B S Raghavan

Destabilising effect of distrust and suspicion

B. S. Raghavan | Updated on March 24, 2011

I find it necessary to interrupt my series on India's security doctrine with the present one, in view of the potentially destabilising implications of a phenomenon that has been buffeting the country during the second term of the United Progressive Alliance Government (UPA-II).

To most of us, it seems that the country has become a perennial and pernicious whispering gallery, or, if you will, an ever busy and easily accessible dhobighat for washing the dirtiest linen imaginable. Trading of gossip, floating of rumours, spreading of canards, and even maligning of reputations form the trademark of democracies. These tendencies are inherent in open societies with an independent and active and articulate citizenry.

In India too, from the time of Indpendence, leaders of all political hues, both at the Centre and the States, beginning from the country's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru himself, have been the subject of criticism, sometimes trenchant, for their policies and actions. There has also been juicy gossip about their private lives.

In the past too, the nation was rocked by scandals. There was, for instance, the jeep scandal which was laid at the doors of India's High Commissioner at London, V.K.Krishna Menon. In 1951, a Congress MP, H.G. Mudgal, was expelled for taking money for raising issues in Parliament on behalf of Mumbai's bullion merchants. There was the Mundhra scandal involving quite a number of big shots in the Government, including the Finance Minister, T.T.Krishnamachari, and the Finance Secretary, H.M.Patel.

Bofors era

But those were flea-bites judged by today's standards. They also occurred sporadically and were stand-alone misdeeds which were dealt with promptly and in a transparent manner by the political leadership. People were generally satisfied with the convincing way the Government and the administration enforced accountability and the occurrence of those unsavoury episodes did not leave any lasting black mark.

From the Bofors case begins the era of Ministers and public servants being perceived as being engaged in large-scale conspiracies and brazen cover-ups, suborning of investigative and enforcement agencies, collusions with crooks and obstruction of justice, physical elimination of witnesses and whistle-blowers — in short, exhibiting all the features of a mafia-raj. Things have come to such a pass that everyone holding a public office, every official transaction has now become suspect.

The last two years or so, signalling the beginning of the 2G scam era, have become particularly suffocating and nauseating.

You open the page of any newspaper, or sit down to watch any TV channel, or open your email box — all seem filed with rogues' galleries with names being named and the glaring corruption and plunder of public coffers associated with each of them specified.

Everyone seems to know every little facet of the skullduggery that seems to be taking place with impunity at all levels.

“Rotten state”

The other day I was at a well attended public meeting addressed by Dr Subramanian Swamy. When he said he had with him the name of a son of a Cabinet Minister who had taken so many crores of rupees out of the 2G scam, the hall shook with the full-throated roar of the whole audience of 1,000 or so, unerringly giving out the name.

Over the past many months, Dr Swamy has been freely giving in his public statements, speeches at meetings and letters to the Prime Minister exhaustive and exact details of the sharing of spoils by everyone at the top echelons of the Government and the Congress Party. Nobody has so far dared to take him on or take him to court.

The Economist has already dubbed India “a rotten state”. WikiLeaks has documented the boasts of persons with political clout on their exploits of buying voters and MPs. There is no sense of shame or disgrace left any more. And all this in a country which for millennia had set so much store by dharma, satya and sadachar! Is there any possibility of redemption?

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

Published on March 23, 2011
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor


This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor