Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

Are We Indians More Corrupt than People of the Develope World?

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

Are We Indians More Corrupt than People of the Developed World?

By

Col (Retd) Bhaskar Sarkar VSM

There was a category of elite, England educated or English speaking wealthy Indians in British India who believed that “West is Best” and Indian natives are incapable of governing the country. They wanted India to remain a British colony. These people who worshiped the British, loved all things foreign and criticized all things native over pink gin or whiskey sour at their favourite clubs were known as Westernized Oriental Gentlemen or WOGs. They along with the Hindu Mahasabha and RSS did not take part in the “Quit India Movement” or the independence struggle and drowned their sorrow in their liquor of choice on 15 August 1947. Though the British have left, there are many WOGs among us, particularly foreign returned, who find nothing right in today’s India. They naturally think that India is more corrupt than the developed world and “West is the Best”. This article seeks to look at corruption in the developed world so that my readers can assess the truth for themselves.

Corruption is essentially of two types, political corruption and government departmental corruption. Politicians have to fight elections which cost money. One way of raising this money is doing favours and accepting illegal gratification. Politicians think of this as acceptable. Soon the greed of getting rich overtakes need and corruption increases. Political corruption, as we shall soon see, is a worldwide phenomenon. Government departmental corruption is not as widespread. It is very widespread in India and needs to be tackled on war footing. Parties in power do little to curb it as the parties collect funds through these officials for party coffers and public functions attended by leaders. When political leaders of the ruling party hold huge election rallies, foundation stone laying or tape cutting ceremonies, someone has to pay for the stage, seating, auditorium, electricity, public address syste, conveyance and payment to muster crowds. This is a justification for ignoring departmental corruption.

Corruption in Japan

I was always under the impression that Japan was one of the most disciplined, ethical and honest country. I was surprised to see that corruption has been a fixture of Japanese politics for a long time. Japanese don’t seem to be upset or outraged by it. Much of the corruption revolves around construction companies trying to secure money for infrastructure projects. A common practice is for bureaucrats to award a contract to a construction company and for that company to reward the bureaucrat with a high-paying job when he retires from the government. Perhaps this is why there is a lot of emphasis in the BJP Government on road projects and very little on water supply, public health and education.

Small-scale corruption is common. Much like in India, businessmen give expensive gifts every year to the bureaucrats, and politicians. American businessmen doing business in Japan say that a little “grease” is necessary to quickly get through the bureaucracy.

Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka was forced to resign in 1974 because of corruption allegations. He was arrested for taking bribes in 1976 when scandal came to light in which the aircraft maker Lockheed paid top officials in the Japanese government in return for their help in a deal to sell L-1011 Tri-Star jets to All Nippon Airways.

Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita was forced out of office in April 1989 after members of his party, the LDP, were implicated in the shares-for-favors Recruits scandal. LDP leader Shin Kanemaru was among those forced to resign. One of Takeshita’s top aides committed suicide. Does it sound like “Vyapam Scam” in MP.

Two Ministry of Finance officials were arrested for demanding that bankers take them to restaurants where waitresses in short skirts with no panties serve guests, and for a $100 tip will bend over for the customers. The bankers dished out over $100,000 to avoid investigations into bad loan scandals.

In April 1998, two former Finance Ministry were indicted for receiving $69,000 in bribes from five companies in the form nights out at restaurants and golf trips.

About 90 percent of the road contracts in 2006 was done without bidding. According to one tally nearly 60 percent of the 1,248 former bureaucrats involved in road work got jobs after they retired with one the top 10 companies that do road work.

In May 2007, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Toshikatsi Matsuoka, committed suicide by hanging himself when faced with tough questions on the spending of $240,000 over five years on water, heating and other expenses that are provided free to lawmakers.

These are just a few examples. Those who are interested in knowing more about corruption in Japan are requested to visit www.factsanddetails.com/japan/cat22/sub146/item799.html .

Corruption in UK

The list of political corruption in UK is huge. I will list a few major ones that took place after 2010.

On 29 May 2010 Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Laws resigned from the Cabinet after the Daily Telegraph newspaper published details of his claiming around £40,000 in expenses on a second home owned by a secret partner between 2004 and 2009 which was illegal.

On 14 October 2011 Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox resigned from the Cabinet after he allowed his personal interest and government activities to become blurred.

In April 2014 Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary resigned following an investigation into her past expenses claims.

For more on political corruption in UK please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List-of-political-scandals-united-kingdom

Coming to departmental corruption one in 20 people in Britain say they have paid a bribe for services. One in five Britons said they had resorted to bribing people in the judicial system, while almost one in ten said they had paid a bribe while in contact with the police. Seven per cent said they had bribed education officials, while 11 per cent of people who had contact with the registry and permit services or land services said they bribed officials. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2358665/UK-corruption-getting-worse-poll-finds-20-Britons-admit-bribing-public-service-officials.html

The UK has been a prime location for stashing away illicitly gained wealth and sanctuary for economic offenders from all over the Commonwealth. Its anti-money laundering systems are weak. Transparency International said that tens of billions of pounds of corrupt money are being laundered through the UK each year. But most Britons do not seem bothered by this. In 2012 HSBC, the UK’s biggest bank, paid a record $1.9bn fine to settle claims by the US authorities that it had allowed Mexican drugs traffickers to deposit thousands of dollars a day in HSBC accounts. For more details see www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/uk-is-a-global-corruption-hub.html

Corruption in the US

Some forms of corruption like lobbying are legal in the US. Here I present some cases of corruption which took place in Barack Obama administration (2009–2017).

Cornie Brown, a Congresswoman was convicted of 18 federal counts including tax evasion, fraud, wire and mail fraud and sentenced to five years in federal prison in 2017

Bob Menendez, an U.S. Senator, was indicted on charges of accepting bribes in 2015.

Congressman Chaka Fattah was found guilty on 23 charges which included racketeering, money laundering and fraud. He was sentenced to 10 years and resigned from Congress on June 23, 2016.

Congressman Aaron Schock resigned from office after evidence surfaced that he used campaign funds for travel and redecorated his office with taxpayer funds in 2015.

Congressman Rick Renzi was found guilty of wire fraud, conspiracy, extortion, racketeering, money laundering, and making false statements to insurance regulators in 2013.

Congressman Jesse L Jackson pleaded guilty of fraud for using $750,000 of campaign money to buy personal items such as stuffed animals, elk heads and fur capes.

Congressman Michael Grimm pleaded guilty to tax fraud on December 23, 2014, and was sentenced to eight months in federal prison.

Fred Pagan, Office Administrator to US Senator Thad Cochran was sentenced to 30 months in prison for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in 2016.

Eastern Louisiana Federal Judge G Thomas Porteous was unanimously impeached by the US House of Representatives on charges of bribery and perjury in March 2010.

For more on corruption in the US see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List-of-federal-political-scandals-united-states

Conclusion

I am not trying to condone corruption in India. Corruption, both political and departmental is bad for the country and needs to be rooted out. But it is not as big an issue as our beloved PM and his cronies would like us to believe. Neither is Congress Party the fountain head of corruption. It is just that they have been in power for most of the 70 years of independence. The other parties are equally corrupt and enrich themselves whenever they are in power.

There are more important issues facing the country like providing drinking water, creating jobs, stopping or taxing imports from China and other countries and creating a level playing field for our manufacturers, solving the problems of our farmers, filling up vacancies in government and judicial organization and setting up fast track courts for tackling corruption.

I also belive that communalism, caste based violence, and politics of hate are more damaging to the country than corruption. Mistakes will occur when work is done and some corruption is inevitable. But we cannot stop economic activity and development to stop corruption as demonetisation did.

I do not agree with some of my WOG friends and relatives that we need to hang our heads in shame because of corruption in India. What we need is zero tolerance to corruption. We need to appointment Lopkpal and Lok Ayukts with dedicated investigating resources, the Whistle Blowers Act, strengthening of RTI and fast track courts to deal with corruption. We also need to get tough with countries like UK and Switzerland which shelter our economic offenders and break off diplomatic and economic relations if they continue with their support to money laundering and economic offenders.

Old Guard vs Young Brigade: Can Rahul Prevail

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

Old Guards Vs The Young Brigade: Can Rahul Prevail?

By

Col (Retd) Bhaskar Sarkar VSM

Website www.bhaskarsarkar.com ; www.twitter@COLSARKAR

The fight between the old guards and the young brigade of the Congress is finally in the open. Like his father, Rajeev Gandhi (Mr. Clean of yester years), Rahul Gandhi has been keeping his instinctive aversion to the culture of corruption in the Congress in check. This was possibly due to biddings of his mother. It is always difficult for a young man to come out of his mother’s influence. But his patience seems to have burst when the Congress brought in an ordinance to save the membership of the parliament of convicted political leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav. His going public with his views against the Ordinance forced the Congress to withdraw the Ordinance. But he immediately fell silent on other instances where the Congress Old Guard kept stalling attempts to investigate scams by denying the CBI permission to question senior bureaucrats or to prosecute tainted leaders without assigning any reason. He has remained silent over the Maharashtra Governor’s refusal to allow prosecution of ex chief minister Ashok Chavan and the Maharashtra Cabinet’s decision to reject the finding of a judicial commission on the Adarsh Housing Society Scam set up by the same Cabinet without assigning any reason. However, by design or otherwise, another member of the young brigade, central minister and Congressman  Milind Deora has taken up cudgels against corruption and gone public with his demand that the Adarsh Housing Society scam must be effectively investigated and the guilty punished. The other interesting development in the struggle between the Old Guard and the Young Brigade is the attempt by the old guard to reverse the decision of the Congress, possibly taken at the behest of Rahul Gandhi and the Young Brigade, to unconditionally support the AAP in forming a government in Delhi.

It is natural for the Old Guard in political parties, bureaucracy and the police to be alarmed by the anti corruption election plank of the AAP and its adoption by the Young Brigade in the Congress. For decades they have thrived from the Congress Party’s benign tolerance of corruption and amassed hundreds of millions, thousands of acres, tons of gold and lucrative benami properties. They hold esteemed position in society and have started political dynasties which they hope will last forever. They are aghast that their own scions are questioning their wisdom of turning a firm blind eye to corruption.  The fear of being exposed and being held accountable by the long arm of law have unnerved them to rebel against the party policies.

History of Struggle

The history of struggle between the Old Guard and the Young Brigade is nothing new. Indira Gandhi, in her early days as Prime Minister, faced opposition from the “Syndicate” of Old Guards to her policies. She was bold enough to take them on in selection of the presidential candidate, preferring V V Giri to Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, backed by the “Syndicate”. Her candidate won and she packed off the Old Guards and established a new order.

Rajeev Gandhi was confronted by the Old Guards (his mother’s confidants or new order) on his attempts to clean up corruption and to introduce the Muslim Women’s Maintenance Bill in line of the Supreme Court judgement on the “Shah Bano” case. But he lacked the guts and political acumen of his mother. He lamented that only 25 paise of each Rupee earmarked for development reached the poor but did nothing to check the leaks. The Old Guard made merry and ferried their spoils to undisclosed stashes and foreign tax havens. Only a few unfortunate ones like Sukh Ram were caught and convicted.

Conclusion

The battle between the Old Guards and the Young Brigade in the Congress has started again. The Young Brigade has rightly recognized that India and the Indian electorate are changing. One third of the Indian electorate is below 35 and in another five years, almost half of Indian electorate will be under 35, literate and social media savvy. An army of RTI activitists and investigating journalists are constantly unearthing instances of corruption. With media coverage of corruption reaching every corner of the country almost instantly, it is not possible to hide corruption the way it could be in the good old days. The stunning electoral victories of the poor man’s AAP and the Congress’s electoral rout in the Delhi state, Rajasthan and MP elections was proof enough for the sceptics to admit that honest politicians could win elections and that young India was fed up of the two timing dishonest and criminally oriented politicians and ready to throw them out. The Young Brigade therefore wants to opt for probity in public life to survive.

For the Old Guards, the stakes are too high. The Lok Pal Bill (whether adequate or inadequate) has been passed. Rahul Gandhi is pushing for four or five other anti corruption bills to be passed. AAP and BJP are promising to reinvestigate closed cases. The Old Guard will therefore employ every trick in the trade to stall investigations and prevent the Young Brigade of the Party to sideline them and take over the Congress Party.

It will be interesting to see whether Rahul Gandhi has the guts of his grandmother to take on the Old Guard and rid the grand old Congress of its corrupt and criminal elements, bring transparency and probity in functioning of Congress governments and take the wind out of the sails of AAP and BJP and win back the confidence of the electorate before the Lok Sabha elections. A lot will depend on whether he has the support of his mother in his endeavour. If he fails it is curtains for the Congress in the next election.