charge was levelled against the Congress that it was a corrupt party, its
then president Indira Gandhi airily dismissed it, saying that corruption
is a world phenomenon.
never been disputed. We hear regular stories of corruption in the highest
quarters, whether in Japan, Indonesia, Germany or France, to mention only
a few states.
is no excuse for India being corrupt. Unfortunately, in India corruption
has reached gigantic proportions and the issue of fighting it cannot any
longer be ducked.
comes in many shapes and forms. We have the Bofors case which has been
under consideration since the eighties - and we have still to hear the
last of it. The Bihar scams are legend, as are the scams in Uttar Pradesh
and Tamil Nadu.
who only a few years ago were considered as hailing from lower to middle
classes have been in recent months flaunting their wealth, with not a care
in the world.
Singh Yadav had his son wed at a place called Sahara Shahar where the
dining area was said to be the size of two football fields, end to end.
Two hundred and fifty people worked in a kitchen for four days to lay out
eight different kinds of cuisines for 6,500 people. It must have cost him
quite a packet.
figures for Laloo Prasad Yadav's daughter's wedding are even more
mind-boggling: 1,200 stems of gladioli and 20,000 garlands of marigold
flown into Patna from Calcutta, while 200 quintals of sugar lay stacked in
a corner for an estimated 50,000 guests. Not even a Birla would have dared
to be so extravagant.
the AIADMK's Jayalalitha who spent several crores on a marriage and
against whom there are 46 corruption cases, one of which she recently
in court were some of the jewellery she had accumulated during her years
in power, including a waist belt studded with 2,389 diamonds besides
numerous emeralds and rubies valued at more than half a crore of rupees!
Who gave her these little presents and what was the expected quid pro?
is only one face of corruption.
in Delhi refuse to vacate the bungalows allotted to them; telephone bills
amounting to lakhs of rupees remain unpaid. Three former Prime Ministers
have been remiss in paying for the use of government planes for private
unlikely that the government would be compensated. Two well-known
industrialists are reported to owe three nationalised banks Rs 500 crores
and Rs 300 crores, and the list of corporate bank loan defaulters is
public property. Some Rs 45,000 crores are due and will probably have to
be written off.
of loan defaulters - and they are from the cream of society - have been
published (Observer, Jan. 15) but obviously no action has been
taken against them, or else the world would have heard of it.
some 99 names of top bureaucrats have been put on the website and they
hail from various wings of the Union Finance Ministry such as the Income
Tax Department, and Department of Central Excise and Customs.
at the Union Government level. If one were to list the names of corrupt
officials at the State level, they would probably fill several volumes.
recently, the Central Vigilance Commission has recommended criminal or
departmental proceedings against 17 top bureaucrats including two former
chairmen of Port Trusts, a former Health Secretary of Delhi, a Director
General of Home Guards, a former Inspector General of Police in West
Bengal and, wonder of wonders, two Chief Secretaries, no less!
is the level of corruption at the highest level, one can easily appreciate
what it could be at the lower levels right down to the policeman on the
beat and the peon in a government office.
condone corruption at the highest quarters, what right do we have to speak
ill of the lowly clerks who, at least, can plead that they have large
families to support on low salaries?
the Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) Mr Nagaraj Vittal, it would seem,
has decided to take on the corrupt and face the consequences. He is
already in trouble for doing his duty. He has been told that politicians
do not come under the jurisdiction of the Central Vigilance Commission.
enough. To overcome the hurdle, Mr Vittal has suggested that the CBI
should investigate their cases and that has raised the hackles of
politicians who feel that Mr Vittal is going beyond his brief.
considering that he has a point, what guarantee is there that justice will
be done? The CBI is not an independent body and is under government
control. If the CBI could drag its feet on the Bofors issue, what
guarantee is there that it will not act similarly in the case of lesser
Vittal's action in displaying the names of allegedly corrupt officials on
the website has already brought him into disrepute. Isn't he condemning
them before they are even tried, goes the argument.
the reply is that at some stage or other, the names would have had to be
released anyway, and so what is wrong if they are released on the website
Vittal's argument is that publishing names of corrupt officials would be
serving a good cause as that would serve as a deterrent. But how long? And
few bureaucrats to jail (presuming that enough evidence against them is
available) or even a few politicians can at best be a temporary expedient.
The event will make the headlines of the day and would, in all
probability, be forgotten in no time.
has an action plan, which contemplates remedial measures on
administrative, legislative and societal fronts, and include cutting of
red tape, insistence statutorily on a declaration of assets by MPs, MLAs,
IAS and other service officers and a law for forgeiture of ill-gotten
assets. But these are long-term measures.
ever expect our politicians to pass legislation that is against their own
of cases against Class I officers are reported to be pending with the CVC
and 1,300 are reportedly being probed at the departmental level. By the
time these cases are really tried, many of the accused would probably have
situation, as one sees it, is hopeless. Should one, therefore, throw up
one's hands and be happy with accepting the status quo?
is like prostitution; one can decry it, one can condemn it and one
moralise over it, but it continues to exist. We now know that even the
courts are corrupt and the highest judicial authority is only too well
aware of the fact.
of judges have been raised, as they should be. Some politicians have to be
tried and given their just deserts. We should acknowledge the fact that
corruption cannot be eradicated. It can only be minimised. And one
effective way to do so is to take government out of most decision-making
of banks would help. But we should learn to accept the limits of human