DISAPPEARING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Monday, August 4, 2014

Spreading sleaze

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No wonder there have been frequent electricity outages for reasons of defective transformers to repair which the supply is frequently disrupted. It now transpires that the Additional General Manager of the Central District for electricity distribution in-charge of management of transformers was found to have amassed assets worth more than fifteen crores.

While he was lining his pockets the system was going to seed. Not too long ago a large number of transformers are reported to have been bought. One does not know about their quality; but it is true that outages have continued even after replacing the old ones.

Looks like, this state has become a den of the corrupt and the venal. The mother of all scams, the one relating to the state’s Professional Examination Board and the state Public Service Commission is already under investigation. Huge amounts changed hands to manipulate results to enable undeserving candidates to get admissions in professional institutes and colleges A minister has been put under arrest and the highest executive of the Board is also behind the bars. Even the chief minister and his wife have come in for adverse notice for recommending names for irregular clearance for admission in various professional institutes/colleges. The latest news is that the whistle blower in the case is under serious threat and he is not being provided the necessary protection. The government seems to have developed an aversion for him. It was he who exposed the massive inter-state scam in which enormous amounts were involved. All kinds of irregularities, from manipulation of marks to impersonation, seemed to have been allowed for a price.

 Almost every day a new scam surfaces in the state and these scams are not ordinary ones. It seems all the corrupt people want to make billions in a jiffy. Even the lowest of officials – a patwari (the lowest revenue official) to a forest ranger, clerks in municipalities, etc. – do not lack aspirations. They all amass liquid and solid assets worth crores. Naturally, the executive engineers or officers of their level or even of even higher levels aim big. Recently, the IAS couple, Arvind and Tinoo Joshi, were dismissed from service after having been placed under suspension around five years ago. The couple is reported to have amassed assets worth 340 crores.

The governance is lax. It has got to be so when the high and the mighty are involved. A number of IAS officials have cases running against them. Some have even become ripe for prosecution but the state government either does not issue sanction or incurs long delays in doing so. According to law, the senior officers of principal secretary’s level and above cannot be prosecuted unless permitted by the government. They are more equal than ordinary mortals. And the permission seldom comes. How can one expect unscrupulous officers to preside over their own or their own colleagues’ dismissal? Corrupt and venal thus continue to run the government.

All this is happening in a state that is supposedly economically backward. If the amounts involved in the scams detected in rest of the 29 states, 7 Union Terrtories and at the Centre are taken together it would surely be a huge amount. There are states like Maharshtra, Karnataka, Haryana, Jharkhand etc. which are reputed to be more corrupt than Madhya Pradesh. At the centre alone scams worth hundreds of thousands crores were reported during the rule of UPA II.

 I have talked about only the amounts involved that have been detected  in the scams. If all those that have somehow escaped the notice of the investigative agencies are also accounted for the amount would undoubtedly be mind-boggling. Besides, tens of billions are floating around unaccounted in the black economy which, some estimates suggest, is of around 50% of the country’s GDP which was estimated to be more than US $1 trillion. The tax payers’ moneys are being siphoned off by few crooked, unscrupulous, perverse and sleazy people. Remember, in this country even the poorest of poor, who number millions, have to pay taxes.


No wonder somebody had once said that “India is rich but Indians are poor”.    
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