Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Corruption – India’s Enemy within

‘Breaking enemy’s will to fight’ has been a 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 its short history, Pakistan’s leadership, especially the military, has realised that the option of waging and winning a conventional military war against India will be disastrous. Even covert attempts by Pakistan to encroach upon and occupy mountain heights in Kargil in 1999 were not only beaten back by the Indian Army but also invited widespread international condemnation. This adverse equation can, however, change to Pakistan’s advantage if India’s fighting potential and will is weakened by different means from within. Fortunately for Pakistan, this is now happening!

State of Defence Preparedness

Discontent in India’s Armed Forces, world’s second 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 of ‘colonel’ level rank who constitute the spine of our armed forces, are queuing up for voluntary retirement – despite 6th Pay Commission’s dubious largesse. There is still a deficiency of about 15000 officers in the Armed Forces. Officers. 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 and resultant administrative callousness all over. A long held military suspicion now turning into belief is that the top political leadership and bureaucracy are too busy in their self-serving pursuits to think of vital national interests.

At a time when high-tech Indian brains are in the forefront everywhere in the world; Indian industry tycoons have acquired world’s multi-billion dollar companies; and indigenous manufacturing infrastructure is providing our exports a competitive edge, 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 in military hardware deals and those who wish to break India’s will to fight. Being overly dependent on other countries for crucial war like equipment, India is compromising its sovereignty and freedom to express free opinions in the international arena even though it aspires for a global role. In times of war, this ‘dependence’ on others can become a serious handicap because the ‘providers’ can wrest strategic initiatives and coerce us to fight or negotiate on their terms.

Enviably, tiny 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. A sizeable part of India’s military hardware today comes from Israel too. An overview of ‘powerful nations’ of the world reveals that their power is not the economy (OPEC), it is the military (US). It surprises no one that despite a devastating economy meltdown, thanks to her military might, the United States has continued to be No. 1 Power in the world.

Dance of Democracy!

Unabated spate of scams, each bigger than the previous, inundating the media everyday reinforces this belief. The initial list of 154 tainted MPs in the present Lok Sabha has been expanding and now has more high profile additions with the likes of A Raja, Kalmadi and Kanimozhi lodged in Tihar jail along with their corporate cronies and senior bureaucrats. Some more from the ‘honest’ Prime Minister’s cabinet appear to be in the pipeline and may join them in due course. The labyrinthine judicial process, however, helps to unite all the stake-holders in crime who cobble up formidable nexus. Little wonder that we have not yet seen a powerful politician or a top bureaucrat finally convicted in our post-independence history.

Vital issues like national security, military preparedness and defence allocations are glossed over in the Parliament without attracting any serious debate or proposals from treasury and opposition benches alike. Issues that cannot be used as tools to score mileage over opponents – party or leader – do not evoke any interest in our political circles unless an issue holds out promise to gain from like the Congress overdrive to win over the agitating farmers UP’s Bhatta Pasraul by blowing up non-issues through dangerous lies only to be later refuted by the National Human Rights Commission.

In spite of Election Commission’s efforts, our electoral process has got so vitiated that we end up having ‘elected representatives’ with less votes cast in favour and more against. Also, thanks to money and muscle power, elections are highly risky and unaffordable if you are an un-sponsored contestant. It is simply logical that disillusioned and frustrated, the masses are seeking alternatives to farcical democracy by aligning with anybody who holds promise to deliver them from the malaise of bad governance. Little wonder that radical crusades like Maoist/Naxalite movement today hold sway over 40% of India. And the violent threat is only beginning but menacingly expanding and making inroads into newer areas from Bengal to Andhra Pradesh and from Chhattisgarh to Maharashtra. Lessons learnt from terrorism in J&K and insurgent movements in the North East have gone unheeded. By now we should know it too well that growing alienation of people from their own governments holds an open invitation to our external adversaries who are ever ready to invest in terms of finance, material (weapons, accessories, explosives etc) and ideology, and push their war effort through eager proxies already up against their own government.

Strategic Bankruptcy

In the recent times, the government has appeared running from pillar viz, reacting on a crisis to crisis basis with no long term strategy to solve existing problems or to envision and forestall future threats. Bankruptcy of statesmanship stands exposed through Government’s jittery reactions, be it the incongruent manner in which its top ministers and Delhi Police dealt with a yoga guru and his peaceful gathering at Delhi’s Ram Lila ground or the way they first bend to form a joint committee and invite Anna Hazare to work out an effective Lokpal Bill bestowing co-chairmanship upon the Civil Society’s nominee and later questioning Team Hazare’s representative credentials!

While there is a stubborn stand taken by the government representatives at the joint committee against inclusion of the Prime Minister in Lokpal’s jurisdiction, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has expressed his willingness and no-objection to such inclusion. Emerging from his self-induced hibernation, the Prime Minister, during his inter-action with media, expressed his helplessness and pitiably confessed that he did not have a ‘magic wand to control prices’. On the issue of Lokpal he said, ‘Lokpal is no panacea to prevent corruption.’ Contradictory statements and confessions of helplessness emanating from the highest echelons of the government only betray the chaos and disarray within. The government is floundering to come out of the deluge of scams and has little time to think of bigger issues like national security, public welfare and holistic development. Obviously, people’s confidence in the system of governance is waning.

Emasculation of Nation’s Moral Fibre

It is not for nothing that Pakistan is pumping tons of fake currency notes into India. Rampant corruption in India provides the enemy an ideal environment to insidiously infect and weaken the nerves of our nation. Obviously, it is so much easier for the enemy to infiltrate deep into the systemic government network through pliable power centres and influential lobbyists willing to work at a price. The enormous size of black money stock-piled outside the country has every potential to be utilised to influence government decisions to service vested interests at the cost of our national interests. Inside the haloed ambiance of the Parliament our 'honourable' MPs have betrayed their fallibility for cash on more occasions than one whether it was to raise a 'paid queries' or to sell their vote to keep a weak government from falling in a no-confidence motion. There is no dearth of money that can be mobilised to win over individuals, parties and organisations with a view to emasculating nation’s moral fibre so completely that it shall slowly but surely disintegrate and wither.

In a parliamentary system where Madhu Koda (of multi-crore scam fame) became Chief Minister of Jharkhand despite being a lone MLA without a Party, only worse can be feared if the likes of him gang up to form a pressure group in the Lok Sabha where he is one of the 154 tainted MPs today. He may well be aspiring to be India’s Prime Minister one day. Terrorists, communal enthusiasts and shady businessmen from within and enemies from outside would be more than willing to invest in helping pliable leaders and officials to redeem their aspirations. As for the bureaucracy, corruption has become so risk free that complaints of malfeasance no longer deter any one even as career progresses unaffected despite adverse remarks in the service books or pending enquiries. As confessed by the sacked CVC PJ Thomas in his affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, all the nine senior IAS officers empanelled with him had tainted past and yet were approved to hold top government positions as secretaries. With the political leadership is so greedy and bureaucracy so pliable, contracts and licenses can be procured even for the ineligible provided you are prepared to pay handsomely as has been seen in the G-2 Spectrum and CWG deals. If they could manipulate and sway Indian government decisions to have their way, will any cost be too much for Pakistan or China vis-à-vis expenses and stakes involved in the option for war?

In a micro-chipped cross-culture environment when younger generation watches corrupt officers and politicians prospering through crime with impunity, the evil of corruption turns motivator and inspires many more to join in. Efficiency goes for a toss yielding way to callous performance as is manifestly evident in the performance of 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 character of a nation and society!

Home grown Security Risks

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. Even judges have found corruption a lucrative pursuit. There have been cases of privileged clients extracting judgements made to order from courts and 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 do we believe they will protect and promote our national interests?

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 that could tempt the greedy and leering goons. Is it not already happening in the oil rich countries? Divisive forces within are already taking their toll in India too. For instance, 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 might 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. WikiLeaks exposes have already shown us how some foreign powers and lobbyists have coerced the Indian government to accept their diktats as to who should be assigned particular portfolios in the central cabinet and who should be kept out! Are alien powers already ruling India through remote control?

People know that even a strong Lokpal will not be a ‘panacea’ to wipe out corruption instantly. Yet, an effective Lokpal is the first but most needed step to hold the descent. Comprehensive reforms that can make civil administration, police and judiciary accountable, people friendly and responsive have been lip-serviced enough. So are electoral reforms and much awaited modernisation of armed forces. We have delayed action enough and must act now before it is too late.

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