Corruption bigger factor than Secularism
Author : Shahroz Tarique Raza, Editor, Daud-e-Jadeed
The biggest problem with democracies of the world today is the collapse of people’s trust in governments because of unprecedented rise in corruption. As the respected group, Transparency International reported recently, nearly 75 per cent of 178 countries surveyed scored below five on a scale of 0 (very corrupt) to 10 (very clean). Experts are warning that the existing state of severe corruption in dozens of nation states means that entire humanity faces a future of instability, violence, poverty and massive environmental failure. Six out of 10 people around the world feel corruption has increased over the past three years, says Transparency International, which went on to note that one in four reported paying bribes in the last year
India is one of those countries where corruption knows no moderation. Up to the 1990s, corruption deals and scams made “news” whenever detected. But after the fodder scam of Bihar, the mindset of people was conditioned to laugh away any loot of public funds worth less than Rs 900 crore as undeserving of their attention. We are paying the price of that folly now. The Commonwealth Games scam is rumoured to be of the order of anything between Rs 20,000 and Rs 80,000 crore. The 2G scam is even bigger – Rs 1.6 lakh crore. The Bofors payoff, which hurt the nation’s image and compromised her security, is, thanks to the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal Order’s judgment, even bigger because it was worth up to $ 50 million in 1986.
Can anybody today imagine what $50 million in 1986 translates meant? In those days, if my memory serves me right, a Dollar was worth Rs 17 in India. In rupee terms it translated into Rs 950 crore. That equaled the entire Plan fund for an Indian state in those covering the important sectors of education, health, public engineering, industrial infrastructure, roads, irrigation, etc.
Today, Rs 950 crore worth of 1986 rupees is easily worth 15-20 times, i.e. between Rs 14,000 and Rs 20,000 crore. How many hundreds of first-class schools with full tuition and accommodation free for a year would it be possible to build with that kind of money in a backward district in the Maoist infested areas of India?
That amount, combined with the money which went into the pockets of the CWG authorities and the revenues lost thanks to “Spectrum Raja’s” sleight of hand for rules, could lead to India attaining the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals in respect of health and sanitation. India’s economic transformation since the early 1990s has been without corresponding positive change in social development. The UN has noted India’s uneven expansion of social opportunities, with growing disparities across regions, castes, sex and other characteristics. Today, even though the economy is ‘growing’ at over 9 per cent, every second child in India is malnourished. Less than one-fourth of the rural population has access to proper toilets. And what is most shameful: only four of 10 girls who enroll for schooling complete eight years of formal education.
My question is: does this or doesn’t this affect India’s Muslims? Can the Congress get away by fooling the Muslims of India that it alone can serve the interests of the religious minorities? The perverse implication is that a Muslim does not care for the nutrition, education and well being of his children. Corruption is the only phenomenon which has secular implications. The money looted by the rulers of India is food snatched from the mouth of a newborn; death caused to a child for want of care in a ramshackle hospital; unemployment for an adult. There are myriad other manifestations of this scourge.
Manmohan Singh is toasted by the genteel folks of India for being the author of India’s liberalisation programme. Under him the rich of India have become billionaires. India is ‘shining’ for those who made the right choice of parents. For the majority of Indians, the post-1991 period has been pure hell. Every necessity of life has gone beyond the reach of the aam admi. The latest government statistics on food inflation says it went up by 18.3 per cent in the Christmas week. The common Indian knows the connection between corruption and food inflation. The Agriculture Minister and his cohorts are making a killing through speculation in food prices. They are allowing essential commodities to be hoarded and exported while the vast majority of India’s children are going to bed every night hungry.
One reads in the papers about the Prime Minister’s resolve to get cracking at corruption. That is nothing but a joke. Can he bring Sonia Gandhi before a court of law for her role in protecting the beneficiaries of the Bofors payoff? Of course he cannot. That is why the ordinary people of India have no faith in this government any more. They have begun looking for the right political combine to defeat the UPA in the next election. The Muslims, like their brothers and sisters in other faiths, are keen to see their beloved nation rid of corrupt leaders.
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