With every passing day, the name congress is becoming synonymous with word corruption . The latest one-coal gate scam comes close on the heels of Commonwealth Games scam, 2G scam, Helicopter scam. It appears that Corruption in India has acquired wings not wheels.
The ever-plummeting standards of probity in public life and the sheer magnitude of the money siphoned off by the politicians, whether in collaboration with bureaucrats or otherwise is simply staggering. Corruption has taken the role of a pervasive aspect of Indian politics and bureaucracy. In 2011 India was ranked 95th out of 178 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. It reported that about 50% of Indians had first-hand experience of paying bribes or using a contact to get a job done in public office.
According to 2009 Global Corruption Barometer ,Political parties are perceived to be the most corrupt institutions by Indians. The Barometer, a global public opinion survey released by Transparency International, found that 58 per cent Indian respondents identified politicians to be the single most corrupt individuals. Forty-Five per cent of the people sampled felt that the government is ineffective in addressing corruption in the country.
This was not the case with political parties & politicians of yester years. Whatever our differences with Indian leaders of yore, be that Nehru for reneging on the promise of self determination or Gandhi for exerting undue influence on Maharaja of Kashmir to accede to India and getting Ram Chand Kak, a great votary of independence and a son of soil divested of Prime Minstership or Sardar Patel for using Coercive and communal tactics to change the course of history-One thing is beyond any doubt –that they were men of high integrity & their personal character was above board.
Take the example of of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel . He was a flourishing barrister, but when he joined the freedom struggle he gave up his lucrative practice. As deputy Prime Minister he dealt with hundreds of wealthy ruling princes, including the Nizam of Hyderabad, then the world’s richest man. In the process he could have acquired riches of unimaginable magnitude. But When he died, he had no immovable property except a small inherited house . His bank balance was a mere Rs 287.
Another example of meticulous honesty is of Lal Bahadur Shastri. He came from a very poor family. He was enrolled as a paid party worker on Rs 40 per month. After a couple of months he found that his wife was managing the household on Rs 30 per month. He got his salary reduced to Rs 30. As railway minister, Shastri resigned owning moral responsibility for a major train derailment.
Compare this with the breed of Minsters of current era. There is an organized loot & plunder of lakhs of crores of public money. Manmohan Singh’s personal integrity may not be in question, but the failure of his leadership stands fully exposed. The coal gate Scandal happened when he held the portfolio of that department. There are no takers for his “compulsion of coalition politics” theory. After ignoring the allegations for nearly two years, he was forced to take action and two Cabinet ministers of a coalition partner were lodged in Tihar jail. So also was the Congress MP allegedly involved in the Commonwealth Games scam. In the circumstances, the government’s assurance that it will weed out corruption does not carry credibility. A clear & growing nexus between politicians, criminals & bureaucrats is clearly palpable.
The Vohra Report, submitted in October 1993 by the former Indian Union Home Secretary, N.N. Vohra and presently Governor of J&K, studied the problem of the criminalization of politics and of the nexus among criminals, politicians and bureaucrats in India. The report contained several observations made by official agencies on the criminal network which was virtually running a parallel government. It also discussed criminal gangs who enjoyed the patronage of politicians — of all political parties — and the protection of government functionaries. But most of its recommendations have not been implemented because it does not suit politicians whether in ruling clique or in opposition.
Politically, corruption increases injustice and disregard for rule of law. Basic human rights and freedom comes under threat because corruption is also used to circumvent & subvert the whole judicial process. Police investigations and arrests may be based on political victimization or personal vendettas using corruption as a tool rather than on solid legal grounds. Commenting on the socio-political consequences of corruption the Supreme Court of India observed that corruption in a civilized society was a disease like cancer. If not detected in time it was sure to turn the polity malignant leading to “disastrous consequences”. The apex court said a sociopolitical system exposed to such a dreaded communicable disease was likely to crumble under its own weight. But who cares?
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Feed back at email@example.com)