of the Cabinet Secretariat (RAW) be far behind? Because of the fact that many of its bosses have been chosen on grounds of personal loyalty to VVIPs rather than for any competence, the standards of the outfit have dropped to alarming levels.One of the past bosses was so close to a certain VVIP family that he used to personally go to London with huge bundles of cash that were distributed in secret to foreign relatives of the concerned VVIP. Not only did he personally hand over the cash,but he used to ask RAW officials not to accompany him on such “cash and carry:” missions. Naturally,he used to submit bogus receipts that showed the money being given to miscellanous South Asians,when in fact the cash was handed over to relatives and friends of a particular VVIP. The bureaucrat who ensured that this man took over RAW is likely to soon get a high position in the Prime Minister’s Office,because of his closeness to a certain VVIP. Incidentally,this bureacrat is the uncle of the former RAW chief,which is why he pished his case despite being aware of his dubious background. Clearly,nepotism is no crime in today’s India. A small group of bureaucrats close to a certain VVIP family are dominating the Government of India, making a mockery of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s efforts at fighting corruption.In the Income-tax department,the current chief is an already superannuated official who is in line for yet another one-year extension. Some unkind voices say that this is because of his proximity to a charming lady who - according to honest officials in the Finance Ministry - gives lists of those she wants raided. Of course,the lady always gets her way,and an average bribe of $10 million reportedly gets paid to stop the harassment. These days, the Income-tax, the Enforcement Directorate and the Department of Revenue Intelligence conduct multiple raids, which are quickly settled after the lady in question gets approached. Clearly the upright Minister of Finance, Pranab Mukherjee,is unaware of the havoc that this lady is causing in his prestigious ministry,or he would have taken action against such extortion. Will the Central Bureau of Investigation probe this lady? Of course not.Rather,it will go after the whistle-blowers. People such as Hassan Ali,who have laundered billions of dollars for VVIPs, will escape.
Why is this charming lady so powerful in matters of finance? How does she succeed in getting the agencies to intimidate and hound those fighting against such corruption? Why do even decent individuals such as the Finance Minister or the Prime Minister do nothing to stop the extortion racket that is seeing honest companies such as Infosys getting intimidated,and tax notices being sent for the “crime” of seeking investment in the State of Gujarat? Are they forced into silence because a share of the loot goes to a certain VVIP family,to get transferred to London in suitcases that leave the country unchecked because the Special Protection Force refuses to allow inspection of the luggage of the friends and family of a particular VVIP,whose family members always travel with multiple suitcases in and out of India,escorted by those whose duty is to protect the security of the country and not to prevent the customs authorities from doing their task? Shockingly,in India it is those who fight corruption who are harassed by the authorities,not those ensuring that cash and other facilities flow in abundance to selected VVIPs.
So what the ISI has failed to achieve, certain VVIPs in India are succeeding,which is to slowly poison and destroy India. These VVIPs go often to Dubai and London,where they meet with people known to be hostile to India,and enjoy their hospitality. Of course,the IB does nothing about such a huge gap in the country’s security, and neither does RAW, for fear of annoying the super-corrupt at the apex of political power in India.Small wonder that a reaction is developing to such a situation. Swami Ramdev,a highly respected teacher of spiritual health,is leading a Crusade against Corruption.In a few years,millions of people are likely to agitate outside the homes and offices of VVIPs in India,the way they have done in the Arab world, so as to bring to book the super-corrupt who are destroying India. Sadly,poor Manmohan Singh seems to be running out of steam. He is getting weaker and weaker,because the agencies working under him technically but in reality being influenced by the Apex of Greed refuse to send the big fish to prison. Until that happens,the country is in trouble.
Unless Manmohan Singh takes courage in his hands and stands with Chief Justice of India Kapadia in cleansing the highest levels of his government of corruption,India is in trouble. Only a cleanup at the top can save the country from losing its future,and time is running out for the PM.Soon,unless at least a few big fish go to jail, he will be so politically weakened that resignation will be the only option. Yet another good man will get sacrificed to keep the Money Machine of the Apex of Greed functioning. Should the PM fail in implementing the will of the Chief Justice,the only solution may lie in the streets.
—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.