Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Corruption - The New Lethal War killing India

‘Breaking enemy’s will to fight’ has been an effective military doctrine practised by warring nations for centuries. The mechanics of achieving such strategic long term goals are always covert, indirect and innocuously camouflaged to be inserted into the mainstream of the targeted nation. In Indo-Pak relations, it is particularly significant because having suffered successive defeats and even its dismemberment at India’s hands in the past; Pakistan’s options for waging a conventional military war against India remain seriously hampered unless India’s fighting potential and will is weakened. Fortunately for Pakistan, this is now happening!

Discontent in India’s Armed Forces, world’s third largest, has been growing over the last few years. Reassuring explanations of the top brass notwithstanding, the malaise has amply manifested itself in the increasing cases of suicide, fratricide and indiscipline at junior levels, and officers queuing up for pre-mature retirement. There is still a deficiency of about 15000 officers in the Armed Forces. Even the 2.3 million strong military pensioners feel cheated by the corruption ridden dispensation. The resentment is so intense that they are returning their medals en-mass and joining Anna Hazare and other Satyagrahis in their crusade against corruption.

A long held military suspicion now turning into belief is that the top political leadership and bureaucracy are too busy in self-serving pursuits. The ongoing spate of scams, each bigger than the other, inundating the media everyday is reinforcing this belief. While a few generals seem to have taken a cue from them and embarked on ‘Adarsh’-like misadventures to make a quick buck, the larger military leadership squirms in anguish over the worsening scenario. The tsunami of India’s corruption in higher echelons defies imagination and dwarfs past scandals like Bofors, Harshad Mehta etc to mere ripples in a bucket. What can be more shameful than the affirmation of the recently sacked CVC PJ Thomas in his affidavit at the Supreme Court that all nine IAS officers empanelled in 2008 and cleared by the CVC for Secretary’s post including himself, were tainted by charges of corruption, misappropriation, embezzlement, land grab and possession of disproportionate assets.

Even as high-tech Indian brains are in the forefront everywhere in the world and Indian industry tycoons are acquiring world’s multi-billion dollar companies, our own Armed Forces remain humbly dependent on imports for their major war-like requirements. Who is perpetuating this dependence on others? Obviously those who have tasted blood in the kickbacks and those who wish to break India’s will to fight. It is not for nothing that Pakistan is pumping tons of fake currency notes into India!

Even countries like Israel have developed their defence industry to such an extent that besides enhancing their self-reliance, it is also raking in sizeable revenue and expanding their area of influence through crucial exports. If we look at the United States, it surprises no one that despite a devastating economy meltdown, it still remains No. 1 Power in the world. Reason: her military might.

In India’s case, this crucial aspect has remained neglected due to rampant corruption. The fast spreading epidemic has already acquired an element of respectability and systemic acquiescence as can be seen from unhindered promotion of officers indicted and accused in numerous cases to higher positions thwarting all legal processes through mutual support. In a microchipped cross-culture environment when younger generation watches corrupt officers and politicians prospering through crime with impunity, the evil of corruption turns motivator and invites more to join in. Efficiency goes for a toss yielding way to callous performance as is manifesting today in our police and civil administration all over the country. Honest and efficient officers are exceptionally rare – and, hunted and harassed for their integrity, they are the endangered category on the verge of extinction. This is an era of paid editorials, paid justice, paid ‘darshan’ in temples, paid ‘ghost’ employees and so on. This is how corruption destroys moral fibre of a nation!

With dhan-kubers like Hasan Ali at home why will our terrorists depend only on Pakistan now for funding and support? Mentors and fund providers are readily available indigenously aplenty. Daud’s investments in Bollywood and other businesses like airlines, telecom, cricket and benami/pseudonym deals is no secret. In our Parliament, we have seen MPs raising ‘paid queries’ and hurling sacks of currency notes paid to them to ‘buy support.’ If you thought it couldn’t be worse, hold your breath. Even judges have found corruption a lucrative pursuit. Today we have a horde of tainted judges including retired CJsI who shamelessly cast aside their honour and dignity for an easy buck. With character of our leaders, bureaucrats and judges having degenerated to these levels, on what grounds can we believe they will not be seduced to surrender like prostitutes throwing all ethics, morals and faiths to the wind?

Let us not be fooled by the much hyped economy boom. Wealth, like beauty, in the absence of credible power to defend and retaliate, can be a serious liability tempting the greedy and leering goons. Nearly 40% of the country’s frustrated population is already under Maoists’ influence. Caste based reservation initially conceived as a social leveller has led to infusing more bitterness in the society driving even the higher castes to agitate and demand their pound of flesh in the loot. A new phase of ‘future wars’ is lurking around. To start with, these future wars in our context will be unleashed clandestinely through benign looking social organisations and schemes patronised by the powerful – you know who! The current Indian scenario is just perfect for the enemy to deliver the final blow. The latest WikiLeaks exposes now show how foreign powers are already ruling India through remote control.

In the anatomy of our governance, let us assume political leadership representing nation’s head (brain), bureaucracy its heart and military its muscle. They are all vital organs of the body and none can survive unless there is absolute harmony among the three. Muscle atrophy, we know, can reduce the otherwise conscious and growing body to a vegetative and helpless existence compelling the patient to beg for euthanasia. Even heart’s very own existence is unthinkable without a vibrant muscle casing. While each requires constant care and nourishment, muscles give meaning to physical existence through vigour and action. In the current Indian context, it is not difficult to diagnose the disease. The RTI ‘CT scans’ and the ‘sting op’ angiography reports supported by second opinion expert committees like CBI, ED and media confirm the disease is two fold: partial paralysis and enlarged heart with clogged arteries. Excessive intake of fats, alcohol, nicotine and overeating are known causes of cardiac and cerebral failures. They have devoured public money and bloated uncontrollably adding flab even as the muscle power starved for energy and nutrition. India’s super specialist physician – the Supreme Court – is doing its bit in saving the life of the nation but addiction to corruption has rendered the medication ineffective and the decay continues. There is an immediate need for a comprehensive surgical operation to save the country and restore its health.

Now, the critical question is who takes charge of the National Security to salvage the situation?
The writer is a bestselling author, a military veteran and a social activist.