19 December 2010

All Scam and no Play

“ Government is like a baby: An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other. ”         
                           --- Ronald Reagan, former U.S President

The perennial epitome of Indian politics has resurfaced like a phoenix from the ashes; only trouble is: it isn't nearly as pretty. Rather, it's a sombre tale of a decrepit political system that laughs its way into beguiling its citizens. The dreaded epidemic of scams has resurfaced again, threatening to drill further holes into an already tarnished reputation of the nation in the global arena.

For a 21st century India gaining increasing prominence and credibility to its claim of being a super power in the foreseeable future, the unfailing recurrence of scams involving corrupt politicians and bureaucrats has been a giant hurdle in its path to glory. Quite unsurprisingly, the faith of a common citizen on the government dwindles in such circumstances. Sadly though, that's as far as it goes for a majority of the nation's population who seem to have adopted a callous "forget and move on" attitude. Perhaps the first step towards challenging a hollow administration is to start being ethical at an individual level. The tougher supplement to this task is the commitment to stay firm in the face of adversity. Private organisations, NGOs and illustrious personalities should lead the way in setting an example for others to follow. An immediate thought directs one to suggest the dominant role of media in ensuring a fair and transparent democracy. Recent happenings though, have been anything but reassuring. The Nira Radia expose' were testimony to the obsession of a section of the media to gaining TRPs, come what may, thus jeopardizing public faith in a responsible and effective fourth estate.

Here are a few among a plethora of scams that have rocked the shores of Indian democracy in 2010:

1. 2G Spectrum scam - Undoubtedly, the show stopper of the moment, it has taken the nation by storm.  The spectrum chicanery exposed loopholes involved with coalition politics, further endangering a species that would be remembered in history as "accountability". The biased licensing burdened the exchequer with a  1.7 lakh crores loss with another 171 crores sacrificed to the ruckus created by an indiscreet opposition that  boycotted the winter session of the parliament with the very purpose of protesting these losses to the treasury!

2. Adash Society Housing scam - Black sheep in the army conspired, wily politicians and bureaucrats obliged and lo and behold - flats worth 8 to 10 crores meant for Kargil war heroes and their families were sold at throwaway prices! 31 storeys were erected in place of the 6 proposed, an initial list of 40 members extended to 103 and only 37 of these residents belong to the army. Rules were conveniently tweaked to allow the top brass of  Maharashtra politics to get access to priceless flats in the high rise. While the deserving soldiers wait in anticipation for their dues, controversies abound their canvass of dreams.

3. "Common-Wealth" Games - The lesser said about it, the better. Suresh Kalmadi and his band of merry men grabbed the party invite with both hands and suavely managed to pilfer taxpayers' money with an irresistible urge only found with spoilt kids going gaga over chocolates. A stupendous show by the athletes and last minute reinforcements saved the blushes but only after rampant corruption again painted an utterly morose picture of Indian administration to the rest of the world. Quite amusingly, voices for hosting the Olympics were doing the rounds just after the CWG ended. Dil maange more, you would say!

4. Radiagate scam - The leaked Radia tapes brought to fore the close nexus between corporate powerhouses and government agencies. The power game at the heart of Indian politics tumbled out into the open, giving further insights into the 2G scam and A.Raja's adamant push towards retaining his post in the telecom ministry for the second time running. Allegations were brushed aside by the accused as conspiracies to defame them but the truth might still be lying buried deep in the quagmire of the controversy.

5. Institutional Public Laundering(IPL) - The perfect epitome of the downside of social networking . IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi shot himself in the foot when he tweeted that MOS Shahi Tharoor requested him to keep the ownership pattern of Kochi Franchise a secret. Hell broke loose in the ensuing chain of events - Mr. Modi lost his job, Mr. Tharoor his post in the ministry and what followed was a bitter legal battle between BCCI and Mr. Modi. All this happened as an audience mesmerised by the glam and glitter of IPL came to terms with reality.

All said and done, the biggest winner in such morbid times is the unwavering leap of faith that we show as citizens, a robust belief that things will someday change for the better. We need to toughen our resolve!