Continued from: Elections in Bihar
BJP and Congress are One Party
While in 2008, India was at the 85th position, it was ranked at 84 in 2009. Even countries like Rwanda (66), Ghana (62), Namibia (56) and Botswana (33) are ahead of India in terms of transparency (less corrupt than India).
According to media reports it was estimated in 2008-09 that Indians (it will read like the who & who in India) have laundered money amounting to 71, 00,000 crores illegally to Swiss Bank accounts. More than half of the poorest Indians live on Rs 20 per day.
Indian economic decision makers led by PM Manmohan Singh and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, both imbued with the theories and practices of Washington Consensus outfits like the IMF and the World Bank, created to safeguard US interests, are more or less following US policies, except perhaps with some modifications like not letting normal banks in India to function as investment banks and invent and create hundreds of trillions of crazy financial instruments, benefitting only the US banksters. US economic policies brought down the prestigious institutions like Lehman Brothers and Meryl Lynch among others in 2008 and will certainly lead to US economic denouement sooner than later.
Sucheta Dalal, a fiercely independent investigator of scams , writing in her blog a piece titled “Corruption ;The Mutant Superbug ;” says that a liberal trade wind laid rules, set benchmarks for today’s systemic looting.” Two decades after economic liberalization, we are the world’s second-fastest growing economy. Decades of scarcity of everything, from telephone and gas connections to foreign exchange, are gone. Isn’t it ironic then that on the 20th anniversary of the end of licence raj, what has grabbed the nation’s interest is the systematic, large-scale plunder of national resources through ever-larger scams? Each scam was improved on by the following one in fine larceny. Our netas and businessmen, with the intermediation of clever lobbyists and venal babus, dreamt up new ways to skim the cream off every deal, contract, licence, statutory clearance or mining site while at the same time evading and suppressing any inquiry or media attention. Ramalinga Raju even ruined Satyam by siphoning off money to fund the ambitious Maytas Infrastructure and allegedly to bribe politicians.
“In the past decade, corruption in infrastructure contracts and land deals has raged unchecked because those in power began to share the loot with anyone who was likely to object. Throwing crumbs at opposition politicians to buy their silence and rewarding babus through allotment of undeserved flats became a regular feature. “A flat for a signature” seems to have been the policy in the Adarsh Housing Society scandal, where almost every bureaucrat whose concurrence or clearance was crucial (for de-notification and conversion of user status) has been allocated super-expensive real estate in Mumbai.”
An honest IAS officer of a north India state, where he reached the highest office of the chief secretary, with whom I spent the year of 1976 at the National Defense College, told me in 1984. “Earlier i.e. in 1960s and 1970s, the corrupt politicians had some sense of shame and decency and would go out of the room to strike their corrupt deals with fixers and traders. But now they are so brash and arrogant that we have to leave the room out of shame at their doings.”
G-2 Spectrum Scam, CWG and some other recent major scams
G-2 Scam, which has been incubating since the UPA first came into power in 2004, (and also involved the previous regime of BJP led equally corrupt era of India Shining for the party and its supporters), is the biggest scam since it involves a loss of 170,000 crores (a crore =10 million) of rupees to hit headlines. It stopped the functioning of the Parliament. It is only the acme of the defiance by the corrupted ruling elite which is literally telling the public, “You Indian public, you are cattle and sheep. We have and we will keep on doing it. You cannot do anything to us”. Look at the statements of ex Minster A Raja, allegedly responsible for the Spectrum Scam and his party’s attitude, Kalmadi’s defiance in CWG scam or statement of denials by an array of Maharashtra’s top political leaders and top and senior military officers deeply implicated in the Adarsh Housing Scam in Mumbai and earlier by Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan.
Niira Radia-the Ultimate Lobbyist for all Seasons
Radia Tapes Unveil the cancerous Nexus of politicians, bureaucrats, Fixers and Corporate houses.
“Indian politicians have looted the country much more after Independence than the British rulers did during their 200-year rule,” Yoga guru Baba Ramdev.
(Before the arrival of the British East India Company in the 18th century, the sub-continent's share in world manufacturing was 24.5 percent in 1750. But by the time the British had finished with India, the sub-continent's share had fallen to 1.7 percent (in 1900) and that of the British increased from 1.9 percent (in 1750) to 22.9 percent (in 1880) - Rise and fall of Big Powers by Professor Paul Kennedy.)
Niira Radia, the lobbyist, born in Kenya of Punjab parents after many years in UK came to India in 1994 and set up base in Delhi. “She became a powerful politician's dear friend, disciple of a powerful religious guru and, most triumphantly, a publicist for India's two biggest tycoons. --Radia invested in the right people and made the extra effort when needed,' says India Today in its January 3, 2011 issue.
Below are some of the transcripts from Outlook magazine of her intercepted conversations with the rich, the mighty and the influential. The intercepts show the corporate lobbyist deftly weaving her way through power’s corridors, and discussing the intricacies of realpolitik with the kind of candor rarely seen in the public discourse.
From the controversial JDU Rajya Sabha member N.K. Singh, Radia gets a minister-by-minister primer on the pluses and minuses on the ‘Shivji ki baaraat’ (a reference, as he explains, to a kind of Noah's Ark with many creatures, from scorpions and serpents to elephants and tame deer) that is the UPA-2 team.
“Spectacular jump for Anand Sharma [commerce], spectacular decline for Kamal Nath [highways],” says Singh sagely, adding that Praful Patel would be “unhappy” at not being elevated as full civil aviation minister.
“But he [Patel] has destroyed the sector,” pipes in Radia. “He’s worked as a minister for Naresh Goyal [Jet Airways] and now Vijay Mallya [Kingfisher]. He cannot brush off this charge.
“I think that perhaps Mukesh [Ambani] has swung it for him,” says Singh in a back-to-back conversation with Radia, on Murli Deora landing the plum petroleum portfolio for a second successive term in UPA-2.
In a different conversation, her aide, Manoj Warrier, too fills her in on a chat with P.M.S. Prasad of Reliance Industries who told him that the news about the Ambani brothers arriving at an out-of-court settlement in the gas dispute had been leaked by Deora to “deflect attention” from the real matter, the dividing up of resources including gas.
In a conversation with an unidentified person, Radia pushes the case of an industries secretary in the West Bengal government, an IAS officer of the 1977 batch, who is applying for transfer to the center.
“A very good guy,” Radia says and that she has talked to the minister about it. “He says we can talk about it.” She then fixes up a meeting with the unknown person.
To Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s foster son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya, she complains that Unitech [the real estate firm which bought 2G spectrum under A. Raja’s regime for a song] is avoiding her, even bouncing Tata cheques.
When Bhattacharya mentions that the Unitech bosses probably think that the new commerce minister Anand Sharma is “proprietary”, Radia adds her own input.
“Haan, he [the Unitech boss] told me that abhi to Anand Sharma aa gaye hain. Dekhiye kitna confidence hai Sonia Gandhi ka un mein. (See how much confidence the Congress president has in Anand Sharma).”
Other Recent Scams
In early 1990s there was Harshad Mehta, an Indian stockbroker, known as the 'Big Bull'. He triggered a rise in the Bombay Stock Exchange in the year 1992 by trading in shares at a premium across many segments. Taking advantages of the loopholes in the banking system, Harshad and his associates triggered a securities scam diverting funds to the tune of Rs 4000 crore (Rs 40 billion) from the banks to stockbrokers between April 1991 to May 1992. He died of a massive heart attack in 2001, while the legal issues were still being litigated. He was very popular and an icon for the Indian public. Everyone wanted to become rich overnight like him.
Then there was Abdul Karim Telgi, a convicted-counterfeiter. He earned money to the tune of several billion dollars by printing counterfeit stamp paper. His 300 agents sold the fakes to bulk purchasers, including banks, FIs, insurance companies, and share-broking firms. His monthly profits were estimated in the neighborhood of Rs 202 crore (slightly more than US $40 million). The size of the scam was estimated to be more than 43,000 Crore Rupees. Such scams cannot be operated without the full support of the politicians. Under the influence of the truth serum, Telgi is said to have blurted out the names of some prominent Indian politicians which he was coerced to recant. He has recently been sentenced but the political heavy weights behind this scam remain free.
Then there is the perennial Bihar Fodder Scam, with an alleged embezzlement of about Rs 950 crores (US$ 206.15 million) from the government treasury. This theft involved many Bihar state government officers, business people and even chief and other ministers belonging to various political parties led by Lalu Yadav, Dr. Jagannath Mishra and others. It involved fabrication of "vast herds of fictitious livestock" for which fodder, medicines and other equipment was supposedly procured. Although the scandal broke in 1996, the theft was spread over two decades. It revealed, and is an example of the mafia rule having penetrated several state-run economic sectors in the country.
It is said that the government of India is really not interested in extraditing the notorious Mumbai gangster Dawood Ibrahim, resident in Karachi, Pakistan and now a collaborator with Pakistan aiding ISI in various terrorist activities in India in general and Mumbai in particular. His interrogation, if extradited would indicate his linkages with many prominent politicians and rich persons in Delhi, Mumbai and elsewhere.
Another of the biggest recent corporate scam in India involves one of the most respected (!) businessmen. Infotech Satyam founder B. Ramalinga Raju who resigned as its chairman after admitting cooking up the account books. He showed "fictitious assets with real ones" through Maytas acquisition which failed, and he decided to confess to the crime. It involves a fraud of about Rs 8,000 crore (Rs 80 billion). The government stepped in and with help of another private sector company set the affairs right i.e. sweeping the misdeeds under the carpet. But suspicions remain! Who knows what is hidden in various accounts of other private companies all over India.
In 1996 CBI seized Rs. 3.6 crores in cash concealed in bags and suitcases from the official residence of Ex-union minister Sukhram. In February 25, 2009, Sukhram was sentenced to three years' imprisonment and told to pay a fine of Rs two lakh. Court also ordered forfeiture of his disproportionate assets worth Rs 4.25 crore. He appealed to the Higher Court and is free and enjoying life. There are many such cases of ministers and Chief ministers who after conviction have got stay orders from higher courts and will enjoy their ill-gotten wealth till they pass away.
And then there is the other perennial Bofors case, which involved bribes of only Rs. 40 crores (440 million). It has been used by the opposition against the Congress party at every election time. Opposition parties did little to solve it when in power from 1998 to 2004. Late PM VP Singh, a former Congress finance minister who won elections in 1989 saying that he knew the account number of the Bofors money did little when in power. Gossip has circulated that one of VP Singh’s friends had received the money .
Call for Lobbyists in India
“Numerous times this year, members of Congress have held fundraisers and collected big checks while they are taking critical steps to write new laws, despite warnings that such actions could create ethics problems. The campaign donations often came from contributors with major stakes riding on the lawmakers' actions. "Washington Post"
Unless elections are state funded and institutions given constitutional independence, money power and sleaze would control the politics and economic life of the country and bring ruin as it has to USA, of which Indian elite are great admirers.
Info and intellect challenged empty heads dominate TV channels, media and other discourse about the US led Western model. To eliminate the kind of increasing stranglehold of corporate power over Indian policy making, some have suggested making lobbies legal as in USA, without studying the evil influence of lobbies dispensing billions of US dollars and promoting military industry, energy, communication and other corporate monopolies in USA and bringing down the decline of USA.
At least in US the rule of law still exists and it is implemented. Criminals and guilty persons however high, rich or powerful they may be are punished, something which has not happened in India and is unlikely to happen any time too soon.
India has reverted back to decadent Moghul empire end era after the eroding of the Teflon put on by two centuries of British rule of law, which never penetrated below the district level.
As in Hindustan’s tragic history, the rulers who have usurped power cannot even provide protection to the citizens of the country with terrorists from Pakistan and elsewhere and from inside, almost having a free run. The last was, in the glare of the world media, the brutal rape of India’s commercial and cultural capital Mumbai on 26 November, 2008 for three days by Pak trained terror group with possible knowledge if not FBI complicity. India is still discussing the details of the rape with Pakistan and US and has become a laughing stock of the world. Yes, after every such attack the political class increases its own security, to hell with the subjects. It has yet to devise a deterrent against such attacks.
The security system had failed to spy and counter 26/11 rape as other earlier disasters. If another 26/11 takes place it will find India equally unprepared. Perhaps US is making sure it does not recur.
Even the Indian armed forces have been infected with the malaise of corruption and other ills. The involvement of many top generals of the Indian defense services in the Adarsh Housing Scheme for Kargil martyrs and other scams are only some of the tips of the iceberg.
The country has been taken over for the benefits of a small minority of those who have usurped power and continue to do so with a defunct electoral system. The judicial system has been distorted to favor the powerful and the rich. For all practical purposes there is little rule of law. India remains a collection of identities based on caste, religion, language, regional and other divisive tendencies.
India is becoming a land of Banana Plantations.
National needs and policies are drowned in local politics, emotional or outdated ideological illusions, playing to the galleries or simple ignorance. Former Indian Ambassador KS Bajpai gives some examples ,“Tamil Nadu’s parties competed to embarrass Delhi’s handling of Sri Lanka, states around Bangladesh connive at illegal immigration, UP has no thought for its responsibilities vis-à-vis Nepal. With visions so narrow, who cares about the security of the Persian Gulf or the stability of Central Asia? Or, the question of our permanent UNSC membership.” Indians will remain frogs in a well or like the scabs in an opened tin, pulling each other down.
India is unlikely to become a modern nation with rule of law which defines a nation, any time soon. It is becoming worse with an uncertain future.