Citizens' Issues
Public Interest Exclusive
CAG Vinod Rai at Moneylife Foundation: “Our report on VVIP helicopter deal will be out soon”

At Moneylife Foundation’s 3rd anniversary event, CAG Vinod Rai referred to the ruling class as ‘typical bullies’, while answering questions on the recently uncovered VVIP helicopter purchase scandal, the UID or Aadhaar scheme, the Commonwealth Games and his political ambitions

 
Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India Vinod Rai, after delivering a powerful and inspirational speech at Moneylife Foundation’s 3rd anniversary replied to some questions from the audience. Despite time constraints, the CAG tried to give answers to most of the questions. Here are the excerpts…  
 
Q) Citizens’ groups often lose battles against public institutions because the government says it has the mandate to do certain things, without looking into the needs of the people. But people don’t back the citizens’ groups up. How can these groups continue without the people on their side?
Vinod Rai:  I’m totally unable to answer your question, sure. Until now, the minority, which is the political class, is exercising its mandate. It is winning because it is more aggressive and articulate. But the citizens have to be tenacious. Once, twice, thrice, four times, as long as it takes. Those with the mandate are typical bullies. They bark and you recoil. If you bark back and bite, that’s when you’ll succeed.
 
Q) When will you have a Twitter account?
Vinod Rai: I’m sorry, but I’m totally ignorant of technology. But a friend has been kind enough to educate me. Maybe I’ll come online shortly. But I don’t know how to define that ‘shortly’.
 
Q) Has the CAG been looking at the UID or Aadhaar scheme, which currently appears to become a scam?
Vinod Rai: Well, that’s your opinion. We haven’t yet looked into it yet, no. But we’ll certainly be looking at Aadhaar at an appropriate time.
 
Q) I’ve heard that the Ministry of Defense (MoD) is not within the purview of the CAG. Is this true?
Vinod Rai: We do audit the MoD. We’ve done this, you don’t worry. We’re looking into it, the report will be out shortly. What needs to be exposed will be exposed.
 
Q) TN Seshan changed the Election Commissioner’s (EC) office. You’ve changed the CAG. But the EC’s office is no longer what it used to be. Hopefully, this will not happen to the CAG office. We need continuous good leadership.
Vinod Rai: I don’t share the view that the EC has declined. EC is a potent body. You and I aren’t scared, but those who do seek election are scared. Another thing, I can assure you that the government, if they did make a mistake appointing me as CAG, will make the right choice next time. But don’t you worry; the CAG isn’t just one person. The strength is in the large organisation I head. And it is empowered by a 24x7 media—that is often on overdrive. That is the force multiplier.
 
 
Q) Isn’t the CAG allowed to audit at the policy-making level? Why so much was invested in, for example, the Commonwealth Games? Couldn’t we have spent that money to build sports facilities in each district?
Vinod Rai: Public policy is audited. Before the policy is formulated, we have financial advisors. But the CAG doesn’t do that. We come in post the event. How good this audit is we don’t know but the policy is certainly there. The Commonwealth Games, there was debate in Parliament on this question. Some felt the money should be spent to create infrastructure, others thought it should be spent at the district level. It’s a difficult choice. But the CAG’s job is only to check if the money was spent for the purpose it was allocated for.
 
Q) Could you give us some facts contained in the report on the VVIP helicopter purchase scandal?
Vinod Rai: (Laughs) I know it’s being looked into, but I can’t comment now. 
 
Q) In your report on the coal scam, why wasn’t a discounting factor used over 25 years? This would have brought down the figure to Rs60,000 crore from Rs1.86 lakh crore. Also, some of the mines were allocated to government institutions, so why should we be bothered by that allocation?
Vinod Rai: Firstly, the report was only on allocations to the private sector. Secondly, we’ve explained why we did not use a discounting factor in the report. It was because we only made our calculations on present losses. You should read the report. It’s 700 pages and makes for fine reading. Even Rs60,000 crore is not a small amount.
 
Q) Could you mention three ways to reduce corruption?
Vinod Rai: No, I don’t know. I wouldn’t like to make such recommendations.
 
Q) Certain people say you have political ambitions and that you are supported by the BJP. Is any of this true? What’s your retirement plan?
Vinod Rai: Firstly, what’s wrong with having political ambitions? But I don’t have any retirement plan. If you have something to offer me, do let me know.

 

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CAG Vinod Rai at Moneylife Foundation: “Govt was never prepared for the people’s awakening”

At Moneylife Foundation’s 3rd anniversary event, CAG Vinod Rai said that the government has been too used to paid audiences at political rallies and is now starting to be terrified of the silent majority. In a powerful speech, Mr Rai reminded the citizens the responsibility of ensuring good governance, saying that too much is at stake for this duty to be ignored
 


Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) Vinod Rai delivered a short but powerful speech on “Government Accountability is the key to a Vibrant Democracy” to a packed audience at Moneylife Foundation’s 3rd anniversary event in Dadar (Mumbai). Addressing a crowd of over 500 people, Mr Rai addressed the topic in clinical fashion, first defining what is required of the government, moving on to why the government is finally taking notice of us—the silent majority—and finally why we shouldn’t fall back to sleep.
 

Mr Rai believes that government accountability has been as critical in India as it is today. He said, “Government accountability is an issue that is alive. But before we can understand what we require of the government, let’s find out what it means for it to be accountable. Accountability is the obligation of those holding power to take responsibility for their behavior and actions.”
 

While private institutions as well as individuals also need to be accountable, Mr Rai said that more is required of the government. He said, “Accountability becomes more important when public funds are involved. This is because public funds come from taxes, which we have to pay. Because there is compulsion to pay, we need to know how the money is spent. This is why governments have higher accountability to its citizens.”
 

“Democracy without accountability is a body without a soul”
 

After years of slumber, Mr Rai believes, that citizens are finally waking up to find that they need to demand good governance themselves, rather than expect it. “Value-for-money in provision of public services,” he said, “is the basic tenet of democracy. Democracy without accountability is a body without a soul. But the public perception indicates that elements of ethics and integrity are lacking. The public has come to realise that governance is too important to be left only to the government. Each stakeholder is now vociferous, discerning and demanding.”
 

Mr Rai particularly noted the waking up of the urban middle-class in the last year. He said, “In 2012, the citizens took centre-stage, debunking the myth of the silent majority. This shows the maturing of Indian democratic forces. Citizens now seek a dialogue and this is the old order changing. Perhaps the urban middle-class united because of corruption at every government office. They have grown united and strong. This has taken the administration by surprise. They were never prepared. The government was too used to paid crowds at political rallies. This is the very reason for the insensitive and misguided response you saw in December and January.”
 

“If the government doesn’t perform, we have none other than ourselves to blame”
 

Toward the end of his speech, Mr Rai revealed what he believes is the key to a successful democracy. He said, “We are often told that the law should take its own course by those in charge. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen in our country. In successful democracies, the rule of law prevails. This needs to happen here, as well. We need the role of accountability institutions to be enhanced, as has recently been done in the US.”
 

Finally, Mr Rai said what we need to do to ensure that the government doesn’t forget what its job is. Mr Rai said, “The judiciary ensures horizontal accountability. What we need is vertical accountability, from the citizens, mass media and society in general. We need to remember that we ourselves give the government. If the government doesn’t perform, we have none other than ourselves to blame. But it now looks as if the people are waking up again, as is evidenced by, for example, the reopening of Jessica Lal case. India demonstrated its ability to rise up at the time of independence, then again when democracy was snuffed out in 1975, when the economy was liberalised, and now again. We need to keep this up. There is too much at stake to give up.”
 

The CAG finally urged the citizens of India to continue to speak up against corruption, saying that “tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today”. He ended his speech with this quotation from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:
 

There is a tide in the affairs of men.

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all the voyage of their life

Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

On such a full sea are we now afloat,

And we must take the current when it serves,

Or lose our ventures.

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COMMENTS

nagesh kini

4 years ago

Speaking of "public awakening" and the tide that has turned into floods in the rape of Nirbhaya has forced open the eyes of the powers that be to include a series of measures in the 2013 Union Budget. One only needs to wait and watch how constructively it moves forward or gets lost in the bureaucratic red tape!

ABHA CHAWLA MOHANTY

4 years ago

MR VINOD RAI,SIR, HAS DISCOUNTED INHERENT INDIAN DISDAIN FOR TRUTHFUL VOYAGE FOR SELF REALIZATION IN OFFICIAL EXECUTION OF JOB ASSIGNMENT FOR PERSONAL GAINS ....WITHOUT PREJUDICE!

ABHA CHAWLA MOHANTY

4 years ago

MR VINOD RAI,SIR, HAS DISCOUNTED INHERENT INDIAN DISDAIN FOR TRUTHFUL VOYAGE FOR SELF REALIZATION IN OFFICIAL EXECUTION OF JOB ASSIGNMENT FOR PERSONAL GAINS ....WITHOUT PREJUDICE!

nagesh kini

4 years ago

I see nothing wrong if anyone including Mr.Rai taking on politics post-retirement.
We've had brilliant civil servants like CD Deshmukh, Narayan Dandekar, HV Kamath who qualified ICS but didn't join,Yashvant Sinha,M.S.Gill,Jashvant ex-Army Major. Even professionals like CA NKP Salve, doctors like BC Roy, Jivraj Mehta, IITians Mahohar Parrikar Goa CM, academecians Dr.MM Joshi.
They have contributed a great deal essentially out of their vast experience gained pre-retirement
We desperately need them here and now!

REPLY

KanwalChadha

In Reply to nagesh kini 4 years ago

I agree, nothing wrong if services of such persons are utilized in politics. But they should not play politics for one party or the other while heading a constitutional body

nagesh kini

In Reply to KanwalChadha 4 years ago

not that know of any of them!

KanwalChadha

4 years ago

He should be fair not biased. His statement in a foreign university clearly shows that he holds biased views for the present Govt and is helping an opposition party to come into power. He is acting on the lines of what TN Chaturvedi did during his tenure and was benefited by the BJP after retirement.

REPLY

Surendera Bhanot

In Reply to KanwalChadha 4 years ago

Every truthful persons is a headach for the Congress. This has been the scenerio since 1947. T,N, Seshan was truthful and he nither joined BJP not offerred to Join BJP. He did his job in his own humble way. If T.N. Chatyrvedi had bben a psycophat of Congress like the Katju, that was good enough. This is what the congress had been doing all along. Now the inteligentia is also voicing thier grouse. Every citizen is fed up of congress. Only those people like the Congress who believe in scans and are with it in scams.

Nilesh KAMERKAR

In Reply to KanwalChadha 4 years ago

Truth cannot be told differently just because your addressing students abroad

On the contrary, he is being fair. He is saying things as they are, as he sees them.





Surendera Bhanot

In Reply to Nilesh KAMERKAR 4 years ago

He is not only say it, he is performing it - performig to bring out the truth. We should also follow, be it a little, to bringh out the truth, ot at least stand by the truth in our own humble way.

ANIL NAIR

4 years ago

VERY INSPIRING AND AN EYE OPENER

REPLY

Surendera Bhanot

In Reply to ANIL NAIR 4 years ago

Mere praisingthe speech is not enough. You have to be on board to fight mis-rule and corruption, in your own humble way.

Parmod Sachdeva

4 years ago

What to talk of awakening govt do not to give the basic education to people. Our spending as %age of GDP on education is among the lowest in the world. Time & again scholars have raised doubts on degrees/diploma awarded by our universities/ instiutes

REPLY

Surendera Bhanot

In Reply to Parmod Sachdeva 4 years ago

कांग्रेस का तो वोह हल है "जब गीदड़ की मौत आती है तो वो शहर की तरफ भागता है।

Bal krishna Gupta

4 years ago

There could not have been more appropriate a speaker other than Vinod Rai for the occasion of third anniversary of Moneylife Foundation.

The clarity with which he asserted the need for probity and accountability in the Government's perfomance of its function is really creditable. Had we had even 30-40% officers of the calibre of Mr Rai, India by now would have been the top economically developed nation of the world today.

Kudos to Sucheta Dalal personally and her team of dedicated writers and associates for organising such an important event.

Sucheta, keep fighting the forces of corruption, evil and inefficiency so that governance, transparency and development could take the centre stage in our national affairs.

I assure you that the honest majority of India are with you in this sacred mission!

Krishnan

4 years ago

Very few straightforward and honest officers are left. God bless people like Mr.Vinod Rai

Sethi

4 years ago

This is an excellent speech . I wish it can be put on the website of Money Life for others to read .Mr Rai is one of the few respected public figures irrespective of what the politicians and corporates think about him

REPLY

Sucheta Dalal

In Reply to Sethi 4 years ago

Many thanks. the speech is indeed there on the website if you click the top right hand
or here http://youtu.be/58MmKpFJZXg

Surendera Bhanot

In Reply to Sucheta Dalal 4 years ago

Thanks for the link.

HG Sharma

4 years ago

A strong wake up call , reminding citizens , their failure to elect right people in electoral process.
Where we are bogged down is letting politicians and their parasites ,emotionally black marketing huge majority of innocent voters.
Thanks Money life,
every word written here is very absorptive , Feel like going through full transcript.

M G WARRIER

4 years ago

Thanks Moneylife for fast reporting. Like me, many who couldn't be physically present there, this is very valuable. Hope the text will be posted on the web soon. Congratulations to Moneylife and thanks to Vinod Rai. We need many more like you.

nagesh kini

4 years ago

As one present at Mr. Rai's talk, last evening, I must say it is a clarion call to the essentially the passive educated middle class to wake up.
Thanks MoneyLife.
Yes, it is indeed our duty, as one of the stakeholders to demand accountability from everyone in authority be it the executive or the legislature now that the judiciary and the media are supportive.
His quote from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar at the is most appropriate.
Ultimately, it is we, who will be the losers if we are unable to swim with the current!

REPLY

Suiketu Shah

In Reply to nagesh kini 4 years ago

Nagesh totally agree.I missed out om ml 2nd anniversary last yr wherein the great Subramanium Swamy was the chief guest as we became ml members just a week after that.

What is most impressive is that inspite of significant hurdles ml is progressing so rapidly.7000 members at this time last yr and now almost 22000 and counting speaks for itself.

Well known companies indulging in large scale fooling/defrauding of investors(like VK Sharma of HDFC Securities) are bad mouthing moneylife which itself gives an indication of the great work they are doing.

Keep it up ml!

Surendera Bhanot

4 years ago

Dear Sucheta, I heard that this is on You-Tube. Can you please provide the link. Otherwise please send me the transcript if you will send the same to Mr. Vora

Surendera M. Bhanot
[email protected]

G R Vora

4 years ago

Sucheta, can you please mail me the transcript of the entire speech of Mr Vinod Rai. I was greatly impressed by it.
Thanks.

G R Vora
[email protected]

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