Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Drama in the name of Corruption and its removal!

Currently there are a handful of major players in the nation and each is trying to be the cleanest of them all on the issue of corruption. These players are: the political parties: Congress, Communists, BJP, and others; the media: newspapers and the tv; the self proclaimed cleaners: Anna Hazare types. The public is both a player as well as the observer.

Please note that we are discussing only financial corruption here. Ideologically or in a larger sense all these players are corrupt and it would need a much bigger article to deal with. However, financial corruption, namely misappropriation of funds, poses a serious as well as complex challenge in itself.

First of all we need to understand that the general public itself has very ambiguous norm on the rule of law, corruption is a part of that. For example, breaking the queue to get something out of turn. I am sure a very large percentage amongst us have a very lax standard regarding this. Then come other favors and so on. We can never hope to have a corruption free society unless we work at these roots. But again, let us leave it for the moment.

Given that we have a relaxed norm on corruption, it gets noticed only after it crosses a fairly large threshold. We are sure that most of us are aware of what goes on in government offices, for example, public works departments, electricity boards, land-records, and so on. Ordinary clerks in PWD (public works department) own houses which can shame, say for example, a principal in a government school. Needless to say that executive and superintending engineers make palaces for themselves! Ditto other departments. When such is the case, why would only teachers restrain themselves? Thus there are tuitions and other such activities. The list is long and well known. The point is that all this happens, all of us know, and we are silent observers. In exactly the same way as we were silent observers when 26/11 attacks on Mumbai happened, and even in the aftermath of it. Although, we do have the habit of sloganeering "Enough is enough"!

So what is it that is making corruption an issue again? Recall that about a decade and a half ago, there was Hawala case, Jain diary case, Lakhoobhai Pathak case, and they all amounted to a few crores to a few tens or hundreds of crores. Bofors itself was miniscule in comparison, and during 1989 election Corruption at High Places was a big issue!

So there seems nothing new in Corruption, except that the scale has increased dramatically, and has attained astronomical proportions. Tens of crores have turned into thousands or lakhs of crores. We are sure that these days if a politician is accused of misappropriation of anything less than a hundred crore (2010 value in Rupees), he will take it as an insult to his status!

Then what is it that is going on? Congress removing A Raja and Kalmadi, BJP trying to save itself from the taint of Reddy brothers, Communists doing likewise, and so on; what does it all indicate?

Have we had enough? Do political parties realize that they need to change? Are they going to change? We believe that the answers to each of this question is a NO. Then what is going on? What is going on is just a big entertaining drama! The pot calling the kettle black. The people watching the show and yet nobody doing anything!

Then when will we change?

This is a difficult as well as a dangerous question to answer. The signs are ominous. We all saw the massacre of 26/11 and yet we did nothing. The safety of the nation is as much compromised today as it was prior to 26/11. We see the Rajas and Kalmadis removed from ministerial posts. But they won't be convicted. They will re-enter as party office bearers, and when they become older, they will become governors! Many of our pilots are those who do not certified skills to fly planes. They have obtained fake licenses. Ditto many engineers as well as doctors, lawyers as well as architects. We know how the bullet-proof jackets for the Anti Terror Squad were substandard. We know, how some of the ATS officers, did not even know how to wear helmets!

Do we realize that we are sitting on a bomb? No, no, we are sitting on a huge pile of explosives, and we are smoking cigars! If we are such imbeciles or callous, then what will wake us up? Surely, only an explosion will wake us up. But remember, and mark our words, it will be much bigger than 26/11, much larger scale than 2-G or CWG!

We sincerely wish and hope that we wake up sooner rather than later. Before a catastrophe rather than after it. Until then, it will be as it has been for so long: A Drama in the name of Corruption, and its removal.

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