How long will the patient, long-suffering Indian keep calm—his fury will soon break out
India is the world’s youngest democracy, but six decades after the republic was set up, it is high time the populace gets the governance it deserves. Our democracy has matured enough, but corruption is a deep-rooted malaise
Over a decade back, in 2000, on the occasion of the golden jubilee of the Indian Republic, then President KR Narayanan, quoted John Dryden, when he sternly warned that "Beware of the fury of the patient, long-suffering people." Dryden's saying equally applies to the Indian aam janata of today.
Even after 11 years down the line, in 2011, Dryden's sane warning has not yet driven home the message to our elected representatives, bureaucrats and business czars. The economic gains instead of trickling downwards to the underprivileged are being corned by the powers-that-be- with the rich growing richer, and the poor be damned!
Economist SS Tarapore, a former RBI deputy governor, rightly points out: "Given the large number of the poor in our country, a 6%-7% sustained growth with 3%-4% inflation would be preferable to a 9% growth with 9%-10% inflation."
But our GDP growth seems to be on track, but inflation shows no sign of abating.
During a hearing into the 2G spectrum case, the Supreme Court bench rightly remarked -"We have a large number of persons who think they are the law. The law must catch them. Post-liberalisation, globalisation and privatisation, the government is dragging its feet on getting back the black wealth stashed abroad, even when the Swiss authorities have come forward to furnish the wrongdoers' names, but it (the Centre) is busy organizing cover-ups. Never before has free India witnessed such serious charges of corruption and wrongdoings of rampant loot of precious national resources by those in authority involved in blatant cover-ups with plain untruths-even challenging the findings of constitutional bodies like the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) who have reported the spectrum fraud of Rs. 1.76 lakh crores and ISRO with Rs2 lakh crore."
However, the prime minister is not necessarily monetarily corrupt. History has it that the French, American and Russian Revolutions were caused when the peoples' power rose in full fury. The sub-prime crisis that caused the massive financial meltdown in the US brought about the state intervention via 'socialisation' into the heart of free market capitalism-the United States of America, when the free market professing US Administration/State perforce pumped in billions to bail out "stressed" banks and big businesses. This infection in turn hit hard Europe via the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) economies.
There is rise in unemployment, galloping inflation and growing bankruptcies all taking their economies into a spiral-and giving the European 'Union' a serious setback.
You could say: Mera Bharat mahaan, hum sub hai pareshaan kyo ki 99% hai beimaan! (Our country is great, but we are all helpless, because 99% are hopeless).
Our national Budgets get passed-without debates.
Charges of corruption are flying thick and fast, hardly reviving old issues and adding newer ones reaching the highest echelons-FIRs against former Union ministers, the State CM, two army and one navy chief -along with other top army brass involved in 'the Flats-for-Kargil' scam, the Commonwealth Games scandal… this is a very long list. A senior counsel, filing a PIL (public interest litigation) in the Supreme Court alleges that eight Chief Justices of India are corrupt.
Corporate bigwigs have been caught red-handed trying to stall further exposures citing "invasion of individual privacy" in the spectrum-for-sale scandal, when they themselves are found to blatantly infringe public space by jumping queues to corner spectrums.
They do not hesitate to perpetuate corruption via multi-crore corporate public relations lobbyists. They ship payments to corporate lobbyists to swing deals in their favour, and yet complain of 'sleepless nights' over demands of Rs15 crore for setting up a new domestic airline. The company failed to deposit the entry fee, furnish bank guarantees and sign licence agreements for which they sought and were given several extensions. Nobody challenges another corporate head when he publically pointed out that there is a definite nexus between business and politicians.
Swapan Dasgupta, a veteran political commentator, rightly says-"We don't have any opposition worth the name-the Congress has given the BJP a chance to go prowling for simple minded suckers. For its own sake, BJP has to ensure its mad caps are kept behind closed doors." WikiLeaks has exposed the Achilles heels of both the Congress and BJP in an equal manner, leaving both parties red-faced.
The Union agriculture minister says he is not responsible for the food inflation that is exceeding an all-time high of 15%-the onions, garlic and tomatoes are not on his platter! We also have a scam-tainted Chief Ombudsman, the Chief Vigilance Commissioner who claims that he is only charged with criminal conspiracy and not criminal acts! The brother and son-in-law of an ex-Chief Justice become millionaires during his term of office. He continues to enjoy his post-retirement office as Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission with all attendant perks.
Doctors and hospitals blatantly overcharge when they come to know that patients are reimbursed, forcing health insurers to unilaterally pull out of cashless health-cover, crying over losses that are bleeding them. World bodies are refusing to extend lines of credit. Public transport is creaking at its seams. Power shortages-unheard of earlier-have reached Mumbai's eastern suburbs. The local water, petrol and land mafia are operating freely. Food inflation has shot through the roof. Mumbai is adding to its billionaires and high-rise luxury apartments with in-house gyms, swimming pools and will soon add rooftop helipads. Neighboring Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka have overtaken Maharashtra, shaking overseas and domestic investors' confidence in the state administration.
While addressing state chief secretaries on 4 February 2011, Dr Manmohan Singh said - "Corruption strikes at the roots of good governance, it is an impediment to faster growth, it dilutes, if not negates efforts at social inclusion, dents our international image and demeans us before our own people. Inflation poses a serious threat to the growth momentum, it is mostly driven by supply-side shortages."
Speaking later at the 17th Commonwealth Law Conference, the PM demanded, "power of judicial review must never be used to erode the legitimate growth assigned to other branches."
At the same venue, the Chief Justice slammed the government on the issue of food security and lack of inclusive financial growth. At another conference in Mumbai Supreme Court Justice Ganguly asked how former Maharashtra CM Vilasrao Deshmukh has been allowed to continue as a minister in the Union Cabinet after he was rapped by the Supreme Court in December, terming his interference with the police from taking action against a Congress MLA-moneylender, his behavior being "anachronistic and incongruous" and the High Court fine of Rs25,000, which was subsequently enhanced to Rs10 lakh.
The Supreme Court had remarked that the CM's behaviour was condemnable as he had acted beyond all legal norms for political considerations despite the Vidarbha region having the dubious distinction of witnessing the largest number of farmer suicides. Considering the large volumes of scams/frauds, a Bengaluru-based Chartered Accountant has proposed a punitive tax to serve both as a deterrent and punishment by christening it a 'Sin Tax' on tobacco and alcohol, and another tax yet to be named, of a flat 40%-50% of the amount evaded on those who intentionally violate tax and forex laws instead of resorting to amnesty schemes.
A long time ago, what Lord Macaulay said of British politicians of his times aptly applies to our today's netas, that they are a blend of "Whatsoever things are false, whatsoever things are dishonest, whatsoever things are impure, whatsoever things are hateful, whatsoever things are of evil report, if there be any vice and if there be any infamy."
(This author is a chartered accountant and activist.)
More in Moneylife
Banks Vs Depositors +4671 views
TODAY'S TOP STORIES
Moneylife Foundation event on decoding the realty regulator
- Banks Vs Depositors
- FIR against godman Brahmrishi Kumarswami
- FIPB defers decision on Jet-Etihad deal; Telenor gets go-ahead
- WPI-based Inflation eases to 4.7% in May
- I-T dept issues Rs816 crore demand notice on Wipro
- Government rectifies IIP data to 2.2% within 24 hours
- Naxals attack Dhanbad-Patna train, kills RPF jawan
- SEBI seeks details of Infosys board meeting of 1st June
- NSE to suspend trading in KS Oils, Abhishek Corp from 21st June
- Amway India chief, two others arrested under PCMCS Act. What about other MLMs?
- TDS on bank deposits: RBI’s advice to acknowledge 15-G/15-H is only half a step
- Corporate Governance: Convenience Rules with Infy Too
- Credit Sudhaar asking Rs16,000 a year for restoring 'credit'?
- Governance Deficit in Infosys?
- “Banks should not be selling third-party products,” RBI deputy governor
- Someone knew Narayana Murthy is coming back and traded on it
- Voila! A demand draft is bounced!
- Many messy reasons why people prefer gold. Can the FM remove them?
- Mango: Our Super Functional Food
- Suicides: Thousands of helpless men are victimized every year, says SIFF
- When Narayana Murthy walked the talk on Good Governance
- HDFC Bank pitches toxic product to NRIs
- A yield of 19.4%?
- Exclusive: Here is the Real Estate Bill, kept hidden from public
- Monitoring politically exposed persons: Need for a new approach by RBI
- Moneylife Impact: Now pay online for your passport; challan option also available
What's your say?
What you said
Thanks for casting your votes! View Previous Polls