Sunday, April 18, 2010

Crusade for a Corruption free India

Dear Compatriot,

We are contacting you for a noble purpose. Every major problem we face today – individually or nationally – is rooted in CORRUPTION eg, organized crime, terrorism, communal violence, regional chauvinism and administrative apathy, red tape and inefficiency. People, though disgusted and angry, reconcile and adjust to it in their own ways.

Kindly have a look at our ground realities:-

1. It is no secret that there has been a steady degeneration in the quality of our politicians with every successive Lok Sabha becoming home to increasing number of criminals. In the previous Lok Sabha we had 123 tainted MPs; now we have 158 (including 73 of them involved in serious crimes). They are steadily moving towards majority and the day is not far when they will gang-up to form a Government of ‘like-minded’ MPs/groups!

2. People have lost faith in police and civil Administration because remedies through these agencies have become too costly and unaffordable. Emergence of extra-constitutional power groups like Maoists/Naxalites and Senas of various hues are replacing Administrative authority in various states. People at large find their dispensation of justice speedier and fairer. Little wonder, they have ‘liberated zones’ where the local Administration dare not venture! In other peaceful/progressive looking areas, the henchmen of local politicians call the shots.

3. Basic amenities like health care are in no less pitiable state. While patients are left to languish and die in pathetically unhygienic conditions in government hospitals, there are doctors who are butchering people to trade kidneys, eyes and other human organs with impunity.

4. The option of judicial remedies is riddled with murkier complexities. We have it here straight from the horse’s mouth. Recording their helplessness at the ‘collapse of criminal justice in the country’ during hearing of a high profile hit-and-run case of Delhi on 5th February 2009, the honourable Supreme Court went on to say, “What happened in the current case is only the tip of the iceberg. This is a case of accident. We have seen cases involving smuggling of arms, RDX, narcotics where the accused get away. But we are helpless.” (TOI, 06 Feb 09).

5. Scams are so rampant that new ones hardly make a news. There are varying estimates of black money from India stashed in Swiss banks but what is commonly believed and not been denied by Indian Government is that India tops the list of countries whose black money is parked in these banks. According to one estimate this Indian money in Swiss banks ranges between Rs 50-75 lakh crore (ie, $1 – 1.5 trillion). Now, compare this with the total ‘receipts’ that our Finance Minister hopes to muster up for the national budget (2010-11): Rs. 10.21 lakh crore with an alarming fiscal deficit of Rs. 3.81 lakh crore!

6. We all have personal experiences where we have had to ‘negotiate and pay our way out’ of sinister traps of unscrupulous officers and stooges. Simple things like licenses, admissions, address verifications, medical certificates, FIR…….nothing moves by rules. Money and/or ‘right contact’ can move everything that rules can’t.

7. Frustration of people manifests itself in weird ways. There is unprecedented rise in fatal road accidents, suicides by students and young professionals, rapes and murders…. People are losing their faith in peaceful democratic ways of protest and demonstration.

We have launched a crusade against this malaise where awakened and influential Indians like you can help in building up the desired momentum. It is heartening that Shri Shambhu Dutta, a nonagenarian Gandhian who participated in the Quit India Movement with Gandhi ji is leading this crusade with youthful zeal and vigour.

Having realised that to clean a stair case we have to begin at the top and after an indepth study of the problem and consultations with experts, senior retired Judges, leading Advocates and fraternal NGOs, we formulated & presented to the Parliament and Prime Minister, our following three demands or remedial measures to eliminate political corruption for all time to come:-

(I) Appointment of a three member effective Lok Pal (National Ombudsman or Rashtriya
Lok Ayukta) to adjudicate speedily the bonafide and serious complaints made on affidavits against Members of Parliament, Union Ministers and Chief Ministers. These complaints may relate to abuse of authority for personal or party gains, corruption, bribery, misuse of Government privileges and facilities.

(II) Disqualification of candidates for election to Parliament and State Legislatures against whom serious criminal cases involving moral turpitude, filed six months before the election, are going on (as recommended by former two Chief Election Commissioners), unless there is a stay or order in restraint by the High Court concerned.

(III) Forfeiture of illegally acquired property of public servants and functionaries, as recommended by the Law Commission of India under the then Chairman, Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy, as far back as February 1999. The Law Commission of India even sent a fool-proof draft bill for the purpose to the Law Ministry but no action was taken.

It is noteworthy that all the above three remedial measures were also recommended in
unequivocal terms by the second Administrative Reforms Commission appointed by the UPA(1)Government in their ‘Report on Ethical Governance’ submitted in January 2007.

This is every Indian citizen’s war where everyone’s effort counts. There is none too poor, too weak or too old to wage this noble war. For the pessimists who say ‘Corruption cannot go’ let me assure that our joint effort shall surely injure and weaken it, if not kill, and deny it the express way it has now. those who are not opposing CORRUPTION are conniving with it – and, therefore, helping it to flourish.

Your contribution – whatever form you choose – is going to be valuable in this effort. From the three options, you are welcome to choose the way in which you wish to lend support to this noble Cause. Kindly also forward this mail with your endorsement to your friends for wider circulation.

Looking forward to your kind cooperation.

Yours sincerely,

Karan Kharb
(Mob: 9818047092)
For Gandhian Satyagraha Brigade

Tel: 011 – 26464688 & 26460825
Telefax: 011 – 26224711
NEW DELHI – 110 024.
(An All India NGO of Gandhian Persuasion, Registered Under the Societies Registration Act, 1860)

On Unholy Reactions on Dantewada

The Massacre - Care first, Criticise later

It is sickening that retired army officers including some very senior retired officers (Lt Generals) are indulging in shooting out angry letters finding fault with every department of the government. Thankfully, such letters are not published in the press. The recent episode at Dantewada has shocked every Indian. The CRPF jawans who lost their lives in this massacre were just as precious as our own sons, brothers or our very own jawans. As part of the nation we have an obligation to stand behind those bereaved families in their hour of grief. Indeed, there is just no difference in the basic stock – an ITBP, CRPF or BSF jawan is just as precious a life as that of an army jawan. If he is not properly trained and equipped, he mustn’t be blamed for it – much less at this hour. In moments like this, how I wish we had words of sympathy and encouragement and not admonishment, contempt and derision that came aplenty from the ‘Elder Brother’ (ie military veterans). Such a stance generates mistrust and adversely affects civil-military relationship – a vital need for national security.

Now that the mourning period is over and emotions settled over the Dantewada tragedy, we may offer suggestions to minimize recurrence of such tragedies. Two major reasons responsible for this massacre: lack of training and poor leadership. Since training, administration and morale are leadership functions, the Leadership factor assumes highest significance. The role assigned to our paramilitary forces is characteristically distinct from that of the local police especially when their deployment involves fighting terrorists/anti-national elements. However, it is strange that IPS officers who have neither undergone formal training nor any experience of fighting occupy positions at decision making level, ie DIG and above in all paramilitary forces. The operational level command is left to others who are left to fend for themselves. For most of these IPS bosses forests are only for picnic, safari or timber. Most of them cannot tell a rifle from a gun or a carbine from a sub-machine gun (MP 5) and have perhaps never known about indirect fire, mortars, grenades or rocket launchers. Camping and movement in a hostile terrain involve understanding of military tactics – something too alien to the IPS babus. How can useful directions and policies emanate from such ignorance for units required to fight Maoist guerrillas? When there exists such a void of tactical knowledge in the top leadership, there cannot be a proper visualization of meaningful training. Lateral absorption of senior IPS officers in BSF, CRPF, ITBP or CISF serves only one purpose – it is an extension of welfare measures to these officers to enable them to earn uninterrupted promotions through risk-free corridors. This is tantamount to dishing out welfare cookies to a few officers at the cost of vital national interests. There is no logic why such officers are at the helm of organizations whose action units they have never led. If it must be the IPS officers to command these forces, they must start their career and rise through these units so that they carry their experience and knowledge to fill the void at the top leadership. Better still, let army officers provide leadership to the paramilitary forces from unit level to DG level.

The Government Resolve

We today have a Home Minister with a proven record and reputation for being the ablest minister in the Cabinet. He has also displayed a tough and an unflinching resolve to fight and refused to be brow-beaten by his critics and distracters. Ever since his arrival at the MHA, there has been a perceptible improvement in our internal security environment. Our intelligence outfit appears to be better poised. Even the high profile NSA is under pressure to comprehend security threats like professionals. One, unable to endure the pressure, had to go. But there is hail of derogatory mail against the Minister – most of it coming from military veterans. Is it fair to put PC Chidambaram in the same category as Mulayam Singh, A Raja or Lalu Prasad Yadav and their likes? The growing menace of Maoist terror will soon dwarf all other forms of terrorism that the country has faced thus far. We will witness that sooner than later. Besides the Indian Army, the PM and PC Chidambaram are the only politicians – in the government or opposition – who seem to have a realistic idea about the magnitude of the looming threat. Such politicians deserve our support and this rare breed in the Indian polity should be cared for and nurtured by people.

Role of the Armed Forces!

Another strange notion among us is “……..these kinds of operations are not a military task………. Our primary job is to train and be prepared for external threat, ie war…” In the modern age of international terrorism and our internal security scenario, are we really expecting a classical war between India and Pakistan; or India and China? Perhaps not in the foreseeable future. Proxy wars pay more dividends, cost less and, therefore, can be sustained for longer periods with minimum risks. Of course, we cannot dismiss the idea of conventional warfare altogether. But keep training as hard for Br H battles as you wish, you will get to fight the menace of terrorism more routinely and no Government can divide and allocate threats to national security in water-tight compartments keeping the Armed Forces exclusively for offensive/defensive tasks at the border. Armed Forces are the last resort and if and when things go wrong and beyond control of the civil administration including police and paramilitary forces – anything, anywhere, anytime – the government of the day will have to fall back to the nation’s Armed Forces. In fact, why should the government be even required to seek military intervention? Safeguarding the country against all kinds of threats – external or internal – is the fundamental responsibility of its Armed Forces. There can erupt emergencies where reluctance on part of the Army to step in on its own might harm vital national interests beyond repair. Lest our politicians and babus get worried, I am not suggesting any coup! However, in the event of a national calamity – a catastrophic situation, a national tragedy that might create a sudden vacuum of national leadership or incontrollable chaos, why should the Armed Forces not come forward to temporarily fill the vacuum to keep the country from plunging into anarchy?

Where’s the ‘Gentleman’ gone from ‘Officers’?

Have we become too touchy? We seem to have lost our capacity to digest disagreement and criticism. Slightest criticism is enough to provoke us into angry outbursts, often abusive, sarcastic and devoid of substance. People today find us fighting everyone: politicians, bureaucracy, para-military forces, newspaper editors, TV channels and so on and……on. What is the logical deduction of all this? If we are at daggers drawn with everyone in this country, whom will we expect to stand by us? Magnanimity and chivalry have been traditionally our forte – an enviable characteristic that set us apart a ‘Gentlemen’ from the rest in the society. (That assertion does not entitle us to despise all civilians though!) Time was when people respected us for these sterling behavioural qualities. Tolerance and restraint are great assets in public behaviour and can be put to effective use in subtle ways to establish an image so substantially that our population would love to protect and adore it rather than we clamouring for self-recognition incongruously at wrong times and wrong places. The more we indulge in stone-pelting at everyone who passes a remark at us, the more we fall to the level of street urchins reacting to a tick-off in a slum.

A little more soul searching, please! Are we so infallible that nobody can find a fault with us? Aren’t cases of corruption, insubordination, suicides and fratricides on the rise in our Armed Forces? Haven’t Army units suffered casualties and failures in operations due to poor leadership? And yet, cheers! - for everyone in the country still trusts us and bets on the Army because we are the nation’s ultimate power – the mightiest Might of the Nation; its last resort or the final option! In times of national crisis, there is nothing for the country to look beyond the Army. Yet, there is no Army in the world that has not tasted defeat. Defeat shows us the route to success. Therefore, let’s not suffer from conceit and be magnanimous, capacious to endure more. Let’s communicate more persuasively rather than embarking on wordy duels that only serve to tarnish our own image in the intelligentsia who, otherwise, love and adore us.