Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Greed Breed of Indian Leadership

Greed and fear are powerful human emotions, most misjudged though. However maligned these two might be their significance in shaping human behaviour cannot be ignored. And they are as desirable as they are despised. Curiously, absolute absence of these two intrinsic evils – call them so if you wish – of human nature will rob the individual of his prudence and useful social conduct. When responsibly handled these emotions enable us to add quality to life – others’ and ours – as life moves on in the civilised world. If evidence was needed in support of this fact, it flows straight from the universally preached and practised business principle: ‘highest returns from lowest investment’. It would be foolish in any corner of the world to practise the opposite of this principle: give more, take less.

Ironically, corruption springs straight from this theory. What we seldom acknowledge is that we are all corrupt in varying measures. It would therefore be utopian to expect total extinction of the evil called corruption. There has never been an era in human history – Ramayana and Mahabharata periods included – when corruption did not exist. Why we are crying against it today is because it has crossed our affordability limits. Secondly, the role of ‘fear’ has altered. Instead of inducing caution and fearfulness in the mind of the exploiter, it has now gone in reverse mode and seems to add an awesome, fearsome dimension to his position. Gone are the days of ‘under-the-table deals’; it is blatantly open and an over-the-table business now. Public ambivalence on such dealings has only encouraged the perpetrators of the evil because they are patronised by the same people who envy and hate them in private. Politics in India has become the most lucrative business with fastest rise in fortunes. As reported recently in newspapers, rise in wealth of our politicians averaged 300% or more depending upon the ‘capability’ and ‘capacity’ of the leader concerned within a period of five years as evidenced from the affidavits filed by MPs/MLAs. Who will not like to win over (or buy out) a pliable bureaucrat, judge or a politician willing to intercept and change the course of justice to favour their benefactors – be they from governmental hierarchy, cronies from fraternity or an interested ‘party’ from the public? Those who can pay can make the otherwise callous police and local administration move and act in their desired manner. Unlike other necessities of life, sex and money influence people in more curious ways – the more you have, the more you will want. Lust is nothing but excessive greed, which can drive you mad like it happened with the Home Ministry bureaucrat, Ravi Inder Singh who was arrested in November 2010 for selling state secrets in return for favours in sex and cash.

Fear can often lead to panic, which ultimately hampers decision-making abilities in individuals and establishments headed by leaders and officers under panic. The nation has seen manifestation of this phenomenon in the jittery responses of the Government floundering in the deluge of scams and peoples’ ire against government corruption. First, the Government thought Anna Hazare was too tiny to deserve its attention. Later, when the nation rallied behind him in remarkable spontaneity, it scurried to appoint a joint drafting committee with a duly notified time frame to draft and legislate the Lokpal Bill as demanded by the ‘civil society’. Again, it made a mockery of statecraft in dealing with Baba Ramdev – first, senior ministers went prostrate before the Baba conceding all his demands (some even weird!) even before he could step out of Delhi Airport. Even as their pleasantries went on, we saw police pouncing on the most peaceful, harmless gathering in the sleepy hours of night at Ramlila ground in Delhi. Statecraft having been abandoned, witchcraft has taken over.

Corruption has now become Frankenstein’s monster of the Indian politics. No political party is happy to decry it enough except for scoring over each other in their routine ‘holier-than-thou’ frenzy. While the opposition is seen angry over scams holding the highest in the government, the Prime Minister, responsible for misdeeds too, no political outfit has come out in open and unequivocal support for a strong, powerful and effective anti-corruption institution like Lokpal as proposed by Anna Hazare’s team. Shockingly again, a jittery government is again trying to throttle people’s peaceful protest by denying Jantar Mantar to the most peaceful protester free India has ever seen – Anna Hazare, even as numerous other rallies/meetings are being allowed during the same ‘ban’ there.

Even the orthodox societies are fast evolving and adjusting to new realities. India, already well poised to lead the world, is hindered and threatened not so much by Pakistan or China but by its very own enemy within – corruption in high places. No doubt, Pakistan sponsored terrorism has hit us seriously enough in the past. But the menace of terrorism has also found a great ally in rampant corruption right at home. With India topping the world with her share of black money ($ 1546 bn) more than the total of the next four countries - Russia, UK, Ukraine and China ($ 1056 bn) in the list of black money hoarders in Swiss banks, Indian terrorists have enough to support them at home. Don’t we hear politicians cry foul every time police or the army raid and arrest suspects? Not only the Batla house raid by the Delhi police, even the most blatant, daring Mumbai attack that is more ominously remembered as 26/11 to liken it to the 9/11 World Trade Tower al-Qaeda operation, found vociferous, if shameless, political support very much at home! First, it was AR Antulay who, then holding a ministerial portfolio in the Manmohan Singh government, suggested a hand of ‘Hindu Zionists’ in the killing of Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare (Times of India, December 18, 2008). Lately, the Congress general secretary, Digvijay Singh has been shooting from the hip like an errant constable running amok, blaming the RSS and Hindus for all terrorism in India!

Whole world watched on 22 July 2008 how MPs were waving wads of currency notes in the well of the house screaming and complaining how they were bribed to vote in favour of the Manmohan Singh Government or abstain during a trust vote required to prove majority after the Left parties withdrew their support. The government survived through a murky horse trading in the Parliament. Recordings of a ‘Sting operation’ carried out by a leading TV channel (CNN IBN) captured these ‘horse trading meetings’ and ‘cash transactions’ which were shown to Parliamentary Committee constituted to enquire into it. The Lok Sabha Speaker asked the Delhi Police to enquire into the affair. First, the Parliamentary Committee report (not unanimous though) said they did not find enough evidence to pronounce anyone guilty. Now, after three years of investigations, the Delhi Police in their interim report says they found no evidence pointing towards ‘guilt of any politician’! Despite the glaring evidence people saw about the entire episode, if police or any other investigative authority absolves the culprits, it is an insult to the people of India.

Corruption is a secular pursuit. Politically too it cuts across party lines and converts enemies into friends and vice versa. Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party (SP) was in the opposition but only till the ruling UPA government had a comfortable majority. The moment the Left parties withdrew support, they not only jumped in the bandwagon but also went out of the way with the cunning and innovative skills of Amar Singh to garner additional support by poaching MPs from other Opposition parties. And we are the proud people of the largest democracy of the world! Perhaps, if the Guinness Book of Records wanted a page on world’s most corrupt and shamelessly audacious leaders, I see no worthwhile challenge in the world and we shall win hands down.

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