Happy Teacher’s Day
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Scam and the Whistle-blower
July 30, 2011 9:21:57 PM
2G Spectrum Scam
Author: Subramanian Swamy
Price: Rs 595
Subramanian Swamy not only throws light into the 2G scam, but also provides some solutions to prevent a scam of this magnitude to happen again, says Rajesh Singh
Of the many politicians who have taken up the task to bring the perpetrators of the 2G scam to justice, Subramanian Swamy stands out for his doggedness and an almost missionary zeal. He did not stop at merely stirring the murky pot and pursuing the matter in the courts; Swamy has now written an exhaustive account of the scam. While the massive irregularities the Telecom Ministry indulged in during A Raja’s tenure as Union Telecom Ministry is now all in the public domain, and whatever is not known will be out in the course of the investigations, the book is relevant for two reasons: One, it is a valuable reference material for academics, commentators and students of contemporary subjects; and, two, it raises larger issues of governance in an increasingly industrialised nation, where narrow materialistic considerations threaten to outweigh the larger national good.
The author takes us into the frightening reality of how corrupt the country is perceived by international agencies and the general causes of the malaise. From fudged accounts of corporate entities to the generation and siphoning away of black money to the role of illicit funds in promoting terror activities, he gives us a quick take on the vast and seemingly unmanageable problem. Towards the end, Swamy suggests a national policy to counter it. This would involve the integration of “spiritual values and organisational leadership”. He lays emphasis on the incorporation of the “evolved youth” in the plan since that alone could create a “modern mindset”. But for that to happen, as he rightly points out, there will have to be a greater accountability in governance — something that the political class talks of a lot but does precious little to execute. What remains unsaid, therefore, is that such a national policy will not be forthcoming unless the people, especially the youth, compel the Government to respond.
The author has relied on a heap of material that has emerged through the investigations, including the various correspondences among Ministers and Government officials on the subject. Again, while they are all known, they help in maintaining the focus and keep the issue in perspective, highlighting the callousness of those in power in allowing the scam to take shape. The Comptroller and Auditor General’s observations, too, have been used extensively, and rightly so, because it is the CAG findings that officially set the ball rolling for a probe, involving the Central Vigilance Commission and the Central Bureau of Investigation. The latter had been rather reluctant in fully involving itself till the Supreme Court cracked the whip.
The large canvas of the scam included a number of personalities and institutions, and the author has done well to approach the issue in an uncluttered fashion. He has neatly categorised the important developments, such as those involving CAG, the Public Accounts Committee, the Radia tapes and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. He has also provided a chronology of the event dating from September 24, 2007, to January 25, 2008 — the time when the Telecom Ministry took the stand that no application under the Unified Access Services (UAS) would be accepted after October 10, 2007, to the questionable issuance of those licences. Swamy puts on record that then TRAI chief Nripendra Misra had said that the Ministry had never sought the authority’s views on grant of new licences. This is important since the Government has been saying that it had complied with TRAI guidelines. In fact, TRAI also took the position that its opinion should be sought even if the Telecom Ministry issued fresh licences under the existing policy. Misra had also warned the Government against what is now famously quoted as “cherry picking” of the recommendations the Authority had made on the matter of issuing licences.
A great deal of what the book contains will sound familiar to the regular readers of The Pioneer. The daily had been the first to break the 2G scam through a series of articles beginning 2008-end. For more than 18 months, The Pioneer continued to publish one informed expose after another, detailing the murky business of the 2G deal. The end result was that the authorities, compelled by the exposes and driven by the Supreme Court, had to take finally note and act.
There are many heroes in this tale. While Swamy is certainly one of them, he has been quick to acknowledge the others, particularly the whistle blower, Ashirvatham Achari, without whose cooperation the scam would have remained buried in the sands of time. The Pioneer correspondent J Gopikrishnan doggedly pursued the story, flinging aside temptations that were laid his way by those who wanted the matter forgotten. He is the other hero the author names.
While the probe is now on track and there is hope that the guilty will be eventually punished, the fact remains that a scam of this magnitude can happen again. The book provides some solutions to prevent that, but it is for the political class to wake up and recognise that. Meanwhile, we need more such whistle-blowers, news correspondents and activists.
July 13 was the 24th birthday of Ajmal Kasab who has been given death sentence by a Mumbai Court for the massacre and mayhem in Mumbai on November 26, 2008.
Congress, ever mindful of Muslim votes cannot even think about hanging him, national pride,security and sanctity of the Supreme Court be damned.
Congress, under Sonia Gandhi cannot even think of hanging Afzal Guru, convicted for his part in the parliament Bombing in December 2001. In 2004, the Supreme Court ordered that Afzal Guru be hanged. The execution was to be carried out on October 20, 2006. Almost five years later, Afzal is very much alive costing the tax payers a pretty penny, thanks to Sonia Gandhi who rules her party and the nation with an iron fist hidden in a velvet glove.
So far the Government of Bharat has spent 310 million Rupees to keep Kasab alive. So, to thank the Congress led government, Ajmal Kasab’s handlers decided to give a memorable gift to people of Bharat.
Yesterday, on July 13, they offered bomb blasts during rush hour in three crowded locations in Mumbai. 21 are dead and 141 are injured; some more may succumb to their injuries.
These numbers that we hear have become routine and do not mean a thing unless one of them is your father/mother/brother/sister/husband/wife/uncle/cousin/friend. Numbers do not matter unless it is your leg or hand that has been blown to bits or it is your eye that is pierced by sharpnels. These numbers have no meaning unless it is your loved one whose body is set on fire by the blast.
The politicians who are principally responsible for this day because of their spaghetti spines when it comes to taking action against any Muslim, will mouth stupid inanities. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a.k.a. captain sleeping at the wheel while the country is plundered and looted by his coalition Dharma partners, President Pratibha Patil, ever indebted to Sonia Gandhi for putting her in a place where no one can touch her for all the cooperative bank scams she was involved in- in Maharashtra, Sonia Gandhi, the Vishkanya, i.e., kiss of death for mother Bharat, Prithviraj Chavan, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, virtually a nincompoop dancing to His Master’s Voice from 10 Janpath, the home Minister, P.C. Chidambaram, who is too busy to find ways to stay out of Tihar jail with the noose getting closer by the day in 2G scam, all these characters have come out with statements condemning the blasts and at the same time advising the hapless people to stay calm.
You know what? They are good at making these utterly useless statements because they have had repeated practice of making them in last few years. Friends, their words mean nothing, They do not give a hoot whether 21 or 2100 die in these blasts so long as their ill gotten billions are safe in Switzerland.
Solution? Let there be no more birthdays for Kasab. Create a nationwide pressure, such a pressure that the government would be either forced to hang Kasab and Afzal or would be shown the door. Let us vow to give Kasab gift of hangman’s noose on his next birthday, July 13, 2012.
Can it be done? Yes. If Egypt can do it, Algeria can do it, Yemen can do it, Libya and Syria are about to do it, why can’t we? History favors those, who seize the initiative.
Let us not wait for another blast.
June 13, 2011 10:52:12 AM
Whenever politicians are caught with their hand in the till they cry foul and claim innocence. M Karunanidhi’s defence of Kanimozhi demonstrates this point.
The paterfamilias of the first family of the DMK which was routed in the recent Assembly election, has said that his daughter Kanimozhi, a Rajya Sabha MP who is in jail for her alleged role in the 2G Spectrum scandal, has been imprisoned “either because of an instruction from the Centre or due to the negligence of the Centre”. Earlier, Mr M Karunanidhi, had also said that “bad friendship” would end in trouble.
According to the CBI’s chargesheet, Kanimozhi was arrested along with the managing director of Kalaignar TV for allegedly receiving `200 crore in the 2G Spectrum allocation scam. Mr Karunanidhi, however, claimed that the investigating agency had arrested his daughter as it needed someone to take the blame.
Having seen the CBI work from close quarters, I know for a fact that whenever a politician involved in a scam or a scandal is arrested, the standard response is that he or she has been falsely implicated and that it is a part of vendetta against an innocent person. I have also noticed that politicians and the truth rarely go hand-in-hand. Moreover, if the politician has held a position of power, his or her approach has generally been to loot as much as possible as if there is no tomorrow and he or she would never be held accountable.
In this context, I am reminded of a dialogue between dharma and the eldest Pandav brother, Yudhisthir. dharma asked Yudhisthir, “What is the biggest wonder of the world?” Yudhisthir replied, “The biggest wonder of the world is that people should see others dying and still somehow believe that death will bypass them.” In other words, people tend to forget that nature too works along Newton’s Third Principle: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
In the name of coalition dharma, partners in a coalition tend to become law unto themselves. Minority partners hold the majority party at gunpoint and the latter conveniently looks away so that they may all continue to remain in power. Yet, no dharma permits such adharma that allows the evil of corruption to thrive. In our country, the laws have been so framed that any investigation may be strangled by the Government at any step.
For example, according to the CVC Act the CBI cannot start any investigation against any officer of the level of Joint Secretary and above, which would include Ministers, without the Government’s sanction that can come only after the matter has been investigated. Thus, the CBI or any anti-corruption agency is left to deal with peons and clerks or junior officials at best, when everybody knows that the rot starts at the top.
The UPA Government went all out to save former Telecommunications Minister A Raja for nearly14 months, till such time the Supreme Court took over the monitoring of investigations into the 2G Spectrum scam. Only after that was A Raja arrested and a case registered against him. Three months later, Kanimozhi was also put behind bars. Now, the politicians are making a fine distinction between what is moral and what is legal as a subterfuge to escape punishment for their crimes. The Government, of course, is still doing its best to save the thieves and robbers, especially if they happen to belong to the ruling alliance. The only barrier that stands in its way is the judiciary.
This is not the case only in India; it is the same the world over. The famous American journalist Frank I Cobb once said about the US what is now equally applicable to India: “If the author of the Declaration of Independence were to utter such a sentiment today, the Post Office Department could exclude him from the mail, grand juries could indict him for sedition and criminal syndicalism, legislative committees could seize his private papers … and United States Senators would be clamouring for his deportation that he… should be sent back to live with the rest of the terrorists.”
The system today continues to be unjust to the masses with the result that people with lots of money and the ability to afford expensive lawyers often go unpunished. Regarding the Government’s indifference to the criminal justice system, the Supreme Court recently said, “The criminal justice system has been destroyed by the Government. They are not providing (adequate) funds to the police and the courts.” The observation only proves that the Government has actually done more than enough to bail out criminals, contrary to what Mr Karunanidhi would like to believe.
Moreover, by ensuring that the CBI remains under-staffed and hamstrung, the Government has significantly weakened its main anti-corruption agency as well. According to the CBI’s data, some 915 posts at the executive officers level — these include positions for Inspectors, Sub-Inspectors, Deputy Superintendents of Police, Superintendents of Police, Deputy Inspectors-General, Additional and Special Directors, Law Officers — are currently vacant. Hence, Mr Karunanidhi’s charge that the Union Government has not done enough to save his daughter does not stand up to scrutiny.
The only reason why Kanimozhi is in jail is because her case is being directly monitored by the Supreme Court. Once a case comes under the scrutiny of the judiciary, the Government has no say and cannot even direct the CBI. However, the abuse and misuse of the police and other law enforcement agencies will continue unless they are given a constitutional status. But we can only dream about such things since no politician would like to place a noose around his or her own neck. The State Governments have not even implemented the September 2006 directives of the Supreme Court for minimum reforms within the police department.
Mr Karunanidhi’s statements thus reflect the mindset of today’s politicians who, like our erstwhile colonial rulers, are habituated to using the police as puppets to implement their wishes as was evident during the eviction of Baba Ramdev and his supporters from Delhi — they had gathered to protest against corruption and press their demand that the Government should bring back the black money stashed in safe havens abroad.
It is a fact that fighting corruption has never been on the agenda of any political party. Though there are some honest politicians, most others use black money to fund their election campaign. This is done with the explicit help of the Government. Therefore, it is the Government’s duty to ensure that everyone declares their source of income. But perhaps it is never going to happen. So anybody who leads a movement against black money and corruption would be doing a signal service.
Many people say that democracy does not work. Of course it works. But we are the ones who have to make it work.