CORRUPTION THE ONLY CONSTANT SINCE INDEPENDENCE
By Chitranjan Sawant
Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, was indeed the uncrowned king from 1947 to 1964 when he breathed his last. With a view to preventing cockroaches from roaming all over the place, the cook chose to put in a couple of hours beyond the normal schedule and earned the appreciation of one and all. Both the servants and the master knew that the said time curfew won’t last long. How right they were. That night the top bureaucrat of the district did not eat at home and not in his office either. A man of yester years, he did not have any plans to march to the District Magistrate’s office to record his protest at the rampant corruption in the country.
NEHRU HAD CORRUPT CRONIES
VK Krishna Menon was Nehru’s bum chum. During the first shooting war between India and Pakistan from 27th October 1947 to 1st January 1949, a large number of jeeps were required for the Indian Army. VK KrishnaMenon, our High Commissioner in the UK was entrusted with the job of making purchases at reasonable rates. The trusted friend of Nehru’s bought old jeeps and paid price of brand new ones. This transaction was the mother of corruption in making purchases for the Armed Forces. There was tremendous criticism of the deal. To defend his friend of long standing, Nehru, the tallest of the tall politicians misused his position and power and rode roughshod over all adverse observations. It left a bad taste in the mouth of the people of India but Nehru moved on unconcerned.
Sardar Pratap Singh Kairon was the powerful but corrupt chief minister of the Punjab. There was hardly major monetary transaction wherein he or his sons did not make large amounts of money, to be precise it was slush money. Complaints of corruption against Kairon landed on Nehru’s table every now and then. For friendship’s sake, Nehru ignored them until senior cabinet ministers forced his hands. Kairon was eased out but it was too little and too late. He paid with his life as some aggrieved persons shot him dead on the highway. Corruption cases of Nehru’s friend lingered in public memory for a long time and gave him a bad name.
Lal Bahadur Shastri succeeded Nehru and brought a refreshing change. He was honest to a fault. Shastri Ji and his large family lived within honest means, never chased money nor tried to be one up with the Jones’s. His life was a landmark of transparency. Under his leadership India fought a war with Pakistanin1965 and won. Shastri Ji evolved a new military doctrine of attacking the enemy where he is weak even after crossing the internal borders in the Punjab. India was victorious and the credit goes to Shastri Ji, the Honest Prime Minister. After a long time honesty had replaced dishonesty in the corridors of power. He had procured military equipment in large numbers and the entire deal was done honestly.
MONEY MATTERS MADE A RETURN
Indira Gandhi made a debut like a dumb doll. However, her roar was heard across the seven seas. As stated before, she dismembered Pakistan and made the enemy troops,93,000 of them, surrender. Indira Ji relied on her staff tremendously. Corruption was reborn. Purchases of weapon system, equipment and clothing were made. A lot of money changed hands under the table. It was her personal staff that became rich and richer with sleaze money. Admittedly, she was not involved in small deals but when the deal was a much bigger one than expected, even she was not above suspicion. I must hasten to add that by and large the people loved her. The only stigma was that of imposing Emergency which she could not play down.
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. When there was no one to challange the action or inaction of the govt, he or she was shown the exit door of the office and the entrance door of the Tihar Jail. The life in jail was tough and imprisonment rigorous. It is said that the Jail surpassed the Police dept in indulging into corruption.
Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own security guards who were Sikhs and wished to avenge the sacrilege of their Golden Temple in Operation Blue Star to flush out fugitives like Bindrawale or a retired major general.
Rajiv Gandhi came to power with a lot of hopes for making India great. Unfortunately corruption had the better of him and her in-laws and other relatives of Sonia Gandhi had almost made a fiefdom of India. Sonia’s friend, Quattrochi had a free access to wherever he wished to go or whatever he wished to do. Corruption in the purchase of the Bofors howitzer for the Army saw a lot of money changing hands under the table. However, compared with the sleaze money that a former minister, A Raja made in selling Spectrum and airwaves, the 64 crores of Bofors notoriety that the middle men and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi made pales into insignificance. Rajiv Gandhi got a bad name but not much money.
CASH FOR VOTES ON HOUSE FLOOR
The Narsimha Rao govt was considered weak. In any case at one stage, the govt canvassers fanned out buying votes for cash. This was a new form of Parliamentary corruption that India, nay the world witnessed. It was done with military precision. Atal BehariVajpayee led Opposition left no stone unturned but lost to the new-fangled parliamentary corruption. The notorious name given to it is VOTES FORCASH. Legal cases against corruption on floor of the House were filed and one against Amar Singh,MP is still going on. The new form of corruption and its new name have gone into books of history and do not do us proud. For that matter, corruption and cash changing hands as sleaze money have always been looked down upon as infra dig.
CORRUPTION TOUCHED THE SKY
The motto of the Indian Air Force is:TOUCHING THE SKY WITH GLORY. The corrupt Indian ministers and members of the Parliament have a new motto in making money under the table. It is: even sky is not the limit. Ministers like A. Raja of the Telecom dept or Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Commonwealth Games, Suresh Kalmadi, MP allegedly made so much money that even a Maths wizard will fail in counting. Fortunately forthe country both Raja and Kalmadi, not forgetting Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi are behind bars in the Tihar jail.
The story of LaluYadav’s Fodder scam, Mayawati’s creation of wealth disproportionate to known sources of income, Rahul Gandhi’s inability to make an impact in politics because of his involvement in cash deals and so on are stories that come out of closet from time to time. Be that as it may, India that is Bharat is now notorious for corruption, black money and stashing it in foreign banks. Unfortunately, there is no sincere or serious attempt to get the Indian money, black and white, back in India. Even the Prime Minister whines and whimpers but never roars, despite being a Singh, to overawe the corrupt men and women. Their sin is beyond redemption.
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