To Stem The Rot From The Top!
By Maxwell Pereira
mfjpkamath@gmail.com

With all the hue and cry over the sting expose of the cash-for-question scam, who are we really kidding! Who in this country, let me ask, did not know that our politicians were/are corrupt? Or believe that they did not seek their cut for favours rendered! Is it not that the sting has only succeeded in capturing in black and white - or should I say 'on camera' - the actual deal/ transaction while taking place…. Confirming thereby what we already knew/ have always known!!!

And then there is this expose that followed - regarding the disbursement of the MPLAD (Member of Parliament Local Area Development) Fund - of demands for a share and kickbacks even while allocating/ doling out these funds!

It is indeed a landmark that eleven of the MPs caught on camera in the first scam have been expelled from Parliament. It is to be seen what fate awaits those caught in the latter scam. It needed guts, the likes only ManMohan Singh government could measure up to.

But there is rot, yet! Shockingly, 'midst the wariness that has inevitably crept in and planted itself in the minds of these worthies - the thick-skinned lot, it is the message that has gone from party leaders to their rank and file which is resounding and reverberating! The warning is to beware of sting operations and of hidden cameras! …..not against corruption or to desist from corrupt practices - but a clear message "not to get caught!"

Its been act throughout, not to get caught! The result? After nigh sixty years since Independence, not a single public utility service in the country is functional. To be nudged out of its harassingly frustrating dysfunctional mode and made grudgingly functional of course, only at a premium, not without string pulling or through pressure from higher quarters, and mostly when palms are suitably greased!

And so, every public office is sought today, for its potential to fleece. For the lucrative value of the position. And this statement comes from the pen not of someone from the aggrieved common lot, but from one who survived the system for the span of his whole serving career! Someone who took pains throughout, to defend the establishment and project its positive side. To fly the flag, however tiny a drop in the ocean, the crusading contribution of an individual tends to be or is deemed to be!

Why is that in this country no one can get anything done without knowing someone in authority, someone in government! From buying tickets to a cinema show or a railway ticket! Why it is that senior citizens and the retired lot need help even to have their normal bills paid in time! …a monthly routine which has assumed proportions of insurmountable tasks and literally an ordeal.
Why is it that the executive in the country has become totally shackled and impotent to deliver…? And people have to resort to the legal set up to get things done. Why is it necessary that the judiciary be forced to take on an 'activist' role to enforce norms, rules and laws which otherwise should have been enforced by the agencies responsible! It is all very nice to blame the judiciary for the vast pendency of cases, or for overstepping their role straying into the domain of the executive and at times even the legislature, but is it not true that the executive themselves with their own inefficiency, lethargy, indifference, and many a times downright connivance and collusion with violators, who are the cause for such judicial interventions?

Come the matter of the demolitions: How easy it is for the beneficiaries of the illegal constructions to question and point fingers now, asking what were the authorities doing when construction was on! Does that nullify their illegal act? …and the fact that they are the beneficiaries through corrupt practices of bribing the engineers or the police! That having been said, why is it that there is no accountability for those functionaries of the departments concerned! How is it that with whatever intervention of the courts or raids on officials for disproportionate assets, that we are unable to make any dent in the prevailing malpractice or the growing menace of civic disorder.

I have been a contributor to the police stand on illegal constructions, that the land-owning authority alone is responsible for protecting government land from encroachment, and that the civic authorities who have to enforce the construction bye-laws alone are responsible for unauthorised and illegal construction activity. Even so, I am also of the firm belief that no illegal activity can prevail without tacit or active police connivance. Even while knowing so, it was a conscious decision on the part of the police management to keep the police totally insulated from construction activities, because of the very potential for corrupt practices the activity afforded. Whether there is need for change in this stand, and to what extent, is still debatable!

The moment one opens his/her mouth on such matters, one is bound to have eyebrows raised, fingers pointed, and accused of indulging in a "holier than thou stance." And I believe it takes a lot for anyone to be a "whistle-blower". My salute to such crusaders for their courage. They may suffer, or not reach the top, but may still be remembered for the stamp they left.

The media has rightly latched on to the 'sting' follow-up in a big way. The local news pages of dailies are full of pictures and accounts of illegal construction activities of councillors and legislators in the Capital. This follow-up should not remain just a fly-in-the-pan to be replaced by the next sensation that surfaces. The follow-up should be till the logical end is achieved to cleanse the system.

900words: 27.12.2005:Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http:// www.maxwellperira.com and maxpk@vsnl.com

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