WHAT on earth is happening to this great country? The simple answer is: Under the UPA government it is steadily going to the dogs. There is no leadership of any kind. Everyone, including ministers, bureaucrats, chairmen of various bodies, even media seem to have lost their sense of direction. Corruption is eating into the nation’s vital and no one seems concerned. Consider the Medical Council of India. Its president, Dr Ketan Desai, according to reports, has accumulated Rs 2,500 crore in cash, 1,500 kgs of gold and an unaccounted list of properties. Are we to understand that the Government all these years has been unaware of Desai’s shenanigans? Whom is the UPA government trying to fool? Are we to understand that when all this wealth was being accumulated illegally, the Ministry of Health was blissfully ignorant? Desai reportedly has 13 bank accounts.
The Hitavada (April 26) said that “the recovery of Rs 1,801.50 crore in cash and gold weighing 1.5 tonnes by the CIA from Dr Ketan Desai that the media flashed on every channel was surprisingly withdrawn by afternoon. Most of The Hitavada readers called the newsroom after the news disappeared from the television channels to express their surprise and shock”. Who else, in the higher echelons, has been involved in the Desai racket, pray? Ministers? Politicians? In comparison, what Lalu Prasad Yadav allegedly amassed in what came to be known as the Fodder Scam is pitiably low – a bare Rs 46.25 lakh between 1990 and 1997, though the scam itself was of the order of Rs. 900 crore.
Take the case of the IPL. The names of some Ministers have been mentioned as involved parties. But again, overnight, as it were, the stories have disappeared from the media. What does that suggest? The Free Press Journal (April 23) said “the Congress leadership is simply interested in settling personal scores. It is using the alleged wrong doings in the IPL transactions to tame its somewhat difficult partners. Therefore you see calculated leads to embarrass Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel.” That is bad enough.
Then there was another story – this one attributed to NDTV that said “at least three teams fixed matches in the second edition of IPL”. Income Tax officials are reported to have submitted a report to the Finance Ministry. According to the report, “shockingly those involved in fixing the matches are superstars of Indian cricket and even an international player who is a captain of one of the teams.” An official is quoted as saying “Probably, for the first time in cricket history, senior and junior cricketers, playing in rival teams, jointly fixed the outcome of matches.” There has been no follow-up of the story, why, may one know?
In a recent editorial The Hitavada said that “the report of the Supreme Courts appointed committee headed by former apex court judge Mr Justice DP Wadhwa, that a whopping sum of Rs. 28,000 crore given by the Central Government to subsidise food for the poor was being pocketed by vested interests, is shocking to the core.” That is putting it mildly. The paper added : “Unscrupulous traders, transporters, millers and corrupt officials, all are working in tandem to deny the poor, food grains at cheaper rates.” Nobody is named. Nobody presumably, will.
Deccan Herald (March 19) reported that the Lokayukta sleuths have ferreted out “assets worth more than Rs 8 crore following raids on the residence of a Circle Inspector of Police and some other officials in Karnataka. The information was released by Lokayukta chief, Justice N Santosh Hegde. End of the story. We will never know what corrective actions have been taken by the powers that be. Money is of no consequence where power is sought. In the recent elections to the Bangalore (Bengaluru) Municipal Corporation, apparently Rs 2,000 crore were spent by candidates, a good number of them being crorepatis. Are we to believe that that much money was spent for fun? Isn’t it fair to believe that the winners will try to recover the money by hook or by crook?
There has been a report that the Chief Post Master of Maharashtra and Goa was arrested by the CBI allegedly for taking a bribe of Rs 2 crore. The CBI has recovered a sum of Rs 34 lakh, $ 3,050 and Euros 3,470 from his residence. There has been no follow-up. Another report notes that a senior Union Home Ministry IAS officer has been charged by the CBI with accepting a bribe of Rs 25 lakh from six distilleries in Daman. The distillers, in connivance with Excise Officers had resorted to under-reporting of production by preparing false documents. The accused persons caused a financial loss to the government of Rs 300 crore by way of tax evasion. How long has the Home Ministry been sleeping?
So unscrupulous the UPA government seems to be, that according to Outlook (May 3) it has been using “new technologies to spy on all forms of communications: cell phones, fixed lines, internet”. Everybody is a target in this huge surveillance regime and private and civil liberties be damned. Among those tapped have been named, like Digvijay Singh, Nitish Kumar, Sharad Pawar and Prakash Karat. If celebrities can have their phones tapped with impunity, can’t one expect the telephones of smaller frys to be tapped as well, perhaps for a price? How would they know?
It would seems that almost a month after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s currency notes garland row “the CBI has told the Supreme Court that it has evidence to prove that she and her relatives have illegal wealth”. So, what’s going to be done about it? Will any action be taken? Ask Lokayukta chief, Justice Hegde, how many of the officials whose illgotten wealth has been discovered and publicised, have been punished. Have they been charged? Have their properties been confiscated? Have they been tried in a court of law? We do not know and the media does not seem to care. In such circumstances, why appoint a Lokayukta at all? The sad part of it all is that we have now come to a stage where anything goes. Corruption is not taken seriously because every section of society seems to be indulging in it with total impunity, and the average citizen has lost faith whether in a Chief Minister, a Central Minister, a senior bureaucrat, a senior cricketer and even in an editor and his reporting subordinates.
What respect can anybody in the media command when one believes that news can be ‘bought’ and paid news is standard practice? Think it over, Sonia ji. Think it over, Manmohan ji. Think it over Chidambaram ji. Think it over UPA ji. For God’s sake, why don’t you all take voluntary retirement, ji, ji, jis?
It is impossible to read a newspaper or watch breaking news on television without feeling a desire to throw-up.