Har India ke ‘galli mein’ Chor Hai!

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(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)

In the past, “Sab Chor Hai” – all institutions without exceptions – is engulfed in corruption used to be the diatribe aimed at the Executive, Legislatures, Judiciary and Media.

In retrospect, “Har Ek Sahar ki Galli, Galli mein Chor Hai” is more apt for prevailing corruption in India. Of course, Har ek political party mein Chor hai is a grim reality.   If you want to look for one, you may find hundreds and thousands around you. Such is the harsh reality.

A 2005 study done by the Transparency International in India found that more than 92% of the people had firsthand experience of paying bribes or peddling influence to get services performed in a public office.

Such has been the course on which political leaders have run the course of the society over the past 70 years; it is difficult to find honest people around you. If you found some, they are usually compromised or remain on mute course.

Quite a few major scams and scandals have come to light recently to include: PNB fraud by Nirav Modi and Choksi, ICICI Bank conflict of interest and fraud; declaration of Karnataka election schedule through tweet by the BJP cell; leakage of test papers of Class XII and Class X of CBSC examinations; and so on.

The “Panama Papers” ranks India 19th out of 180 countries in terms of the number of names in the offshore data leak. A total of 714 Indians have been named.

From the high of 95, 94 and 94 in 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively by Transparency International, India’s rank went to 85 in 2014 and 76 in 2015 and rose to 81st rank (out of 181 nations) in the global corruption perception index for 2017.

As per ranking released by Transparency International 2017, India was named as the country among the “worst offenders” in terms of graft and press freedom in the Asia Pacific region.

“Zero Tolerance against Corruption” and “Fight against Corruption” either from the ‘Ramparts of Delhi Fort’ by successive Prime Minister since I K Gujral rule in later 1980’s or from “Jantar Mantar or Ramlila Grounds” by Anna Hazare hailed as crusader of anti corruption or Arvind Kejriwal, as champion of anti corruption in Delhi are mere frauds on the nation.

And, the Media jumps to sensationalize the political diatribe indulged by rival political parties and leaders. Consequently, corrupt leaders are portrayed in bigger than “real life sizes’ as most honest as their ‘lowest and most heinous images”. Remember Media too must that the “grand high level corruption”, an unholy congregation of most powerful figures, is hardly scared of media investigative revelations and laws of land.

The only silver lining is the conviction of Laloo Prasad Yadav, the RJD Supremo, in fodder scam case and Sashikala in ‘Disproportionate assets case.  In the case of Laloo Prasad Yadav, the verdicts delivered by the CBI Court’s are the first step only.  Their verdicts will be challenged in the High Courts’ followed by the Supreme Court. Thus, there will be phenomenal delays. Meanwhile, the convicts will seek ‘bail’ pending final adjudication or enjoy ‘Air Conditioned” comfort of hospitals.

Judiciary, the CBI, ED, Income Tax and Media are equally responsible for the present absurd state – phenomenal delays – in the “Fight against Corruption”.

Even to expect and hope that the judiciary would deliver justice is utopia. “Justice delayed is Justice denied” is an oft quoted adage.  A brief look at the phenomenal delays in adjudicating justice clearly reflects their complicity.

Who is responsible for such an absurd situation? Judiciary blames the Investigating and Prosecuting Agencies. In turn, the Investigating and Prosecuting Agencies blame the Executive for not according sanctions and also providing evidence.

Certainly, Modi and his Cabinet may claim more honest credentials institutionally than the UPAs Cabinet Ministers. However, the recent corruption scandals and scams getting exposed, albeit initiated in UPA regime, are tarnishing their image for allowing Scamsters like Nirav Modi, Choksi and others to flee the country.

More importantly Modi’s Cabinet will be entering last one year rule in May 2018. Hardly 13 months are left for Modi to act or perish.

Can Modi crack the whip on corruption on all alike with disregard to party affiliations in the remaining period of 18 months? Based on past performance, the answer is NO.

Is fear of loss of power the reason for Modi’s indecisiveness to send the culprits to jails? Having got elected on the basis of rooting out corruption, if Modi dithers on taking bold decisions, people will also throw him out of power in 2019 just as they ejected the Congress Party in 2014. Modi too would go down in the pages of history as a hypocrite (Mahatma Gandhi) – a product of democracy.

In sum, earlier Modi realizes his rapidly eroding credibility in the eyes of the common people of India, it is better for his survival at the 2019 polls. Modi can no longer remain on the back foot. No takers for mere repetitive sermonizing. Transparency is imperative to retain credibility.  Not only Modi must take bold decisions, but also ensure effective implementation in sending the culprits behind bars.

At stake is Modi’s credibility. If he fails to act and seek shelter under the “Law takes its own course), even his followers may not continue to extend their support. His rival political parties would launch a tirade against Modi’s complicity for not initiating prompt actions in Vyapam Scam, Lalit Modi, Vijaya Mallya, Nirav Modi, Choksi and others.

Unless Modi directs the concerned authorities, Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax, to take time-bound actions and give wide publicity by giving monthly ATR (Action Taken Report), the Aam Admi would not be impressed by Modi’s strong leadership capabilities. Similarly, prompt action must be initiated against individuals and organizations who deposited demonetized notes in ‘Benami accounts’ and their names placed in the public domain, besides “Bank Frauds”, NPAs and now the latest “Leak of CBSE” examination papers.

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