Thursday, July 23, 2015

An Open Letter to Sushma Swaraj on Bhopal Gas Tragedy



Adil Shahryar

जुलाई , २०१५

आदर्णीय सुषमा जी,

आज आप मध्यप्रदेश से सांसाद भी हैं और भारत की विदेश मंत्री भी, ये हमारे लिए गौरव की बात है। पर यह खुली चिट्ठी मैं आपको "भोपाल गैस काण्ड" के विषय में लिख रहा हूँ।

बचपन से इस काण्ड के बारे में सुनते आए। कई रिश्तेदार भोपाली होने के कारण भी इसकी चर्चा घर पर चलती रही। सुना तो बहुत था कि इतने हज़ारों लोग मरे, और ऐसा हुआ या वैसा हुआ, पर कानून और न्याय पर नज़र कुछ बड़े होने के बाद ही पड़ी।

२०१० मई में, विभिन्न राष्ट्रपतियों ने कितने अपराधियों पर अनुकम्पा कर क्षमा किया, ये पढ़ रहा था। शोध करते-करते, अमरीका के विषय में आदिल शहरयार का नाम पढ़ा। आदिल के नाम के साथ लिखा था - भारत के प्रधानमंत्री के करीबी, मोहम्मद यूनुस का पुत्र। मैं थोड़ा चौंक गया कि ये महानुभाव कौन हैं जिनके पिता भारत के किसी प्रधानमंत्री के करीबी माने जाते हैं और ये अमरीका में कोई ऐसा अपराध कर बैठे हैं, जिसकी सज़ा इतनी कड़ी है कि इन्हे अमरीकी राष्ट्रपति से क्षमा प्राप्त हुई। मैने तारीख जाँची, ११ जून १९८५। तब तो राजीव गाँधी भारत के प्रधानमंत्री थे। मतलब ये आदिल शहरयार के पिता मोहम्मद यूनुस गाँधी परिवार के कोई अत्यंत करीबी व्यक्ति होंगे

स्वाभाविक सी बात है कि मेरी उत्सुकता का ठिकाना नहीं रहा और रात दिन एक करके इंटरनैट के माध्यम से इस विषय पर खोज शुरू की। तो पता चला मोहम्मद यूनुस १९४४ के आसपास से इंदिरा गाँधी के करीबी मित्र रहे, और उनका लड़का, आदिल, और इंदिरा गाँधी के लड़के, राजीव और संजय, बचपन के करीबी मित्र रहे। थोड़ा और आगे बढ़ा तो जाना कि १९८० में आदिल शहरयार पर अमरीका में किसी होटल को बम से उड़ाने का प्रयत्न करने पर पाँच विभिन्न नियमों के तहत आरोप लगे थे, जो साबित होने पर वहाँ के न्यायालय ने उन्हें ३५ बरस तक कारावास में रहने का दण्ड दिया था। अरे बाप रे! आतंकवाद का आरोप? वो भी ऐसे किसी व्यक्ति पर जिसका परिवार भारत के नेहरु-गाँधी परिवार से अत्यंत करीब है, इतना करीब कि संजय गाँधी के विवाह की रस्में तक उनके घर में अदा की गई हों। पैरों तले जमीन खिसक गई।

देखते देखते मालूम हुआ कि अमरीका में आदिल शहरयार हॉलीवुड के दिग्गज कलाकारों में से एक चार्लस्टन हैस्टन के संरक्षण में रह रहे थे। बहुत बड़ी बात है ये। भारत के सबसे शक्तिशाली राजनैतिक परिवार से संबंधों का ऐसा लाभ कि विश्व के सर्वशक्तिमान राष्ट्र अमरीका का अत्यंत मशहूर कलाकार उनका संरक्षण करे। और हैस्टन ने अमरीकी एटॉर्नी जनरल से आदिल की रिहाई की माँग की। कहा ये सारा कुछ गलत हुआ है, इत्यादि। अमरीकी एटॉर्नी जनरल से हैस्टन का ये पत्राचार तीन भागों में आधिकारिक तौर पर उपलब्ध है। और ऐसे मशहूर, सम्मानित कलाकार ने आदिल को छुड़ाने की पुरजोर कोशिश की और उसकी एक नहीं सुनी गई? तो जिज्ञासा जागी कि फिर १९८५ में ऐसा क्या हुआ कि अमरीकी राष्ट्रपति ने आदिल को क्षमा कर दिया? कुछ तो बड़ा हुआ होगा।

दरअसल, ११ जून १९८५ को भारत के तत्कालीन प्रधान मंत्री राजीव गाँधी अमरीका गए, और न्यू यॉर्क टाइम्स तथा अन्य समाचार पत्रिकाओं के आधार पर पता चला कि इस उपलक्ष पर अमरीकी राष्ट्रपति ने, बिना कुछ अपने देशवासियों को समझाए आदिल शहरयार को क्षमा कर मुक्त कर दिया

 
Warren Anderson
इस घटना से सात माह पूर्व, ८ दिसंबर १९८४ को, राजीव गाँधी ने भोपाल गैस काण्ड में गिरफ्तार हुए वारन ऐण्डरसन को भी ऐसे ही, अपने देशवासियों को बिना कुछ समझाए, नियमों को ताक पर रख, रिहा करके, भारत से भगा दिया था।

फिर २०१० में ही समाचार पत्रिकाओं के हवाले से ज्ञात हुआ कि अमरीका की कुख्यात खुफिया संस्था सीआईए ने एक अधूरे दस्तावेज़ को जनता के समक्ष रखा है जिसमें भोपाल गैस काण्ड आरोपी वारन ऐण्डरसन की रिहाई की दास्तान लिखी गई। ये एक खुफिया संदेश था जो कुछ दशकों बाद सूचना अधिकार के अंतर्गत जनता के समक्ष रख दिया गया।

इस दस्तावेज़ में अधिकांश भाग पर काली स्याही है, पर इतना कहा गया है कि ऐण्डरसन को राजीव गाँधी नें छोड़ा। और उनका मानना था कि भारत में चुनाव आने की वजह से ऐण्डरसन और भोपाल गैस काण्ड के मुद्दे पर राजनैतिक गर्मी बन सकती थी।
 

नतीजा ये कि ऐण्डरसन भारतीय कानून के शिकंजे से हमेशा के लिए छूट गया। भोपाल गैस काण्ड में हुईं मृत्युओं को न्याय न मिल सका। ३१ बरस पूरे होने वाले हैं, पीढ़ियाँ बदल चुकी हैं पर न्याय नहीं मिला। आज न ऐण्डरसन जीवित है, न राजीव गाँधी, न आदिल शहरयार, न मोहम्मद यूनुस, न मध्यप्रदेश के तत्कालीन मुख्यमंत्री अर्जन सिंह, न चार्लस्टन हैस्टन, न अमरीकी ऐटॉर्नी जनरल विलियम स्मिथ और न ही अमरीकी राष्ट्रपति रोनाल्ड रीगन। अब न्याय की कोई गुँजाइश नहीं


जरा ध्यान से देखें तो पाएँगे कि ये बड़ा विचित्र संजोग है। अवश्य ही राजीव गाँधी के अमरीका आने की खुशी १९८५ में इतनी नहीं हो सकती कि उनके राष्ट्र में आतंक के मामले में गिरफ्तार व्यक्ति को क्षमा करके मुक्त कर दें। जिस व्यक्ति के विषय में वहाँ के एटॉर्नी जनरल ने हैस्टन की एक न चलने दी, और उसे न छोड़ने के साफ कारण बताए, उसे दो राष्ट्रों के बीच किसी महत्व के आदान-प्रदान के आधार पर ही कारागार से बाहर निकाला जा सकता था

अगर कोई सुराग बचे हैं तो वो हैं
१. अमरीकी खुफिया विभाग का वह खुफिया वर्णन जिसमें राजीव गाँधी का हाथ होने की बात कही है।
२. अमरीकी एटॉर्नी जनरल से चार्लस्टन हैस्टन का पत्राचार।

३. न्यु यॉर्क टाइम्स जैसे सामाचार पत्रों में छपी खबर कि राजीव गाँधी के अमरीका दौरे के अवसर पर अमरीकी राष्ट्रपति ने आदिल शहरयार को क्षमा करके रिहा किया।



A mother and a child victim of Bhopal Gas Leak
आप से निवेदन है कि आप ये दो कार्य करवाएँ-

१. आप शीघ्रातिशीघ्र अमरीका से इस दस्तावेज का बाकि बचा हिस्सा भारत सरकार को सौंपने की बात रखें

२. आप हैस्टन-एटॉर्नी जनरल पत्राचार और समाचार पत्रों में छपी खबर को आधार बनाकर यह भी पूछें कि क्या ऐण्डरसन को रिहा करने के बदले आदिल शहरयार को अमरीका ने रिहा किया।

आपसे यह भी निवेदन है कि अमरीका भारत की इन माँगों को संवेदनशील तरीके से देखे, मानवाधिकार का सम्मान करे, न्याय न मिल सकने के कारण कम से कम संबंधियों को यह तो बताए कि घटना के पीछे का सत्य क्या था
अगर आपको कोई भी दस्तावेज़ चाहिए हो तो मुझे बताएँ, पाँच मिनट में पहुँचा दूँगा।

आप उन्हें बलपूर्वक यह भी आग्रह करें कि यह सारी जानकारी, अमरीका भारत को
दिसंबर २०१५ तक दे दे। यह आश्वासन भी ज़रूरी है कि इससे भारत-अमरीका के रिश्तों पर कोई आँच नहीं आएगी, बल्कि एक मानवाधिकार के आधार पर नई नज़दीकी ही बनेगी।

आप पर बहुत विश्वास है।

सादर,

पियूष कुलश्रेष्ठ
(@thinkerspad)




Monday, February 23, 2015

Bharat Bhagya Vidhaata


Image Courtesy: @arunvipra




Last few days, citizens of India are coming together to oppose the quality of news coverage appearing in India Media. The grouse with the media is not new. It is age old, but while opposing the News Media, the Citizen of this Country also aspires to have a tool that is a true representative of the Collective Voice of the Nation, something they see lacking in the current set-up, by and large.

However, off late, especially in the last 10-12years, with the boom of Private News Channels, and motivated propaganda that they all have indulged in, the social structuring that they have tried to indulge in, the illogical positions they have taken on matters pertaining to Law & Order and National Security, the Foreign Affairs of India, the perpetual negative posturing on Govt Initiatives, under reporting of Govt Initiatives, exploitation of access granted to them under Freedom of Press as was showcased in Radia Tapes case, as has been demonstrated in the recent Documents Leak in Oil Ministry, and the strange case of a Journalist calling Govt of India a ‘liar”, on the Pakistani Channel, an Enemy Nation.

Media’s access to India’s Official Secrets has been another worrisome matter that, for e.g., contributed heavily to shutting down of an alleged Military Intelligence unit, the TSD.

Freedom of Press – The Origin

The Press was entertained and encouraged in India in the backdrop of recently received Independence from the British Empire who had heavily clamped down the voice of the natives. Freedom fighters in the era had great difficulties putting out the voice of the nation and create a popular sentiment that was in the Interest of the Indians and not necessarily in the interest of the British.

In the backdrop, after Independence, through the Fundamental Right given to the Individual Citizens of India, of Freedom of Speech and Expression, the Press was extended this right, in the context of Collective Voice of the Nation. The idea was to create machinery that would inform the Citizens about the activities of the High Offices of the Govt and at the same time inform the Govt about the popular sentiments amongst the Citizen.

In short, the idea behind extending an individual citizen’s Freedom of Speech and Expression to the Press in India was to encourage machinery that brought the Public and the Govt. closer to each other and create a harmonious environment within which Country’s welfare will be undertaken.

The Freedom of Press is not separately mentioned as any Fundamental Right in Indian Constitution. The Press is legally subjected to the same restrictions that any individual is subjected to under Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India.

Press also has a right to earn Profits, for two simple reasons. One, it ensures their survival and ability to exercise Free Press and two, under Article 19(1)(g). And even here, it is subjected to the restrictions provided under Article 19(6).

Keeping this backdrop of Original Objective in mind, it is important to remember that News Media in India is supposed to operate within these two stated parameters and should meet the desired goals, i.e. Collective Voice of the Nation.

Is News Media fulfilling its role?

Image Courtesy: @arunvipra
We have seen news media whip religious passions, we have seen them divide this country along religious & casteist lines, we have seen them go slow on news or under report the news that requires nation’s attention, we have seen them bombard the news space with utterly nonsensical items that have nearly no relation to national interest, we have seen the media eat up nation’s precious time over encounter of terrorists (which they themselves accepted wanted to execute a “chhota-mota” blast), we have seen them call the Govt. a liar, syndicated article with Pakistani journalist peddling Pakistani version of the story and then walk into Pakistani newsroom calling Govt. of India a serial liar, we have seen them fix ministerial berths, fix policies through a wide web of lobbyists, corporate & politicians, we have seen them act as consultants in key sectors and indulge in Espionage of Govt. Policy Documents, we have seen them accessing India’s Top Secret classified files and accuse the Indian Army falsely of a Coup, we have seen them access highly classified documents on a Military Intelligence unit and expose its assets, causing it to be closed down and endangering the lives of its carefully cultivated Assets, we have seen them providing platforms to secessionist forces in Kashmir and other areas, we have even seen them partake of illegitimate money earned through corruption by politicians and indulge in money laundering and tax evasion, we have seen them twist news, we have seen them discussing and embarrassing the Prime Minister of India over his clothes, we have seen them literally acting as an agent of a certain political party in order to defeat another political party at a recently concluded State Election.

The constant role of the news media as seen today has been about driving a constant wedge between the Citizens of India and the Govt. of India. News Media has surprisingly not found any news worth celebrating in the last 9-10 months of the current Central Govt. It nearly never found a news to be sorrowful about, to complain about, to agitate about in 10years of the previous, failed regime of Congress that was pasted down to a mere 44 seats in a house of 545.

Image Courtesy: @arunvipra
We have seen the news media work with a prejudiced mind. We have seen them set an objective first and then manufacture news pieces around it. We have seen them produce news that lacks even basic research on subject. We have seen them assign jobs to reporters who have Zero Training on the beat that they cover. We have seen then media lace the ground reports with their own spicy views that rarely serve any national interest. We have seen the News Media attempting to set National Agenda.

This is the harsh reality, a bird’s eye view of what the news media is really doing in India.

Bazaru Media

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has constantly accused the news media of the above wrong-doings. During the General Election Campaign, PM Modi called them News Traders. During the Delhi Assembly Elections we saw him accuse them of being Bazaru, which is essentially the same things as calling them News Trader, though it may sound harsher as the meaning comes out very clearly in its Hindi rendition.

Is the Prime Minister wrong? I think Prime Minister could not have been more right. We may lose the depth from which the Prime Minister is trying to bring our attention to the rot and loss of objective in media in the din that shrouds these utterances.

Essentially, what the Prime Minister is saying is, that News Media in India operates under two Fundamental Rights issued to every Citizen of India. Article 19(1)(a) and Article 19(1(g) – Freedom of speech and expression and Freedom to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

Out of these while media is working beautifully towards enjoyment of Freedom available to indulge in Profitable Trade, it is doing so, almost entirely, at the cost of Freedom made available to the Press, that is, individual Freedom to Speech and Expression.

All the privileges extended to it, legally, through backing of Supreme Court over the years, formally through special, nearly unrestricted access to high and mighty offices of the Govt. of India, are being abused. The list of activities given above makes these charges quite self-sufficient, in a way to explain that News Media in India is indeed Bazaru. These people are Traders of News, and they have nothing to do with the idea of being a “Collective Voice of the Nation”, to bring the Govt of India and the Citizens of India as close and harmoniously synchronized by apprising each about the activities and aspirations of the others.

The Press Council of India’s Report on Paid News may be recalled here. Matters have gone now into such an abyss that the Editorial Content on News Media is sold and therefore it is aligned to interests that may be totally detrimental to the interest of the nation.

Cost that Country bears!

This abuse of privileges under Freedom of Press by the News Media for the purpose of running their profitable Trade has a terrible impact on this country. Citizens are constantly misinformed, ill-informed or even uninformed about issues that deserve their kind attention. This is creating a rot in this country. It is coloring the electoral might of the citizen by way of making him make ill-informed or uniformed choices of Govt. in elections that leads to spurious policy making in Governance that leads to complete reversal of National Interest.

The Press Council of India’s Report on Paid News or a Video report showingthis rot should be taken seriously. Investigative Agencies must ascertain who the News Media Editors are taking the money from, what kind of Interests do such activities align with, who’s interests are the news media houses fulfilling through their activities.

As per current trend, a democratically elected Govt may not be in a position to oppose anti-National activities (activities not aligned with national interest & working against it) of news media houses due to popular backlash as citizens largely do not know what news media houses are upto.

It is now the job of informed citizens to take this truth about news media houses to the public-at-large. Please join hands, let everyone know that News Media in India is not the representative of our Collective Voice.

Monday, May 26, 2014

मैं, नरेन्द्र दामोदरदास मोदी

मैं, नरेन्द्र दामोदरदास मोदी
करता हूँ ग्रहण शपथ ये
करुं मातृ सेवा जीवनभर
पल पल बीते इस पथ पे ।

अध्यात्म केंद्र जीवन का
पर राष्ट्र का ऋण बाकी है
एक जन्म का नहीं ये किस्सा
जन्मों से कृपा माँ की है ।

कई वर्ष तपा हूँ मैं भी
तप कर ही बना हूँ कुंदन
संग तू भी तपी थी मेरे
मुझे याद है तेरा क्रंदन ।

पर कब रोया है भारत
इतना सब दुख पा कर भी
दुख देने वाले हारे
उभरा फिर से भारत ही ।

माना कई काम हैं करने
साकार हमारी दृष्टी
मेहनत और लगन हमारी
कर देंगी इसकी पुष्टी ।

लोगों को बड़ी उम्मीदें
और होनी भी चाहिए
एक एक कदम बढ़ना है
मिलकर चलें अब आइए ।

मैं, नरेन्द्र दामोदरदास मोदी
तुम्हारी अगुआई तो करूंगा
चलना सबको है आगे
इस बात को फिर से कहूँगा ।


मैं, नरेन्द्र दामोदरदास मोदी
करता हूँ ग्रहण शपथ ये
करुं मातृ सेवा जीवनभर
पल पल बीते इस पथ पे ।

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

अब चरम पे खड़ा धर्म युद्ध

अब चरम पे खड़ा धर्म युद्ध
हो शंखनाद रण की पुकार ।
जब शोर करें ये दैत्य सारे
तब हृदय छले तेरी हुंकार ।

बलवान बनाता देश तुझे
पर धर्म बनाता तुझे अमर ।
कठिनाई बढ़ने वाली है
तू शांत चित्त हो कस कमर ।

इस बार युद्ध मायावी है
भरपूर हो रहा छल कपट ।
तू रहा सत्य की बाँह थाम
इस बल से शत्रु से निपट ।

शत्रु तेरे हैं तीन तरफ
पहले कांग्रेसी प्रतिद्वंद ।
फिर सेना खड़ी विभीषण की
आखिर अमरीकी प्रतिबंध ।

यही क्रम है तेरे शत्रु का
इसी क्रम में इन पर वार कर ।
हों दृष्य या अदृष्य रहें
जनता संग इनका संहार कर ।

कुछ बातों का तुझे हो स्मरण
ये युद्ध नहीं तेरा निजी रण ।
ये युद्ध धर्म का, भारत का
सच पर अडिग यही तेरा प्रण ।

तूने अच्छा नेतृत्व दिया
बढ़ कर आगे मन जीत लिया ।
डूबे जाते थे जब ये दिल
नई किरण दिखा मनमीत दिया ।

जहाँ अंधकार गहरा फैला
कर दिया उजाला दीप जला ।
विचलित मूर्छित जो बैठे थे
हिंदुस्तानी उठ खड़ा चला ।

वो चला चला नहीं बैठेगा
मिला जोश नया उसे जीवन का ।
अब धूर्त मायावी पैठेगा
हमें होश मिला उसके मन का ।

होंगी भारत में कमीं कई
क्या कोस कोस कर बात बनी?
साकारात्मक जब सोचा तब,
समृद्ध शक्ति की साख जमी ।

ये सोच मिली है मोदी में
है जनता का यही प्रतिनिधी ।
बढ़ना है आगे भारत को तो
यही बची अब सफल विधी ।

मतदान पड़ेगा अभूतपूर्व
जनता में ऐसा रोष जगा ।
जब गिनती होगी वोटों की
रणबाँका बस मोदी होगा ।

तैयार रहो अब मोदी जी,
आता है शपथ ग्रहण का दिन ।
हो जीत तुम्हारी ऐसी कि
हमें याद रहे ये रण का दिन ।

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fight Against Corruption

Corruption in Public life is possibly as old as the Society. That Officials & Ministers have acted in an immoral & illegal manner for personal financial gains while dealing on matters apportioned to them, is recorded in books as old as even 2500yrs old.
 
Anyone, who has gone through the treatise of Kautilya’s Arthashastra can tell you that even though the treatise may have been proposed in 321BC or so, “corruption” has found mentioned even there.

In other words, as long as there are liars, thieves, murderers and womanizers in the society, it is a fool’s thinking to presume that there can be Zero Corruption in the Society. Pragmatic outlook is important here, and what looks more realistic is that even though we can never have the utopian state of Zero Corruption, we can certainly bring it down through checks & balances in place, through an alert vigilance and in the long-term, through observation of higher moral values like abstinence from telling lies, stealing, killing or sexual misconduct.

The Moral Dilemma


May be its because of Kaliyug, or may be due to the choice of humans in our own generation, we face a strange Moral Dilemma. We face a situation where there is a strong resistance by prominent sections of the society to Moral Values.

Moral values are almost banned from being discussed or taught. Any reference to moral values to an offender, is referred to as “moral policing” and some of our friends who have exclusively taken charge of what business must go on in this 21st Century, condemn “moral policing” with the full force of “secularism” and being in “21st Century”. Morality according to them is archaic, ancient & outdated.

It may be difficult to prove statistically, but I would guess a vast majority of these incharges of the 21st Century have little idea about what Morality Constitutes. But for any serious student of spirituality, what constitutes moral conduct, may not be difficult to understand. For the benefit of those in-charge of 21st Century, here are those five precepts that are considered moral conduct:

1. Abstaining from telling Lies
2. Abstaining from Stealing
3. Abstaining from violence & killing
4. Abstaining from Sexual Misconduct
5. Abstaining from Intoxicants

I should admit that the largest resistance faced from in-charges of the 21st Century is on the Moral Precept no. 4 – Abstaining from Sexual Misconduct. But they have created a conflicting situation by strongly resisting anything that has even remotely related to the larger subject of morality.

Now, the conflict is, that in the same vein as they denounce moral policing, they crib about frauds, thieves, murderers and rapists.

You can understand the conflict here.

Observation of morality also requires training. Merely knowing what morality means and why it is good for our individual as well as collective social existence is not enough. And in a society, where a mere mention of morality is discouraged, the endeavors to train people in observation of moral precepts cannot even be considered.

So, a society that is not encouraged to observe moral precepts, and is discouraged from even its mention, is bound to have a severe downfall and at its worst point could face severe breakdown of its social structure, going right up to governance.

As a society, we have to be very clear, if we desire to enjoy the fruit of Alphonso Mango, we should sow the seed of Alphonso Mango. When such a tree will grow big enough to bear fruits, the society will get Alphonso.

If the Society is aiming to enjoy Alphonso Mango, but sows the seeds of Bitter Gourd, disallows sowing seeds of Alphonoso Mango, then the plant will only bear the fruit of Bitter Gourd. This is the law of nature and whether you were in the 6th Century BC or you are in 21st Century AD, the results are not going to be any different.

So, if Moral Discussions are discouraged, training to observe moral precepts is not given, then the fruit such a society will bear is going to be of Immorality. An immoral society will abound in Fraud, Stealing, Murders & Sexual Misconduct. Corruption is totally a part of that, aided and abetted by absence of all four, and actually all five, moral precepts.

This will be the toughest challenge for the Society. If overcome, India could enjoy a society with very highly controlled amount of Corruption.

However, since this debate is not expected to conclude today/tomorrow, lets focus on what other short-term, consistent measures, out Governments should observe to bring this menace under control.

But before we do just that, let us consider the various forms in which we face the corruption today.

Faces of Corruption


Corruption has been faced primarily in two forms.

1. By common man
  1. Over day-to-day administrative issues on things expected to be delivered by the Govt to the Citizens by making the process long drawn, time consuming and cumbersome.
  2. Through over exaggerated fear of Law, for e.g. Traffic Constables catching drivers on the road and quoting sections of Laws which the drivers hardly understand and prefer to make a payment to avoid legal troubles.

2. By Businessmen
  1. Through incorporation of impractical policies, which cannot make any real business sense, and sometimes by stalling new policies, even after going public about it, creating a strategic dilemma for businesspersons, or through half-hearted implementation of even those impractical policies by not completing certain amount of ground work
  2. Red Tape – Time is money for businesspersons and anything implementation of policy or any clearance/approval that doesn’t happen in a time-bound manner, leads to undue losses to businesspersons.

Citizens are tired of both kinds of Corruption, i.e. the one at Common Man’s level as well as the one at Businessperson’s level.

Both eat at the Taxpayers’ money. The one faced by Common Man hurts more pockets, numerically. But the one hurting businesspersons hits hugely in terms of its magnitude, in terms of money.

In both cases, either there is abuse of defective policy or there is violation of the procedure to be observed for implementation of the policy.

What we have discussed here, may not cover exhaustively, the various ways in which corruption happens, but I am confident that this covers a large majority of corruption.

Another disease, that cannot be kept outside the subject of Corruption is Black-Money. Black-Money, that is money that is outside the taxation system of the Government, born usually out of Corruption, is parked in places where the Indian Govt agencies may not have any reach. Swiss Banks offered such havens and today the common man is hugely incensed by the presence of untold amounts of money in such Tax Havens.

Precautionary Measures vs. Post Mortem Measures


No, I am not talking about Lokpal. As a matter of fact, I think Lokpal is a Post Mortem mechanism. For this mechanism, we already have two agencies and one comprehensive law in place. The third one that of Lokpal has also be put into place under popular pressure, by the Political Class of the country, but I doubt the dent it will make to corruption in the long run.

The problem with such post mortem based mechanisms is that the case has to be proved in the court of law and there 1001 ways to fail in that objective. This problem is over and above the problem of all such institutions deriving hugely, and ultimately, from the man on the top of such organizations.

India already has CVC & anti-Corruption Bureaus, what happens when an honest, upright officer reaches the top and what happens when an already corrupt person occupies the chair at the top is known to all.

In the Court of Law, the entire matter is fought & decided on the basis of charges framed. The entire game is about the chargesheet. If the charges framed against a person by the prosecution are weak, whatever you do, the case will be won by such an accused person.

Take for example, the Robert Vadra land scam case in Gurgaon. Dr. Ashok Khemka raised the matter and made allegation/charges against Robert Vadra. A bunch of people claiming to be fighting corruption and who have formed a Political Party that will fight corruption in Administration without offering to provide Good Governance, when in power, backed these charges made by Dr. Ashok Khemka. The party in question here is Aam Aadmi Party, who’s leader Arvind Kejriwal claims to be fighting corruption without ever pursuing a single case of corruption in the Court of Law and securing a conviction of such corrupt people.

Leave that aside for the time being, but charges against Vadra were not only weak but also ridiculous. Obtaining of a Commercial License by Vadra in that case was shown as such a big crime that the entire case against him was built around that. All developers who seek a Commercial Land Use License, however, get one. Robert Vadra got the LoI for License in 18 days, other Developers get it in 5-6 months. So, the case if any, on this basis, is that if Vadra can get LoI in 18 Days so should other Developers.

The real case, as I read, against Vadra could be the purchase price for 3.5 acre land in Shikohpur and the original owner of the company from whom Vadra bought land, i.e. Omkareshwar Properties.

Some lawyer called M L Sharma filed a petition in the Supreme Court for prosecution of Robert Vadra on the basis of charges framed by Dr. Ashok Khemka & promoted by Aam Aadmi Party, and the Supreme Court rightly threw the case out of the Court. There is nothing unusual about a Commericial License.

Considering the increase in the number of loopholes in this Post-Mortem Method, one can have little reliance over such mechanisms, in a serious fight against corruption.

What I would request BJP, to bring to the knowledge of Indian Citizens are Precautionary Measures to control Corruption.

Precautionary Measures to Control Corruption


1. Meritocracy & Transparency in the Postings & Promotions of Government Servants

It is a public secret that Govt Servants are paying loads of money to their superiors and to politicians for their postings or promotions into positions that give largest opportunities for earnings in the form of corruption money.

Anyone linked to the system of Governance & Administration would know that the targets for fund raising are given by Politicians at the Top to such Pliant Officials, who have secured their positions through payments of bribes.

This is the single biggest institutionalized mechanism of corruption in India.

There are retired senior Government Servants who retired with Hundreds or Thousands of Crores of Corruption money, extorted from Businessmen over years that they hold various Govt Depts.

2. Creating a Policy Environment that reduces Discretionary Powers of Govt Officials

Discretionary Powers given to the Govt officials has made them the Lords of any approval that Citizens seek. The guidelines issued by the Govt are interpreted as per the discretion of the Govt Official. They are relaxed only upon promise of payments.

3. ERP-based Process-Compliance & Time-Bound Approvals

The entire process of implementation of various policies should be re-engineered in each case. As far as possible, the processes should be placed on IT based system, in the manner of ERP. That way, there will be complete adherence to the set process, allow negligible deviation from set processes and time limit for each process should be set accordingly, which will not be skipped by the Govt personnel.

For e.g., in Robert Vadra case, since Govt Officials knew it was Vadra’s file, they knew the importance of clearing it quickly, and since no Bribe was expected, the Letter of Intent for the Commercial License was delivered within 18 Days. Whereas, for normal developers, since Bribe has to be collected, and there is little a Developer can do to harm the Govt Official, the Letter of Intent for such Land Use Licenses is issued after 5-6 months.

From this example we know that this process can be completed in 18 Days Time. If 18 Days is set as Official Deadline for issuance of LoI for Land Use License, the delay caused by (Dept of Town & Country Planning) DTCP Officials, which causes financial losses to businesspersons could easily be avoided, and with lack of such a fear, businessperson will not have to give any bribe.

We have also seen in case of 2G Scam, that while the pursuance of New telecom Policy of 1999 in 2007 seems awkward, even the procedure set under this system was not complied to by the Govt Officials and the Ministers.

4. Realistic & Simplification of Policies, as well as No Ambiguity in Future Policy Environment.

One of the largest breeding grounds for corruption has been unrealistic Policies of the Govt. This way, in order to make businesses viable, businesspersons are left with no option but to bribe Ministers/Bureaucrats, based on which the norms are then either flouted, or out-of-turn notifications are issued by Govt in order to correct the mistakes of earlier policies.

Simple, detailed rules & guidelines on policy implementation will help in not only removing ambiguity but also in taking away discretionary power of the bureaucrats. Even a layperson should be able to understand what the proper meaning of a certain clause in Govt’s Policy means.

If a certain policy is expected to change over a period of time, Govt should ensure there is no ambiguity in its timelines & expected final contents. In many cases, it is seen that certain policy initiatives have been applied even in cases where a prior approval exists on the basis of earlier policy. All this ambiguity is again utilized by corrupt personnel to extract bribes from people.

5. Small-time Corruption in Junior Staff

While Big Scams tend to scandalize the day lights out of common man, what irks them and keeps coming back at them is the Corruption at the Junior Level of Govt Offices, from Peons, Constables etc to Clerks.

We must recognize the fact that while Govt needs to clamp down on this corruption, which may be small but affects a large mass, in part, this goes on due to following problems that staff at such level faces.

1. Low Salary levels
2. Children’s Higher Education
3. Health Coverage
4. Post-retirement Housing

In my opinion, based on discussions with many such Govt officials at lower levels, the above four points cover majority of reasons for why Officials at such a level finds courage to take bribes.

There could be other reasons as well, but chances are the Govt’s clamp down on Corruption at lower level, coupled with State/Central Welfare schemes that address the above four issues, will take out a large amount of Corruption at lower level from systems.

Instead of giving subsidies, if such an amount is used on Welfare of Junior Staff, Govt may find a much better implementation of policies they formulate and thereby, nullifying the negative effect of such an additional burden.

6. Black Money Parking/Creation

India may have Trillions of Dollars of Blackmoney Parked into Swiss Banks, but before the recovery of all such money, it is important that additional black money is stopped.

Most of the Black Money (money outside Govt’s accounting system) is not the money that is printed outside Central Bank, but that which is though issued by RBI, doesn’t find mention in the Books of Accounts. Taxation is considered one of the largest reasons for people’s desire to keep money outside accounting system.

It is, therefore, important that BJP takes some serious & innovative Tax Reform ideas on board. The proposal by pune-based Arthakranti, of Abolition of Income Tax by replacing it with Banking Transaction Tax does seem interesting, but the media news about Arun Jaitley, Yashwant Sinha and few others, does seem like a bad news. That said, BJP still has to consider Tax Reforms in some other format.

BJP needs to be very very clear that Blackmoney is parked in Swiss Banks because they are Tax Havens – No Tax Environments. If Trillions of Dollars are parked outside the country, Trillions more will go outside if Taxation Policy is not corrected. The circulation of those Trillions of Dollars can have a magical effect on the overall Economy of the Country.

7. Other Blackmoney Parking and Conversion Mechanisms

Swiss Banks are not the only places where Blackmoney is Parked. It is parked & circulated within the Country as well. Cash generated at Retail/Wholesale shops in India is one of the biggest unaccounted sources of Cash, which gets circulated within the Economy when people need to under-report the asset they purchase, due to certain taxation on the purchase.

Such Cash, is purchased, by people. India has a huge Conversion Business running into at least a few Billion Dollars, with Kolkata as the Epicenter of the whole Trade. Many mechanisms exist, to take care of such conversions.

One simple mechanism is that between companies, amount in Bank is transferred to the other company, in return for Cash of Equivalent amount plus commissions. Which over years is shown as loans, and then written off as NPA. For e.g. Company A has Rs.5cr in its Bank Account and Company B has Rs.5cr in cash. Company A needs Rs.5cr Cash. So Company B will send Rs.5cr Cash to Company A while Company A will transfer Rs.5cr in bank, along with some conversion charges to Company B’s Bank Account.

Now, in the books of Company A, this will be shown as Loan given to Company B. After 3-4 years, the amount will be shown as NPA (Bad Loan) and written off.

The other Mechanism is, certain companies are created as Shell Companies, in whose Bank Account Large amount of Money is kept as Holding. This is usually done for very very large transactions, running from 100s to a few 100s of crores of rupees.

Let us understand what happens in this case, though an example again. Company X has Rs. 100cr kept in its Bank Accounts. Company B has Rs.100cr in Cash. Company B needs Rs. 100cr in Cheque, in order to make certain Capital Investment. Company B will buyout shares of Company A at some mutually agreed fake price. The cash will be handed over to owners of Company A, while the money in the Bank Account of Company A is now owned by owners of Company B.

These deals happen in very restricted circle and efforts by outsiders usually lead to nothing, as they are not entertained beyond a point.

Govt can easily track such transactions. This system is not without flaws. For example, writing off of Bad Loans after 3-4yrs could be reviewed and through good offices of ICAI.

Similarly, in spite of Cash in Bank, in the 2nd method, the share transfer at some ridiculous price can easily be tracked.

Conclusion


I think with just few of these implementations, BJP could lead the Fight against Corruption. It could shift the meaningless debate of Post Mortem based Measures to Precautionary, Administrative Reform based methods.

It could also bring much lower pressure on investigative and judicial bodies, to deal with cases of corruption.


In the end, the debate could achieve more realistic colors than mere idealism and misdirection that it has today.