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A Utopian India March 16, 2014

Posted by Gomathi Reddy in Culture, Desi Indian, News and Current Affairs, Politics.
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This morning, Vijaykanth of DMDK, yet another neta going to polls was busy assuring us that if NaMo comes to power, then the whole country will be cleansed, cleared and will remain corruption free. Uh what? Ah? Oh okay! Had to smile…not the same lines…not again – one more time!

Yesterday I read about yet another commission. Yet another deadline to be met. Yet another retired judge was appointed to head a commission that supposedly will  look into the alleged corruption charges of so-and-so  ministry/minister. And some more of public money has gone down the drain, right in front of our eyes (they even announce such things!) investigating something, the outcomes of which are already known.

How can there be a fair investigation, when the ones who executed the  crime are the ones who are starting the investigation? These commissions are more about omissions. They are more like “did you make more than what you declared to me? Let me find  out” mission – One party over the other, one minister over the other, one bureaucrat over the other. Public money is not only swindled in such scams, it also lost on these supposed commissions and investigations.

Take a look at the list of scandals and scams in India since Independence.

Most of these do not have any convictions. With no end in sight, people lose track of what’s important, the why’s and hows of an investigation, and over a period of time lose interest because the next scam outsmarts the one they are following – in scale, in size and in smartassness. And the prime accused in all these scams, keep switching their allegiance to either the BJP or the Congress, depending on who is likely to stay in power, and keep thwarting efforts to deliver justice.

Every accused minister or scam-tainted politician wants to get back to the seat – to serve the people? Nah! – To serve their interests of postponing judgments. And who supports them?

Their respective parties position them back to the seat. And why do they do that – they have had a share of the pie. And who supports such moves – the national parties or dominant regional parties – Because they want to form the Union government or State government, through a cacophony of math that gets them the numbers to capture governance. And in a federal structure like India, every small party from every state counts.  And who is appointing these commissions (of omission)? – The Union government or the State Government, of course. – The whole thing is such a vicious cycle.

Will such tainted ministers ever get punished for their crime? – Yes, but only the scapegoats get punished.

The true brains and brawns of corruption never even get an FIR or charge-sheet against them. They sit back in their cozy dens and remote control the various elements of the drama that unfolds in the media and ensure that there is atleast one scapegoat per scam, lest people lose faith in the system.

So, who is to be blamed? – The delays in the judicial system?  Certainly not. Because the delays are not real, but orchestrated.  Yes, that’s a strong statement, but it’s true.

Corruption in India is a huge octopus, with wide-spread tentacles, across all executive and bureaucratic layers. Does cutting off one of the tentacles (like pinning down a politician) solve the issue? Most certainly not.

The causes of corruption in India are many, but in a nut shell they include excessive regulations, complicated taxes and licensing systems, numerous government departments each with opaque bureaucracy and discretionary powers, monopoly by government controlled institutions on certain goods and services delivery, and the lack of transparent laws and processes. This is spread across all cities and villages throughout India, and is a well-structured network consisting of municipal and other government officials, elected politicians, judicial officers, real estate developers, law enforcement officials, industry heads, business leaders and the common man!

So when all these supposed news channels beam “news” about various steps taken to eliminate corruption and feature wannabe national leaders who make blatant charges against the media that they are “paid channels,” (as if that’s dawning on them only now) the whole media circus involving the entire chain of news, the news makers and the news producers, looks like a well-choreographed performance that is carrying its act a bit too far making a fool of people for so many decades.

Do these people really want to eliminate corruption? What is root of the issue? Where does it all start? 

Think about this – A couple of days back, I went to visit my aunt in the hospital beyond “strict” visiting hours. The supervisor of the floor gaves me an awkward smile and I pillaged my hand bag and thrust a few tens in her hand. Is that greasing palms or am I being generous? When there’s an arm outstretched, the Indian mind is wired to give. And does every “giving” go without expectations? Not necessarily – At times it’s a blatant exchange of money to meet an objective, at times it’s about “cultivating” a relationship. Very rarely it’s about giving with “no expectations,” like treating a beggar on the streets – You certainly don’t want to meet that person again. And such aversions are peddled only with pennies.

As the money scales up, so does the expectation. And somewhere down the line, the receiver becomes the giver. The power equations shift. Expectations get clearer, and so does documentation. It’s not any more about generosity or greasing or cultivating a relationship. It’s business. It’s a marketing expense. It’s work. It’s part of the game.

So where do we draw the line on when graft ends and when work begins?

Why should the onus of clearing up graft lie only on the other side of the line? Can the bureaucrats and politicians become corrupt, if citizens – business folk, media, you and I – remain clean? Can we become more honest and believe that we deserve a clean society, because such stench is beginning to affect each one of us and our daily lives? Are we transparent in the first place, to expect the grandiose goal of “corruption free governance” from people in position of authority?

According to Transparency International, “corruption is abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It hurts everyone who depend on the integrity of people in a position of authority.” – The key here is “integrity of people.”

Aren’t each one of us in a position of authority in our own lives; within our own families; within our own circle of friends; relatives and acquaintances? When we resolve to remain citizens with integrity, it’s natural that our leaders and people in position of authority will have no choice but to remain clean, transparent and corruption free.

Is it time to stop shifting the blame and start reflecting?  Where do we start cleansing the system?

For all those who are alleged to be corrupt: Convicted people (politicians, elected representatives, officials, bureaucrats) can volunteer to stay away from the election process and the system. They can wait for their judgments to get delivered. The big relief for them, their supporters and their parties is that the Supreme Court has assured that such cases will be prioritized and closed within a year.  So stay away. Come clean. And then contest. It’s a big boost to the public image of all concerned – if you believe  you are made the scapegoat; if you believe you are innocent; if you believe in the system (which you created.)

For everyone else:  Charity begins at home. So does graft or anti-graft.  Practice what you preach to officialdom.

Does this sound like a Utopian goal? Well, we all ask for a Utopian India – Here’s the plan to create one. 🙂

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