In your interest.
Online Personal Finance Magazine
No beating about the bush.
The people of the country witnessed the entire cash-for-votes scandal on television. So, to say that the police or the parliamentary committee investigating the episode cannot find evidence in the case, is a real shame
Greed and fear are powerful human emotions, most misjudged though. However maligned the two might be, their significance in shaping human behaviour cannot be ignored. And they are as desirable as they are despised. Curiously, absolute absence of these two intrinsic evils of human nature-call them so if you wish-will rob the individual of his prudence and useful social conduct. When responsibly handled, these emotions enable us to add quality to the lives of others as well as our own lives, as we get on in the civilised world. If evidence was ever needed in support of this, it flows straight from the universally preached and practised business principle: 'highest returns from lowest investment'. It would be foolish in any corner of the world to practise the opposite of this; like saying 'give more, take less'.
Ironically, corruption springs straight from this theory. What we seldom acknowledge is that we are all corrupt in varying measures. It would, therefore, be utopian to expect total extinction of the evil called corruption. There has never been an era in human history-the Ramayana and Mahabharata periods included-when corruption did not exist. Why we are crying against it today is because it has crossed the limits of affordability.
Secondly, the role of 'fear' has altered. Instead of inducing caution in the mind of the exploiter, we are now in a reverse mode that adds an awesome, fearsome dimension. Gone are the days of 'under-the-table deals'; it is a blatantly open and an over-the-table business now. The public ambivalence over such dealings has only encouraged the perpetrators of the evil, because they are patronised by the same people who envy and hate them in private.
Politics in India has become the most lucrative business, with the fastest gains in fortune. As has been reported in the newspapers recently, the rise in wealth of our politicians averages 300% (or more, depending upon the 'capability' and 'capacity' of the leader concerned), within a period of five years, as evidenced from the affidavits filed by Members of Parliament/Members of the Legislative Assembly.
Who will not like to win over (or buy out) a pliable bureaucrat, judge or politician, willing to intercept and change the course of justice to favour their benefactors-be they from the government hierarchy, cronies from the fraternity, or an interested 'party' from the public?
Those who can pay can make the otherwise callous police and local administration move and act in the desired manner. Unlike other necessities of life, sex and money influence people in more curious ways-the more you have, the more you will want. Lust is nothing but excessive greed, which can drive you mad, like it happened with home ministry bureaucrat, Ravi Inder Singh, who was arrested in November 2010 for selling state secrets in return for sex and cash.
Fear can often lead to panic, which ultimately hampers the decision-making ability of individuals and establishments headed by leaders and officers running scared. The nation has seen this in the jittery responses of the government that is floundering in a deluge of scams and peoples' ire against corruption.
First, the government thought Anna Hazare was too tiny to deserve its attention. When the people rallied behind him with remarkable spontaneity, it scurried to appoint a joint committee with a duly notified timeframe to draft and legislate the Lokpal Bill as demanded by 'civil society'.
Then it made a mockery of statecraft in dealing with Baba Ramdev. Initially, senior ministers prostrated before the yoga guru, conceding all his demands (some quite weird) even before he could step out of Delhi airport. Even as they exchanged pleasantries, we saw the police pounce on a peaceful, harmless gathering in the sleepy hours at Ramlila ground. Statecraft was abandoned and witchcraft took over.
Corruption has now become the Frankenstein's monster of Indian politics. No political party is prepared to condemn it enough, aside from scoring points over each other in the routine 'holier-than-thou' frenzy. While the opposition is seen to be angry over the scams and is holding the prime minister responsible for the misdeeds too, no political outfit has come out in open and unequivocal support for a strong, powerful and effective anti-corruption institution like Lokpal as proposed by Anna Hazare's team. Shockingly, a jittery government is again trying to throttle people's peaceful protest, by denying the Jantar Mantar venue to Anna Hazare, the most peaceful protester that free-India has seen, even as numerous other rallies/meetings are being allowed there during the current 'ban'.
Even orthodox societies are fast evolving and adjusting to new realities. India, already well poised to lead the world, is hindered and threatened not so much by Pakistan or China, but by its very own enemy within-corruption in high places. No doubt, Pakistan-sponsored terrorism has hit us seriously enough in the past. But the menace of terrorism has also found a great ally in rampant corruption right at home.
With India topping the world with black money ($1,546 billion) more than the total of the next four countries (Russia, the UK, Ukraine and China together have $1,056 billion) in the list of black money hoarders in Swiss banks, Indian terrorists have enough to support them at home. Don't we hear politicians cry foul every time police or the army raid and arrest suspects? Not only the Batla house raid by the Delhi police, even the most blatant, daring Mumbai attack that is ominously remembered as 26/11 (to liken it to the 9/11 al-Qaeda operation on the World Trade Towers), found vociferous, if shameless, political support very much at home! First, it was AR Antulay who, when he was a minister in the Manmohan Singh government, suggested the hand of 'Hindu Zionists' in the killing of Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare (The Times of India, 18 December 2008). Lately, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh has been shooting from the hip, like an errant constable running amok, blaming the RSS and Hindus for all terrorism in India!
The whole world watched on 22 July 2008, how Members of Parliament waved wads of currency notes in the well of the house, screaming and complaining how they were bribed to vote in favour of the Manmohan Singh government, or abstain, during a trust vote after the Left parties had withdrawn their support. The government survived through murky horse-trading in Parliament. Recordings of a 'sting operation' carried out by a leading television channel captured these 'horse-trading meetings' and 'cash transactions' which were also shown to the Parliamentary Committee constituted to inquire into it. The Lok Sabha speaker asked the Delhi Police to also inquire into the affair.
First, the parliamentary committee report (not unanimous though) said they did not find enough evidence to pronounce anyone guilty. Now, after three years of investigations, the Delhi Police in its interim report says it has found no evidence pointing towards 'guilt of any politician'! Despite the glaring evidence that the people have seen in the entire episode, if the police or any other investigative authority absolves the culprits, it is an insult to the people of India.
Corruption is a secular pursuit. Politically, too, it cuts across party lines and converts enemies into friends and vice-versa. Mulayam Singh's Samajwadi Party was in the opposition, but only till the ruling UPA government had a comfortable majority. The moment the Left parties withdrew support, they not only jumped on the bandwagon but also went out of the way-using the cunning and innovative skills of Amar Singh-to garner additional support, by poaching Members of Parliament from other opposition parties. And we are the proud people of the largest democracy of the world!
Perhaps, if the Guinness Book of Records wanted a page on the world's most corrupt and shamelessly audacious leaders, I see no worthwhile challenge in the world-we will win hands down.
(The writer is a military veteran who commanded an Infantry battalion with many successes in counter-terrorist operations. He was also actively involved in numerous high-risk operations as second-in-command of the elite 51 Special Action Group of the National Security Guard. He conducts leadership training and is the author of two bestsellers on leadership development that have also been translated into foreign languages.)
Unions have called one-day protest against banking reforms and privatisation
Thousands of bank employees of public sector and some private sector banks stayed away from work today, in response to a strike call by the unions, disrupting banking operations in most parts of the country. The strike is spearheaded by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) in protest against the proposed banking reforms that the unions say are harmful to the banking industry and the interests of employees.
Ravindra Shetty, convenor of UFBU, said this morning that about 10 lakh bank employees are on strike. Employees of regional rural banks have also joined the protest action. However, according to information available, while most private banks are functioning, operations at some of the older private banks have been partially affected.
Mr Shetty claimed that most of the staff of 24 private banks had joined the protest, although some high-level officers were at work.
While it was announced that ATMs would also be affected, there is expected to be pressure on the ones that are working, as they have limited cash storage.
"At the 65,000 banking outlets across the country that offer ATM services there is going to be load on the ATMs since they can hold only Rs2 lakh to Rs3 lakh cash," Mr Shetty said. "Since the banks are shut and people would crowd the ATMs, the cash could run out within a couple of hours."
The unions say that reforms have led to outsourcing of regular bank jobs that will curtail the opportunity for younger people looking for jobs.
They have demanded the scrapping of recommendations of the AK Khandelwal Committee, which proposed sweeping changes in the functioning of public sector banks, particularly in the matter of recruitment and compensation. Other pending issues include pension and regulated working hours for officers.
The unions say that in the name of banking reforms the government is trying to reduce its equity share in public sector banks and allowing the increase of private capital in these banks.
The unions have unsuccessfully discussed the issues with representatives of the government, and earlier this week even with the chief labour commissioner.
Police raid office, said to belong to the MLM company, in suburban Mumbai; recover data of about 24 lakh people related to the company
The Esplanade Court in Mumbai has extended the police custody of Tarak Bajpai, chief operating officer of Speak Asia online Pte Ltd, and four others who were arrested last week on charges of fraud.
According to our sources, the police today raided an office in Walecha Chambers, Andheri, and found important data like names and other details, in the electronic form. It contains records of about 24 lakh people associated with Speak Asia, they said.
However, the multi-level marketing (MLM) company has been providing different figures on the number of panellist registered with it. During the court proceedings on the arrests, Speak Asia's counsel has said the company has 14 lakh panellists. This is lower than the figure of 19 lakh panellists that the company's chief executive Manoj Kumar Sharma had mentioned at a press conference on 16th May.
While the EOW is looking out for Mr Sharma and Haren Kaur, chairperson of Speak Asia, there are indications that the police may arrest some more persons associated with the multi-crore fraud.
Many agents of Speak Asia are said to be filing complaints against the company. According to information, a number of people from across the country are also coming forward to file complaints against Speak Asia at the offices of the Economic Offences Wing of the police.
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