Harish Jharia

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04 November 2010

Corruption in India: The blast furnace where taxpayers’ money is reduced to ashes


       The 38 floor Adarsh Society Building, Mumbai 

© Harish Jharia

In a recent address to the UN general assembly, US president Barack Obama mentioned about corruption prevailing in the developing countries. In spite of being the largest democracy in the world, India is also a developing country and has emerges as one of the countries having rampant corruption in every public field. 


The corruption found in the preparation for the Commonwealth games CWG Delhi 2010 can be enlisted among the most horrible antinational criminal incidents ever happened in the world. The Adarsh Society scam unearthed in Mumbai is another scandal in which names of bigwigs, as big as top Army officers, IAS officers, chief ministers and senior public servants (?) holding powerful offices were found involved. 


Revelation of such cases of corruption is the tip of an iceberg existing under wraps that is growing fast with the passage of time. The corruption cases that come to light are evidences of the fact that roots of corruption grow at the top levels of governance and the branches spread subsequently toward the lower levels of bureaucracy, making an inverted pyramid. So is the case of the money involved in corruption, where millions of rupees are bribed at the top levels and the amount of bribes is reduced with the level of authority. 


We will have to keep it in mind that these are the cases that have been caught by chance or as a result of initials taken by some Indian citizens via exercising their rights to information (RTI). These cases have not been caught or discovered by any law enforcement agencies of the government like police, CBI, or vigilance or anticorruption organization on which millions of rupees are spent by the central and state Governments on their infrastructure and salaries. The people who take bribes are the authorities holding powerful positions and the vigilance teams that are appointed for catching the cases of bribery are also the parts of the same government.  It is a bitter fact that a horse cannot stop another horse from grazing fodder. If there is a pile of fodder both the horses will share the bounty and gulp it in. 


The most vulnerable areas for corruption are the big projects costing thousands of crores of rupees. Such projects are initiated and implemented for installing big infrastructures and as long as these projects are not completed and the last bill is not paid to the contractors, there are always possibilities of giving and taking bribes. Once the work is done and the bills are paid, there in no one to care for the upkeep of that infrastructure and to find out whether the facilities have reached to the people for whom the projects were made. 


Now people have started talking about an Indian ‘bullet train’ that is going to be another billion dollar project if at all taken-up for implementation. India should not open another avenue for corruption by going for things like bullet train because there are many other problems where the national exchequer should be spent. Bullet Train is not at all required by Indians for many decades to come. It would be better for us to improve the pathetic condition of the trains currently running on Indian tracks. The poor services, the low quality of administration and the outdated handling technology are required to be improved rather than buying another white elephant in the form of ‘Bullet Train’.  


India has millions of poor and there are areas where starvation is the way of life for millions of rural Indians. There are reports of people resorting to eat grass seeds and roasted rodents for their very survival, as they cannot afford one square meal a day. 


We boast of having a few richest business families that are featured in the global list of the richest in the world. We should not keep ourselves blindfolded like ostriches ignoring the wide gap between the richest Indian and the poorest Indian that might be as wide as the difference between the United States and Zimbabwe.  It would be better for India to go for reducing the gap between the richest Indian and the poorest Indian rather than spending the scarce public money on huge projects that might attract more and more corruption. The government should concentrate on progressive projects in the rural areas and remove unemployment, poverty and starvation from Indian villages and slums


At the same time we, the people of India will have to change our mindset and learn to feel contented with whatever we can afford out of our earnings. We will have to follow the Sanskrit mantra ”Santosham param sukam” that means that contentment gives divine pleasure. 


The governments and their law enforcement agencies should be brought to red-alert and be made accountable if crimes and bribery are committed in their jurisdiction. The government organizations should not wait for the public to unearth crimes and cases of bribery out of their own efforts. Because it is the job of the law enforcement agencies to control and eradicate unlawful activities in civic life for which they are paid salaries. 
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