... Continued from Previous Page
The political classes across the political spectrum have taken control of all levers of power in the country. You cannot recruit, transfer or promote civil servants even at the lowest level without in most cases the political masters having a cut in which their henchmen bureaucrats join hands. I was told by police officers that a bribe of Rs. 3 to 5 lakhs must be paid to join as a police constable. A few years ago a chief of a state recruiting commission was charging Rs. two and half crores for the post of a deputy superintendent of police and equivalent jobs in other departments. It was reported that the home minster of Mumbai auctions the post of the city police chief to the highest bidder.
Kalmadi like most politicians heading majority of sports bodies is not a sportsman, like elsewhere in the world except dictatorships. Colin Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association, is a former Olympian and Sebastian Coe, who won the 2012 Games for London, is an all-time great of the world of athletics. Even Jacques Rogge, current president of the International Olympic Committee, is a former Olympian. Unfortunately, in India, politicians, most with little ability in sports or expertise and their civil servant henchmen head almost all sporting organizations and remain entrenched for decades using their political clout. In cricket where the revenues run into tens of billions of US dollars huge amounts of money which are siphoned off. The control of sporting boards is used for patronage and political gains. It leads to waste and suppression of talent, when favorites are selected. There are scandals galore but suppressed. Recently following complaints of sexual harassment, sporting officials in women’s hockey and wrestling had to resign. Like in other sectors of Indian polity little punishment is likely to be meted out finally.
The politicians turn up for photo ops and have little to show in terms of advancing the games and sports. Many of us in diplomatic service remember how some politicians in charge of sports travelled to East Europe whose athletes did well in Olympics. They would then request that a coach be nominated so that India could beg an Olympic medal or two. The pernicious system of misused and abused reservation system makes our politicians to think on these lines. The level of performance by Indian athletes in international arenas, except cricket, which has become almost a religion with the masses, is abysmally low bordering on the pathetic. But more officials travel to international meets than Indian athletes, the latter being generally from poor strata of society are made to share the accommodation and food with the officials. I remember in 1972 Munich Olympics an AP journalist telling me that Indian wrestlers did not get their due since the Indian officials were away and their cause went by default. Fair amount of hanky panky goes on everywhere.
Scams and the Indian Economy
Indian economic decision makers led by PM Manmohan Singh and Chairman 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 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.
Americans believe that they can loot money from wars and by other means like globalization. They can create money on computer screens as they have done in last few decades. Indians believe that when God gives them opportunity for amassing wealth by fair or foul means, they should embrace it. One can get away, since rule of law can be outflanked, since legal institutions can be exploited to delay and obstruct any punishment after financial wrongdoings and venality. Apart from the ongoing CWG scam, let us look at some 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 a hero for the 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 $40 million). The size of the scam was estimated to be more than 43,000 Crore Rupees.
Such scams cannot be operated without the support of the politicians as kingpins. Under the influence of the truth serum, Telgi is said to have blurted out the names of some prominent Indian politicians which he was coerced to recant.
Then there is the perennial Bihar Fodder Scam, with an alleged embezzlement of about Rs. 950 crores (US$ 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 in Delhi and Mumbai.
The biggest recent corporate scam in India involves one of the most respected (!) businessmen. InfoTech Satyam founder B. Ramalinga Raju resigned as its chairman after admitting having cooked 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.
Quoting the observations made by the post and telecommunications audit office in a memo to the department of telecom, senior opposition CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said the issue of 2G spectrum license to private Telco’s “lacked” fairness and transparency. He claimed that the exchequer has lost a staggering Rs. 1.9 lakh crore from the 2G spectrum sale. The government dare not dismiss the tainted minister A. Raja of the ruling coalition’s DMK party, whose leader flew to Delhi and forbade thought of any action against Raja. Period
What about the Madhu Koda scam, a tribal laborer pitch forked as the Chief Minister of the mineral rich state of Jharkhand. The ingenuity of Koda and his associates continue to surprise investigators probing what is the Great Jharkhand Robbery. Charged with laundering a whopping Rs. 4,000 crore through hawala transactions and secret bullion trade, Koda stands accused of having a business empire, from Africa to Dubai to Mumbai, ranging from mines in Liberia to bullion companies in Mumbai and a hotel in Thailand.
Then there is the case of Syed Mohammed Hassan Ali Khan, a 56-year-old stud farm owner based in Pune, India, who is reportedly worth US$ 8-9 billion or more according to police-authorities. Disclosing the list of defaulters of income tax in the Rajya Sabha on 4th August 2009, the Minister of State for Finance S S Palanimanickam said in a written reply that Hassan Ali Khan tops the list of tax defaulters with an outstanding arrear of more than Rs. 50,000 crore. Another Indian miracle .It could really open a can of big and stinking worms.
But do not hold your breath. It will involve the high and mighty in politics across the political spectrum, industry, bureaucracy and others. So nothing is likely to ever happen.
Will the suffering masses across India ever revolt? There is a major Maoist movement in the backward but tribal dominated states across India, where tribal lands are being taken by an axis of evil consisting of politicians, corporate houses, bureaucrats and other middlemen. This well-organized robbing of India’s poorest is called development by Bhagidari – yes, shared looting.
Will an India wide large scale revolt ever take place and succeed! Going by the past record, unlikely .Till then India will remain a collection of people and not a nation, whose identity is based primarily on caste and clan, religion, language, region and such feudal ideas .The nation is a European concept and construct, evolved over centuries after bloody warfare between Popes, holy emperors, kings, barons and revolutionaries during which kings were guillotined, Czars killed, Caliphs and Shahs and rulers like Chiang kai Siek made to flee. Only then begins the equality before law and the rule of law, abundantly missing in the sub-continent. Equality before law has to be won by force.
As in the story of the Pied Piper, New Delhi India is obediently following Washington’s policies, which like the engine in the film ‘Run away train’ is leading the globalized world towards economic upheaval and worse US treasury has created over US$ 2000 billion on computer screens without any real intrinsic backing. With the industry in USA, except the military Industry in decline, huge sums are sloshing around the stock markets around the world including Mumbai. After all the Indian Sensex had rock bottomed to around 8000 in the wake of the October, 2008 (first shoe) collapse of Lehman Brothers and Meryl Lynch. This hot money created in 2009 has again taken Sensex to over 18,000 now. The stock markets are behaving like a Casino out of control.
What will happen when the second shoe falls? The so called Indian economic growth of over 8% with 12-15% inflation is hitting everyone in India very severely, except the rich and upper middle classes, further widening the inequality in wealth to obscene levels. Except the ruling coalition, all opposition political parties had organized an all India strike against price rise last month with heavy participation by the suffering masses of India. Does the Indian government have an acceptable road map for equitable economic growth .The current economic decision makers are blindly following Keynes. Said Hyman Minsky.
“Keynes's collective work amounted to a powerful argument that capitalism was by its very nature unstable and prone to collapse. Far from trending toward some magical state of equilibrium, capitalism would inevitably do the opposite. It would lurch over a cliff."