Date: 16 Aug 2012


Institutionalization of Corruption in India \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ by Varun Gupta \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ Every-time we go to bed, think about starting a new business or take any decision regarding our lives, security from external threat is taken for granted. This sense of security comes from our belief in the capabilities and integrity of our armed forces. Barring the 1962 debacle against Chinese aggression, our armed forced have served the country with an immaculate record in a volatile neighborhood. We decisively won against our rogue neighbors' aggression in the conflicts of 1965, 1971 and 1998. Through indigenous research and development and procurement in the international markets, we have established credible nuclear and military deterrence against a Chinese aggression. Our forces have often been hailed for their peacekeeping and humanitarian work work under the UN umbrella. Moreover, our armed forces have always respected the democratic traditions ingrained in our constitution. It therefore hurts to see a serving chief of Army Staff being publicly humiliated as the Government shamelessly fights a dirty battle of One-upmanship. \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ It would be factual to say Corruption has become institutionalized in our country, including our Armed Forces when it comes to defense procurement. It is therefore pertinent to ask ourselves why and how corruption become ingrained in our way of life. Given that Congress Party, independently or in a coalition, has ruled India for most of the time since Independence, it would be hard to distinguish the history of institutionalization of corruption in India from the Congress Party. Despite being a proponent of Parliamentary Democracy, Congress itself has always been a fiefdom of the Nehru-Gandhi family that has little respect for internal democracy. We all hold Jawaharlal Nehru in high regards as a freedom fighter, as the guardian of secularism and democracy, as the founder of non alignment movement and as India's first Prime Minister. While each of the accolades have merit, we often forget Nehru also had a high tolerance for corruption. As long back as 1939, Mahatma Gandhi said "I would go to the length of giving the whole congress a decent burial, rather than put up with the corruption that is rampant." in response to the widespread corruption in Congress ministries formed under 1935 Act in six states in 1937.\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ Post independence, the first scandal broke out as soon as 1948 with the Jeep scandal. This scandal involved a transaction concerning purchase of jeeps for the Army for Kashmir operation. It was entered into by V.K.Krishna Menon, the then High Commissioner for India in London with a foreign firm without observing normal procedure. Contrary to the demand of the opposition for judicial inquiry as suggested by the Inquiry Committee, the Government led by Nehru announced on Sep 30, 1955 that the Jeep scandal case was closed. Union Minister G.B.Pant declared "as far as Government was concerned it has made up its mind to close the matter. If the opposition was not satisfied they can make it an election issue”. As a reward for the Jeep Scandal, Krishna Menon was inducted into the Nehru cabinet a Minister without Portfolio. This reflected the arrogance of Nehru's Congress party as there was no real opposition to speak of that time. \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ It is worth remembering that Krishna Menon was also the Defense Minister during 1962 when we miserably lost the war to China and failed to protect our borders. India's defeat in the war against China was as much due to neglect and treachery of the politicians like Menon and Nehru as due to bad preparation and strategy on part of General Kaul. Nehru had later admitted that he kept, China having built a road through Indian territory linking Tibet and the Chinese province of Sinkiang as far back as two years, a secret from Parliament. Little surprise then that it was Menon who repeatedly declined army's request for safeguarding India against Chinese aggression saying the real enemy was Pakistan and not China. India's defeat in the war has been widely debated by military strategist and even if one wants to give Menon the benefit of doubt, one can never forgive Nehru for thrusting upon India a corrupt and incompetent defense minister. \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ Nehru further showed his embrace of corruption in judicial inquiry into the charges against Pratap Singh Kairon. The inquiry was held after an indictment was handed out by the Supreme Court in a case filed by a Punjab Civil Surgeon. It was the first judicial inquiry into charges of corruption, setup against a Chief Minister in office by the Government of India. The commission concluded that "There is no getting away from the fact that Kairon knew or had ample reason to suspect that his sons and relatives were allegedly exploiting his influence and powers. In view of his inaction in the face of the circumstances here in before alluded to, he must be held to have connived at the doings of his sons and relatives, his colleagues and the government officers." \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ Nehru reacted to this matter by saying "The question thus arises as to whether the chief minister is compelled to resign because of adverse findings on some questions of fact by Supreme Court. The ministers are collectively responsible to the legislature. Therefore, the matter was one, which concerned the assembly. As a rule therefore, the question of removing a minister would not arise unless the legislature expressed its wish by a majority vote." Supported by Nehru, Kairon's initial reaction was to stick to his office in spite of the adverse verdict. But when Lal Bahadur Shastri got the report published, Kairon had no option but to quit. It therefore comes as no surprise that current Congress Leadership always reacts with disdain to the demands of resignations of corrupt and tainted ministers. \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ These two instances are important for us to know and reflect on. These two cases clearly reflect how Nehru not only had a high tolerance for corruption but also how he created a culture where nepotism was an acceptable way of life and how corruption was never a deterrent to the advancement of political career of the culprit. These two events set the stage for the way Politicians would view corruption in public life going forward. As recently as 1993, when the Nation was deeply into the Bofors Scandal probe, Congress showed its lack of respect for democracy and embrace of corruption by deciding to abstain from voting on Justice V Ramaswami's impeachment proceedings. Ramaswami was the first judge in India to face impeachment proceedings and had been found guilty on 11 of 13 counts by the committee constituted by the Parliament. While a small matter that often gets pushed aside or ignored in light of bigger scandals like Bofors, this event once again put to the fore how Congress promotes corruption at all levels and nothing is better than promoting corruption among Judiciary that happens to be the only independent arm of government still commanding some respect and integrity. \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ In the more than 55 years of Congress rule in India and in most of States, we have come to a situation where corruption has become a way of life. BJP which offered a glimpse of hope as the party with a difference also seem to have lost its way having been involved in corruption scandals of its own and having lost the leadership of its moderate face Mr. Vajpayee. Given the increasing fragmentation of political parties at regional level along caste religion and language lines, it does not look any party with a strong anti corruption message can capture the imagination of the electorate to win 2014 elections. One can only hope that if this shameless looting of the country goes on and majority of law abiding citizen continue to clamor for potable water, electricity and road, an Egypt like revolution may set in which would force the Political landscape to undergo a fundamental change. \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ This post first appeared on the author's blog. You can follow him @intnlgypsy ============================================================= 000000000