1. Punish or exonerate: About time Modi government took a tough stance & closed high profile corruption cases

Punish or exonerate: About time Modi government took a tough stance & closed high profile corruption cases

"War on corruption'' have been the keywords of the season, and with PM Narendra Modi's demonetisation drive based on the same narrative, these words are going to gather many a debate in the year to come.

By: | Updated: January 24, 2017 2:42 PM
narendra modi, pm modi, pm narendra modi, india pm, demonetisation, black money, india black money, corruption, india corruption, modi corruption, modi black money, modi news, pm modi news, black money news Prime Minister Narendra Modi is bound to come under increased scrutiny and accountability in 2017, especially after the note ban move which was initially solely based on the rhetoric of curbing black money and anti-corruption. (Source: PTI)

“War on corruption” have been the keywords of the season, and with PM Narendra Modi’s demonetisation drive based on the same narrative, these words are going to gather many a debate in the year to come. Corruption and the government’s policies to tackle it will be a major factor in the upcoming assembly elections in some states, as well as in 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The Prime Minister is bound to come under increased scrutiny and accountability in the New Year, especially after the note ban move which was initially solely based on the rhetoric of curbing black money and anti-corruption. Recently, the CBI arrested former IDBI chairman and former CFO of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines A Raghunathan Yogesh Aggarwal in Vijay Mallya loan default case. Four executives of Kingfisher Airlines and three more former executives of IDBI Bank were also arrested by CBI. This brings into light the long drawn cases like that of Vijay Mallya, Augusta Westland, telecom spectrum scams among others. With the apparent inactivity towards the cases, even after using them in its election campaign, BJP has been losing considerable public faith, especially when it comes to the anti-corruption rhetoric. If immediate actions towards these are not taken, the opposition will go all guns blazing on BJP with narratives of corruption beneficiaries and shielding suspects. There is a dire need for the head of our nation to break its backbone which is made up of the rusted frames of bureaucracy and also untangle the tentacles of malversation.

Demonetisation move by the PM Modi-led government has been under criticism and approval alike, so even if we leave it for the future, there have been quite a few failures in its promises and tough talks on corruption. But have such actions weakened the anti-corruption reforms in India, or has it been losing the public confidence? The central government failed to keep up with its election campaign promise of making Swiss Bank account holders’ name public as well as the guarantee of putting Rs 15 lakh in every account. There still have been no penalty or action against the people named in the Panama papers. Such inaction, agreeable or not, direct towards the possibility that all the assurances were just political gimmickry, especially since the Lokpal is still not appointed and even the Whistle Blowers’ Protection has been diluted. If it is any indication, even the Supreme Court had reprimanded the centre for delaying the Lokpal appointments.

Additionally, the central government has been surprisingly silent over the scam which got nationwide attention, the Vyapam scam. The racket included businessmen, politicians and senior officials which made it a high profile case, but it faded out sooner than it should have. One of the main reasons behind this is that there is something fishy in the appointments in national agencies, including the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate. According to laws, when a CBI director finishes his tenure, the next is selected by a selection committee which consists of the PM, the leader of the opposition and the CJI. Even SC guidelines have specified that officers heading CBI must have experience in CBI, but the new director Alok Verma has none. Even the interim director who was chosen earlier was a Gujarat cadre IPS officer, which gathered a lot of criticism especially because the selection commission was bypassed as well as the fact that he was earlier chosen to probe the Godhra incident. Similar problems and questions cropped up for when suddenly an officer was given charge of the enforcement directorate.

While PM has been clever in turning narratives all along, even in corruption, where he wants to reward the good instead of punishing the bad. With arguments marinated with rhetorics, Modi has sure captured the minds of the Indian voter, but the narrative of anti-corruption has been going on for way too long now, and it is high time that he shows the same enthusiasm in taking actions, beginning with taking determinant actions in high-profile corruption cases. The public is not something a national political party should play with. Though the narrative of reward captures the minds, but also makes people more aware, which essentially increases the need for the eradication of corruption. There is a dire need for crystal clear laws (without loopholes to exploit with), strengthened enforcement (including the proper following of laws during appointments), freedom to the judiciary and agencies as well as a refreshed administrative system which still appears to date back to the British rule era. It is high time that actions precede PM Modi’s agenda instead of rhetoric and spectacle.

  1. K
    Knuj
    Jan 24, 2017 at 8:20 am
    I disagree. I think these high-profile cases acts as a deterrent for others. These SHOULD be dragged for as long as possible to set an example. As anyone working in the Law and Order will tell you, punishment is never only about the crime. Punishment is a means to set the societal norms and clearly spell out what is acceptable and what is not. Making a long-drawn example of high-profile cases will send a loud and clear message. Short summary judgements/punishments are entirely counter productive.
    Reply
    1. A
      Akhil Rana
      Jan 24, 2017 at 10:57 am
      There was never any guarantee given by Modi that 15 lakh will be put in everybody's account. Learned people like the writer talk big on corruption here and ironically talk like Rahul hi. What is the writer trying to achieve here?
      Reply
      1. J
        Jaspreet
        Jan 27, 2017 at 8:56 am
        There is hardly any ambiguity or misgiving on the intent and veracity of the PM's conviction to eradicate corruption but for the execution hazard as was exhibited in any of the PM's ordinance. In my view, there should be deeper deliberation, meticulous planning, exhaustive execution and intricate communication be planned on every ordinance that gets ped by PM. This is the only way to fill the gap between cup and the lip.I want to take this opportunity to share my views on eliminating the rampant corruption at the PSUs which is such a well oiled machinery that contractors are not left with any choice but to fall into the line of bribing the officials or not to do the business. As an example, Railtel Corporation of India, susidiary of Ministry of Railways has deep rooted corruption at all levels. Railtel has part time CVO for last two years who reports to CMD thus no complaint can ever be probed. it doesnt have Director Operation for last 3 years so that all tenders has to go through CMD and its coterie. The people who have tried to escalate the corruption at Railtel are either being arm twisted to withdraw their complaint or even have to go through the arbitration process which becomes 3-4 year legal process where they keep taking dates. If Government is serious about eliminating the corruption is it not fair that when there is a serious allegation of corruption especially when there is no check and balance from a neutral body, the people against who the corruption has been alleged, they must be moved out so that fair probe can happen and at the same time they must be financially implicated as a complainant faces by paying the heavy legal cost upfront. This will create a huge deterrance among PSU executives who today have no threat or cost if they are taking bribes. The only sufferings is by the complainant who looses time and money in filing for the complaint. By the time in 3-4 years, the arbitration verdict is given, the PSU executives moves to newer pastures, gets time to clean up their tracks and even if complainant gets an award, it is at huge cost. The current mechanism is a huge catalyst for corruption as in the disguise of autonomy to PSU such as Railtel, the management gets away with day to day crime. If Government is serious about eliminating corruption, they must install a CVO who shouldn't be from the same ministry or department and must not be reporting to the CMD and secondly create deterrance such that executives will fear even being smeared for act of corruption. County like Singapore and Dubai any act of corruption by the corporate executives the decision by the court or arbitration happens within 6 months thus executives fear of any allegation.
        Reply

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