PM’s role in CVC muddle – a forgivable mistake or a grave error of judgement, with consequences?

  News reports say that the PM accepted responsibility for the mistake in appointing Thomas, as CVC. 

It is good that the PM has accepted the responsibility for this. Is this sufficient? Acceptance of responsibility for a mistake should have some consequences. Is the PM merely saying sorry? Are we to forget this episode and let bygones be? Surely, this is not some routine decision that went wrong. It was a decision that called for serious application of mind. The PM had adequate warning from Sushma Swaraj. He chose to brush it aside. There were three on the panel for appointment as CVC. Did the PM and HM come with Thomas, as a predetermined choice, before they heard out the leader of the opposition? If so, did they not turn the meeting of the HPC into a farce? If the opposition has no role, in such appointments, why have the opposition leader in the committee?

Next, there is a question of the PM’s ability to exercise sound discernment in decision-making. If he could make such an obviously silly error of judgment, how could the nation trust him to be judicious in other major decisions? We live in a nuclear age, where a PM may be called upon to take a decision on a response to acts of war. Can this PM be relied upon to take the best decision in such a life-threatening situation?

Had the number of scandals that have been unearthed in the past few months, become public in any of the mature democracies, the government would have resigned long ago. A PM who makes such mistakes as the present Indian PM, would have been thrown out by his party immediately. Unfortunately, the opposition party is a pot, if the government party is a kettle. People have a Hobson’s choice. Yet, it is better that this government goes, if for nothing else than to give a message to all governments, they are not above accountability to people. It is strange that no one is even speaking of this. Have we, as a nation, become immune to degradation in moral values? The institution of PM or CVC etc deserve respect. The respect has to be earned. Is this a case of greatness thrust upon one, merely because he holds a post? Let us remember that the PM is not a ruler. He is the first servant of the people. It is time we stopped paying obeisance to people in elected office, as if these are rajas of days gone by. 


Do we have any sense of national pride left?

News reports tell a shocking and sordid story. The response of our Government and its minister in charge of External Affairs is even more so. On 31st Jan 2011, he calls the tagging of Indian students in USA, an inhuman act. Today, he asked the media to report it keeping in view the perspective of an estimated [because he does not have the exact number] one and half Lakh students in universities in USA. He underplayed the tagging, saying, “Of this huge number ‘only’ 12 of 15 have been tagged”!

The perceptible change of stand, within a day, could not be self -driven. Who then has the steering wheel of the foreign ministry? Who is the ‘master’ in this gramophone mouthing, ‘His master’s voice’? (Such devices are obsolete in the market, but still found in political arenas.)

To our foreign minister, the degradation of a dozen or so of Indians is of no consequence and hence, does not warrant strong action. He must have misunderstood his role, of a foreign minister, as meaning, behaving like a foreigner. Perhaps, he would take some steps only when a significant number of Indians suffer the fate of these hapless students.

Contrast this with the arrest of a single US embassy employee in Pakistan. The US government has asked for his immediate release.

India has given up its socialistic pretensions. Socialism is a word found only in the Preamble to the Constitution. There it remains, safely ensconced from public gaze. India now follows the ‘free market’ economic policies closely behind USA, which it tries to imitate in every way. By the way, there is nothing ‘free’ about ‘free markets’. These too, are controlled, not by governments, but by mystical powers that operate behind smokescreens of ‘efficient market’. Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ is quite visible in India in the Radia tapes. Closely following US in economic theory and practice, steered by eminent economists at the helm, from the Prime Minister through his able adviser in the Planning commission, to the erstwhile Finance Minster, who is a Harvard law graduate, India looks like the ‘Wild West’ of the 18th and 19th centuries. Life (of people) here is cheap, as it was in the ‘Wild West’ and living is costly. The lives of politicians are precious. They are guarded round the clock by gun-trotting NSG soldiers, paid for by the people whose lives are cheap.

The US State Department spokesperson clarified that tagging is “standard practice” and that “it does not imply either culpability or suspicion of criminality”, “it allows for freedom of movement and is a positive alternative to confinement”. How do we accept such blatant lies? Radio tags are used for known sexual offenders. Under what law in any civilised nation would such tagging be done on victims of a fraud? The US government perhaps, thinks that this nation of ours is run by a bunch of timeserving sycophants. They are indeed right.

A US embassy counsellor thought radio tags “Mod and trendy, like Hollywood stars”. The Indian Foreign office woke up to the crude joke and lodged a protest.

Boswell was called Johnson’s cur. Does the simile apply to the relationship between India and USA?

‘Times Now’ covered the sad story very well. Please follow this link to read the ‘Times’ coverage.


The state of the City of Bangalore


In several instances recently, it appears that the Government has lied to the people. The most recent cases include the press conference of the Finance Minister on black money and the Government’s affidavit in the Supreme on the appointment of the CVC.


The Government seems to be attempting to justify its indefensible actions and inaction. It is inexplicable why the Prime Minister and the Home Minister insisted on the appointment of Mr. P J Thomas, as CVC, and this, in the face of protestations by the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha.  Even assuming that they were unaware of the case pending against Mr. Thomas, prudence demands that the PM and HM give some reason of why they continued with the appointment when adverse opinion was placed before them. Equally intriguing is the fact, as informed by the Government to the Apex court that the minutes of the meeting to appoint the CVC do not have any details of what transpired.


In the ‘Black money’ press conference, the FM was at pains to justify the refusal of the Government to disclose names of Indians with black money, given to it by the German Government. His justification was that such disclosure would violate the ‘Double taxation avoidance agreements’ [DTAA].


In both cases, Government spokespersons went to great lengths to defend these actions. An editor of a leading newspaper was seen on ‘Times Now’ TV channel broadcast on 27 Jan 2011, questioning the airing of the program on the grounds that it amounts to attempt to influence the Supreme Court.


The Devil has been called ‘The Father of Lies’. He has also been described as, cunning. It requires cunning intelligence to tell lies and get away with it. More often than not, one’s bluff is called, when the liar is exposed. It only the foolish and the foolhardy that would attempt to tell lies all the time. They are foolish enough to imagine that everyone could be fooled all the time. Nothing else explains the conduct of the personalities mentioned here.


If the PM and the HM were not aware of the case pending against the CVC, they show themselves as incompetent. If they were aware, they come out as lying to the people and the Apex court.


The DTAA is a poor defence for non-disclosure of black money account holders’ names. DTAA is meant for avoidance of tax in one country if tax is paid in another by the same party having business or earning income in both countries. It does not apply to income obtained by crime. If the FM knew this, he was trying to fool the people. If he knew it, and still used DTAA, as the justification, then that was a blatant lie.


This Government and an ex-corporate chief are promoting an identification scheme, the UID project, as one intended to benefit the poor. They pretend that the lack of identity is the reason why they do not receive welfare benefits. They claim that UID would prevent leakages of subsidies, by things like, de-duplicating ration cards. This too is a lie. As is now clear, from the murder of the government official who raided a kerosene dealer, there is a Mafia operating in PDS. It does not require much acumen to realise that UID would not prevent Mafia activity.  


Next, why do the spokespersons and some in the media, like the editor mentioned here, indulge in the same game? One reason could be ignorance. If so, they would be well advised to seek to update their knowledge before continuing in their current vocations. If not they too suffer from the malady of lying behavior.


The motivations could be different, but the end result is the same. Lying does not pay, except in the very short term and that too is doubtful.


Would it be too much to request those in public life to stop imitating the Devil?

By all accounts, year 2010 has been a year of scams. These did not happen suddenly. They were taking place all the while over a number of years; only they became known publicly during the year. These, the ones in the public domain, are certainly not the only scams. Surely, there are many more that have not reached the stage these have in terms being noticed. 

Many have questioned the silence of the PM while these scams were going on right under his nose. Yet, both media and many others have said that they do not question his integrity. A persons integrity is perhaps, not determined not by whether one is personally corrupt, but also by how much one tolerates or accepts corruption. In the case of the PM, the issue is further complicated by the fact that it was his duty to prevent it.

The Government now says that they would bring a law to ensure speedy trial of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats. Is this a ploy? Skeptics would think so. After all one of the first acts of the UPA - 1 Government was to amend the Prevention of Corruption Act to make it mandatory for obtaining prior sanction of Government to prosecute even retired public servants. Media, while lauding the Government initiative, tinged with some doubt, have not referred to this. 

What is the use in talking of speedy trial if sanction to prosecute could be delayed?

Why is it necessary to take Government sanction for launching prosecution, when Constitutional authorities like, Lok Ayukta have come to prima facie conclusion to proceed against the delinquents?

Let the Government, if it is sincere about fighting corruption, do away with the need for Government sanction to prosecute public servants. Let them leave it to the courts and other authorities to decide.