Friday, March 30, 2001, Chandigarh, India



Polity caught in a whirlpool of interests

This has reference to “Polity caught in a whirlpool of interests” by Mr Hari Jaisingh (March 16). The views of the writer are pious and daring but ineffective in a conglomeration of politics where “Netas” are mostly selfish and unqualified for the offices they hold.

It is a pity that this vast country is governed by inept people. If the present trend is not checked and corrected quickly, the country will soon be divided into several mini-countries, weak in every respect and vulnerable to enemies.

I do not agree that corrupt politicians thrive because of a spineless bureaucracy. This happens because the entire nation (with a few exceptions) is spineless and indisciplined. The quality of our administration is deteriorating because we do not have good administrators. Corruption is rampant because we, from the very beginning, chose to elect selfish and inept leaders. As a result, crooks, criminals, smugglers, dacoits changed their labels and joined the bandwagon of “Netagiri”.

Now, where are the politicians about whom we are dreaming? And in their absence, who will assert their will to put the governance in order? Unfortunately, our people believed in those who were not worthy of their trust. We kept backing weak and lousy horses.




Wanted a big push: The nation’s tragedy is that our administrative structure, unwieldy as it is, has become thoroughly corrupt, and a drain on our resources. Scandals have become their favourite food and opportunism their creed. Abuse of power and exploitation have become common.

The country’s under-development is the result of a combination of political, social, and economic forces. The lack of efficiency and honesty in the administrative sphere has become a serious matter. Our administrators, in league with the politicians at the helm of affairs, are exploiting the people.

What is required is a big push in the field of administrative structure. Unless we improve or reform our administrative structure, we cannot pull the country out of the vicious circle of poverty and underdevelopment.


High pay, low efficiency: The writer has aptly pointed out that the administrative system and the PSUs are corrupt, inefficient, overstaffed and a big percentage of the budget and financial resources is consumed by salaries and pensions, leaving nothing or very little for development.

It will be relevant to mention that the pay of the peons, clerks, postmen, junior engineers, mechanics etc and all the non-gazetted and work-charged staff in the public sector is about four to three times that of their counterparts in the open market. These salaries in the public sector have gone up about 80 to 100 times of what these were about 40 years ago. The prices of essential commodities have gone up only about 20 times.

If we want to revive our economy, strict measures will be required. The government cannot reduce the pay scales of the existing employees. However, new pay scales should be fixed for the future recruits which should be parallel to those of similar jobs in the private market.


Sab chalta hai: An objective analysis of factors responsible for hunger, deprivation and slow pace of development of the country will show corruption to be the foremost factor.

Corruption in the country’s political life is the most harmful. Most of the politicians in this country have acquired notoriety for making easy money through corrupt means. Every Tom, Dick and Harry wants to be a politician — not to serve the people but to get rich quick. In politics, no educational or professional qualifications are necessary. One should be able to make high pitched speeches and manipulate issues to his or her advantage.

The “sab chalta hai” tendency has been the root cause of the nation’s backwardness. The small man is punished for misappropriating a few hundred rupees, whereas politicians involved in multi-million scams go scot-free. The politicians earn through scams enough to take care of 20 future generations, whereas the common man’s struggle is for two square meals.

IQBAL SINGH, Bijhari (Hamirpur)

Soft attitude: How do we react to corrupt practices? We have a very soft and permissive atmosphere where the ‘Sab chalta hai’ attitude prevails. India is probably the only country which has not sent any top politician to jail for corruption. Here exemplary punishment is never given. The CBI recovered hundreds of crores from the official residences of ministers who feigned ignorance and innocence and nothing happened. There have been scams — sugar, housing, fodder, medical equipment, telecom, urea and hawala. Only the hawala case came into the limelight and there too everyone went scot-free.

The only way to weed out corruption is to have a vigilant, alert public opinion, a public-spirited judiciary and a free and kicking press to act as watchdogs to oversee the rulers. The legal system should also be streamlined so that cases relating to corruption are decided in the shortest possible time.

The people must not permit political leaders — our servants — to become corrupt masters. Electoral reforms are also required because the election process contains the seeds of corruption.

K. L. BATRA, Yamunanagar

Honesty begins at top: Morality and integrity among today’s politicians have become difficult to find. Only those who follow the dictates of their conscience can think of morality, integrity etc. The politicians are becoming insensitive to the national interest which is often overlooked in preference to personal and partisan interest. Leaders and top officers must set an example for the others. The need is for upright and honest persons in every class of officers. But in the present politicised system such persons suffer.

Only if the top becomes upright and honest, persons down the line will not act otherwise.


Defending the indefensible: The people of this country are gullible and the leaders are competent to distort facts to their advantage and reality is conveniently swept under the carpet by giving prominence to unimportant and trivial aspects of the issue. The Prime Minister has tried to mitigate the intensity of the defence scam by trotting out arguments that no defence deal has been struck and no money has changed hands. In his eyes it is an attempt to destabilise the country and thwart its economic progress.

The question arises whether an actual deal is a must to expose the guilty. Even detective agencies resort to this type of ploy to catch a culprit. Are defence officers alone amenable to punishment and the politicians can do no wrong. If some are caught red-handed, they get away with the plea that it is a sinister design of the opposition parties. The Prime Minister, with his oratorial skill, has tried to defend the indefensible. By trying to shield the corrupt, he will tarnish his own image. The constitution of a commission of enquiry can also be a subtle method to put the matter in the cold storage as its report will not be binding and it can be kept away from the public on one pretext or the other if it is inconvenient to the ruling party. Never before have the findings of any commission of enquiry been implemented sincerely.

R. L. GOEL, Ladwa

Desperate situation: Our elected representatives have come to accept corruption as an endemic part of life. The revelations of Tehelka have been just another piece of evidence of what has been known all along. Only the pampered upper crust of the elite enjoys an unparalleled consumption boom under the NDA’s policies. Misgovernance is rampant.

The description of ancient Rome as “a government controlled by wealth, a ruling class numb to the repetitions of political scandal, a public diverted by chariot races and gladiatorial shows” (what else is Kaun Banega Crorepati) applies to the state of the Indian nation today.

The situation demands a powerful political response, one that not merely puts the government on the mat, but also fights for an alternative.

The moot point is: what is wrong with what we did? Look at the degree of cynicism today. Every body expects graft. It is now part of our life. The situation is desperate and it demands a desperate solution.

There could be no better occasion for the opposition to seize the political initiative and make a forward thrust. But things will not improve. If one corrupt government is thrown out, another corrupt government takes over.


Facts misquoted

This has reference to the article by Reeta Sharma in the Tribune of March 21. The observation “Saunders’ cruel assault on the forehead of Lala Lajpat Rai with a baton during the anti-Simon Commission demonstration...” is not factually correct. It was not Saunders but Scott, the Superintendent of Police, who had hurled blows on the chest (not forehead) of Lala Lajpat Rai on October 17, 1928. I was then a college student and was present in this procession. I was also present at the mammoth meeting of protest held outside Mori Gate the same evening, when the Lion of Panjab stood on a table, bared his chest, showed his injuries to the audience and roared, “Listen to Lala for he may be no more any time. Every blow hurled at me will be nail in the coffin of the British Empire”.

Again, it was not the Labour Trades Disputes Bill but the Public Safety Bill which was being debated in the Central Legislative Assembly on April 8, 1929, when Bhagat Singh and B.K. Dutt threw a bomb in the hall of the Assembly from the visitors’ gallery. Their statement before the trial magistrate amounted to “From under the seeming stillness of the sea of Indian humanity, a veritable storm is about to break. We have given a fair and loud enough warning. Deaf ears need loud noise.”




Eliminating delay

The present administrative system is a major stumbling block in the development process. The Chief Secretary of Punjab has found a practical solution. He has decided to eliminate the ‘delay factor’ from the administration and he has defined “delay” as any period more than 48 hours. (The Tribune, Feb. 19) No doubt, delay is the largest single factor that pollutes the administration. It (delay) is also a weapon with the corrupt. So, the administration will be less corrupt and more responsive and accountable if the ‘delay factor’ is eliminated.

R. P. JINDAL, Bathinda

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