Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2010 - Year of the Scam or Fight Against Corruption


2010 - Its a year that will go down in the history of India as the Year of the Scams and there is no doubt about it.

The first half of the year was still silent. The second half rocked Mother Earth for all Indians. We have seen scams worth more than $100bn in less than six months. Isn't this monumental?

But did these scams happen in 2010? No.

All these scams happened much earlier. They had been in the news for a while but disappeared. People forgot everything. Politicians and Social Workers exclaimed that Corruption is a non-issue, during the General Elections in 2009.

So what happened in the second half? How did the nation's memory suddenly turn back to these embarrassing, humongous, monumental scams?

Its a million dollar question. If you'll closely observe, the politicians and the social workers were quite right about the fact that Corruption is a non-issue in General Election 2009. It was exactly so even in the first half of 2010.

First there was a a continued noise against artificial price rise in food items by BJP. The war against corruption in procurement, import-export, forward market commission etc for food items was taken out from the Parliament onto the streets of Delhi. The same culminated with A Jumbo Convergence Rally against Price Rise led by Shri. Nitin Gadkari and several other senior leaders. Almost 5-10 lakh people participated in this rally.

However, nothing changed in the media. Instead of focusing on the subject of artificial price rise bringing in more facts to the notice of the people, media decided to focus more on fainting of Mr. Gadkari, who was not used to the severe Delhi heat.

Then came the hugely controversial Bhopal Gas Tragedy to the fore front. 26yrs and still going strong, this case doesn't seem to end. It fades away and then reappears in the collective memory of this nation. And for the first time the country was told a part of the truth behind the absconding Chairman of Union Carbide Company, Warren Anderson.

Mr. Anderson who is about to receive death sentence by God almighty now, was supposedly helped in fleeing by our very own Rajiv Gandhi Govt. He didn't even sneak out of India. He met the then Home Minister Mr. P V Narasimha Rao and then President of India Giani Zail Singh before making his exit from India.

What is yet to come to light is that he was probably sent back to the US under a Prisoner Exchange program. This bit has been figured through US Govt. documents that refer to mysterious release of Adil Shahryar, son of Mohammed Yunus, a very-very close friend of Mrs. Indira Gandhi. Adil was charged with possession of dangerous weapons and charges of trying to wage militant activities in US and was serving a prison term of 35 years that started in 1982. The official documents of US referred to Adil Shahryar as S/o Mohammed Yunus, Close-Aide of Prime Minister of India.

The govt tried to hush up the story by announcing some compensation package and with time that story died down.

Then the things just changed and changed forever. The shit hit the ceiling when the delays in Commonwealth Games started causing International Embarrassments to the country. And Indians wanted an answer. Why is this project repeated in the news for only the delays? What is the problem? Are they short of funds? And then the answer.

CWG team wasn't short of funds. On the contrary, they seemed to have spent over $15bn (Rs.70000cr). Media, starting with Times of India answered this call with great detail. So one wondered, if the project really was worth Rs.70000cr. People wanted more details. They wanted to know specific overheads. And the media kept on bringing one ridiculous figure after another.

The news didn't remain within India, it reached all over the world. Outsiders being outsiders, did what was expected of them. They ridiculed India more and more. And I am thankful to them for having done this to us.

Our ego, self-respect, everything was hurt.We were angry. Angry that We, the people, never objected to your corrupt ways, allowed to take away more than your fair share, but in spite of this, instead of delivering our share to us, you have brought this national shame upon us? A chance to show the Commonwealth Countries, who were all once ruled by Great Britain, that India has "arrived" in a big way is being lost, just because there is no end to your hunger for corruption money?

This anger, hurting of self-respect got the citizens of this great nation out of their Tolerant Insensitivity...and as expected, it is expected to be an Intolerant Sensitivity for sometime now.

Then came the Kargil for Corruption Scam, also known by a better and respectable name, Adarsh Society Scam in which Chief Minister of Maharashtra was caught having influenced allotment of two flats for his relatives. Ashok Chavan had to quit within a week. This was followed quickly by allegation of corruption on B S Yeddyurappa, the first-ever BJP CM in Karnataka and the Southern India. 4-5 denotified land parcels were found to be handed over to his kins' companies. BS didn't quit and made allegation of political rivalry. He made his Children return the land, saved his seat and promised to clean his govt which is constantly under the accusation of not doing enough to clean the state of Karnataka of Mining Lobby.

The BJP which not only for political gains but also due to its serious concerns raised the bugle against 2G Spectrum Sale Scam before the winter session of the Indian Parliament. A Raja, who was an exceedingly arrogant man, was asked to quit. The JPC Probe into 2G Spectrum Sale Scam has disallowed the parliament to function for 18 days as of this day. Government's own allies are too embarrassed now to stand beside it. They have quietly and not-so-quietly indicated to the Congress to give into the JPC Probe demand.

Even as the plans for cornering the Government on the 2G Spectrum Sale Scam were being made, there was this series of mysterious taped conversations of Corporate PR giant Niira Radia with some very well known Journalists. The journalists seemed to be either lobbying with the Congress or suggesting fixing of Judiciary.

All the conversations were outrageous for the common man who had never even reached close to imagining something so shady. Unpalatable is the word.

Journalists like Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi and Prabhu Chawla etc had a tainted name overnight. Their credibility and neutrality were all not only under suspicion but finished forever. No one would trust them even if they were the last journalists standing.

The News Media was exposed like never before. The nexus of Media-Corporates-Politicians was now known to all and sundry and no one was above suspicion. It has sent some sensitive media houses like Living Media Group, owners of India Today and Aaj Tak, on a clean-up spree. Prabhu Chawla was demoted from Group Executive Editor to Editor - Languages.

In the meanwhile, now we have an upcoming mega-scam. A Public Distribution Scam which the media calls the Food Scam. The Land Allotment Scam in Tamilnadu is already falled prey to media.

Phew!!! So much, in such a little time? What happened?

People Woke up. People were suddenly hungry to know more about corrupt activities. The TRPs on corruption news were growing. Media had no option but to go with the flow. The largest amount of pressure was from the so-called Internet Hindus on social networking forum. The journalists from various channels and publications are accessible there and the Internet Indian (as Internet Hindus would like to have themselves known as) brigade attacked each and every one of them and asked them very tough questions.

So tough questions and confrontation with politically active people and frowning glares from the fence-sitter has really pushed the Indian media to respond. These are not new scams...these are taken out from "Pending Files" bin.

They are coming out because we are awake. Stay awake, my friends.

So, before we leave, here's the list of scams unearthed till now.

1. Sugar, Rice Import/Export Scam - Rs.3000-4000 crores
2. Bhopal Gas Tragedy - value lost was 20000 Human Lives and escape of key culprits
3. Common Wealth Games - Rs.70000 crores
4. Radia Tapes - Immeasurable loss
5. Adarsh Society Scam - Shameless Insult to Supreme Sacrifice
6. Karnataka Land Allotment Scam - 4-5 Land Parcels, admeasuring 17 acres or so.
7. 2G Spectrum Sale Scam - Rs.1,76,000 crore
8. PDS/Food Scam - Rs.2,00,000 - Rs.2,50,000 crore

The total is over $100bn already. But more is on its way...Till then...Jaagte Raho!