31st December 2010, Income Tax tribunal passed a long pending order nailing the people (including Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi's close friend O Quattrochi) who allegedly received kickbacks in more than 2 decade old Bofors case. This was the apt end to the year 2010 which for India could easily be called the Year of Scams and Inflation. And ironically the institutions who should be the guard and the watchdogs against corruption are turning out to be the failed pillars of democracy.
Corruption has always been an issue in India since independence. Old timers do talk about how then Finance Minister was forced to resign when allegations of corruption were made against Krishnamurti in 1950s. Then PM Nehru had to face pressure and criticism from leaders across political spectrum including his son in law Firoze Ghandy. Then came the era where Nehru's daughter Indira Gandhi made corruption a part of routine life in Indian society. Aided by the license raj and the brute majority that Congress enjoyed, corruption found its way right from the corridors of governance to the common officials on the ground. It took a massive movement by Jayaprakash Narayan alongwith RSS to awaken the entire nation to the dangers of corruption and nepotism. For the first time, Congress looked beatable in Indian politics.
But lot has changed since then 9including method and scales of corruption). In later years, Indian democracy found a few new institutions to work with existing institutions for a clean governance. Alongwith the courts, now we had CVC to keep a vigil on various departments. Media which played a stellar role in the Bofors corruption campaign gained more teeth with infusion of 24 x 7 TV channels. Common sense would have said that with this corruption should have come down.
But the year 2010 has clearly showed how corruption instead of reducing has taken epic proportions. Adarsh scam, CWG scam, 2G scam, the daylight wheat robbery, the sugar scam, Lavasa and many more were unearthed in the year. While involvement of ruling politicians was a given thing, these scams brought in new players right from media Tzars (and Tzarinas) to corporate head honchos to lobbyists to bureaucrats to defence forces to judges to vigilance office. For a moment it seemed, this was a well-oiled unit given protection at the highest level.
If one looks at it closely, it seems Congress has learnt a lesson or two from its Bofors and Narsimha Rao days. While it was as corrupt then, it also used to be regularly caught on the wrong foot because of the various institutions mentioned above. So one guesses that when it came back to power in 2004 as UPA 1, it made a systematic process to weaken the institutions. A case in point is the misuse of CBI in last 6 years. The only case where CBI was seen to be swift was in the Amit Shah where it acted as if it was under pressure to treat a state Home Minister like a petty pickpocket. Compare that to the lethargy shown in CWG or 2G scam. One has been hearing daily since 2 months on how Kalmadi, Raja, Radia etc will be caught in a day or two but nothing has happened. The slow pace has helped the accused to ensure papers are not found easily. Same CBI has been periodically used against Mayawati, Laloo, Mulayam for political benefits at time of crisis. While no one had any doubts about CBI being a Congress pawn, recent IT Tribunal notings make this fact known universally. If an institution is facing a crediblity crisis, the government in a normal circumstances would ensure a person with impeccable credentials is brought to lead it and that means the person is selected by those who have set high standards or integrity. But this is not what Congress did. They brought in Thomas as the Chief Vigilance Commisioner. Thomas faces charges in a graft case in Kerala and is also under scanner for his tenure in Telecom Ministry when 2G Scam happened. his appointment was against the wish of Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj. Why this departure from a regular practice where CVC has to be selected with approvals from PM, Home Minsiter and Leader of Opposition? Now the same tainted CVC was given the task to select the new CBI Director. The entire episode shows that Congress is keen to kill the neutrality of investigating and vigilance agencies for fear of being caught red handed.
If there have 2 institutions on whom Indians have place greatest faith, it is the court and the media. But Congress has ensured that these two are made an integral part of their Loot India campaign. Ex CJI Balakrishnan is one person who sat over some of the most controversial economic and business decisions in his tenure. The doubts raised by his colleagues and ex- CJIs on his behaviour and integrity are serious. The fact that his kins have increased their wealth manifold during his tenure is enough to make any person smell a scam. Add to his kin's involvement with a political party and it clearly raises questions over his political neutralilty too. Rather than making such a person leave public life and enquire against him, the Congress in centre has gone ahead to make him the chairperson of National Human Rights Commission. And media is silent in all these acts of ommision and commision. Similarly Congress has ensured many retired and tainted bureaucrats are given such positions after their tenure is over. Ramamnand Tiwari and Subhash Lalla in Maharashtra are similar examples of tainted babus getting plum posts after retirement. Its like asking a thief to keep a vigil on his theft and others wrong doings too.
So far there were a few whispers about the mainstream media being a party in crime with the Congress but the leaked Radia tapes proved that they are a part and parcel of the government and the party. How else can one explain renowned journalists like Vir Sanghavi and Barkha Dutt lobbying for the man who is said to have been the kingpin of the 2G scam? If media is not doing its job of being a watchdog, where can a common Indian look to.
Many skeptics will ask "but how will this affect a common man". Well, this affects the common man the most. Imagine the money Indian economy lost due to 2G and CWG scams. The same money could have been used for schemes for those below poverty line or to reduce the pressures of inflation. The food inflation which is making 2 meals a luxury for a poor man could have been avoided had the government and its institutions not allowed the wheat, the sugar and now the onion scam to happen. Every paisa that is taken away in an act of corruption is a paise on which the aam aadmi has the first right. But this has gone missing to PM Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi or the "PM in waiting" Rahul Gandhi.
But all is not lost. The fact that, inspite of most institutions not playing their part fairly, so many scams were unearthed and the government was pushed to the corner to explain, is heartening. This means that there are elements in media, bureaucracy and judiciary which are not ready to be the slaves of the Gandhi dynasty and care for the country. It is time where people of this country have to revolt against the tenure of corruption which has made life impossible for a common man.