Dr Jay Dubashi
DURING the last one thousand years India was invaded by scores of foreigners, styling themselves as kings and emperors, including Afghans, Turks, Iranians, not to speak of the Portuguese, French, Dutch, and of course the British, who came over the seas. Some, like the Moghuls and later the British, managed to set-up their tents have and remained for years, in fact, centuries, until we threw them out, lock, stock and barrel, and got rid of them for ever.
But, for some reasons, the Italians never made it, though some of their cousins in Greece did. But the Italians were a clever lot. They calculated there was very little for them to loot, after the others had their fill, and they would bide their time. They now believe their time has come, after smuggling many of their compatriots into India, and have suddenly blossomed into the sharpest looters of them all, with sticky fingers in all sorts of deals, beginning first with Bofors guns, and now Westland helicopters. Neither the guns nor the helicopters are manufactured or even supplied by Italians, who make lots of pizzas and not much of anything else. They are, of course, excellent cooks, experts at all kinds of exotic recipes, but never such things as guns and helicopters. But their fingers reach everywhere, because of the men and women they have planted in all sorts of places, including, of course, the military, which eats out of their palms.
For some time now, there have been rumours that they have made a killing in a deal involving the purchase of hi-fi helicopters meant for the use of VVIPs, which means politicians on the prowl, and of course, their military handlers. The military is apparently so flush with cash, and, of course foreign exchange, that they do not think twice before splurging millions of dollars and pounds on such exotic purchases. A few years ago, we purchased only guns and ammunition, since that was the only thing we could afford. Now, we go in for aircraft, carriers, passenger planes and, of course, helicopters. And, going by reports, we buy them by the yard or tone, as you and I do when we buy cloth for our curtains, or sofa sets.
The helicopter deal was finalised about five years ago, when, for the first time since Independence, India was flush with cash, with money rolling in from all sides, but mainly from software and other services. With so much cash in the vaults, why not go in for a few helicopters for our politicians, who, for years, used to travel in bullock carts, particularly at the time of elections. Now you don’t travel during elections, for, if you are smart, you rig them, and you rig the voting machines too. So, when you are in the mood, you order a plush helicopter, as you and I order a rikshaw, to fly over the Himalayas, admiring the icy wasteland and, of course, the flowers, as you sip the costliest Italian wines and French champagne, and eat canapes, all at the poor tax payer’s cost.
The Italians, who are a shrewd lot, saw all this and decided to make a killing. They planted a few of their friends in the military. With the help, of course, of other people in high places – do I have to name them? -, paid a few millions into their Swiss accounts, and managed to transfer other millions into India through software export earnings, and keep everybody happy, including top chiefs in the military and, of course, others elsewhere. This is what the Italians had done during the Bofors deal, which was handled at the highest level through the usual Swiss accounts and, of course, through such clever gentlemen as Ottavio Quattrochi, who just happened to be an Italian with an entry pass to the most powerful residences in New Delhi.
What happened in the case of Bofors? Nothing. Quattrochi fled the country but remained in touch, manipulating the right people in Delhi, and fooling the government all the while, until he got the loot cleared and managed to lay his hands on it just when everybody thought his goose was cooked. The whole thing lasted years and governments came and governments went, while the man waited patiently in some hole here and there, until, when nobody was looking, he collected the loot and fled, presumably, to Italy, where else?
We Indians are such a stupid lot, that any white-skinned man or woman can come and fool us, and we don’t even know we have been duped. This has happened time and time again, for a thousand years, and we haven’t still learned the lesson. Quattrochi was only the last of the crooks, but there were others before, from Lord Curzon to Lord Mountbatten on the British side, and from Babar to Akbar on the Moghul side. They made much of their love for India, and cut our throats. Mountbatten, the last of the rascals, not only cut our throat, but also our country and both our limbs, all the time using his wife to ensnare our leaders. Nehru & Co made a mess of the Independence deal, while chunks of the nation were being hacked and stolen before our very eyes. And the man said he was the Last Englishman in India!
I have a feeling we shall never wake-up, and never realise we are being duped time and time again, because that in our fate. We are too credulous a people, with unbounded faith in every white skinned gentleman – and, of course, woman – who approaches us in his shark-skin suit and silk tie, and a smooth patter, and, of course, a long purse of goodies. Our military officers, not to speak of civilians, can be fooled even by smooth-talking Pakistanis, who are for ever ready to cut our throats. Time and again, foreigners have made rings around us and taken us up the garden path, but it is only when we have reached the end of the road that we realise we have been duped and robbed.
AK Antony, defence minister, has handedover the case to CBI, than whom there can be no more treacherous organisation. The CBI will do whatever the government wants it to do, that is, nothing. The Defence Minister knows which side his bread is buttered, and he will do nothing either. What has he ever done in his life? The Tyagis will get away with murder, as such people always do, because they are not alone. They have their friends and masters in high places and they know how to keep them happy. We Indians know all the tricks, which is why we have surived all these years and centuries. What we do not realise is that we have survived at the cost of our beloved country, which has suffered and continues to suffer at the hands of these rascals who laugh all the way to their Swiss banks.